#18 - How to help your kids celebrate who they are with Nicole Zasowski

June 20, 2023
Nicole Zasowski

Episode Summary

This week we have a heartfelt conversation with Nicole Zasowski, licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, and author. Nicole shares valuable insights on parenting and celebrating our children for who they are, emphasizing the importance of timing and expanding our opportunities for celebration. We also delve into the topic of joy and vulnerability, exploring why we sometimes shield ourselves from experiencing joy and the power of embracing it fully. Nicole opens up about her latest book, "What if It's Wonderful," and offers advice on embracing our pain instead of avoiding it. This conversation is authentic, inspiring, and will be sure to touch your heart.

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Episode Transcript

Nicole Zasowski (00:00):

And this is true, if you know someone in your life who's hurting, our first tendency is to pull them out of that place that's so painful because we love them and we want to see them, um, in a different place. And that comes from a place of love. I think what's actually most helpful is to sit with them in that place that neither one of you want them to be in. Um, and that is actually the, the first step naming what Hurts, Grieving, that you're in that place. Um, if this is someone in your life crawling into that place with them, um, and you don't have to agree with everything that they're saying in that place to validate the feeling.

Joey Odom (00:49):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. This is Joey Odom, Co-founder of Aro. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm really excited for you to hear the conversation I just had with Nicole Zasowski. Nicole has written several books, the most recent of which is called What If It's Wonderful, which is a question I'm just gonna equip you, throw this in your tool belt here, cuz that question will change things for you. We talk about what it means, how it applies in your life. She says some amazingly profound things in here about how we deal with disappointment and shame and pessimism. And it's a great conversation. You're gonna want to get the book after you listen to this, I promise. So for now, just sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with Nicole Zasowski


Well, okay. So let's, let's dive in with your, so you're a marriage and family therapist. You got, you have three kids, you're an author, you've, you've done a bunch and we're gonna dive into, into your book, which is just wonderful and exposing. And you know, I felt like every light and the world was shined on me as I was reading it, but yeah. So I wanna hear a little bit about how you got into the practice of the marriage and family and then how that kind of seg segued into you actually putting pen to paper and writing a book.

Nicole Zasowski (02:03):

Sure. Um, I think it was probably the most formative experience was my study abroad experience, um, as an undergraduate. Um, at my particular college, it was common to actually go for the whole year. Um, so 70%, at least at the time, sophomores are just gone <laugh> Wow. For the whole year. Um, and that was just a really formative experience. We lived in one house with 50 other college students and, you know, this was pre iPhone. I I think the iPhone maybe came out the following year. Um, so I mean, Skype was mediocre at best. Like, it was just very difficult to, uh, have those supports that you were familiar with. Um, contact back home and, you know, we had each other and, um, I think new parts of people's stories were coming out during that year and people were sharing really vulnerably and understanding things about themselves naturally being away from home for that long, for the first time and in a new environment. And, uh, the, the faculty family that went with us and lived with us that year, uh, had just sort of been observing me and, um, how much I loved hearing people's stories and being a sounding board for people's growth. And obviously I had a lot of learning and growing to do that year as well. And I just loved it and so much so it didn't occur to me that I could do it for a living. <laugh>

Joey Odom (03:43):

You could get paid for this. Amazing,

Nicole Zasowski (03:45):

Right. Yeah. Um, and she claims she has never done this before and never done this since. But the faculty member took me out to coffee and just said, are you sure you don't wanna be a therapist? And it was just one of those, uh, watershed moments where God felt like he just switched on the lights and I said, yes, I do. And changed all my classes and wow. Never looked back and went straight, uh, to Fuller Seminary afterward for my marriage and family therapy degree.

Joey Odom (04:19):

I'm always amazed when things like that happen in life, when something, when just by a suggestion and how many suggest we get, you know, thousands of suggestions all the time. You get that one where it clicks mm-hmm. <affirmative> and it's just like, it's almost, and you, you know, you hear people say that you're, what is your subconscious works like 10 times faster than your conscious brain. Yeah. And so your subconscious recognizes it much more quickly than you do. Right. It sounds like that's what happened.

