Habits & Health episode 57 with Teresa Bitner Teresa who helps those who’ve been knocked down and want to bounce back to live a bold life. She’s a coach, speaker, and author specializing in resiliency, change, and loss.
She helps clients with the change that happens in life and work. Building resiliency and learning steps for surviving and thriving amidst constant change which sets apart those who live boldly.
We discuss how she learned how to be resilient, and understand the importance of taking responsibility
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Habits and health episode 57. Welcome to the habits and health podcast, where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. Brought to you by an educator and coach for anyone who wants to create a healthier life. Here’s your host, Tony Winyard.
Tony Winyard 0:19
Welcome to another edition of habits and health, my guest today is Teresa Bitner and she’s partners with people who have been knocked down in life and want to, to bounce back and have a bolder life. She’s a coach speaker, and an author specialising in resiliency change and loss. So we’re gonna have a conversation with Theresa coming up in just a minute. If you know anyone, we get some real value from some of the wisdom that Theresa does share with us. Please do share the episode with them. And hope you enjoyed this week’s show. habits and health my guess now is to lose a bit now. How are you Teresa?
Teresa Bitner 1:00
I’m doing well. Thank you, Tony. Thank you for having me.
Tony Winyard 1:03
No, you’re welcome. And we’re we’re taking a trip over to Austin, Texas today.
Teresa Bitner 1:07
Yes, right north of Austin, the suburbs.
Tony Winyard 1:11
And is that where you’re from?
Teresa Bitner 1:13
No, no, no, Originally, I’m from New York. So and that’s kind of where my journey of change began. I was raised by an alcoholic abusive parents they didn’t they know they did the best they could and then move to North Carolina where I went to middle school in high school. And then that was the high tech boom in the 80s. And I came to Austin, Texas always wanted to be here. I’ve been here since 1989. Not a native but close.
Tony Winyard 1:39
And how does Austin compare to New York?
Teresa Bitner 1:42
Oh, very different. Very, very different. I mean, in some ways, it’s similar. But it’s not because Austin we moved here in the 80s. Because it’s a place where you can be in find anything. If you want culture, you can find it you want cowboy. You know cold air air quotes rednecky stuff, you could do that if you want good school. Great barbecue, of course. So Austin affords a lot of that. Lots of people have found that out as well. So and it’s high tech, and that’s my background.
Tony Winyard 2:14
And you mean workwise? Now so I mean, you’re you’re busy. You have your own business, you you work as a coach, could you give the audience a little bit of a background? And about what it is you do now? And how why? where that came from? What was it that you went through to get to where you are now?
Teresa Bitner 2:29
Absolutely, it’s a story I like to share. But in some cases, it’s not fun to share, because some of it but it was hard stuff to go through. So currently, right now I partner with those who’ve been knocked down by life and want to bounce back. Sounds kind of simple. And for me bouncing back looks like recovering or getting through major losses and changes in life. Because as humans, we don’t like change in general. And some people fight it. So that’s, that’s kind of my superpower. And how I got the superpower of resiliency and change is the whole alcoholic abuse of home and I was used to changing, we moved. And I really thought I got change. You know, I survived. I was a kiddo. And I really thought I understood grief and death. I had lots of family members died very early in my life and, and high school friends from accidents and suicides. And then family members as you age were ill from cancer and other things. So I really thought I got it. And I was a survivor. And I would say that was it. And I knew how to handle it. And that was until in 2009 My first husband Chris was killed in a motorcycle accident. It was really awful time for us. I had just left a 16 year career in high tech where I was chief breadwinner large and in charge, I used to like to call myself and had started a teaching career. I thought I wouldn’t get certified to teach middle school science. So we were living out on a 12 and a half acre ranch the boys were freshmen and seniors in high school. So 14 and 17. When that happened, I was like, Oh, wow, now I’m a single mom of two pretty angry teenage dudes. And whoa, I’m a widow of 42 I was just like, What the heck.
