Intro: 00:00 This is episode 20, getting over the wall with Ashley Mitchell of lifetime healing.
Ratelle: 00:05 Welcome to Law and wit creative counsel for entrepreneurs. I’m your host, Brittany, Ratelle mother for entrepreneur and nap time lawyer and attorney for creative entrepreneurs. I’m here to share inspiration and actions that you can tackle your business blocks and confidently own your business in every sense of the word. Thank you so much for being here. Hi guys and welcome back. I’m so excited to introduce our guest today. We have Ashley Mitchell and she is the owner of lifetime healing LLC and Big Tough girl, LLC, and she’s been out to increase the care understanding and resources for birth mothers for almost a decade. Ashley’s been one of the most consistent and sought after birth mother voices in the nation, well known for her vulnerability and transparency and adoption. Her story has touched the hearts of countless members of the adoption community and beyond. Um, and I’m so excited to have Ashley on here today to share all about her wisdom of her journey and how she’s turned that into two now really successful businesses.
Ashley Mitchell: 01:04 Yes. Thank you. I’m so excited to be here with you.
Ratelle: 01:07 Awesome. Um, well, you know, as I kind of alluded to in your bio, you have, you know, a really, um, you know, touching and story, uh, in terms of the vulnerable place that you came from when you started getting to know yourself in this work that would eventually be your life’s calling. So, um, tell us a little bit about kind of your, your beginning of your story.
Ashley Mitchell: 01:27 Sure. So, oh my gosh. Twelve years ago I found myself in an unplanned pregnancy and I was 26 and it was very unexpected and very, very scary. And on paper, as a 26 year old, I had all of the met the society standards of single parents saying, um, but I just had so many things that I wanted for myself and for my child that I want a different. And so I made a really, really difficult decision. I placed my son for adoption. Um, what I didn’t know is leaving the hospital Mt. bellied empty armed, just such a broken shell of a person that, that was going to be the easy part of this journey. And that the really hard part was going to be the grief and trauma that came with the separation of my son and I’ve just been really climbing and fighting and digging through that grief and learning and educating on what that looks like in 12 years out. And I’m still trying to figure it out. So my, um, my, I met my husband a few years after I placed my son and we’ve been able to, um, go on and on and we parents who children of our own and just the emotions that having kids that I parent brought up and there’s so much unknown and so we’re just kind of from one season to the next trying to figure this out.
Ratelle: 03:04 Yeah, definitely as, as anyone does who’s in any kind of parenting situation, but especially, you know, people who’ve been blessed to get into the adoption world and be part of the triad and know that that brings, you know, a richness and a complexity to that relationship for sure. Um, and you have a, a fairly open adoption, right, with your son.
Ashley Mitchell: 03:23 Yes. So it did not start that way because I was so ignorant to my own grief and um, didn’t understand what was really happening to me. Um, I lived through what I like to call my infamous jerry springer years I was doing. I mean, I literally could have been the poster child for a Jerry Springer show. I’m like, could have jumped out of the sidelines and been like, I was your baby daddy. Yeah, totally. I’m. When I, when I talk to people, I’m always like, it’s okay. You can chant. It’s okay. Like you can hear it. It’s funny, but I, I look back now and I’m like, oh my gosh, why didn’t somebody tell me? Why didn’t somebody tell me? And you would think it would be so obvious when you’re in the throes of it, but it’s not, it’s not. The grief is so isolating in the fog is so thick.
Ashley Mitchell: 04:15 And so during those first five years post placement, I had little to absolutely no contact with him and his family, um, because I didn’t know how to handle it. And I was unsafe to myself and others and it was just not appropriate. And by my own choice I was, I pulled completely away, but when my husband and I had our first daughter, we were living in Nashville at the time and we moved back to Utah and they live in Utah as well. And when I got home I just said, hey, I know I suck and you have every right to tell me no, but we’re here and we have a daughter and we would love to be a part of Derek’s life. And she, I just, I always cry, but she just says, absolutely yes, I’ve been waiting for you. We’ve been waiting for you.
Ashley Mitchell: 05:11 We’ve been holding a space for you. And it changed everything and allowed us to step into a really powerful healing space. And we’ve worked really hard. We’ve worked really hard to rebuild trust and honesty and have really uncomfortable conversations. And you know, it’s, we’ve had relationships with humans before, so it’s kind of just, you know, compromise and conversation and flexibility and it’s amazing. Now we, we have a beautiful open adoption and we get to the kids, get to sleep over and spend a lot of time together, but we’ve worked really hard to get here. Yeah. It was not an overnight success, you know? Absolutely not.
Ratelle: 05:50 How long is a long road for both of you? I’m sure. Yes. As you were coming into this process of, um, kind of you processing your story and your, um, you know, your placement and whatnot, um, when did you decide that you wanted to share your story? I mean, when did you kind of flip the script from kind of going as a someone who had an unplanned pregnancy? Um, and had, you know, the shame and the guilt and kind of the fight or flight attached to that? When did that change for you?
Ashley Mitchell: 06:18 So unfortunately for me it ended in a pretty drastic life event. Um, we, we have these, these game changing like Aha moments that really kind of, you know, flip the light switch for people and some are a little more subtle and Maine of course, because in true Ashley Fashion, I don’t do anything halfway. It had to be this big, huge, ridiculous spectacle. But, um, I ended up, um, unfortunately I’m taking an ambulance ride, spent two days in an er and spent five days locked in a mental health facility, um, and it was such a difficult and painful time, but it was the greatest thing that happened to me. Um, I, it was there that I was able to sit with psychiatrists and get on some medication and really kind of break down, you know, he would sit with me in an office and he’d just be like, so what’s going on with you?
