In this Transcend Feature, we follow Sarah Peck as she tries to talk herself into getting married and then discover the shocking way she narrowly escapes a disaster.
In the follow-up interview, Sarah explains how to calibrate your internal “hell yes” and “hell no”, what it looks like to breakdown and rebuild the status quo in a way that works for you, and one of the most important questions you can ask yourself.
LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
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Learn more about Sarah K. Peck here: sarahkpeck.com
Jeff: So we had this book, it’s called Disney’s princess bedtime stories. It’s totally pink hardbound and the cover is overcrowded with six Disney princesses that you all know and grew up with. Now was once a well meaning gift for my young daughter who’s into princesses, but one of the happiest days of my life was the day that I threw it away, so sure I could have donated it, but I didn’t want another young child exposed to such total and absolute garbage. For example, the first story, which is horrifying. It was all about princess royal birthday. Now participants for this, of course, from sleeping beauty and the story goes on to be about her getting jewelry for her birthday and having a painting done of her and how beautiful she is and about falling in love with Prince Philip in every other story is just like this one.
Jeff: Same themes and same message to young readers who are primarily little girls. It’s disgusting. I thought we’d move beyond this type of cultural programming. When checking the Amazon reviews. I was shocked to see that nearly 90 percent were four and five stars for this book and most of the complaints were not about to clear sexism, but they had to do with the stories and how they had plot holes from the original movies, which I didn’t realize these books were being held to such high standards and my personal favorite complaint that these bedtime stories were not actually about going to bed, so it got me thinking. What’s the story after the story? Like what happens when someone goes along with this blatant cultural programming, you know, where does their life go? Do we see classic Disney happy endings for the couple rides off into the sunset or something else? Well, that’s what our story’s about today. It’s an epilogue to Disney’s princess bedtime stories of sorts where we’ll see what happens when we just go along with it and just follow the script. I’ll just tell you, it doesn’t end in the castle, but rather a tiny garage apartment with no windows that shakes when someone in the house does laundry. I’m your host, Jeff Hurdle. You’re listening to transcend. Stay with us.
Jeff: Transcend is a monthly podcast released on the first Sunday of the month and in every episode we tell a transformational story in part one and then in part two we interviewed the storyteller to identify the key takeaways from their story that you can apply to your life. Part one, our story, a whole new world. So it’s 10 years ago. Sarah Peck is in her mid twenties living in San Francisco and working as an entry level architect. And on this particular evening it’s one of those rare nights where Sarah is going out for a drink with a roommate, maybe two, which is about all they can afford at the time. And by the way, Sarah’s gonna mention a handful of cities throughout the story that you may not be familiar with. The whole story takes place in and around San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay area.
Sarah: I was with my roommate and we were at a bar and all of a sudden there was like a crush of men, like really fit really athletic men. And apparently it was like a, uh, a triathletes bachelor show what a Bachelor party. That’s what they’re called. And so all of these guys had come in and they started talking about triathlons and I struck up a conversation with a couple of them and they were like, oh yeah, we’re doing these relays, we’re doing all these triathlons. And I said, oh, that sounds really fun. I’m a swimmer. And they’re like, oh, we’re looking for a swimmer for our next relay race down in Santa Cruz. And I was like, I’m a swimmer. And they’re like, no, we’re looking for a good swimmer. And because I’d been bolstered by a drink or two, I said, okay, well how good of a swimmer do you need?
Sarah: Do you have like, what’s the thing? What are you trying to do? Turns out they’re trying to swim a mile in under 25 minutes in the open water. And I told them what, my college swimming times where I, I swim at a division three school and college and I got to be pretty fast in college. So I wasn’t bluffing when I said it was a good swimmer. So I got myself signed up to be on a triathlon, uh, at a bar when we went down. My roommate decided to come with me when we went down to Santa Cruz. She asked them friends who stay in a house and there was a guy there who was like, I want to meet this chick that’s doing this triathlon. I was way more nervous about the swim that I had to do. I had beefed up my performance and I was really nervous about it and I wasn’t quite paying attention to the people in the house, but apparently this guy was really interested in me and, and, um, and he’s like, Hey, let’s go to dinner after your thing. And I said, okay, sure, I’m going to be hungry. And it was a date. Well, I didn’t think he was cute and I wasn’t that interested when we first started dating, but we ended up dating. And then because we were dating, it was easier to keep dating. And then once we dated for three months, we started getting a little more serious. And so it became this kind of cascading. Sure. Why not story rather than this, this kind of decision of my own accord and so I went along with it in many ways.
Jeff: So Sarah, this guy I’ve been dating for about six months. It’s a few days before the fourth of July, you know the Disney movies, how the couple overcomes and antagonist and it ends up bringing them closer together. Well, that’s kind of what happens next.
Sarah: I was working pretty long hours doing autocad at the architecture firm and one day at work my arm started to tingle and I was like, oh, I must be getting a little carpel tunnel. So Sarah goes home that night and then she’s in front of the mirror getting ready to wash her face. She sees something really strange in the mirror. I looked at both of the undersides of my arms and I have very pale skin, so I was able to see on one side of my body I had all these dark blue veins on my right arm and on the side, just my normal skin. I was like, well, that’s super weird. I wonder if that’s always been there.