And it took a long journey. The book that we’ll talk about later, is kind of my memoir about it because it was an ugly journey. I went back into some poor habits of eating and drinking my way through grief and trying to figure out what life was trying to be you know, a teacher still show up at school department head team lean and all trying to keep it all together. And then sometimes through that I moved from surviving to thriving and people kept saying LJ You’re so strong you’re so resilient. No, just like no survive in this stuff. Like wow. But I started researching and getting into what this resiliency mean I realise huh, really to have that soup Power of resiliency and bouncing back. And that’s what the memoir is about. After both kiddos, my goal was survive, get both kiddos graduated and onto their adult lives. And I thought, You know what, I have always wanted to start a business I ended up. And the other thing that got us through that really hard time, I would say it’s faith, family, friends, and surrounded by very supportive people. I’m very blessed to have had that. And I know that’s a privilege, like not everybody has, I just want to acknowledge that for any listeners. But I decided I had a life coach, and it was like, Oh, this is cool, you can actually get paid to do this. Wow, no way. And I decided, You know what, I’m going to open my own business. And I thought I would be life coaching and consulting. And that’s kind of what I do now. But that was in 2014. And didn’t sign my teaching contract. It was like, um, start my own business. And that’s how I got started. And funnily enough, not funnily enough, but as the universe has, as soon as I started my business, my mom started getting ill with congestive heart failure. So here, I was going to be the change in loss coach of the world. And I’m like, Really, thanks, Mom. I was focusing on divorce, job loss, career changes, which I still do. And then I learned how to be a remote caregiver for my mom. And she went from assisted living to hospitals to then hospice, and then eventually her death in 2015. And then finding out Oh, Dad’s got dementia, we have to put them in memory care, holy cow, he can’t take care of himself. And it was, it was a lot to deal with, like, Oh, I’m starting a business. And you know, when kiddo joined the army, the other was getting married. And then I also had a boyfriend, we were getting married, blending family. So all of that life swirl, helped, I can look at that now and say, help really round out who I am. And I tell people this, because I’ve been through this. That’s why I’m resilient. I keep learning about it. I love to study it, take classes. And I’d love helping people through their grief and their losses and their changes. So that they can become who they want to be. And bounce back, if that’s what they want, move forward, lead their teams through changes, things like that. So that’s my deep passion. And I really believe that through education and knowledge, and skills, people can build their resiliency, it’s, it’s like a muscle. If we practice it, we can improve it. So that’s a really long answer to your question. But that’s the whole story. And you got it all now.
Tony Winyard 7:35
So the thing that comes to mind arties is explained all of that. And given that brief description of what’s happened over the last few decades. Where do you think the resilience came from? What can you what are the what’s the earliest memory you have of showing resilience? I mean, did you have it in childhood? Did it come in your 20s 30s? Where was the first sign? Do you remember?
Teresa Bitner 7:57
Cool, that’s a good question. I thought about that. And that’s a really good one. Let’s see. So first resiliency, and living in a we were very functioning home, dad worked in high tech mom was a stay at home mom, and it was always we didn’t talk about it. So he always had to be put together. And, you know, keep up appearances. What happened in the house late at night was something we didn’t talk about. So there was that, you know, you have to do the best that you can you’re smart Be a good girl and do the best that you can was inbred in me and never lie. Although looking back there’s like there was a lot of denial, honestly lies but denials and then I got I would call my teenagers that turbulent teens because I completely rebelled. We moved from New York where I was little miss it to Charlotte, North Carolina, and oh my god, the debutante Satan lived next door because she smoked and drank. So literally had a horrible transition right in the middle of middle school in high school. So I rebelled. And I remember getting lots of trouble. All kinds of things happen and dad just sitting down his like, look, you’re going to either die, or you’re going to become really successful only you can choose. No, I was like, Ah, okay, I have that. And there was a very pivotal counsellor at school that talked to me about this. He’s like, you’ve got so much going, don’t throw it away, doing, you know, doing drugs, skipping school, drinking, partying. So that was probably the first time because I really got scared, I got myself in some big trouble and scared myself and I was like, hmm, I have a choice to make. And I could choose to be sober or not sober and I can choose to live and do these things. And then I really found out about resiliency when I went to college, and being one of very few women in 1984 to enter into computer science and engineering. And realising Oh, there’s nobody here about me. Wow. And having that you I will do this. I will you know, I will Well, I try, I will get this degree, right?
Tony Winyard 10:03
Because there’s a number of things that in description you gave before, there’s so many knock backs that you had, many people would have just given up, started blaming the world, you know, worries me kind of thing. But you didn’t take that approach.
Teresa Bitner 10:21
I wouldn’t say there wasn’t blame for a lot, many years, I blame my parents for my issues. Like they did that to me. I went to an Al Anon for, you know, children of alcoholics and learned, oh, you have to take responsibility for yourself. That was one of the things I learned was I have to take responsibility for myself, my feelings and my behaviours, blame doesn’t do anything. But it’s really easy to feel that way. Woe is me. Yeah. And I would say, when my husband was killed, there was probably a year of what was made. This sucks. I hate this woman who ran into him. Just no evil thoughts about how I wanted to hurt her family never acted on, but just some wallowing occurred. And it took a while they go, okay, and my friends are like, come on. My nickname is T Q. That’s where my initials kind of take you. You gotta get it together. Like, I was always miss it had it together. I’m like, Well, I definitely fell apart. But having that and a strong faith as well.