Nicole Zasowski (04:38):

Completely. Completely. And then, you know, the writing piece took me a little bit by surprise. Um, I had done a lot of, lot of academic writing alongside my mentor who actually created the model that I used in my practice called Restoration Therapy. So I had co-written some books with him. Um, and then right after I graduated, we got a surprise move to the East Coast <laugh>, um, another watershed moment for me. And that was the beginning of a season that could largely be characterized by change and loss. Um, my husband and I went through a lot of infertility and had five miscarriages and so many years and just adjusting to a place that I struggled to call home. And, um, a lot of pushback in my career. And that really exposed, I mean, you talked about how my book, what If It's Wonderful, felt like it was exposing You, this experience really exposed how much I needed to practice what I was preaching as a therapist. Um, in terms of what makes me significant, what makes me safe, I believed a lot those things. Um, but I was not putting my full weight on it. Um, a a lot of what I put my significance and security in was in my own performance and accolades from other people and being impressive to other people. And it wasn't till I lost all that <laugh> that I was given empty hands to receive Jesus in an, in a different way than I had received him before.

Joey Odom (06:26):

What says as a therapist, I mean as all of us, as as humans, we struggle with, with shame. And when something, especially when you're, when something is based on performance mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and then it gets you realize that you're not as, maybe not as good as it as you thought. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, maybe you were, you know what, shame jumps in. But is that even more magnified as a therapist? You're like, no, I'm, I'm supposed to do this better than everybody else. So it's almost like performance, multiplies performance. Did you go through a period of that and when you, when you realize that like, holy crap, like this is my job and I can't even do it that great.

Nicole Zasowski (06:56):

Absolute put it in practice and, and to be honest with you, fully honest <laugh>, I still struggle with that. Yeah. Um, a a feeling will take over and I'll, I'll know in my head that that is not, that the feeling is real, but not true about who I am. Cuz I do believe there's a difference. Yeah. But it takes a lot of discipline for me to act on what I know to be true and not react to how I feel. And naturally, um, I, I'm a shamer anyway. Um, that's one of the ways I cope with my pain. Um, so for me, yeah, naturally there's, there's that first layer and then there's the layer of, and I should know better. Hmm. Um, you talked about what if it's wonderful being exposing to you. It's exposing to me all the time. <laugh> Yeah. Has

Joey Odom (07:50):

To have to be right.

Nicole Zasowski (07:51):

Yeah. And I, I really, um, struggle to celebrate what is and, um, to embrace what is good in the moment and not wait for that other shoe to drop or not tell my joy how it can be improved upon. Um, so that's just one example of, gosh, I should be, I should be better at this. But Right. When you think about the, that the brain prefers what is familiar, not necessarily what is good and true, um, wow, that helps me have more grace for myself because I had, I mean, you and I had how many years of <laugh> practicing that lie in our brain hearing that lie. And so it just takes practice. We have to help our brain become more familiar with the truth. So it actually prefers that option and it won't until it, it becomes familiar.

Joey Odom (08:51):

That's such a, that's such a, a challenge. And, and I think I, I struggle with the too, you, you struggle all the time. Like, what's, what's wrong with me? Why can't I get this right? Mm-hmm. I see. Um, do you see any connection, this may be no correlation, maybe just shame is just a human condition. Do you see, you clearly have empathy, the fact that going back to your college story, like empathy is a superpower of yours. Do you see a connection between highly empathetic people and shame? Is there any kind of connection there?

Nicole Zasowski (09:17):

You know, I hadn't thought about that before. Um, it would make sense to me. Um, and as I'm rifling through some examples that I'm thinking of in my own life of people that tend to shame when they're in pain. Yeah. I, I think, um, yes, I, I would see that as a connection, but I don't know that that's been researched or officially Yeah. Uh, stated, but

Joey Odom (09:43):

So we just made news. Yeah, that's right. We just, yeah. We just made news right now.