Jeff: Sarah took a picture and send it to her sister and her sister immediately said, that’s not normal, so it’s 9:30 at night and she picks up the phone and calls her 88 year old grandpa who was a practicing md at the time.
Sarah: He answered the following. Aloe like, Sarah, who is this? Oh yeah, hi. And, and I, I said, well, I’ve got A. I’ve got a medical question for you. I’ve got this, got this thing happening. I wonder if you know what it is. And I explained all my symptoms. He goes, okay, so what you probably have is a little blood clot in your arm and you should go get that checked out right away. Go tomorrow morning to the first appointment they have. I’m really embarrassed to admit that I went to work. I did not go to the doctor. Um, I just, I don’t know what I was thinking. I think it was, there was a deadline and I was new at my job and I didn’t want to look bad and just not in flake and not show. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Jeff: Work ends and Sarah makes her way to urgent care when she arrives, she doesn’t even make it past the receptionist. They send her immediately across the street to the emergency room where she. She’s admitted and they’re the doctors find a blood clot near her heart, the size of about a forefinger and had any of it broken off. It would have made it to her lungs and she would have suffocated from the inside out, but fortunately they operated and cut the blood clot in time.
Sarah: When I got in the room and I started waking up from the pain of the surgery. What happens when someone cuts into your chest is it feels like like a truck has run over you and every time you wake up you forget that you had this thing happen to you and the first thing you do when you wake up, you swallow and you lift your fucking head. And every time I did that I would lift my head. I would, I. It felt like I was like another truck was crushing over me and I just, I just didn’t get it. Like I didn’t get why I was like, why I would wake up and then being all this pain and so I would wake up and my boyfriend would be there waiting next to me with food and Vicodin and he’d be like, Hey, take this, you’re going to feel like shit, but this’ll work really fast. Um, and I don’t remember how many days I was in the hospital. It was scary enough that this guy that I was dating for six, seven months decided that he wanted to propose.
Sarah: It was, it was really interesting because I think I was like a month or two out of recovering from this, this life event that really I was my head space was what am I doing? Do I like my job? How do I regain my physicality? When do I get to swim again? Is this going to happen for awhile? Like these are the questions that were floating through my head. There was nothing that crossed my mind about getting married. And I remember we were out walking the waterfront of Sausalito and he seemed super nervous, but only like he’s. He was a little bit agitated anyways, generally like kind of a bouncy all over the place so it wasn’t too much more than normal and I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but apparently I was talking about all of these things that made him think that it was just the perfect timing and he decided to propose.
Sarah: He like ran and hid in this little tiny space and then he came back out and then he proposed. I was in shock. I remember that this thing was happening. I had no idea that it was going to happen. I wasn’t even on the same page or ready for it to happen and I had this flash in my head which like news flash tonight, past self or a future self or anyone if your brain does this, this is what my brain dead. It was like this super fast decision tree. I was like, well, if I say no, it’s over. And if I say yes, I can still change my mind, which is not the best way to make a decision, but that’s what my brain dead. I was like, panic, freeze. Okay. And I said yes, and I remember my stomach felt like it dropped out just down to the bottom and I was. I did not feel great about it and he started celebrating and I started to talk myself into it.
Sarah: When you tell people that you’re engaged, people scream with them. Why? Because you literally as a woman have fulfilled your manifest destiny. Like Shonda rhimes, the creator of Grey’s anatomy and how to get away with murder and her other television. But is it scandal? She says she became like this famous television writer and producer and had children and never were people more excited for her when they thought she would get married. And she was like, really? That’s the most important thing in my life. But there’s so much cultural programming around how important it is, how critical it is for women to get married. That when, when we told people we were engaged, that that was noisier than anything else. And I had a really hard time hearing myself because so many people were like, yeah, you’re moving in together and you know, emails from your parents and your in laws.
Sarah: Do you need the staff? Do you want these blankets, do you, should we get you like a nicer bed? What are you going to do about this? And you can just fill your brain with noise that’s external and it makes it really hard to hear yourself. It was Kinda like dominoes falling. No one falls and hits the next one which then falls and it’s the next one and before you know it you’re engaged. And so now that they had checked that box, it was time for the next domino to fall the castle. I got the idea that I should be some like a wife that stayed at home with kids and I had moved out. I lived in San Francisco and I loved it and I’d moved out of San Francisco to the suburbs and we lived in a. I mean bless you if you love carpet. I hate carpet.
Sarah: So it was like the epitome of everything I hated. It was like this condo covered in carpet and I just felt like death. The condo they chose, the one covered in carpet was smack in the middle of their two jobs which were approximately 70 miles apart, which itself is such a weird decision to make because picking the middle doesn’t necessarily make anything better. It meant neither of us were in a our relative homes, we had to carve out a completely new community, a new home, and we were constantly commuting away from each other so there wasn’t much time to spend together anyways, and this is all new to me. I lived with a boy before and I hadn’t been married before and I didn’t know what it was supposed to be, so I felt like I was kind of following a script and once I got on this train it was just taking me forward rather than being a participant in these decisions, like an active vocal, here’s what I want participant. It was more like, oh, that’s what we do next. Okay. And I almost constrained myself within these parameters that I hadn’t stepped back to question whether or not I. I believed in them in the first place.
Jeff: The relationship wasn’t working, but in the stories it always works out, you know, the characteristic it out to the diversity and then on the other side happily ever after is waiting for them and for Sarah pure remain hopeful that maybe they could get there.