Tony Winyard 11:21
And so what was there anything you can pinpoint that made a difference that got you out of that? Funk? What? What changed? Was it something you wrote something someone said,
Teresa Bitner 11:31
it was a combination of things. Because I in my book, I talk about the deep, dark abyss that I felt, and I didn’t know what depression was. I know, I know a lot more now. And there was a couple pivotal moments, it was me realising, oh, I’m drinking an awful lot. You know, Friends, were bringing me cases of wine, I was drinking pretty regularly. Not a great thing turning into my dad who didn’t want to do that. And the Me and the boys were there was a lot of chaos, yelling and screaming and slamming of doors. And it was just it’s like, Okay, I can’t do this. This is so not me. I want to be happy. I’m uplifting, fun person, like, I can’t do this. I had dinner with a set of widows. And one widow had a very similar experience to me. And she was vehement like, I am taking my daughters to the parole meetings, I’m going to make sure that SOB spends his life and going on and on. I was just like, wow. And our kids are only eight years old. And like, oh, and that was a pivotal moment of like, I don’t want to be that I definitely don’t want to be that the drinking and all this is not helping. Hmm. And I went to my general, my doctor and said, hey, you know, I blew up at work. I like screamed at a colleague really loudly in a middle school saying all kinds of inappropriate things. My girlfriend was like girlfriend, you can eat, they’ll go to the doctor. And he’s like, Oh, you have depression and probably anxiety, you know, it’s normal after a major loss like that. So getting help from the doctor, friends going, get it together. And then realising I had a choice, I could be evil, better, not evil, but just bitter. Let the death define me and wallow in it, or I can make a change. And I was like, Okay, I’m gonna make a change.
Tony Winyard 13:24
Some, as you were saying that I had a similar but completely different circumstances. But I had a situation where the role model you kind of described that you didn’t want to be I heard that same kind of thing once and, and I look forward, there’s no way I want to be, I won’t tell the whole story because it’s way too long. But there’s no way I want to be like that. And I use that as like an anti role model because I never want to be that bitter person. So that can be a really helpful kind of person to not model yourself on. I suppose you could.
Teresa Bitner 13:57
Yeah, it was super surprising because I didn’t want to do these widow things because people were very well meaning. And you know, Oh, joy these groups. I’m like, I don’t want to hang around with 78 year old little grannies. I mean, that’s nice. They’re sweet, but that’s not me. So there were very few young women to talk to because in America, there’s support for military service people and first responders, but not a lot for the average Jane and Joe. Side now a Gal Pal and I have started a widow resource called torn and half to just have resources for normal people. It was so hard to find it. There’s more now.
Tony Winyard 14:38
And this, I guess so well, I was gonna say so many, but it’s almost everyone has some kind of major trauma in their lives at some point.
Teresa Bitner 14:48
And I truly believe everybody’s got a story. And it’s what you do. And this is one of the big resiliency skills is like what you do like it’s stuff that life’s gonna happen. It’s not if it’s when, yeah, and then you don’t have to do it alone and getting support. And then what do you do with it? Do you turn it into a story? Do you turn it into art? Do you use it to better the world? That’s, that’s, that’s a big thing for me is like, okay, take what I’ve learned, and how can I this was one of the things when my mom was dying. I was just remember hearing the voice of my coaches in my ear. What’s the opportunity in this no matter what, there’s always the opportunity. I’m just like, bawling my eyes out cursing the world at the doctors. And I thought, what’s the opportunity? I was like, Okay, here’s the opportunity. I’m learning about the US elder care. That sucks. But I’m learning something. And I turned, it was very hard time to take care of your abusers still kind of tricky for me. But my new husband that I’m married to, every time I’d come home, he’s like, I don’t want you going back there. Every time you come back, you’re at wreck, something’s got to change. And I decided I’m going to turn it into a mission field. I’m going to show love to these people. Because they birthed me they love me the best they could. And just that switch of I hate going there. I hate dealing with the doctors. They’re mean to me, blah, blah, blah, to okay, I’m just gonna treat it as a mission field. It lets so much of that baloney dry, you know, just roll off.
Tony Winyard 16:26
Yeah, I Yeah. Just. Yeah, not holding on to the, to the kind of bitterness that so many people do. Which is so unhelpful.
