Ep 048: Turning Struggles Into Strength with Jessica Rasdall

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We all have been through tough stuff in our life. And sometimes we feel like we are the only person in the world who has ever experienced those tough moments. You normally don’t hear about other people going through those same things. There is beauty is sharing your struggles with others and there is strength that can come from it. Jessica Rasdall is one of those people who has bravely shared her story with the world. She took a moment that could have broken her and turned it into a story that has changed peoples lives. Her message is one of hope and encouragement; you are not alone in your struggles!

 
 

In This Episode, Allie + Jessica Discuss:

  • The impact your story has, even in the midst of the brokenness.

  • How to share the whole story (from brokenness to healing), not just the brokenness. Celebrate the growth and progress you have made!

  • What it looks like to take your story and use it to bring strength to yourself and those around you.   

  • What you give your focus to is what you get more of and what will grow. So where is your focus within your story?

Mentioned in this Episode:

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Want more inspiration than just the podcast? Do you wish there were more episodes?  Do you want videos? Do you want pdf’s? Do you want to really get you started on minimalism and simplifying your motherhood?

In the Supermom Vault,  you will receive replays of my very best online workshops (not available anywhere else), tons of actionable PDF's, downloadable with one click, more than 20 audio & video trainings, and professionally-designed printables for your home to keep you focused & inspired! 


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If you have a question, comment or a suggestion about today’s episode, or the podcast in general, send me an email at hello@alliecasazza.com or connect with me over on Facebook & Instagram


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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to.  I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days.  I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it.  Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood.  I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.

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ALLIE: Hey beauties! Welcome back to another episode of The Purpose Show.

I'm here with the beautiful, purple-haired friend of mine, Jessica Rasdall.

You do many things. You're a speaking coach. You’re my speaking coach. I have your speaking course. You have an amazing story that we're here to talk about today and you are the author of the book, Shattered, which is what we're really here to talk about.

I just read it. It's so amazing and powerful. It’s not a light read like we were talking about.

I would love for you to introduce yourself and whatever you like about your story. And then we'll dive in.

JESSICA: Thank you so much. I'm so excited to share about this. You know, it’s crazy how many different things I do because that was never really part of the plan. I was super normal. I wasn't a straight A student. Let's not joke around. I was an average student going through school.

I was a freshman. I did have a business scholarship. I wanted to do what everybody else did and what my parents wanted me to do, “Go to a four-year school, get a degree, get a masters, get some corporate job and stay there forever.” That was the plan.

I had known my best friend since I was five years old and the two of us were inseparable. I figured we would be like my mom and her best friend. My mom has known her best friend, Maddie, her entire life and they are the exact opposite, but the closest. And that's how I felt about my friend, Laura.

But my freshman year of college I made a decision that changed everything.

One night we went out. It was just supposed to be a girl’s night out and we ended up drinking. I drove us home. Something happened and we don't really know what caused the car accident, but Laura was killed on impact and I nearly lost my own life.

So, all of these plans and all of these things that I had put on the table, the road that I tried to chart for myself was gone. Everything was out the window and now I was left to figure out what do I do from here? How do I do it without her because I had never done anything in my life without Laura? That was terrifying.

On top of all the medical stuff, the emotional stuff, I was now facing 10 ½ - 15 years in prison for DUI manslaughter.

I couldn't even wrap my mind around that.

So, everything went out the window and it was just a matter of, what do you do next? How do you wake up tomorrow? How do you schedule your next appointment? Or how do you show up at school, at all?

You have all of these different emotions going on. You're going through these stages of grief. There's days where I hated everybody. I was angry and I wanted to point fingers and place blame. There were days where I didn't want to come out of my room and I didn't want to deal with this. You go through so many different feelings and you feel like you're the only person in the world who has ever experienced this. You don't hear about other people going through it.

A big part of me felt like if I never heard of somebody making it out the other side, maybe people didn't. Maybe this was a situation that if you got yourself into it, there was no coming out. There was no coming back from it. And that was terrifying.

I remember being in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore and I was looking for something, anything to tell me, “This is what you do. These are the steps.” I was very logical. I wanted a roadmap. I wanted someone to tell me “this is how you pick up the pieces, how you'd go on” and I couldn't find anything. I broke down in the middle of the store, in the middle of the self-help section.