Ashley Mitchell: 07:12 And I’m like, what are you talking about? I am fine. I am fine. He’s like, you need a padded room. You’re clearly not fine. And so it really was, it took that time to be kind of locked away, um, where I was alone with just me and I had to really get to know who I was. And that changed everything for me. And so when I got out of the hospital, it was like the fog had lifted and it was finally so clear. And once I had a name to it, once I finally knew what was going on in my head and in my heart, I could get the help I needed and it was just like I just needed to be able to put a name to it. And so it had been a secret this whole time. There was only about six people that knew that I had placed a child for adoption.
Ashley Mitchell: 08:05 And um, and so again, I’m just because I go big or go home. I told my story through a national blog and everyone found out my family found out, my extended family found out, don’t do that by the way, don’t decide that maybe maybe my try warmup at like a family barbecue or something. It was like, okay, now I know and I have all of this inside me. And I needed to bleed it out. I needed to write and get the things on paper that were conflicting in my head and my heart and process. And so I just started to write and it was public and, and then my mom for ferments, phone calls and phone calls. And, and my mom was like, oh, I will kill you. It was like Ashley, Ashley, come on girl, how
Ratelle: 08:56 could you do this to me? Like, you haven’t put us through enough already.
Ashley Mitchell: 09:00 You just go ahead and go national and area dirty laundry all over the place. Um, and it was funny to watch. Some of my family would be like, oh, that makes so much sense of why she was the way she must for so long all coming together now. Yeah. So I just started to write and just gradually people started to read and pay attention to what it was saying. And it just kinda grew from, from that moment. But I had, I had so much to say and so many conflicting emotions that the only way I could make sense of it was to put it on paper.
Ratelle: 09:35 And that was your way of processing, you know, your, your writing was, you know, sharing your story.
Ashley Mitchell: 09:40 Yeah. Yeah.
Ratelle: 09:41 So you got started, you know, I mean, as, as, as a blogger, you know, and I’ll be it as a different kind of blogger than a lot of people, you know, sharing their, you know, 10 ways to make snowmen crafts. I’m definitely not that person, none of that, none of that person, not to throw shade to any of my craft bloggers out there. We love, definitely not and thrives on you. But we need, we need all types and Ashley is a different type. Um, so you started writing and you started sharing and did you think that that was going to be able to help people or was it for you or did you not really know what it was going to look like at that point?
Ashley Mitchell: 10:18 Um, at that point it really was 100 percent for me, um, because that’s the only way I could process because my husband, bless his heart, could only listen to it first so you know, so much. And, and he’s been amazing and he has stood by me all this time and he’s a very huge part of my open adoption. Um, and supporter and cheerleader of my, of my work now, but I mean, that’s just emotional grief and trauma that God bless them unless you’ve walked it, you, there’s just a different level of understanding there. And so as much as he tried to be supportive, there was just things that he was never going to really connect with. And that was okay. Um, so I, I wrote for me, but when I started to, when women started to write back, I thought, oh shit, this could be this, this might be helpful, and it was never going to be a business.
Ashley Mitchell: 11:13 It was just I needed to share my story and if it helped people in my process then great. But I was in the throes of really just learning what my healing process was. And so it was very raw and very vulnerable and most people don’t share these things until years later into their healing. And I was in the throes of it. I had just gotten out of the hospital. I just reconnected with my son and I was bleeding it out for everybody. So in as fresh. Yes, it was very fresh. It was very fresh, but it was, it was cool. It was cool. Those me too. Connections that we’re starting to develop, we’re, they lit me up and it was exciting. It was exciting
Ratelle: 11:58 to share in that way. So, um, and, you know, I imagine that you didn’t, not all the feedback you got was positive. Uh, so how did you start handling that? Especially being so close to it? Yeah. Um,
Ashley Mitchell: 12:14 so over the years I have gotten a lot better. Um, I, I have people that will screen my screen comments and stuff for me if there’s, if I, if I get tagged a lot and facebook and there’s a big debate going on and stuff. Um, I have people that’ll kind of screen conversation and then they’ll decide if they need to tag me, if I, if it’s a conversation that they feel like I can jump in and be a part of, um, but, you know, then it was like I was charging it on my white horse and I was going to change the world and everyone’s perception of adoption and, and I was going to be the poster child and I just got slaughtered and I still do all the time, but I, I’m very much removed from it now because I have people that care about my emotions and keep me screened from a lot of it.
Ashley Mitchell: 13:00 But, um, it’s such a personal topic. We’re talking about mothers and children and family and it’s so emotionally charged already. Um, and then when you add such personal individual grief to it, it’s, and, and everyone’s so big and brave behind a computer screen. And so it was everyone, we’re just kind of all free reign for each other, so it just Kinda, I dunno, it’s hard. It’s hard and it’s heartbreaking. But I’ve learned, you know, again, this is part of knowing myself intimately and knowing and understanding grief that rarely are the comments a personal against me. They’re just projecting where they’re at in their journey and what has been triggered in them and showing a ton of grace in that space because you can’t fight with everybody.