Teresa Bitner 16:36
Yeah, and the best tool is to journal it. Or, you know, some people use art to paint it out. But somehow another process that yuck out, because if you hold it and you keep it in your head, it’s just going to spin around. So there’s, or get professional coaching, therapy help or something like that, or talk to a spiritual leader, if that’s helpful. And talking
Tony Winyard 16:59
of coaching, so when was it that you thought I’d like to help other people with this and started thinking about coaching as a as a way to move forward?
Teresa Bitner 17:10
Interesting, because I realised after I started the coaching school and learning about coaching, that I’ve actually been doing it most of my life, because I became a computer science programmer, and I started a software development, hated, it was good, it was boring. I quickly wanted to work as a manager and grow people didn’t know that was called coaching then. So I loved being a manager and a project manager and mentoring other young women in tech. So if you think about that, it’s been over 30 years. But the rule and then is interesting, because I left that world went into education, and I quickly became a coach to new teachers as well. I was like, Oh, I’m a second year teacher, they’re like, No, you’re great. go toe to toe, okay. So, but the real business thing was in 2013, like, Okay, I’m going to do this for a living, I’m going to go get certified. That’s a word to the wise out there. Anybody can call themselves a coach, make sure you pick somebody who’s trained and credentialed. That’s my personal thing. Because otherwise, you don’t know what you’re getting. Because I felt it was important to have those skills. So that’s when it officially started in 2014.
Tony Winyard 18:21
And let’s do anything since you’ve been coaching people? I mean, you’ve been doing it for quite a few years now. Is there anything about coaching that pattern that was really surprised you that that you didn’t think it would be like this? Is there any anything along those lines? Oh, gosh,
Teresa Bitner 18:39
there’s lots of little things like that. One of them is that I learn and grow through my clients like that. In the coaching world, there’s kind of a thing that says, you only coach what you need to learn. And it’s one of those every, every time it happens, you’re like, whoo, I think to myself, whoa, okay, God universe, you really paired us together, because we are on a trip together. That’s been the most surprising thing. And then, I think the other thing is, it’s been interesting, because I’ve been doing it long enough. And I’m going for the next credential as how much I’ve grown. And I used to see other coaches, what I thought do amazing coaching and have results like quickly. And I’m now able to do that. Like that’s super cool. Like when your client says, Wow, that’s a good question. Oh, I never thought about that. It’s like, Oh, yes. doing the good work.
Tony Winyard 19:30
So what what is it that you feel I mean, you mentioned just now about you’re paired with some people and there’s going to be a guest in there something about you that appeals to, well, the clients that you appeal to what do you think it is that draws them to you? What, how, what issues are they having that you can help them with?
Teresa Bitner 19:50
Interesting, you should ask that. I do. I’m also a mental health certified so through the pandemic, my business is watching Uh, sadly enough, but dealing with workplace anxiety is a big thing. Imposter syndrome is another one that comes up career changes, you know, I want to change from this career to that career job changes is a big thing I do. The other thing that’s interesting is the how to deal with the losses and the changes of the pandemic, the losses of freedom. Many clients, I’ve had people die on their team or in their family. And then from the pandemic, that kind of, what am I doing on this earth? And why am I doing what I do? And is this job slash career right? Or is there something more? So it kind of It spans an interesting dilemma, a diversity of people, but I think it’s the, the wondering what’s unknown, I want to figure this out. And or I want help with my goals. To the really hard grief, I still have lots of grief clients as well. And those are tricky. Why? People are like tree. So what do I say what do I do, I’m like, I might be an expert. But I still don’t know.
We hope you’re enjoying this episode of the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you’re looking for the fastest and most effective way to transform your energy and wellbeing, we invite you to join Tony for an upcoming habits and health workshop. This five week group workshop will empower you with tools to disrupt unwanted habits and make positive changes easy. You’ll enjoy sound asleep, better energy, less stress, and a happier mood Workshops begin on the first week of every month. And you can sign up now at Tonywinyard.com. Now back to the show.
Tony Winyard 22:00
So are you saying that since in the last two years, the issues that you’re helping people have been quite different since before the lockdown?
Teresa Bitner 22:10
I don’t know that they’re different. I don’t know if Pete more people are realising that workplace anxiety is huge. That’s like performance anxiety is massive. As well, as you know, hey, I’m working from home now. And then they want me to go into the office and scared or the dynamics have changed. And a lot of people are doing the soul searching of what is going on? Why am I in this world? And oh, hey, wait a minute, you guys are treating me poorly or you’re treating me great. Now, and what matters most to them? I think those are the some of the most interesting things that have come out and then just lots of anxiety. And from all different places, health wise, is it safe to go out? Is it safe to go to work? You know, is my performance good enough? I’m introverted I liked working from home I hate going back to the office is somewhat of a common thing.