My mom came up to me, “what are you doing” trying to pick me up off the floor. I told her, “There's nothing here, there's nothing here to tell you what to do next when you take the life of your best friend.” She was so calm and she just pointed at the shelf and said, “Well Jess, why don't you just put something there?”

It was in that moment in the middle of the bookstore, I drew a line in the sand and decided that trying to figure this out had nothing to do with me. This was about something so much bigger. And if I made it out of that car, it had to be for a reason. And even if that reason was just to tell somebody that, “Hey, you could make it through this,” I had to keep going. I had to keep going even when everybody else said I shouldn't, or I couldn't. I had to do it for the person who was looking for a roadmap also. And I was terrified of Laura being forgotten about or being another underaged drinking statistic.

So, I started sharing my story. I started speaking to High School kids, college students and anybody who would listen. I began telling them about the decisions that I made in hopes that they wouldn't repeat my mistake.

I spoke to over 15,000 kids in two years. And then I was sentenced to prison.

That in itself is a whole other story.

But when you come home from that and you're now trying to rebuild again. Because I felt like after the accident it was this moment of figuring out “How do I just make it through this?” And then you “make it through,” so to speak, and you do your time in prison, you come home and now it's another matter of “Now, how do I put this behind me?”

Because now I'm the convicted felon, the murderer, the drunk driver.

ALLIE: I think that like goes on your record and is like in your book you talk about, “Now I have to check that box. Yes. I have been convicted of a felony and it's a big one.” I love how honest you were.

I also didn't want to interrupt you, but I love too that you started to share your story before that chapter of your life was even over. I feel like now I know it is; the whole part about the death, everything. It's done. You finished the prison part, it's all finished. But, you didn't even know. You didn't even know what your sentence was going to look like. You hadn't even gone through that. You immediately started sharing in the middle of your brokenness, which I want to come back to you after you finished sharing.

I just wanted to say I love that part about your story. You glazed over it in the book; like it's nothing that you started right away. I can't even imagine how many tears you choked through while you were trying to talk because it was so fresh. Aside from even sharing at all, the fact that you shared right away is so powerful and so brave. I noticed that in your book and I loved that part of it, that you just jumped right in.

JESSICA: Thank you. I am not a talker. I'm a motivational speaker, but I'm not a talker. I am a doer; I am not somebody who enjoys wasting away my days making plans. If I have an idea, I want to take action on it.

Full disclosure, don't just jump into sharing your story on something that you haven't dealt with. I was going to therapy. I was taking medication. I had a full team of support, but none of that was enough for me. I needed to feel like I was physically doing something with my life. You can't make it right, but that was in a way doing something to give this meaning.

When I came home and started rebuilding the pieces and figuring out what was I going to do from here, I didn't want to talk about it at first. I didn't want to be the girl in the accident anymore. I had no idea who Jessica was because I felt like I had been lost in all of this.

But when I didn't talk about it, something was missing. There was this huge disconnect because, just like you said, I started sharing right away and I was sharing with an open case on the table. I was publicly going out and telling what I had done, even though I was facing 15 years in prison. It's almost as long as I'd been alive. I was only 18.

Now here I was, not the girl waiting to go to prison, but I was now the young woman who made it out the other side and that story had to change. The way that I looked at it had to change. The way that I shared it had to change. The way that it was presented to the world needed to change.

That was a big evolution in my own healing journey because I feel like when we get into the thick of things, when something happens to us or when we make a mistake, we get stuck in that story - the initial story, the one that we have to tell, the one that happens. But as we move through the healing journey, we can sometimes feel obligated to keep sharing that first story and it's important for us to sometimes take a step back and realize, “Am I in the same place when I first crafted that story?”

Has this changed? How have I grown? Do I need to be sharing this with somebody different now? Can other people benefit from it? Because it doesn't serve us to keep telling something that takes us back, if we're trying to move forward. That was a big part with coming home was understanding that the story had to change.

ALLIE: Absolutely. I love that. What happened in your life is so much and so heavy. I don't like to use the word “dramatic” but I don't really know what else to say. It’s not like a light story, like “oh, I used to struggle with this and now I don't.” But, you have so beautifully come out, not only come out the other side but used it as leverage for your purpose.