Ratelle: 13:56 Yeah, you don’t, you don’t have the bandwidth and you and you now recognize being where you are in your journey that a lot of it, it’s just fear, you know? And that’s the root, what people are saying and they don’t know you. Maybe they don’t even recognize it themselves, but they’re afraid for themselves. They’re afraid for their loved ones, for their kids, for whoever. Yeah,
Ashley Mitchell: 14:14 absolutely. And I just, you know, you gotTa pick your battles and there are some things that I will go to the mattresses on and there’s just some things that are just nuts. They’re not worth the pettiness of it. So.
Ratelle: 14:30 So you let those things slide. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um, so you started writing and making those connections. You said, you know, what lit you up, you knew that there was something there that you had something to offer to other people that there was some real connections, some real magic going on into that process. Um, where did you go from there, you know, did you, how
Ashley Mitchell: 14:52 did you start moving that business and that idea forward? Um, well, it started, you know, I could write a book on what not to do and it’s so awesome to look back now because I, I’m like,
Ashley Mitchell: 15:09 where we’re just a year into lifetime hailing. It’s a really fresh, but I have like eight solid years of really, really poor business ideas that failed miserably and me knowing and having this passion now in this fire that I wanted to serve birth mothers and then figuring out 8 million ways that I’m not good at. Um, you know, I tried nonprofit, I suck at running nonprofit. I’m horrible at it. And I got really caught up into the idea that for me to do this amazing charitable work, I had to run a nonprofit and that just was not true and I was really bad at it. So. So you had checked that off that list. Nonprofit one down. Yup. Yup. And then we stepped into running our own private support groups. We were doing support groups in person and we were doing support groups online and we did it really well. And even when we did it really well, we knew we were not qualified to run that kind of support and reliving our own trauma over and over and in, running support groups ourselves. And 3:00 AM suicide watch with birth mothers and
Ashley Mitchell: 16:34 social media is the best and worst thing I think that’s ever happened to adoption. I think we can say that in any industry really, but especially in adoption. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and just because you can start a facebook group doesn’t mean you should and they’re not monitored well. And because there’s so much heavy grief, um, they’re, they’re brutal and they, they’re just. And we know that hurting people hurt people. And it’s just this fight back and forth and it’s very destructive. And even when we monitored it, monitored it well, monitored it, even when we were watching it, well, um, we knew we weren’t qualified, we knew that we needed licensed professionals that could step in and this needed to be done in person and not on facebook. And so we stopped doing that because for my marriage and for my own sanity and my own emotional wounds that were being ripped open all day, every day. And for the, for the health of the women, we needed something different. And so, so it has taken on a lot of different forms and, and now we are in a sweet spot where I can still have this pie, this fire and desire to serve these women and do it through a channel that protects me, offers them the best service and holds everyone accountable that should, that should be. And so we’re, we, we finally have a really large learning curve. It takes me a really long time to figure things out,
Ratelle: 18:15 but it’s not linear. It’s exponential there at the end. So, um, so you mean you’ve hit your stride, you know, and now you have lifetime healing. So, um, explain a little bit more about what you do with lifetime healing.
Ashley Mitchell: 18:28 So what we did with lifetime healing was take everything that we had learned, all the experiences, everything that we saw lacking and we wrote the nation’s first curriculum on post-placement care and training packages for the adoption professionals. And so now we take this curriculum and take it to the professionals and say, you have an ethical responsibility to stand with these women in the rebuild. If you’re going to stand with them and destruction and this is what it looks like and you need to be running free support groups. I do not believe, especially in something like this, that mental health should be a luxury. They should be able to get grief and trauma. It should be a standard and it shouldn’t come down to whether they can afford therapy or not. And so we created free peer led support groups that follow a very specific curriculum that we’ve written that allow them to come and sit in that that needed knee me to connection. And I’ll tell you what, I don’t care what anyone says to be able to walk into a room and to be able to see another birth mother for the first time and say, oh my gosh, I am not crazy. It is a huge piece in bringing down the walls for them to be able to get the mental health support that they need. That validation is powerful in this journey. Yeah.
Ratelle: 19:52 And it’s in. It’s amazing stuff. I mean, uh, I had the chance to look over and review the curriculum with you when we were kind of the beginning stages of, um, you know, licensing and launching this program. And I mean, it’s beautiful because you’ve got this journal that comes with it, you know, it uses so much of the process that you found to be so helpful in terms of being able to really process and use your words to share your story and start that healing.
Ashley Mitchell: 20:14 Yeah, it’s cool. And they get to take it and it meets them where they are, not where everyone else thinks they should be because everyone has an opinion on how people should grieve and what that process looks like and what step are you on and all that crap. And I, I don’t think that’s how that works. And so for us to being able to say, here’s material to help you in whatever space you are, then that’s what, that’s what you need. And to see these women dive in and say I’m ready to do the work, who’s doing work is not. The shortcut is so hard and so painful, but it’s vital to move forward in, in any area of my life. If I would have not started to dig and clean those wins out, I would not be where I was. I’m, I wouldn’t be here right now.
Ashley Mitchell: 21:04 If you had done and you know, walk this road yourself and done this work yourself. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Um, and so, I mean, you’ve mentioned it’s been a long journey to figure out some of this stuff. What role have mentors played in this business? Mentors, you know, where have you learned to get business information? Oh, um, so one of the, one of the powerful pieces for me was finding the courage, first of all, to be really brave and being vulnerable and sharing my story. And so I follow a lot of women that I absolutely love and adore and that I watched them be raw and vulnerable and brave and it’s inspiring and it’s encouraging and you’re like, okay, she didn’t die when she shared that story. So maybe I can do this. That’s why I want, I want people to step up and share their voice.