Well, it, it's, you know, my, my daughter the other day, um, who is just the most wonderful, beautiful 13 year old in the world. Wow. She, she had gotten a new sweatshirt and she got something on it and it stained it within days. Ah. And then she's, she's shown a tendency from when she's young, she's like me. She has, she tends, she's, you know, sometimes can be a very beautiful mess. And so she was in tears. What's wrong with me? You know, why can't I keep things right? And I, and I went to, we were on an on spring break and so I went and got her the same one. I gave it to her and I told her, and I just, in, in my mind, and whether it was, you know, God prompting me towards it, was just making sure I affirm her and said, Hey, I don't want you to just accept who you are.


I wanna celebrate you who you are. I want you to celebrate who you are. Knowing that sometimes when something beautiful is being made, it gets a little bit messy sometimes. Yeah. Oh, I love, so how do you, how do you deal with your, and you all have three kids, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So how do you deal with this, what you said in letting them know, kind of reinforcing the truth? How do you do that from very young age with kids to make sure they don't get into that very natural shame cycle as they get older when things aren't going well, how do you really embed those neural pathways from a very young age for kids?

Nicole Zasowski (10:56):

You know, it's something I've thought about a lot since, uh, the book released last year, because one of the questions I get most often is from parents. And they're essentially asking me some version of, of that question. Yeah. Yeah. How do I help? I, I don't have a healthy relationship with celebration, but how, how do I help my kids essentially celebrate who they are? And this is puzzling to me because, um, alongside getting all those questions I was starting to notice in my own practice, I see a lot of adolescents and I was starting to notice this phrase I just kept hearing over and over again from them. And these are pretty accomplished, um, solid good kids. Yeah. And they would tell me, Nicole, I just feel like a walking resume. And in some ways this was confusing to me cuz I'm pretty familiar with a lot of the families, um, that these kids come from.


And these are loving, uh, warm, um, often Christ-centered homes that, that these kids are in. And yet this was the prevailing feeling is basically that I only feel as good as my last performance. Hmm. And so what, what I was thinking of, especially in the context of celebration, cuz the practice of celebration was something I was talking so much about at the time, was that more than how often we celebrate our kids, the timing of when we celebrate is just as important. And your example with your daughter made me think of that, that the most natural knee-jerk opportunities to celebrate are when we won the wi uh, the little league game. Or when we got that a we studied really hard and we got that a on the test or we finished that project, or all the college applications are in, or we got into the school, you know, where there's an obvious reason to do so.


And I am not suggesting that we stop celebrating those things. Yeah. Those are fun, um, milestone moments that we need to celebrate. What I am suggesting is that we discipline ourselves as parents to expand those opportunities to celebrate and don't wait for a quote unquote reason. Um, because I think even for us as, as we think of the opportunities we take to celebrate things in our own lives, we think that we have to have a reason that celebration comes on the far side of a goal achieved or a dream realized when really at its best it's practiced as a rhythm. Yeah. Um, and, and not necessarily a reaction or a reward. And this is so important for our kids because it, it says exactly what you said to your daughter. I celebrate who you are. I love the gifts that you have and the opportunities you have to use them and the ways we get to celebrate the school play or the, the little league game.


But mostly I love who you are and I wanna celebrate this about you. Um, and I, I use that phrase a lot or try to with my own kids. Like, I just love who you are and I am so glad God gave you this quality because our family is so much better for it. Um, and you're the only one of the five of us that has this. And thank goodness, you know, just really making a big deal about their uniqueness at random times. Um, or being able to catch lightning in a bottle like you did with the sweatshirt of Yeah, Hey, I actually really like this about you <laugh>. Yeah. And yeah, it may be hard at times to have this quality, um, but what feels like a burden sometimes is actually really beautiful and will serve you well.

Joey Odom (15:02):

Yeah. Cuz if you deaden the corollary of someone's strength, if you deaden, if you deaden someone's, if someone who's creative, if you deaden the messiness, then you also in the creativity a hundred percent. You, you dead in downside. You downside the up, you limit the upside. Right? Yes. Let's, let's talk about the, and, and I don't wanna skip over your first book, um, <laugh> from Loss to Found Giving Up What You Want for what We Say Free. I I need to read that, but I have read What If It's wonderful. Um, and it was like I said, it was, I I said before it was probably for women, but I'm telling you it was for me. And I do have long hair, but <laugh>, um, no,

Nicole Zasowski (15:34):

It's for, it's for everyone. Oh.