We were saying before we hit record that you could have let this be a black spot over your life.  Like in the movies when something really dramatic happens in a character's life and they never recovered and that's why they are the way they are. And they get into the backstory and that's the reason that they're so awful, depressed or so stuck.

But you used what happened to you and launched into your purpose because of that. You couldn't be doing what you're doing without that happening is what I mean. And so, I really wanted to have you here and use your story to speak to turning something difficult that has happened or a personal struggle into your strength.

Our audience is mostly mothers, so raising your kids. How can you use that to raise your kids to learn from you and turn that into their strength? Something that makes you what you are and changes the world really. And I just want to kind of hear your thoughts about that and maybe in a general sense so that it can be applied from other people's different struggles other than what you're specifically was.

JESSICA: I know my story's a lot.

ALLIE: It’s amazing, though.

JESSICA:  I thought I'll go talk to a group of few thousand people and share my story and all is great. But when I first started my business and I started helping female business owners craft their own stories, I was terrified because of who am I? Who am I to do this? Those labels stuck with me hard. I was the felon. I was the failure. I was the college dropout. I think that becomes our sticking point - the labels that we allow others to place in us and more importantly the labels that we give ourselves. It's so easy to say little things like “well I'm lazy.” Today, I said I was irritable, but I am. I’m pregnant.

It's so easy to say that we are failures or we're not good enough or compare ourselves to other people. And those things carry so much weight. We can't wait around for somebody else to change that dialogue. It is so important for us to take the time to say, “OK, well maybe I was a little irritable this morning. There’s a lot of hormones running through this body, but I can still take the time to go do other things. Right before we got on this, my daughter and I were in the kitchen making dinner together. Our thing every night is to turn up the music and have a dance party while we make dinner. And it's silly. But that's just our thing together. I don't get frustrated when she empties the dishwasher and the silverware isn't exactly where I want it or dripped water all over the floor.

ALLIE: {laughing} Basically made your life harder.

JESSICA: But it's so easy to be our worst critics and continue to put that on repeat of “I'm the failure” or even worse, “I’m the victim” or whatever that dialogue is for us. Until we can identify it and start paying attention to the things we're telling ourselves or the things we're saying to other people, we can't change that. We can't.

And it's so easy to tell other people. When you're in conversations with others, how are you talking about that with others? If you're talking about your parenting style and getting frustrated with that. Are you talking about being a loving mother or are you talking about being that frustrated mother? What are the things that you are clinging to, embracing, and really identifying. Just saying that “everything is great” isn't enough.

I don't want you to “fake it till you make it,” but we need to make sure that we're paying more attention to the things that we want, other than the things we want to get rid of. Those things that we focus on grow. They grow fast, like weeds. It's so important for us to cling to, even if it only feels like a tiny, tiny little piece, the things that make us proud, excited and want to do more.  

ALLIE:  Yeah. Absolutely. What your giving focus to, what you're speaking to, and paying attention to, is what you get more of.

Just a little example (I think it was episode six) where I talked about my business story, that's where I learned that what I was hounding on – “We’re so broke. We have nothing. It's never going to be easy.”  I got more and more of that because I was focusing on it and kind of just accepting “this is the way my life is. It seems to be in the cards.” That attitude is BS and it has no place in the life of an overcomer.

If you want to be an overcomer, you need to start to focus on, “I am able. I have a really great brain and I can do a lot of good things. I can do something to make the situation different.” Even if you've struggled, even if something awful has happened or you've done something awful, you can overcome that. It's about the story that you're telling yourself. People don't realize how much weight their words hold, I think. I love that you mentioned that.

JESSICA: It is powerful and you know it can be a little difficult. I'd say for my situation, I am hoping that nobody listening to this has ever been through anything like this, but I'm willing to bet that you've probably been through something that at some point made you feel a little guilty. It doesn't matter what it is.

Guilt is a beast. That could be forgetting. I forgot to send Chad’s breakfast to work with them today and I did feel really bad about that this morning. I know it's so silly, but guilt has a way of creeping in and messing up everything.