Ashley Mitchell: 21:54 I want them to know that they’re supported. But you know, Brenae Brown talks all the time about who you share your shameless and making sure that you’re in a space that’s safe and comfortable. And I think that’s why some of the support groups are so powerful. But I, I really feel like when I really stepped into this and knew that this is what I wanted to do, I have, I’ve learned things, talents about myself that I have and having really thick skin and those things are important to me. And so finding women that are brave and sharing their story, surrounding myself with women that are a hell of a lot smarter than I am, like you. Um, and just asking questions, getting connected with you. Brittany was hilarious because I went to a workshop in Provo, Utah because allison faulkner was speaking and you know, she’s allison and so those crazy party.
Ashley Mitchell: 22:49 So obviously she’s a wealth of business. Wisdom will. She is. So obviously I went because she was speaking and I know and I 100 percent went thinking I was going to get to talk to allison and pick her brain and it just came out of my mouth that I said I need a lawyer if you know a good one to take me to the next step. And she handed me her cell phone and she said, here’s Brittany’s number. Call her. And I’m like, Allison, who? Like Brittany is like the real deal. But that’s how we got connected. I was showing up at places, I was asking questions, I was doing a ton of research. This stuff doesn’t just happen. Like there’s so much work that has to take place behind the scenes and I have the emotional piece, I have the powerful story. I am a marketable person, like you could, I can be out there and speak and and draw people in and make people, but I couldn’t do any of that without the business protection and so I had to put people around me that knew about that. I did packets to graduate high school. I don’t know how to do any of this and so I put the passion before the horse and jumped in and said, I have this amazing story. Oh, now I have to figure out how to, how to move it forward. So I’m grateful for for people that are willing to share resources and, and stand with people that don’t know how to do anything.
Ratelle: 24:17 No, that’s, that’s just one particular tiny thing that you don’t know how to do that. That’s the thing. And we know it’s a famous quote, you know, will rogers says that we’re all idiots at something. So yes, and I know what I do well and that’s why I’m out training. That’s why. About speaking, that’s why I’m out in front of you. That is your gift. Yeah, that’s right. And I let everyone else dealt with the rest. Yeah. Great. Which is what we all do and should do what we do best and hire out the rest. Okay. That’s right. Everyone say it with us because we all need to hear it a lot. It’s, you know, there, there reason why cliche things are so cliches because we need to hear from a bunch of times over and over again until we really start resonating. Well, thank you for that, uh, that glowing review.
Ratelle: 25:02 But um, it’s, it’s, but it’s always inspiring to meet with other people and I really loved what you said in terms of that, you know, you knew you had a passion for something and you recognize that you not only, you had a passion for something but you knew there was a need. I mean, you’ve already validated this idea in terms of there were people out there who you connected with that you were a good fit for helping them, you knew how to help them. Um, but we’re just kind of missing the logistical piece, the technical aspects of that in terms of how to set that up. Um, and we’re looking for how can I get help. But you didn’t expect the universe to deliver it to you. You decided to open your mouth and talk and ask questions. Yeah, it was interesting. I had a really good one
Ashley Mitchell: 25:42 friend, um, she’s an adoptive mom and she’s like a huge cheerleader for me and she’s an incredibly smart business woman. Um, and so she’s kind of been an advisor that I’ve gone to a lot and I, I, I always, my passion gets me up to the wall and then my fear of all the other stuff that I don’t know always stops me from taking it to the next level, you know? And she’s like, don’t you want to know what’s on the other side of the dam wall for once, don’t you want to know? And I said, yeah, we’re going over the wall. And that was one of the, the, and it was very soon after that that I called you and I said, okay, we’re going over the wall. And it has made me so much more confident in the way I talked to the agencies because these are, these are licensed professionals, they’re brilliant women.
Ashley Mitchell: 26:35 These executive directors are amazing. These adoption lawyers are amazing. The, the, the men and women that run the pregnancy crisis centers, um, and to get on the phone with them and have the confidence in what I have to offer, but then to be able to offer them the security in the, in the contracts and the, and the logistics of it is, I mean I have like a 98 percent closing rate and I know that part of that is because I have the business part locked down and the emotional piece. And so it gives me so much confidence when I get on this phone call that I say, I know I can send you these contracts and I know that we can figure the logistics out and it’s going to be okay. And they have peace of mind when they write that check,
Ratelle: 27:15 right? Because they can see that this is a woman who’s a professional. She’s competent, she’s good at what she’s done, she’s thoughtful about the whole client experience and then I take it seriously. It matters to me. It does the whole thing, the whole enchilada. So, um, well yeah, I mean the will, the, you jumped the gun on the next question, but that’s okay. We love you. But I was going to say what role has legal played in developing your business a lot and um, you know, and, but what that looks like for you was, you know, how do we do something, take something that you knew how to do well and how do we package up and get other people to get trained in that because you’re only one woman and you can only talk to so many women. Um, you know, even with the great technology that we have. So you recognize that we needed to find a way to scale. We needed to find a way to replicate you and what you do well and you to be able to be the person that could connect the dots for other people who are, as you said, really trained well trained in what they do. Licensed professionals, but they don’t quite get your perspective and they don’t have your voice and they haven’t figured out from your side of the wall and that’s what they needed.