Sarah: I remember telling him, I believe that we can fix things. I believe that you can work harder and work through it. And for me I was so blindly optimistic, like, well, we’ll just keep on checking the boxes and keep on marching forward and this will be all fine
Jeff: at this point. Neither is happy. So they come up with a temporary solution to help get their relationship back on track. We
Sarah: decided for the sake of our relationship that we should go back to living. He worked down in San Jose. I worked up in San Francisco and we should go back to living in these separate cities but keep dating. And so I moved up to a little tiny town called quarter Madeira, uh, which is north of San Francisco. Actually rented a teeny tiny unit inside of a garage because I was working in architecture at the time and couldn’t afford much more than that and I moved up and he moved me up there and then drove away and I never heard from him again.
Sarah: I thought that we were separating like where we live, but we were still dating and I remember like a day went by and I hadn’t heard from him and I called my sister and I was like, this is weird. Like we’re engaged, you know, and I guess he’s just busy like moving in. And then another day went by and I got this achingly bad feeling because like I don’t know what is going on. And then I called my, both of my sisters and I was like, I do not want to be that crazy person. Like I don’t want to call and then ask and then wonder and then like what’s going on? But inside I feel crazy and I was living. So the room was not that great. It was, it was like this teeny tiny room inside of a garage and it was like think 10 feet by 10 feet on the other side of one of the.
Sarah: There are no windows because it was inside the garage and on the backside of one of the walls was a washer and dryer. So my whole room would shake whenever somebody did the laundry from the house and they had a twin bed in it because I, this was like a stop and go. I thought I’d be living there for like a couple of months until we figured out the next thing. So I got the cheapest place I could find. The twin bed had a footboard and a headboard and I’m a very tall person so I couldn’t actually stretch out in the bed. So I ended up getting on the floor and I slept in my sleeping bag. Like my stomach started to just bend inwards. And you know that guttural feeling you have when something’s been ripped out from under you? I couldn’t barely stand off the floor. I remember like, like I used to like take those carpet fibers and run them through my fingers because that was the only way I could self sooth. Um, I just couldn’t stop crying. Like I just could not stop crying. I didn’t want to eat. I was racked
Jeff: instead of this fairy tale ending riding off into the sunset, Sarah was left in this tiny garage apartment on the floor, completely broken. Well, any breakup is hard. It was more than that. She was all alone with their own voice, her own thoughts, her own inner knowing. The spell had been broken and the antidote was not true. Love’s kiss. And now she had to rebuild her life. That, a script to follow
Sarah: with hindsight, like with reflection, I can see now 10 years later, the moments where my hesitancy was actually like my body’s saying no, or my mind saying no, it was, it was more awareness. But it was like I didn’t have access to that awareness yet. And, and this is something that’s been hard for me. You know, people say it’s either a hell yes or a hell no. There’s that phrase like you’ll know it’s with full force, it’s a hell yes or it’s a hell now and for me, my barometer has been it’s taken longer for me to kind of calibrate what my system is actually telling me and I realized that like there are some soft yeses and there’s some soft nose and if I’m pausing at all, if I kind of. I do like you ever see a puppy set and cocked his head sideways and lists lift an eyebrow at you.
Sarah: That’s the feeling I get in my body where I kind of quizzical my head tilts to the side and I’m like, well yeah, I could and I, I start to launch into a self explanation, convincing myself why I might want something and it has taken me a long time to realize that is hell no. That’s what Hell No. It looks like in my body if I am trying to convince myself to do something because it is cognitively and intellectually a good idea. It means I’ve already decided no, but I just took me so long to learn that as a person. So with the benefit of hindsight and looking back at the story and looking back at dating, I can tell you hundreds of moments where my body knew now, but I wasn’t aware of it yet.
Jeff: So the story does have a happy ending. However, happy endings not the same as a fairy tale ending, you know, real life is a lot more complex, but honestly the point of the story is not about fairy tale endings are happy endings. It’s about this
Sarah: well, multiple rounds of freedom that are given from having major surgery. And then I’m being cut free from a toxic relationship. One that doesn’t work, not because either human is bad, but because the relationship is not the right one. It’s so liberating to just wake up and realize, well, I tried checking off societies boxes and I tried dating that person and none of that worked so I have nothing to lose. And also I almost died. So I literally have a new life in front of me that I get to pick
Jeff: coming up next. Sarah and I have a follow up interview where we dig into the wisdom of her story. Talk about how she’s no longer following the script of fighting against it and identify some of the key takeaways from our experience. Just might change your life, stay with us
Jeff: if you’re like what you’re hearing and you don’t want to wait a whole entire month to hear from us again. Well, there’s good news because you don’t have to. Over the course of the next month, the transcend team and I will be sharing a series of articles, additional stories, exercises and bonus podcast episodes all based on Sarah’s story and the wisdom we’re learning right now. We do this through our weekly newsletter and you can find out more or sign up for free at our website. It’s transcend, experienced yet transcendent experience.net, and just click on the newsletter tab at the top. Welcome back. I’m your host, Jeff Friedl, and you’re listening to transcend. Transcend is a monthly podcast released on the first Sunday of the month and in every episode you tell a transformational story in part one, and then in part two we interviewed the storyteller to identify the key takeaways from their story that you can apply to your own life. Part two,
New Speaker: the interview from princess to pioneer, and by the way, Sarah lives in New York City to me hear a little noise in the background. So Sarah, we leave this story with you talking about how you literally have a new life in front of you that you get to pick. So what’s happened in the kind of 10 years since then so we can put everything that follows in context
Sarah: and you have to. It’s been so interesting to go back and dig into this story because I kind of knew that it would need 10 years before I told it. Here’s just. There’s so much raw ness that happens inside of breakups this big and life changes, but it really looking back was the catalyst for so many changes in my life. I spent a bit of the summer grieving and then. And then something clicked and changed within me. I, I just, I just kinda jumped up and said, all right, fine, let’s do this, you know, I almost died and I almost got married to the wrong person for me. And then all of a sudden I was free and I could do so much of whatever I wanted to do. So I launched a magazine. I started going to all these events. I threw myself into online dating.