Tony Winyard 23:05
I think anxiety is. So many people have had massive amounts of anxiety in the last couple of years. How I’m thinking, how is it that you’re able to help people with anxiety? What, what do you think is core? Well, not so much? What is causing them anxiety? But what is the way that you can help people to maybe to have less anxiety?
Teresa Bitner 23:29
Sure, sure. And I do want to say that, you know, I’m not a counsellor or therapist, I don’t diagnose or prescribe. But there are things you can do for your anxiety. One of the first things is acknowledge it and recognise it. I’m anxious about I like to draw people into two places. One is how are you feeling bodily? With your anxiety? Like where do you feel it? Is it in your stomach? Is it in your shoulders? Is it in your feet, and getting people to pay attention to their body and listen for it? I had a really great client experience yesterday. She’s like, I never knew. This is why I felt it now that I know I’m like I can do something like yeah, because that’s kind of the first is acknowledging it and finding out where it is. And then also naming the feeling you’re having. I feel and I often ask clients to journal but I feel statements I feel angry, I feel anxious. I feel sad that whatever. I always like to have folks journal at the end I feel grateful for I’m blessed by I saw John today so they don’t end up in the dark place. So those are just a couple of things that the body in emotional awareness first, and then okay, let’s process it out, as we’re feeling it, and there’s all kinds of tools and the toolbox that I have. I like to tell people that
Tony Winyard 24:48
are you typically working with people is it I mean, I know this is a bit like how long is a piece of string but is it usually like a few months or is it go into years? I mean, what what is typical with most Your clients?
Teresa Bitner 25:00
I wish I could say there’s a typical, it depends. Some people are just a few sessions, you know, a handful a month or two, I have many clients that I’m on, you know, years two and three, I would say most clients are about six months to a year. And then they may come back for what we call a tune up. Or some people have me on retainer, like, hey, you know, hey, I want to talk to you. It’s been a month Oh, my gosh, I know, I’m not working out again, look at me, I feel bad. Okay.
Tony Winyard 25:30
So anyone is listening to this now? And what kind of issues might they be having? That would be? Maybe they will be worthwhile contacting you? What typically, what kind of people? Do you tend to work with?
Teresa Bitner 25:47
Those that want to have help, and want to want to do the work coaching is work at so many, well, meaning friends and family are like, oh, so and so needs to see I’m like, Okay, do they want to coach or do they want to do something? So and I think if you’re realising I’m in this place of, you know, anxiety, grief, I’m lost, I’m stuck. And especially with the grieving folks have you, you know, done some therapy and counselling can be super helpful. And then you kind of pop your head up, and you’re like, I just can’t, I don’t know why I set these great goals. I just not getting them done. So many clients come with that, like, I know how to do this. I know what I’m supposed to do, but I’m not doing it. And that’s a great time to partner with a coach. I even keep a coach on my bench. I keep coaches so I can get things done. Because we’re human, and we have great intentions. And my goals are over here all pretty. But yeah, it’s you have some accountability there that can be really helpful in if you’re stuck, let’s figure out what’s doing a little deep dive and figure out why you’re stuck your past
Tony Winyard 26:52
or in, I always think that if a coach doesn’t have a coach, that’s what are they what are they saying about coaching?
Teresa Bitner 27:00
That’s Tony, you’re smart. Yes, indeed. Well, and it’s funny, because I didn’t, I went through a very intensive training programme and didn’t have a coach for a while. And then I hired one else like, again, I was like, Okay, why did I let that go so much. Because like, it’s so much more done, and so many more things are happening.
Tony Winyard 27:19
And it’s we can’t, it’s impossible for us to see ourselves where someone else is able to give us a very different perspective than what we have of ourselves.
Teresa Bitner 27:29
And that’s a wonderful thing about coaching, I like to hold my hand up and say, Hey, this is you, this is awesome, you were gonna clean it out, and then you can see you and do the great things that you were, you know, you’re brought on this earth to do?
Tony Winyard 27:40
And um, do you think is one of the biggest issues most people have is the negative self talk and the lack of self compassion? Is that a big issue that you face? A lot?
Teresa Bitner 27:50
Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, and with the favourite book we’ll talk about, it’s the idea of what we were told about ourselves, and unwinding that negative self talk and the negative beliefs that you might have or limiting beliefs that you have about yourself, because a lot of it is your your best ally and your best saboteur.
Tony Winyard 28:12
And so you’re huge. When did you write the book?