Ashley Mitchell: 28:22 That’s right. And you know, they don’t. Staff very rarely Jew did the adoption. Pr Professionals have birth mothers on staff and so that’s a huge missing piece. Um, and so to be able to come in and get that education and that training so that they can feel confident in talking to these women, um, on behalf of birth mothers everywhere because it’s scary and they and they love them well and they want to serve them, but they don’t know how. And we really have filled a huge missing piece in the country. And it’s exciting. It’s exciting to pilot a program like this that allows everybody to take what we know and really help it fit their demographic and turn it into something that will make sense for them. And that’s exciting.
Ratelle: 29:09 Yeah. You’ve done how many trainings now?
Ashley Mitchell: 29:12 Um, oh my gosh. We’ve got groups going on now in nine different states. We’ve trained, I’m just agencies all over and I’ve been speaking at conferences all year and so every single month there’s birth mothers gathering and I get emails from women that I don’t even know that attended a group somewhere. Um, I just talked to a woman in May, um, and she just said I had very severe suicidal thoughts before I walked into a group and I was able to leave so much at the table with these women and I end these sisters and I just, I don’t care if that one person that’s, that fire is still very strong for me that hey, if we serve one were successful, that I know we get so caught up as business owners and the numbers on and the money and the number of contracts. And. But for me it’s still so important to recognize, hey, if we’re serving one woman, well then we’re successful and we’re, we’re filling a need for her that she hasn’t had in who knows how many years she’s been waiting to connect and be able to share. And it’s such a shameful secrets. Still now in 2018 women are carrying the secret in silence and, and to be able to have one, one woman be able to come out and share her story. I, that’s, that’s everything for me that keeps me, that keeps me fired up. The agencies can worry about the numbers and that kind of stuff. And I, I just want to serve. I want the women to get help.
Ratelle: 30:40 You care about that one. Yeah. And that’s, and that’s clear from everything that you’ve, that you’ve built and from the, from the ground up is about that one. And I mean, what a, what a moment, you know, uh, you know, the, this unfortunate still opportunity. We have to do so much better in serving people, um, in the mental health field because we’ve seen, you know, even just recent is this last week, how, um, how much we have to go in terms of understanding the, in eradicating stigma and making sure that we’re checking in on people, even the strong people, even the people that seem like they’re doing okay. Um, it’s certainly the people who seem like they’re not.
Ashley Mitchell: 31:14 Yes. And I think we just, we, we all, we’re all talking about it, but the elephant feels so big that it cripples us from taking action when I was like, fine, one small piece, what’s, what’s your piece? And, and go all in with that piece because there’s a lot issues, you know, in adoption alone in the industry and, you know, the ethics of it all. But I, my piece is the mothers and the post placement support. And so I’m going to do that and I’m going to do it really well and I’m going to hopefully help find people that can step in and fill in the gaps in the other spots because I can’t do it all. And we just need people to talk a little less and act a little more.
Ratelle: 31:58 Yeah. I really like what you said there in terms of focusing on your piece. I think, you know, of, of women I know who have, um, some of them, you know, have had stories that uh, you know of infertility or postpartum depression or um, you know, other kind of similar related stories that have, you know, there’s a lot of grief. There’s, there’s a lot of trauma and pain, um, and they’ve wanted to do something to help and sometimes it feels overwhelming, you know, when you take these larger issues, um, and you know, even if you have found that, you know, to really try to narrow in and think about an attack it from just a very small singular perspective in terms of what can you really do well and to serve these women well and not be overwhelmed. Yeah. And been interesting to watch
Ashley Mitchell: 32:40 that mindset transition in my business because when I first got started I was trying to do everything and I was beating my head against the concrete. It was not until we will, we’re able to narrow it down to what we were really good at. That doors were blown wide open for us. I mean, and it was because we got in our lane and, and stayed in our lane and, and did what we were good at and, and know that that was enough to affect change. Right?
Ratelle: 33:11 And that there are things that need to be worked on in the adoption community and we hope that those things work on. But you know what you’re there for and you’re not there for everything. You’re there for the mothers. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. Um, and so as you’ve started, you know, I’m working in doing more of these in person events and transitioning and you’ve done, you know, some in the past, but I know now especially the emphasis is on this kind of in person training. Um, what have you found challenging about doing that, you know, and have been able to overcome those, those issues?
Ashley Mitchell: 33:41 I’m there. It’s always a challenge because everyone’s so different and every, the demographic of the women that they’re serving is so different in this state. Laws around adoption are so different. And so maybe to just walk in and say, Hey, I’ve got this generic curriculum. And so it’s been, um, I’ve, I’ve tried to really stay teachable. The agencies have been so gracious in saying, honey, we love you, but that is not gonna work. Like how can we adjust that to make that work in our state? And um, you know, traveling, traveling, and being away from my family is, is hard. There’s a lot of guilt with that. Um, and I think that’s been the biggest thing is I, I know I’m, I always say I’m really good live like you need to be in a room with me and fill my passion and get lit up and get excited and the energy in the room and um, but committing to doing those things in person, take you away and, and, and those are really hard to get to my husband and I, like I said, I have two small kids at home and, you know, the households and all of those things that my husband, God bless him, does an amazing job.