Sarah: I had a really good time dating in a weird way, just for fun and for pleasure. Um, and I, couple of years later, I moved across the country. I got married to a wonderful guy, um, which surprised me, uh, but it still surprises me to this day. I’ve got a kid, I’ve got a second kid on the way, um, and I started my own company. I mean, those are the highlights. There’s, there’s a lot more in between, but all of that, it just seems like part of me looks back and is like, wow, that was so long ago.
New Speaker: And you know, there’s a lot of great stuff that you’ve done and I, we’ve known each other for awhile. I’ve been a witness to it and it’s remarkable to see your evolution. One of the things I want to focus on for a minute is I’d sent you a version of the story and I had included a very happy ending because you had met your husband Alex, and it’s a great story, but you actually responded and said you don’t want a fairy tale ending and for good reason. And that’s actually what inspired the way we framed this end up framing the story. So what was different in that in this relationship now? What’s changed for you in 10 years that really enabled you to choose a partner and actually start your family in a way that was really meaningful for you?
Sarah: I love this question and it’s true. I remember when you were workshopping the episode, you, you shared a piece with me and I said, oh boy, I really liked the story, but I just don’t want to end with me getting married because that feels too, too much. Like like everything is solved by meeting a man and, and it’s not, it’s not that I’m against partnerships and I’m thrilled with the one that I have. It’s just that we don’t see the other parts of it. For me, what was the root of what’s so inspiring and, and like life changing literally for me as a person is that I threw the like it feels like during that point in my life, in my twenties I was doing a lot of what I was supposed to do. I was following a lot of cultural scripts and cultural programming and there’s this, this current that tells people what they’re, what’s expected of them.
Sarah: For a lot of people, go to college, get a degree, get a job, be responsible and save for retirement, retire. It’s just a script. And for women in particular, it’s a make sure you get married and have children and that’s your manifest destiny. And if you have a career that’s nice, but really you should be a mother. That’s who and what you should be. And so I just kinda got swept along in this story of Oh okay, that’s what happens next. Okay, great. And that’s what happens next. And there’s. And there’s so many layers to it. Once you start down that path, it’s like, oh well I should have a wedding because that’s what people do in the wedding should be this big because that’s what people do. And getting thrown out of that whirlwind of felt like it allowed me to wake up and develop this kind of counterpoint.
Sarah: And today I can articulate it as a life philosophy that’s really important to me. And something I believe so strongly in is that you don’t have to do things the way they’ve always been done just because everybody else is doing things one way does not mean that it’s the way that it has to be done. And so since then it’s like I got to take things into my own hands a little bit more and my friend asked me what, what is it that you want out of a partnership or relationship? Why do you want to be in a relationship? What does it look like to be integrate? One and I started thinking about it in a way that I hadn’t maybe proactively done before and I wrote out a list of all the things that I wanted in a partner and and started to visualize and some people would call this manifestation, but started to visualize this is what I want a partnership or a relationship to look like and this is who I am and I’m not there yet.
Sarah: Right? Like I, I have, I have aspirations to live up to and this is who a potential partner might be and this is what a relationship would do for the both of us. And surprisingly, after going through that work and being way more forthcoming with myself about what I wanted, what really felt right to me and what I was hoping and dreaming for. It became so much more clear when it showed up and it showed up in my life really fast. I, which, which shocked me and I ended up leaving San Francisco and moving across the country to New York City of all places and I’m getting married four months. No getting engaged for months after I moved to New York City and in married by the end of the year. Um, and having a kid a year later. It’s just incredible when I think about it.
New Speaker: So what was the difference that made the difference this time around? I mean, you kind of alluded to it, but if you could really be specific, what’s the thing here that really changed for you?
Sarah: The idea that, that you’re following somebody else’s pattern of success or path versus really taking the time to understand yourself and saying, hey, actually this is what I want and however you do it, carve out that space to listen internally versus externally. It has been critical in my life and I’m not always good at it. I’m not always good at listening in. I’m very good at listening to the outside world, but taking the time to whether it’s journaling or swimming for me are listening to those little clues inside of your body. There’s so many different ways of experiencing the inner conversation, but to me, learning how to really listen to what I was saying and my soul doesn’t shout all the time. Sometimes it just gives me a little nudge and if I’m not paying attention, I’ll take the pummeling by the world around me and I won’t listen to my soul. Little nudges and really honoring that and respecting that and saying, okay, wait, stop. What does Sarah want? What’s right for me? Even if it feels like it’s going against the grain, that’s been so critical for me in navigating and finding my way.