Teresa Bitner 28:16
I wrote the book in Well, the book started. So the funny thing about the book, anybody who wants to write a book, you can never thought I was going to do that. The book came from my Facebook posts after my husband died. It’s kind of how I got the timeline. Because I, my friends and family are spread out all over the world. We’re like, put on Facebook every day, that way, we know you’re alive and you didn’t opt yourself or anything to get fine. So I did that. So I started writing the book, probably two years after Christmas killed, but that I could write mine. So I stopped. And every time I put the book down, somebody would ask me to tell my story. And then tell me oh my gosh, I need to write a book about this. No, I don’t want to write a book. And it just became more and more like this finger was pointing down from on high, write the book three. So write the book, oh, my God, just get the book done. So I’m like, Okay, fine. So I took some time, joined, thought I had a great manuscript. And in a mastermind group of other coaches, this great coach said, Hey, have you ever heard of that? You know, Texas League of writers? No. Maybe you should take a class. So I took a class on how to write computer scientists do not know how to write, like, Oh, I’m eating Kranz. And there’s like a New York Times bestseller here. Wow. So I got took some classes. That’s how it started and joined a writing critique group to help me with my writing. And it took about two and a half years to birth it and then an editor to help me take it the rest of the way.
Tony Winyard 29:42
And on that process, can you remember when you first actually you know, you had all those people saying, Oh, you need to write a book. And you were resistant to that initially. Once you decided, well, I’m going to write a book. Can you remember what your intentions were for the book then? And And when were you wrote the book, when it came to actually, you know, the fit of finished edit. What was had you? How much had you incenses changed in that period?
Teresa Bitner 30:08
Fascinating question. Ah, yes, really good questions. So my intention for the book was just to get the story out. I figured the story can help others. I thought maybe it would help me in my coaching business and I would use it with clients. That was kind of the initial thing. By the time I finished the book, I had no idea my own like therapeutic process that I went to it was gut wrenching, horrible. I almost stopped many times I had some mean people say mean things about the book. Excuse me, a great coach colleagues say, you know, I’m tired of hearing you whine about the book, just shut up and write the blankety blank book, or, you know, stop talking about it. I was like, oh, so I had, you know, write that blankety blank book up on my book. Just write. That’s a great thing. I would love to tell everybody. It’s just right. You don’t have to publish it. You just write. If you get a story, write it. It’s a beautiful thing. We found a story that my husband Bill’s mom wrote, and it’s, you know, on typewriter paper, it’s just, it’s like a she she has she’s no longer with us. I never got to meet her so I could meet her that way.
Tony Winyard 31:15
And did you have a particular sort of type of person in mind as you’re writing a book?
Teresa Bitner 31:21
It would be a person who and it’s actually grown since a soul of the book has its own life. I kind of like once I birthed it, and I’m like, Okay, God, take it, do whatever you’re gonna do with it, and it has its own life. And it’s been a bomb to those who are grieving. And it’s also been a bomb because it’s so love how a dog taught me to breathe again. Also to dog lovers and animal lovers, who have what they believe is like, you know, spirit animal. That’s because this dog tells all the yucky stuff. And he was like my therapy dogs. Not officially, but I swear, it’s like, okay, you’re like some weird Angel dog on Earth. What’s up a dog isn’t. He was a Doberman and I got him. Because we lived on a ranch. I needed something to protect me. And I thought he would do it. Plus, I always wanted to Doberman, my husband, Kristin. Wow. And I’m like, I’m gonna get a doberman. Well, he was the biggest winner. He was such a sissy. Sounded good. Looks good, like a scary dog. But if you came up to me, pee himself. It was fun.
Tony Winyard 32:25
So when when the book was when, when was the book released?
Teresa Bitner 32:28
It was released in 2018.
Tony Winyard 32:30
And the the what was the reaction? Was there any reactions that surprised you at all?
Teresa Bitner 32:37
Um, most people were really like, Oh, hey, great work. Thank you, you know, and supported me. I had a book launch and all of that. There’s some people who didn’t like it. And I’m sure thought I did that for my own, you know, grandiose for my business. And, you know, how dare you make money off of that. But it was like, No, that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to tell the story. And plus, trust me, I think I broke even maybe because I self published but boy, howdy. No, you don’t make a lot of money writing books. I knew that.
Tony Winyard 33:12
There been people reached out to you. That’s that’s really helped them.