Joey Odom (15:36):

It was, it was exposing. I, it it's, it takes some vulnerability. You tell some really deep stories in there where you got the point where your friend asked you instead of expecting the worst. What if it's wonderful? Will you talk about that journey that led up to that question and then how that hit you?

Nicole Zasowski (15:54):

Sure. Um, you know, a lot of people assume I wrote that book because I had a lot to say about Joy <laugh> and was an expert in it. And I did do a ton of research in preparation for that book. But that book was born much more out of a season that could largely be characterized by change and loss. The, the season I described from my first book from Loss to Found. And what I realized is when I started, you know, I don't think our seasons are ever all pain or all joy, but certainly they lean in one direction or another. Right. And I noticed that when I started to move from that painful season to a season with more good news and encountering some breakthrough in our story, I noticed that I was really hesitant to step into that. Yeah. And I woke up one morning, I mean, nothing happened. It was just sort of a slow realization where I just woke up really grieved because I realized that yes, I had experienced a lot of tangible loss in that previous season, but a lot of the loss I experienced was my inability or unwillingness to embrace the joy that was right in front of me. And I thought, no more <laugh>. I I am done protecting myself from joy. Um, and in my research I actually learned that I'm not alone. That joy is the most vulnerable feeling we feel.

Joey Odom (17:31):


Nicole Zasowski (17:32):

Yes. Because when we hold something, it's automatically accompanied by the possibility of loss. And sometimes when we've been through trauma or loss of any kind, it can feel safer not to hold that joy than to hold something that might break. And a lot of us are walking around, uh, calling ourselves realists or relying on pessimism or cynicism in some way, um, because we're trying to protect ourselves from some sort of vulnerability of joy. Whether that's trying really hard and feeling like a failure if it doesn't work out or hoping and winding up disappointed. But what was so interesting in my research is that pessimism and cynicism actually don't lessen the sting of that outcome should the worst happen. And so not only are we protecting ourselves from a lot of joy in the process, but it doesn't even work if, and that's a big, if <laugh> if that outcome were to happen. And so, I mean, like we said, the brain still prefers what it knows. So research isn't gonna be enough to help you trust it differently. But that really held up the mirror of why are you doing this? Yeah. Um, and then I did a deep dive, um, into psychological research and, and scriptural research to understand how can we move through that vulnerability of joy and the practice of celebration as a practice became the thing that I think helps us move through.

Joey Odom (19:23):

I wanna hear about the practice. There are a couple things along those lines that, that, that, by the way, that that line joy's the most vulnerable feeling we feel is, and again, you talk about exposing, I just feel that Yeah. I, I feel, I feel like the, the hesitancy is where, you know, building up a business with something good has, you know, something good happens and, but it's always met with, you know, like you've said, you said in your book, just a distrust. Yeah. Like, can I really trust this good thing? Is this, is this something I can trust? Can I trust the celebration? Can I trust the joy? And I think another part of it for me is probably even expressing joy. I think maybe those around me, maybe a fear that others around me will think that I'm, I look silly for it. Yeah. Or something. Yeah. You know, it, it's a, it's a, it's not only internal, but it's external as well. Or my perception of external, which would a, would a, would a poor outlook. Like if I were to, you know Right. Think my wife would think I'm silly for being joyful. That doesn't give her much credit. It's not really well founded, but it's just another defense mechanism against joy.

Nicole Zasowski (20:21):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. I think we've been so trained to see, uh, celebration as a reaction to good news or a reward for some kind of an accomplishment. And we, we feel that having a reason as a prerequisite and yeah. It is so much more healthy and connecting to practice it as a rhythm.

Joey Odom (20:43):

Will you tell that story? What led up your friend who asked the story, what led if it's wonderful? Yeah. And you tell that that's, that's such a great story.

Nicole Zasowski (20:49):

Yeah. So the title, um, comes from, uh, essentially a sign in my friend's kitchen. And I shared earlier in this conversation that my husband and I had, uh, we have a really rare genetic condition, um, which makes it more likely for me to miscarry a baby should I get pregnant than not. And so statistically, um, it's a really scary thing for me to be pregnant. Yeah. Because how do you hope when you know the odds are not in your favor? And of course you wanna meet that baby, um, and you want to picture a life with them and your family with them. And in some ways it feels foolish to celebrate even being pregnant or to hope. Um, and so that's where I was <laugh> as I was sitting in my friend's kitchen and she'd walked through a lot of the pain in our story.