New Speaker: And in the story you mentioned that you learned to calibrate the hell yes and the hell no, and there was that great metaphor of the puppy dog who’s, who’s just has that cocked head to the side and is a little bit inquisitive and that’s your hell no. So you know, as you think about that for you, you’ve learned to calibrate and you learn how to get there. For somebody listening who’s maybe not really sure how to hear themselves or listened or fine the hell yes the hell no. What might you recommend, like what, what’s the, what’s the process for others to follow or some of the things, the insights that you’ve learned in your to
Sarah: get to that place where you were really being really clear on what Hell yes and hell no is. That’s such an interesting question. And, and it’s, it’s, I, I just want to say that I empathize with so many people who it’s hard in the beginning to listen and I think, I think the hell knows that are obvious, are kind of easy. You know, somebody says, Hey, do you want to go bungee jumping off this bridge? Nope. That’s not for me. Like that one’s clear. I know the, the really big nose, but those are easy. It’s the ones, the more subtle ones where you start to say, look what’s happening here inside of my body or what is my response? And in the beginning you might not know. And I see a lot of people who, you know, there’s a lot of career coaching advice out there that’s like do your pattern.
Sarah: You follow your passion or do what you love. And I see a lot of people for whom they actually struggled to know what that is and they’re in a job because you might have an experience where you’re in an okay job and you’re in an okay relationship and you haven’t experienced anything greater than this yet and you’re not exactly sure what it is that you want to do. And so it’s like, well that’s nice for you to say do what you love, but what if I don’t know? And the best thing I can figure out is like if you’re gardening and you have a big plot of dirt and the whole thing is completely dirty and it’s just after a couple of spring rains and you’ve got a whole field full of short little leaves and shoots. And it’s really hard to distinguish the weeds from the things that you want to grow.
Sarah: Because in the beginning when a plant grows is just two little seeds. You have to go and find. And it takes some searching. Your defined the little tiny things that look promising. The teeniest, tiniest little things and say, okay, I’m going to make a little bit of space for this plant. I don’t even know what it’s going to be yet, but that one looks promising and it’s the same in life. It’s like finding the little teeny tiny joys. If you’re not quite sure what makes you happy, go out and find the little tiny nugget. Say, you know what? It’s super strange, but I giggle whenever I hear that music at the bar and I just want to go, I don’t know why. I just want to go spend time at the bar. I want to go spend because of the music. Follow that there clues in your life, their patterns and over time, the same way as what happened in the garden.
Sarah: You’ll see what it grows into and you may realize like, Oh wow, I do like this. I know I like this, and you develop a relationship with yourself and ability to understand what those little tiny windows of joy are, but unless you’re willing to take the time to really. It’s like pattern recognition and paying attention to the smallest things and starting to track it and just say, you know what, this is super weird and I love it or this is strange and I never would have expected it, but it brings me joy and I want more of that in my life, so I’m, I’m willing to follow that as a sign post.
New Speaker: Yeah, I love that. And I think there’s A. There’s another side of that too, which you actually had mentioned in the many interviews that we’ve done for this story and I don’t know if it made in the store. I don’t think that it did, but you said something about how you really had to fail a lot. Like the. There was. It was so much. So much of it was about also the failure or the or or not having what you want it or not experiencing the thing that you thought you wanted to be able to calibrate that as well. So it’s not so. So I just want to add on top of that, that there’s also the other element that when you clear away that little seedling or that little, um, shoot that comes out and you make space for it, it might very well be a weed in that that’s a part of the process is that having that be okay. Um, and that that’s something you’d share that really stuck with you,
Sarah: right? You might clear and say, hey, these 10 different plants look really interesting, and then three of them grow up to be big giant weeds and you’re like, well, now I know that that spark wasn’t a spark. That’s an ugly ass plant. Like for you. Are you? Someone else may think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.
New Speaker: Well, I just have to ask because now with hindsight, I mean clearly this wasn’t the right relationship, but I would be really curious given what you know in terms of your calibration and having a sense of what your hell. Yes. Hell no is when in this story, if you were to rewind the clock, if you had that skill or that that was something that you had developed at this point when you’re in your mid twenties and you meet this guy, when would you have pumped the brakes?
Sarah: Hindsight is such a a a powerful tool will knowing what I know now,
Sarah: I think. I think it came up a time and time again. Every couple of weeks there was another chance and one of the difficulties is this is like, this is like an email when someone emails you and says like, Hey, can you do this thing? If you don’t really say no right away and you kind of given invasive, you know, maybe yes, maybe no. They will ask you four more times and it gets harder and harder to say no actually as you go down the line. So it’s easier to say right away to cut it off, especially if you have any hint that this might not be the right thing. And so I would say way back in the beginning I wasn’t actually invested or interested. I just,
Sarah: I was a little chute, it was and I followed it and so I forgive myself in entirety and also this other person, like none of us knew what we were doing, but as little shoot and I said, hey, maybe this could be something I don’t know yet. And the, I think their problem is that when it became a weed or when it became something that wasn’t actually a beautiful plant that I wanted in my garden, I didn’t even, I didn’t even look at an even say, well, well, is this really, is this really the landscape I want to be growing?