Teresa Bitner 33:16
Oh, yeah, I still get emails. I was really surprised because it’s Amazon is like at 4.7 stars and people. At first it was all my friends and family. Of course, they’re gonna write nice things. But then people around in the industry started writing reviews. That was surprising. And then the emails I get, for people, you know, who’ve been through losses, not necessarily a death or an animal loss, how it’s helped them. dog lovers how they’re like, Oh, yes, this is a story that needs to be told. I’ve had other people who they’ve watched their friends go through grief and didn’t understand it. And that’s the other thing about the book. I told it in a real raw, visceral, kind of New York out there. way so people could see what grief really looks like. When most profound things that happen is I was in a writing group with a pastor. And he’d been a pastor for years. He’s like, Oh, my gosh, Theresa, I have been such an idiot. I haven’t. I haven’t been there. For the widows. I’m like, Well, you didn’t know. And I can tell you go through it. You don’t know. And also, they’re not going to come out and tell you, we’re all embarrassed by how ugly it gets. And also, the other purpose is to normalise the grief conversation, because it’s not if it’s one, we’re going to die in the western world for whatever reason, we call it passing. They’ve left us like I would just want to say no, they died. We need to use the word dying and death. It’s our life. It can be beautiful.
Tony Winyard 34:41
It’s so difficult for most people would speak about death, isn’t it? Yeah. Have you have you? Are you familiar with the death cafes?
Teresa Bitner 34:52
Yes, there used to be one in Austin. I don’t know if they’re still there. And you’re in the UK. You guys have some really great resources available as well. You’re opening up and it’s starting to open up more than us. But it’s, it’s a funky culture thing. I mean, I another thing I tell people is like, oh my gosh, we had all our affairs in order. We had the papers, the wills, you know, all that stuff. It made a horrible situation easier. I can’t imagine having it not done. Maybe you don’t have that holy cow. Please do that for your family.
Tony Winyard 35:21
What do you think is his I don’t know how I was gonna say what is the hardest thing to deal with about death? But I mean, it’s so many different angles. What what comes to mind when I say that?
Teresa Bitner 35:33
Hmm, I think when you’re the widow, or widower are the one dealing with the estate, the amount of flippin paperwork and phone calls. And it’s, I think it’s universal. I don’t know, anybody that I’ve talked to. It’s just you make this giant list of things you have to do. And then the mail starts piling up, or the bills start piling up. And it’s just like, oh, my gosh, I have to make another phone call. Or, you know, I sent the death certificate in 37 times and they still haven’t stopped, you know, processing X wires they that’s super hard. And and the mail that just keeps coming. Oh my gosh, like, I still get mail for Chris. I’m like, Okay, we’re going year 13. And I’ve moved and I’ve changed my name. And I’ve been married, What the Hey, like, there’s nothing in his name, but he still gets mail, as my mom does, like, awesome. Go mom.
Tony Winyard 36:26
So over the sounds like that you’ve come you’ve come been in touch with or with many people who’ve experienced grief and death and so on. So from the audio experience that you’ve kind of accumulated, would you say what what are the best ways maybe of dealing with death and, and the worst things like maybe just one or two things that are helping you and really kind of make it much worse.
Teresa Bitner 36:53
I think making it worse would be not getting help, or trying to stuff it. If you stuff it, it will leak out and pretend that everything’s okay. The other thing is over busyness our western world, it’s very much like Oh, I’m just gonna workaholic myself to death, easy way of coping, but it can become an addiction. Those are the unhelpful things. And also addictions pop up. And the most helpful is a learning about the death process. Now, what does it look like? What does it mean to grieve? Getting help support with someone you know, joining a group and not going it alone, I think are the biggest things to do for grief. And talk to your loved ones about the expectation so that you know, when when it happens, how to deal with it. So you don’t have all that unknown and the yuck. And the financial pressures because it it doesn’t have to be horrible. I mean, it will be horrible, but it doesn’t have to be financially ruining or anything like that.
Tony Winyard 38:01
We touched upon your book just now. And it made me wonder if you’ve got any ideas about follow up?
Teresa Bitner 38:07
I do. Yes, I am writing it is called elder care nightmare mission of love. This is a book that people keep telling me to write and I keep getting calls on. Hey, Tracy, I know you’ve dealt with that law. So it’s about my mission dealing with my parents from the start to the end. And it’s um it’s not easy to write about. And my dad’s 93 and still living Cadillac and broke his hip Darn COVID had COVID. He’s just fine. doesn’t know who anybody is. But he’s Cadillac. And
Tony Winyard 38:42
so when do you think that might be finished?
Teresa Bitner 38:45
Well, I’d hoped this year would be a great part of it getting finished. And I’m talking about chapters much faster than I had. So we’ll see 2023 almost definitely, but not for sure. But the chapters are coming, and they’re coming easier. I had started writing it, and then I put it down. Like many writers, you’ve just heard you’re like it, I can’t do it anymore. Cancel, just the whole dead thing got really crazy there for a while.