Ashley Mitchell: 34:50 But there’s things about that that I feel guilty about that are hard, that are hard on me. Um, this is emotional work for me. Um, and I’m reese sharing my story week after week in a different city every week. Um, and that’s, that’s really challenging. Um, but for the most part, the agencies and the professional stuff and amazing to say to educate me, I’m not, I’m not agency minded. I didn’t work for an agency, you know. And so to come in and say, hey, you need to do this better. And then there’s like, yeah, we agree, but honey that in our state, this isn’t going to work and this isn’t gonna work. And I’m like, all right, now let’s brainstorm. How can we adjust it to fit your demographic and to be able to sit at the table and brainstorm with these women. And the men that work in these agencies has been very rewarding and they have taught me so much, they’ve taught me so, so much that will, that will impact how we move forward and how we continue to grow to be able to service more, more people across the country.
Ratelle: 35:52 And I hear you, you know what I mean? The power words era, the year teachable and you know, you are a, you’re able to move forward with what you know, you know, keep to what your stick to your guns and what’s important, but also be flexible enough to brainstorm and not let you know, policy. And we’ll put that in quotations, see what the capital p, you know, and this is coming from a lawyer, but you know, just because it’s written out somewhere, it doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. Um, you know, not stop you from achieving your goals and what you know is really important and
Ashley Mitchell: 36:24 it’s easy to get caught up in, especially because I’m, this is such a unique program and I’m such a unique voice in this industry to say, well, I know everything about birth mom, so you need to listen to me, but to be able to come to the table and say, I am very confident and very passionate about this, but I recognize that there’s gonna be some holes in it, but you don’t know what you don’t know and the, you know, until you just launched and figure it out. It is full on baptism by fire and every time I travel in every state I go into the training is completely different and we just kind of roll with it and say, okay, you know, high, oh, it looks like this and in Texas, so it looks like this and that’s okay. And we’ll manage those partnerships accordingly.
Ratelle: 37:12 Yeah. And I mean, you, um, and you recognize that, you know, even as we had our initial discussions, you know, about trying to, you know, be professional. Um, but also to be really clear in terms of what your training is and what it isn’t because you, as you said, are not a licensed healthcare professional or not a therapist. You’re not a social worker. You don’t have all the initials which means something different in every single state, you know, because that’s a good, that’s a good system, you know, the alphabet soup that goes on. And yet that doesn’t mean that you don’t have something to offer, you know what I mean? And we’re seeing a huge rise nowadays in the number of coaches and life coaches for any and all different kinds of issues that people are having in their lives and their marriages at work, you know, when their business. Um, and I think it’s great for people to be able to get the kind of help they need. Um, but also it’s really important for us to be clear about things like disclaimers and results and to make sure that people know what you’re offering and what you’re not and when they should maybe be looking to have a licensed professional.
Ashley Mitchell: 38:16 That was my biggest fear going into this. And, and again, we talked about this, this was like the number one question was I need, how do we make sure that in the contract that, hey, I’m here to educate you and here’s what I know, take it or leave it and you guys, and then I’m out because I am not, I’m not a licensed professional and we wanted to be a, you know, how important transparency is in my own personal story. And I wanted to carry that into my business. It would, it mattered to me for them, for anyone that came to my site to say, Hey, this is, this is just for education purpose. I’m not, you know, an. And so it’s allowed me to set those really appropriate boundaries and not do a lot of that one on one work with the women. Again, getting away from those facebook groups that should not be taking place and, and making sure that they are getting connected with the right people and that I can, could print, protect myself from some of that liability.
Ratelle: 39:11 Yeah. Um, so what would you say to women who are maybe, you know, find themselves that they do connect in this area? They like coaching or connecting with other women, you know, especially in dealing with some issues, um, you know, whether it’s stuff in adoption or maybe other issues that you know, that the women tend to deal with and have pains and struggles with. What would be your advice in terms of setting up their own boundaries and trying to work on, on having that?
Ashley Mitchell: 39:36 Um, so I, I think the community’s important and I, and I love that people can get on social media and being able to post and share and get support and things like that. But I just want to encourage women that are looking to, when you’re ready to step into your healing years because it’s for life where we’re always healing, um, from, from something like this. I’m too,
Ashley Mitchell: 40:06 again, be careful with what you’re sharing and we’re sharing it and making sure that you’re getting connected with resources that are going to be legally responsible. If you’re going to open up so much pain and grief, you want to make sure that you are doing it with people and get you the help that you need because there is no way to know how some of this stuff is going to manifest, um, in your daily life, how it’s gonna Affect your relationships, how it’s gonna Affect your parenting, how it’s going to affect your job, anything in and you need someone that can help you manage that. And as much as we like to think that everybody loves us on social media and that they’re all our best friends. You know, at 3:00 AM when you go to post something and no one responds and you put your phone down and you’re all alone.
Ashley Mitchell: 40:59 Grief isolates you even farther into the hole in. And I would never encourage social media be your only source of, of support and help and find people that are legally responsible, that take that seriously, that care about that people. People say all the time, well, you just have all the, all these disclaimers and all this legal protection for yourself. And yes, that’s important, but I want you to know that I care enough to protect this legally so that you can get the help that you need. It’s not just about, it’s not just about me, it’s because I care about you and I’m going to work with agencies that can provide that legal protection for you. And that matters to me.