So for me, I do have really bad survivor's guilt. Here's the kicker though: changing the dialogue is great, but for me it couldn't be for me. And this might sound silly, but doing something for myself, I didn't have that internal motivation. I didn't. At all. Because I would constantly then play devil's advocate and “Well, who am I to deserve that? I should feel this way.” So for me, I had to find something outside of myself to want to improve for and that's really where the whole book concept came from.

I wasn't speaking because I love the spotlight and I love people hearing this painful story. I was speaking because I wanted to make sure someone else didn’t repeat that mistake. Because I wanted to keep Laura’s memory alive. I don't get up and do the work that I do for any reason other than maybe my family or my clients.

And if you're somebody who does struggle with maybe finding that internal motivation, whatever reason that might be, I want to challenge you to look for something outside of yourself that makes you dig deeper.

Because doing something for yourself is wonderful; we deserve it, even on the days we don't think we should. But letting somebody else down, that's a crippling feeling. Nobody wants to disappoint somebody else. And when you can set your actions up in a way that makes you feel like somebody else is depending on you, it just sets this whole new motivation into the mix.
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Hey friend! It’s Allie! Have you heard of the Supermom Vault yet?

The Supermom Vault is a library of inspiration I created for you. It holds replays of my very best online workshops that aren’t available anywhere else, tons of really actionable pdf’s that are downloadable with just one click, more than 20 audio and video trainings from me, and professionally designed printables for your home to keep you focused and inspired.

The Supermom Vault is only $39.00 and is available at alliecasazza.com/allcourses.

Check it out! It’s a really good simple start.

Want more inspiration than just the podcast? Do you wish there were more episodes? Want more details? Do you want videos? Do you want pdf’s?  Do you want to download things and get your hands on something to really get you started when it comes to minimalism and simplifying your motherhood?

This is definitely the place to go!

Check it out! Alliecasazza.com/allcourses.

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ALLIE: One thing I really wanted to ask you, and I didn't even hash out exactly how it was going to phrase this, so I need to talk it out. How do you go from… let's say whatever the situation is for anybody they have guilt about something. Something has happened in their life or is continuously happening. We used the “yelling” example before we recorded… something as small as that or something as big as what's happened in your life. They struggle with guilt over something and they feel like they're caught in that cycle or in the cycle of the actual thing, like continuously yelling or whatever. Having anger problems, whatever it is. What actionable, tactical steps would they take to get out of that cycle and what should they focus on? What can they physically start to do to get out of that cycle, if that makes sense?

JESSICA: When I was first in the thick of everything, before I ever gave that first presentation, I was stuck. Hard stuck in a cycle of “what if?” What if things had been different? What if I had done this instead? What if I had just made a phone call? It's really easy to get stuck there.

What if I could just get up a little bit earlier? What if I would stop yelling? What if I would just go to the gym? What if? What if? But, we don’t want to take any action on it. We don't always hear the “what if” though. It is this quiet voice. What happened is when I first sat down to write that first presentation, to literally just put my story on paper, everything changed. Now I was no longer allowed to ask the question of “what if?” I had to tell it.

I had to become the narrator of my own story and that gave me the power to decide how I was going to tell it and what was going to happen next. So, I think it's really important to first identify what it is that's happening, because we can make up all these stories in our head. We can dramatize that a whole lot and make it worse than it really is.

Now, I was sitting down and getting down to the facts of “what happened” or “what is happening?” Then, “OK, this is what's going on. Now, what do I actually want from this? What can I be made to change this?” Because until you draw that line in the sand and say, “This is what has been done. These are what the facts are. I don't want it to be like this anymore,” nothing will change.

ALLIE: You answered my next question. That was perfect.

I'm going to link to your book and I want you to talk about that.

If somebody wanted to connect with you can you tell us where to find you and what you're usually on more social-wise.

JESSICA: Yes. I'm an odd one. You can always reach out to me on social media and Instagram is probably the easiest way to get ahold of me.

You can find me at Jessica Rasdall.

Or if you are somebody who's crazy like me and you want to speak, it's The Public Speaking Strategists.

I'll be very honest. I'm not a slave to social media. I might be on there all the time, but I don't share everything. I want to give you that permission to not share everything either. I feel like we're in an age where there's this pressure for “everybody needs to know what I'm wearing today, what kind of coffee I'm having, where I'm going to go get my groceries, what I fed my kid.”