Tony Winyard 39:13
And would that be self published again? Or will you go a different route?
Teresa Bitner 39:18
I’m probably going to Self Publish. Again. I’m toying with the idea of getting an agent and all of that it’s for me, it’s more important to get the story out. And I also kind of, you know, I’m a recovering control freak. So when you go with an agency, you lose control, like I self publish, I can update it. Oops, I got a spelling error. I can update it.
Tony Winyard 39:39
And speaking of books, there’s, I believe there’s a book that’s really kind of moved. You’re in your voice. What was that? What book was?
Teresa Bitner 39:47
That book is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Oh, my goodness. And there’s a fifth agreement by his son Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr, who I’ve also actually met in person. Oh my gosh. But that book, it was funny because when Bill and I started dating, he’s like, You have to read this. I was like, okay, so he started reading it out loud to me. And this is where we knew one another of affirmation that haunts the Doberman was different. He would sit like he was No, he wouldn’t sit on the couch with us, he would sit in front and stare at Bill while Bill read it to me like he was absorbing it. And Phil is like, your dog is weird. And like, he’s learning. He’s got his next job to do? I don’t know. So, and the Four Agreements have changed my life, and I recommend it to almost all of my clients.
Tony Winyard 40:33
What was it about the means? Is there any one thing that you can think that really made it different from all the other books that you’ve read?
Teresa Bitner 40:42
The lessons about not taking things personally, and don’t make assumptions and the whole concept of the stories we tell? For me, that was like one of those brain chunks, like I got it like, like, Oh, this is why people act this way. This is why mom might say this, or so and so, and not, you know, realising, hey, that’s your story. It’s okay. I don’t have to take your junk and put it on me. It’s okay. Or it could be sad for you. It was totally liberating.
Tony Winyard 41:13
And I’m guessing that many of the things that he said, you’d probably come across before, but it was the way that it was put put across in that book, there was maybe spoke to more
Teresa Bitner 41:24
with Excel, I think so. I mean, I always tell my clients, it’s a little woowoo from what you would think from Theresa, but it, it looks at things in such a different way. And it just it makes so much sense. And it’s very personal. And they I mean, both Don Miguel, senior and junior and the brothers have all written different books. And they’re so good. They’re just for if you want to come up with self mastery, or anything like that, they’re just so good.
Tony Winyard 41:53
Today, people want to find out more about you, your your website, social media, your books, and so on. Where should they look?
Teresa Bitner 41:59
You go find me social media. I’m on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Just look up Teresa Bittner. And then my website is bolt fulfilled. Life Coach, calm, very long name, the book. I can hold it up here. I don’t know if you do video or not. But here’s the book. So the book is soul love how a dog taught me to breathe again. It’s on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles. It’s in Kindle hardback, paperback. And you could go to my website, if you wanted to sign copy, I’d be happy to mail it to you. You guys in the UK will have to work on the how to how we do that shipping. But hey, I know how to do that.
Tony Winyard 42:37
And finally, Theresa, is there a quotation you like?
Teresa Bitner 42:42
Lots of different quotes came to mind when you asked that question in your email. But I think the quote I want to leave people with is one that I came up with is you don’t have to do this alone.
Tony Winyard 42:53
Why is it that one,
Teresa Bitner 42:56
we can grow and learn and move past our stuckness or lostness or grief when we’re with other people. And we were I mean humans are made for relations. That’s why the pandemic being solo is so hard. Find someone find a group find supportive people and don’t do it alone. They’re out there.
Tony Winyard 43:17
To reason thank you for for everything you just said. And yeah, best of luck for the future.
Teresa Bitner 43:22
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure. Great thinking questions too.
Tony Winyard 43:27
Thank you. Next week, episode 58 with Polly Bateman. This is an amazing episode. I found it very difficult to stop recording because Polly just gave so much great information. Her bio says she’s a straight talking and empathetic and disarmingly humorous, mindset and performance mentor. Polly Bateman wants to disrupt your beliefs and broke through the self imposed barriers that limit your potential and there was it was all around mindset. And she had just come out with some great answers to the questions I was asking. And there’s definitely going to be a part two to this episode because there was so many things that she said that there was just many different questions. I wanted to fire at her in the responses that she was given me. So this is Next week, episode 58 with Polly Bateman. If you enjoyed this week’s episode with Teresa Bitner, please do share the episode with anyone who you feel would get some real value from it. And I hope you have a great week.
Thanks for tuning in to the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app. Sign up for email updates and learn about coaching and workshop opportunities at Tonywinyard.com See you next time on the habits and health podcast
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