Ratelle: 41:39 Yeah. And making sure people have skilled providers. Yes. And that no people who can do wellness checks, people who know what to look for, um, when things when someone’s in a spiral and, and to know that, you know, uh, I mean, I hear you there about not putting all your eggs in the social media basket that people should really try to build a diverse and rich fabric support fabric for them. Um, and that will be much more helpful in their journey, whether it’s healing and slash or sharing with others what they’re going through.
Ashley Mitchell: 42:09 Yeah. And I, you know, I don’t refer to agencies in and pregnancy centers and stuff that I have not personally trained. And so I know that when I’m sending someone to a resource that I know that I am not the right person to help them, um, but that I’m connecting them with people that I have sat in their offices, I have looked over their intake forms, I know that kind of licensed professionals they’re working with and so I can have confidence in those referrals and we need to have people like that that we can trust that I can’t help you personally, but I will get you to the right people.
Ratelle: 42:42 Exactly. Yeah. So, um, okay, well you asked if you could share, I’m a little bit. You kind of have a five finger, big tough girl, um, you know, kicking your pants. Um, can you share that with, this is kind of our closing tips from one big deaf girl to a bunch of tough girls.
Ashley Mitchell: 42:59 Yes. So we really believe that you are a big, tough girl if you are just freaking showing up like every single day and in whatever form that looks like for you, whether it’s in your pajamas or your like full Glam, you showed up. Great. And first of all, I think everyone needs a big freaking round of applause for that because as we’ve seen things in society and stuff, it’s a big deal to be able to just get out of bed and show up. And so, um, these are five things that we feel like are the biggest blocks that keep women from being able to really step into this. So, um, number one is to own your. We really believe that when you can take responsibility for where you are, then you have full control of where you want to go. And we, we tend to get stuck in a cycle of victimhood as women and it’s easier to point the finger and play the blame game.
Ashley Mitchell: 43:52 But what we’re saying is we allow everyone else to make our decisions and have no power in our own life. And I would rather take ownership and say I am here because I got pregnant because I didn’t protect myself. I didn’t care enough to make sure that we were using protection. I made these decisions and I did this and I did this and I did this. So here I am. And, but now because I own all that and now I can go wherever I want, and number two is stop the comparison. Um, this is such an epidemic in women, um, and we are made to be different on, on every scale for a reason and I am never going to be able to do what some of the women do and I know that I have a talent and a gift that, that nobody else can match.
Ashley Mitchell: 44:42 And what are ways a waste of our incredible experiences and hardships and successes and things that we’ve been through. If we try and sniff those out and be someone else, I’m investing in yourself. Recognizing that yeah, the work sucks. It’s so hard. The emotional work, it’s so hard, but you are worth showing up for and fighting for. And we are not good to anybody. If we are not healthy ourselves. And I don’t care how selfish that sounds, be selfish. I’m giving everyone permission to be selfish, to be selfish. Self care with a capital S. stop beating ourselves up about that because I know that I can not serve well if I do not take care of myself. And so recognize that it’s okay to invest yourself. And the fourth thing is to find the right people. People talk all the time about making sure you find your tribe and that’s important, but you need to find the right tribe because there’s, there’s people everywhere and we can, we can fit into a group anywhere, but you need to find the right people.
Ashley Mitchell: 45:49 Are they rowing with you? Are they rolling against you? And you get to a certain age and it’s kind of like I ain’t nobody got time for that. Like I didn’t need people that are going to lift me up and empower me and encourage me to move forward and be my cheerleader and if I’m spending time with somebody and all they’re doing is complaining and Gossiping and I, I, I can’t, I can’t. I don’t have the head space or the heart space for that. And, and so be selective. My circle has gotten incredibly small as I’ve gotten older, but they are the most quality, quality women that I know. I’m so find the right tribe, not just a tribe, and I’m the fifth one is to keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other. You cannot stay stuck. It’s okay to have a moment.
Ashley Mitchell: 46:38 It’s okay to break down. It’s okay to grieve, but there’s a season for that and you can’t stay there. You can stay there. You can’t accomplish all this waiting for you if you stay there. If you told me it 12 years ago, I would be doing this work in serving these woman. I would have laughed in your face because there was no way that I thought that I could ever be worth anything after what I had done and what I had experienced. And I stopped moving for a really long time in and it about killed me literally. Um, and, but one baby step in front of another. And here we are and you just have no idea what’s, what’s waiting for us if we don’t keep moving. So those are my five tips for you all. You ladies listening and men too, you know, where we welcome men,
Ratelle: 47:29 you know, as far as, um, well that’s, that’s so beautiful. Ashley. Thank you for sharing that. And I love, you know, what you talked about, of just not knowing what’s on the other side, you know, and you were encouraged to climb that wall and you did and now you get to see what’s on the other side of it. Um, and we hope that anyone who’s listening who has something that maybe they’ve been through, um, and, and it seems like it was a negative, you know, it seemed like it was a painful part in a season of their story. That doesn’t have to be the end of the, your story for you. Um, and that there are certainly a great opportunity for women, um, in this day and age to the technology and the resources that we have in order to turn their pain into something a lot more beautiful. And I think you’re an amazing example of that.
Ashley Mitchell: 48:15 No, thank you so much. I appreciate you letting me come in and share what we’re doing.
Ratelle: 48:19 Okay. Okay. Well, if people want to hear more about you, and I’m sure they do because you’re just an incredible dynamo girl. Um, where can they find you?