ALLIE: And every inner thought. I was just talking about this with... you know Kendra? It's an entitlement. There's this underlying tone of entitlement from people. And I'm guilty of it too, a little, sometimes. They “follow” you. Even if you're not an influencer per se, just a normal mom using Instagram. “Where did you get that?” And if I don't respond, I'll notice like, “Um, I saw that you didn't respond? I get really want to know where you got that shirt.” It's like… you don't have to know where I got everything. We don't have to share all the time. I totally understand. I love that you said that.

JESSICA: I do want to give you that permission, like heads up! If you don't see me sharing everything, it doesn't mean I'm not there. I'm totally listening and I'm available.

You can reach out to me. Don't expect me to be all-day, every-day telling you what's happening every five minutes, because I just don’t think that's important.

I know as we're talking about the language that we tell ourselves and also with social media, I feel like we're at a place right now where we are at a fine line of “glamorizing” the mess and not the message.

And it's so easy to want to show the piled-up laundry, the sink full of dishes, or complain about all the things that are going wrong, and that my kid doesn't want to go to bed now. That's real life.

I'm not perfect. I'm not going to show you all the stuff in my office.

At the same time, I'm very protective of your input, what I'm giving to you and I don't want to fill your news feed, your ears, your mind or your heart with anything other than a positive message.

So, I'm a big believer in sharing a little bit of what's really going on, but also making sure that I'm delivering something of value to you and there's not always something there. If you don't hear from me, don't freak out. You can just reach out. I'm there.

ALLIE: Yeah, totally. And what is your website? You can find me at JessicaRasdall.com. Super easy to find me.

Or again, if you're crazy and you want to speak, thepublicstrategist.com  

ALLIE: Your stuff is amazing. Before we ever connected on this level, I had shared that I was going through some speaking stuff because I just dread it. It's just a part of my career. It's gonna happen and I'm better now because of you.

Guys, this is who I was learning from. And your course has helped me so much. You're so amazing at that. If you are somebody who needs help with public speaking, this is who you go to. We will link to all of that.

Thank you so much!

Your book is amazing. Her book is Shattered. I will link to it in the show notes. It’s a very short read, but it's not an easy read. So be emotionally prepared because it tells this entire story and all the details of that. And you really did a great job. Like I was saying, you go into a lot of detail, but you get to the point. And there is a point. At the end of every section of the book, there is a point like, “OK, so having said all of that, here's what I learned from this chapter of this story.” And it's very actionable, gracious and honest. It’s just a really, really great book.  

Also parents, it’s something to have on hand. Let your kids read when they get to, what would you say? Early high school?

JESSICA: Yeah. High School. It was definitely very hard to pare down the book, right? Because I have so much to share. I could write a million books about this story.

But for me it was again, what did I need in that bookstore? What was that roadmap I needed? But also trying to figure out where was the balance of getting to speak directly to the person going through what I had been through, but also speaking to somebody going through any kind of struggle. What were the universal concepts? What were the key pieces of the puzzle that I felt like if I could take out any of the extra stuff, anything that would distract, what could get you through the hardest, the hardest times. And what were the things that you could take action on right away?

And it was hard. It was very hard to share some of those parts. There were other parts that it was very hard to cut things out, because they were things that I wanted to say really bad. But, I know that that's not always added value to the reader and that's what's important to me.

I don't care if you liked me; I don't care if you don't like me; I don't care if you follow me, but if I'm not adding value to you and your life, I'm not doing my job.

ALLIE:  Yeah. And that comes across for sure. Definitely a good read for anything difficult and again to have on hand. I'm definitely going to have my kids read it when they get into that high school time. This is real, this is what can happen and does happen way more often than anybody is talking about other than you.

Thank you so much for taking time to be here and sharing a little piece of your story and your wisdom from that. I really appreciate it.

JESSICA: Thank you so much for having me.
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This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.

Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.  

I am always rooting for you, friend!

See ya next time!

Hey mama! Just a quick note, this post may contain affiliate links.

 

Allie Casazza

Allie Casazza , Murrieta, CA