New Speaker: So now, today, here you are 10 years later, all these things going on. Can you give us an example of how this part of you, this intuition, this calibration plays out in real time now?
Sarah: It’s all the time. It feels like a skill that I’m constantly refining. Like my husband, he jokes with me that uh, our super powers are at first they’re unwieldy because we don’t know how to use them. And some of my biggest superpowers in the world, well when I was just a little teeny toddler and then a teenager metaphorically speaking, when I was still learning how to deal with them, I wasn’t very good at using them. And over time if you can hone and refine your ability to use it, it can become magic and some of my abilities have, I feel like I’ve just crossed into the threshold of being able to actually like, like some marvel superhero wield a sword and do what I want with it and it’s so cool to be there. But it’s also taken 20 years of refinement. So in terms of saying yes or no, it’s the subtlety and the nuance and the texture.
Sarah: I just get better and better everyday at listening to it. And I mean the one that comes up for me right now at the moment of recording, I happened to be in my third trimester of pregnancy. I’ve got a little toddler who I really, I think the world of like I am. I love this kid so much. And then I’ve got another baby who’s arriving in just a couple months and I said, I just kept thinking to myself, I want to spend more time with them. Uh, but we have five, I don’t want to change the daycare situation. And I said, Sarah, listen to yourself. You want to spend more time with them. And so for the entire month I am not working on Thursdays and I’m just spending the entire day with him because I want to spend some time with them before the next baby arrives. And it seems like such a little thing, but it’s so easy to override that impulse and just say, well you should work and you should do more and you need to get ready in maternity leave is coming up and all this Coulda, woulda, Shoulda, whatever. When I’m not going to. I’m going to take them to swim class. And then we’re going to spend two hours in central park number both going to nap because let’s face it, I’m a giant pregnant woman right now and I need a nap and I’m going to make dinner. And that’s going to be every Thursday this month and we’ll see how it goes.
New Speaker: Wow, that’s really impressive. So you know, you live in the ultimate world of distraction in New York, right? And, and the theme this month is when it’s too noisy to hear yourself. And so the reference, we’re making the noises, cultural programming. In your case it was kind of the programming of for women go get married and have babies and be a stay at home mom. That kind of story. But there’s also the era that we live in now with just overwhelming advertisement, the news, which is just horrifying screens everywhere and, and top of that, the cultural programming that exists in, you know, lives within pop culture, whether we’re aware of it or not. So how would you recommend managing the noise? Because it’s, it’s more than just. I mean there’s the calibrating. They’re starting to find those parts of us that say like, Hey, I want to spend more time with my kids and like listening to that part of yourself. But then there’s also just this tsunami of people and companies trying to get our attention. So how much you tell somebody to think about being in that noise, living in a place like New York City and still finding that space to hear themselves?
Sarah: Yeah. What a good question. Um, I think a couple of things come to mind and can I back up a little bit and, and talk to. There’s just a couple of stories I think you would like, um, about Alex and, and me and this theme of not doing things the way they’ve always been done. One of the things I really appreciated most about our partnership was that there is a freshness to studying, well, should we do it this way and if so, why are we choosing this? Are we following somebody else’s path? And so, oh, when we got married I talked about not using a diamond for an engagement ring because, because why, like what was it, did it matter, did we need it? And um, and then when we planned our wedding, we played out a few iterations of a, should we have a 300 person wedding or a 100 person wedding and where should it be?
Sarah: And the thing is, is having a wedding in San Francisco or New York City is just expensive and I couldn’t fathom the cost of having all of these family members from across the country like go into debt for a wedding just to make the flights and find a room because the room in New York City is, the rents are insane. So we ended up sneaking into a park in San Francisco and having a wedding with 12 people and we had a, um, like a potluck after party one in San Francisco and one in New York City. And we invited people and we barbecued some chicken from trader Joe’s and had some, you know, $8 bottles of wine on the porch and that was it. Like it was just not a huge to do. And so for the cost of a wedding and to parties, we did it under $5,000 for the whole thing because our question was how do we do this in a way that doesn’t look like the way it’s done before, but stays true to our values. So it just keeps going. There’s so many ways that I’ve been so happy with the partnership I get to, to choose over and over again with, with Alex and he, he’s the one who came up with the idea of, well, why don’t I take your last name? And it’s kind of a funny story. His sister’s name is Sarah and I’m Sarah, and he’s like, look, I’m from Kentucky. I don’t know if I want my sister’s name and my wife named to be the same.
Sarah: We can do it the other way, but just all of these little pieces where, where we look at this rotation and we think about it and we say, and the reason we, we ended up taking the same name is because we wanted our kids to share a name with us. So we did. We did want to do something, but it’s been such a, um, oh, such an overwhelming treat to be able to ask these questions alongside somebody else and then to make decisions that don’t just sweep us down the cultural norms, but ask what it’s for and why we’re doing it and whether or not it matters to us.
New Speaker: Yeah. You know, I want to call out something here I think is really interesting and you said this and I said this statement in reference to this choose over and over again and I, I believe you are meaning choosing Alex over and over again, but, but it also is really relevant here in it and I think there’s a really important question that is at the baseline. It’s the physics to the engineering here. It’s, it’s fundamental to what you’re saying that is so critical to call out because there you are thinking about, well do we need a diamond and well, no, of course we don’t need the diamond that that’s why would we want a diamond? Well, because everyone says we’re supposed to and then it’s the next question that comes up or you know, what are we going to do for a wedding while everyone else is doing it this way, will, that doesn’t mean that’s right for us.