Ashley Mitchell: 48:28 I’m on all things. Social media. Go to big tough girl. Instagram’s kind of my jam. So big stuff girl, or a lifetime healing llc and of course you can always find firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ratelle: 48:38 Okay. To find all your stuff. And a good sell actually is an amazing speaker and we’re so glad to have her today. Thanks Ashley. Thank you.
New Speaker: 48:47 Wow. I mean, isn’t actually just amazing. I hope you enjoyed that episode. I certainly enjoyed relistening to it. And so it’s getting ready to release this podcast episode. Um, when Ashley and I recorded this, um, the week before had been the deaths of kate spade and Anthony Bourdain, um, obviously high profile celebrities and so mental health and suicide and healing, um, and shame, all of these were in discussions and a lot of places, um, which is good. I think it’s good for us to be talking about these things. Of course, in the weeks that have followed, those discussions have quieted down and die down and people are not talking about these issues as much, which I understand that’s what happens when we have high profile things that happens in natural curve. Um, but I think it’s unfortunate for the fact that we, um, we may be, aren’t still having these issues front of mine because I think that when you, um, when you have someone like Ashley who’s been vulnerable enough to share something that happened in her life that was hard, um, that was ugly, that was painful, that was dark at the time.
New Speaker: 49:46 Um, and they’re open to share with that in the spirit of what they’ve learned and what they’ve gained and how they’ve healed and how they can help another. Um, I think that the gift that they’re offering to us is such a precious one and that we need to be really careful that we are not squandering that gift and that we are not trying to distance ourselves to keep ourselves safe. And if, you know what I mean? Um, I was reading online, someone was talking about, um, a, a, an almost accidental drowning at a pool and they said, look, this happened to me. I was sitting there with friends, there were multiple parents, moms about and suddenly someone screamed and there was my kid in the pool and they got them out and luckily fortunately they were able to perform cpr on the child lived. Um, and yet when we hear those stories or anything I think, you know, involving kind of shameful circumstances, I think our immediate reaction is to say that would never happen to me.
New Speaker: 50:39 And I understand that because we’re trying to protect ourselves and our brains and our hearts. And it’s really hard to think that anything like an accidental drowning or a car accident or cancer or not cancer, I think people realized that they can’t really control where they get cancer. But I think people can put too much stock into what they can control. That they could keep. Things like mental illness, depression, abuse, um, infertility, um, ptsd, uh, a host of other issues of struggles of the, you know, the darkness that seeps into people’s lives that they can keep these at bay in that, um, well that would never happen to me. And because of this and I, you know, I think we do this not because we’re trying to be mean people, but we’re trying to protect ourselves and we’re operating from a place of fear instead of recognizing that we are all on life’s journey and a lot of times we don’t know what we’re going to face and when people are brave enough to share their story with us.
New Speaker: 51:35 And especially with someone like Ashley, that we need to reach out. Um, we need to think, what can I learn from this? How can I be more empathetic to this? How can this story, um, be used? How can this pain be used for beauty, for healing, for reaching out, for maybe a moment in my life when I might, uh, be in a position where this happens to me or happens to a loved one that happens to someone close to me and you can be in a spot where you can make a difference. So anyway, I know those are kind of deep thoughts for long whip, but um, I just, I was just really impressed as I was listening to this episode that, um, it, it was on my mind and something that I needed to speak, speak my truth, but to use the parlance in terms of how important it is for all of us, um, to just be kind humans and to realize that we share so much together that we are so like I’m in the good and the bad and that to not pull away, even though that seems safer, to put that distance.
New Speaker: 52:31 To think that I’m different, my life is different. I would never do that. I’m dose don’t, don’t judge. And don’t assume because, you know, we don’t know what they’ve known and what they’ve experiences they’ve had and we’re all doing the best we can. Okay. And I really believe that we’re all doing the best that we know how and some of us, um, because of a lot of different factors are in a different place and know how differently and have different capacities and skills and hopefully all of that gets better because I believe that we can also all improve and get better that we, none of us are stuck with something that we have in our life and I believe in self help and doing better and moving forward and climbing that hill, um, that consecrated quest and hike. Um, but it’s not easy and I wouldn’t tell you that in anyone who’s worth their salt shouldn’t be telling you that either.
New Speaker: 53:21 Well, thanks so much for joining me on this special episode today. And, um, if you want to read the show notes, you can just swipe through here. Um, they should be on the episode page and whatever listener that you’re, whatever play you’re listening to, um, you can also find them@Brittanyretell.com slash 20 because this is our 20th episode and I’ll make sure to include some of the resources and links that we talked about in the episode. And, uh, just encourage you that if you, um, have had something in your life or just feel called upon that, um, there’s something that you can share that you can help with, that you go over that wall, that you know, you get to a place where you’re safe and you’re healed and you feel like you can share that they are not putting yourself or your mental health, your stability, your family at risk.
New Speaker: 54:03 Um, you know, certainly get to that place. But if you feel called to share and help other people, um, that you feel comfortable to do so. And I’ve certainly been blessed by people in my life who’ve been brave and shared their stories. And I felt like, um, I, I’ve learned so much about it. Um, even, you know, a lot of life experiences that I don’t have things that I’m, uh, you know, I haven’t had to walk in my life, but I’m really glad that there’s others who have shared about their so that I can be a better human and a better friend to those who I might come in contact with. So thanks so much for listening. And, uh, we’ll see. On the flip side.