New Speaker: And it’s the next question that comes up right after that that I want to call out and the question that you’re asking yourself is, what do we want? Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s amazing to think about all these things that you’re doing and underneath it all you guys find your way to the question, what would we like or what would I want or what do I want? And I think it’s so important to call out here because I can look kind of look at your trajectory to the things you’ve done in your business and we’re going to get to start a pregnant here in a sec now because it’s. I think it’s like the quintessential representation of that. But it’s this, this, you know, constantly calibrating and then not just calibrating what others are doing within calibrating internally what you would like. And there you are taking Thursdays off to spend with your son.
New Speaker: What an amazing experience for him to have before you have your, your family grows. So I just think it’s so special that you’re able to do that. And what is it that enables you to not just, you know, ask the question but answer it because I think a lot of people here that might hear that and think, well, who am I? Who am I to be able to ask that question, right? Like who am I in this culture to actually go against the status quo? Who am I to ask myself what would I like and then answer it? What enables you? Or what is, what is it that lets you do that effectively? Jeff? That’s
Sarah: a hard question. Um, that’s a hard question if I, but I, but I also, I can see it like I can taste it when there’s, there’s something out there that we’re swimming in that says, Oh God, this is, this is making me so sad. But it says what you want doesn’t really matter that, that like, the underbelly of this is what you should do with your life is your opinions and your thoughts and beliefs and you see it just squashed out of children the, this innate curiosity and desire. Like my little one, my little Leo will go and he’ll find a leaf and then he’ll find a slug and he’ll just like want to play with that slug. And I could, as his parents say, gross, put that away. Don’t do that. And just squish everything that he wants to do. Or I could just say, well, check this out.
Sarah: He’s really entertained. I can sit on a bench and meditate. I mean he can enjoy that slug. Um, but, but the idea that our wants and desires are, are meaningless or not important or that, that you don’t matter is. I mean it’s really devastating when you, when you pointed light at it, but, and, and for a lot, I would argue for most people in this westernized American culture right now, if you ask them what they want, the only thing they’ll be able to hear is really honestly is going to be something along the lines of being exhausted or being lonely. I think those are two huge cultural problems we have right now. And people are gonna say, well, what do I want? I want more sleep. And so the first, what do I want might sound like, I just want to go home and eat ice cream and watch tv because underneath it what you want is not to be so tired.
Sarah: And underneath that, once you address those issues, I, I wanna like vege out. I want to ignore the things that I don’t like about my life. I want to not be so tired. Once you address those and you get three months of sleep, then you might hear the answer. But I think it takes a lot of peeling back the layers and honoring the first one. Even if it sounds really weird to you, like I want to go eat ice cream and watch TV. You might break yourself and be like, I’m lazy. I’m sliding Lee. I’m like, I, why can’t I hustle harder? Why can’t I work harder? Everyone else does this. I should have caffeine. I should make it work. And really following those little trails is so important and it takes time to be able to hear what’s underneath each of the layers.
New Speaker: Yeah. And grace to, to be willing to let yourself eat the ice cream and watch TV and just to take that, even if it’s a micro step, there needs to be some graces. Well I really like your perspective on that. Well, it leads me into the thing that I just find so fascinating because, and, and I tried to incorporate this in, you know, uh, there are many versions of the story where I wanted to bring this in because it was so. It’s so appropriate. And yet every time I did it kinda sounded like a commercial, you know, because it was just, it just didn’t quite fit, but it’s so relevant. So here you are, right? We, we watch you go through this journey and, and do this Disney thing and then totally get rejected by it and realize it’s total bs and then there you are calibrating for what you would like and you know, nursing those little shoots that are coming up in the garden and asking yourself what would you like constantly over and over again until you start to really turn that into a super power per se. So tell us what happens, which to me, this part of the story is like the quintessential representation of the Sarah who like emerges from the ashes of this relationship. And after refining this experience for years, then you go on to do this thing and it’s so, it’s so cool and I just find it to be such a great, like, you know, it’s the beginning of a journey, but it’s like such a great end to, to this previous story.
Sarah: Well thanks for that. It is. It’s so I’m in the swirliness of it all too. So it’s, it’s really cool to see someone else have outside perspective. But I did. I got pregnant while I was working at, at a venture backed y combinator startup and the juxtaposition of what pregnancy truly felt like in my body and what I had been told it would be like. And then the Mashup of that against this very masculine, um, hustle drive, more startup culture. It just catapulted in me this, this like this launch point where I said, okay, first of all, startups and pregnancies, they’re radically different and they’re not that different at all. And we have so much that we can learn from each other. It, it, it represented in, it embodied in me. To me, the idea that in the work world we’re missing a huge work world is so masculine driven and we’re missing an injection of the feminine that would be beneficial in in so many beautiful ways and then over in the pregnancy world we’re just isolating all these new mamas and they’re so lonely in there. So, um, so much, so much. It’s shouldered on them, expected to be, they’re expected to be a certain way. And I was like, okay, we’ve got to also append a little bit of what’s happening in the pregnancy and parenting world. And so this company was born startup pregnant where we get to ask all these questions about what it looks like to be a working parent and how the two worlds can talk to each other and learn from each other.
New Speaker: What I love about that is, is here you are taking something that the status quo is just horrifying. You know, these short maternity leaves, you know, you shared some stories about people who are seven months pregnant getting fired or getting passed over for jobs because these women who are pregnant or being seen as a liability and yet it’s such a ridiculous idea. And so here you are looking at the status quo looking at convention, right? The Disney version of this, this story is hey, women and work when women who want to have children in a family and make that a priority and work, they don’t their oil and water and you’re, you’re saying, wait a minute, you know, just like diamond rings for weddings. Like why is that the case that there’s no precedent for that? And then in here you are trying to buck the trend and he knows to be the salmon swimming upstream.
New Speaker: So can you walk us through, in the context of our story here and the lessons that we’re talking about today? Like, can you walk us through how you ultimately, you know, pushed through and how you’re, you know, what, what’s resistance you’re coming up against and, you know, how are you seeing yourself continuing to ask that question, what would I like here and push through and continue to calibrate in this way that’s clearly meaningful. And you know, for me as a father to a daughter, it’s exciting to think about a future for her where she could care about our family and make it a priority and also, you know, do some amazing things in the professional. Yeah.
Sarah: Well fundamentally I think that work is broken not just for women but for everyone. It’s just that women, especially women who are at the precipice of becoming parents are there like our, our canary in the coal mine. They’re the ones that are showing us how things are broken and, and right now we have so many cultural blinders on, like when you look at cultural scripts, they’re actually a really great place to disrupt the way things are done. And anytime you hear a platitude or something that you’ve heard over and over and over again, it’s, it is the perfect time to ask a question, why, where did this come from? And just like in so many of the other things that we’re talking about a, I hope it’s not coming across that I just say reject the status quo and do the opposite. It’s much more nuanced than that.
Sarah: It’s more like, let’s pull it all apart and let’s see what we liked and what we don’t like. Because with the wedding example, Alex and I were able to sit there and look at all the different pieces and say, okay, we love being around her family. We want to celebrate with friends. Um, we love the ritual of a ceremony. Like these things are meaningful to us. We do want to be married so we’re not rejecting it ad hoc. We’re not saying this is stupid, we’re never doing it. But we didn’t want to spend a lot of money and we didn’t need a tremendous amount of gifts. We lived in a teeny tiny apartment in New York City and there are pieces we were able to reject within the framework and rebuild it in a way that really worked. And so the same is true in the startup world and in, in, in the work culture.
Sarah: It’s just like, okay, wait, how did we get to a place where people are getting up at six or seven leaving their homes and working for eight, 10 hours coming home, being exhausted. It’s just not working, but it doesn’t mean that we reject work outright and just say, well, no one should work anymore. I mean, there are, there are people who would say that, um, it’s interesting to go study that, put it just led me down this path. Where did it come from? Why do we do things this way? And in asking these questions like, what, what would we want to change? How, how could this be better? It led me down a path where I started interviewing women who are doing things a little bit differently and every week I do an interview on the podcast that I have and I asked people about how they’ve designed their lives and that’s where things like this Thursday idea come from, where it’s like, oh, what if you worked four days a week? Well, why not? Let’s try it. Let’s see what it looks like. And my husband, Alex, he, um, when we had our first kid, he negotiated working 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, so he leaves everyday at four, gets home around 4:45, 5:00 at night and we have family dinner time, five to seven, five to eight every night is, it’s very, I’m Danish in a way, like if you look at other cultures, but that’s the time we’ve got and we have ours for our kids, not minutes and it’s because it’s important to us.
Jeff: Wonderful. Any final reflections as we wrap up here on, uh, on our theme and our story on some of the things that we pulled out today?
Sarah: First, there’s a very aggressive horn honker. I don’t know if you can hear him in the background. Well, the theme is when it’s too noisy to hear yourself, so it’s so perfect. Someone outside has a lot to say. I think. I think the art of listening to yourself, the act of listening to yourself is a radical one in a world that doesn’t, isn’t very generous about it and taking the time to honor yourself and trust yourself and listen in and say what? What would I really like? Like what would be really delightful for me. I think it’s. It’s not selfish at all. It’s actually one of the biggest things you can do in service to the world around you.
Jeff: Thank you to Sarah for coming on our show being a part of this experience. To find out more about Sarah, you can visit her at her website. It’s Sarah Dot [inaudible] dot com. That’s Sarah k peck.com. Or to learn more about what she’s doing with this new business startup pregnant. You can find email@example.com. Startup pregnant.com. Once again, all the action between now and next month will be happening in our weekly newsletter. To find out more or sign up for free, visit us at our website transcend, experienced.net. This transcend experience.net. Of course. Thank you to the transcend team for your continued efforts to make the show possible that Jessica, Ashley, Aaron Henny, Ian Douglas, Noella decimals, and Sarah Anderson. Thank you to my independent, strong, hardworking, equal partner in life and are to truly little, happily ever after is your ongoing love and support living guys, and most importantly, thank you to you for being here with us going on this journey together and making all the long hours totally it. We’ve got some great stories coming up that I’m really excited to share. Look for the next one on the first Sunday of September in 2018. Until then, this is jeopardized wishing you well.