And, um, I was feeling this in other areas of my life too. Just some dreams that I had for my writing and my career as a therapist and just not really sure if dreaming felt like a good idea. And so this was all kind of buzzing around me, like the dust and pigpen from that Peanuts character <laugh> just kinda ever with me. And I was sitting on a bar stool in her kitchen and it's a kitchen I've sat in many times and I looked above her window and she has this cute little wooden sign that says, what if it's actually going to be okay and talk about holding up the mirror. It was like, oh, that hadn't occurred to me. <laugh>. Like Yeah. And it just held up the mirror to how much I was practicing disappointment, rehearsing disaster. Correct. You know, living in this space of the worst case scenario, not even allowing myself to say, Hey, what if it's actually really beautiful?


And by the way, that doesn't mean what if you get what you want. Yeah. That's what if the path before you is actually really rich and what if there's something behind this curtain that you couldn't even dream up if you tried? Um, and that's not a prosperity thing or Yep. Um, you know, getting what you want. Like I said, it's, it's more just what if what's ahead is actually really wonderful. And so I read this sign as if I was asking myself like, what if it's actually gonna be okay <laugh>? And she goes, oh sweetie, what if it's wonderful? And that phrase became just a short question to interrupt this line of thinking. So I started seeing this line of thinking, cuz once you name it, you see it more often. And what if it's wonderful became my phrase to interrupt that. And when I pitched this concept to my publisher as my second book, you know, we were sort of kicking around. We knew we needed a good title, um, because the vulnerability of joy is not something we talk about a lot. And yeah. Um, we needed something that really captured that. And at first it didn't occur to me to make it the title. And I was, I think I was sort of feeling vulnerable about that title. Like, I don't know if they're gonna like this. So I just sent it hit Send

Joey Odom (24:10):


Nicole Zasowski (24:11):

And they got back to me so fast and they're like, sold. Um, and that actually sold them on the idea that this book needed to be out there. So, um, I don't know if I've shared that, that part of the story before. That's so cool. But, um, and people tell me all the time, you know, the book's been out just over a year, and that's the feedback I, one of the feedbacks I get most often is that just the title has ministered to people and changed. Yes. They're thinking, um, because it's not a question we, we often ask. Usually it's what if I fail? Or what if it's scary? Or what if I'm disappointed? You know, we, we don't often ask what if it's,

Joey Odom (24:56):

You know, I love hearing stories from people who are using RO in their homes. RO is in all 50 states, and this one comes from Kelly in North Carolina. Kelly said, I purchased this for my husband. We have three little girls, five and under and are really trying to keep our phones in their proper places. But it's hard. I'm hopeful this will be a gift to the whole family and allow us to give our girls more of our focus and presence at home, which is true. One thing that's interesting about RO is we, we thought this was for kids who had phones, which it's really good for that, but it's also great for a family just like this with younger kids, three girls, five and under, and they can get all of mom and dad's focus. If you're interested in learning more about ro, just go to go ro.com


Nicole. What I love about it, what I love about that question itself is it's very disarming mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because it's not a def it's not a definitive statement. Right. In, in, in other words, it's not, it's not a delusional thing to say. Right. It's just a, because it, in our fears, we have heard someone say that fear comes to us as a fully formed story. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So when we, when we have fear, it's coming to us as a, the, it's theoretical, it's not happening, and you're just countering that with something else that's theoretical. Like, yeah, that could be terrible. What if it's wonderful? Yeah. So it's not a D so if if instead you countered it with like, no, it's gonna be great, then you'd be like, well, you're an idiot. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like, you don't know that. You know what I mean?


Yeah. Is that, that, that, I think that's an interesting spin on it. You're, you're greeting a theoretical with a theoretical uhhuh <affirmative> and no one can argue with it. Right. <laugh>. Right. You can't argue that like, well, yeah. What if it's, it might be mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's such a power. It is such a powerful question of a couple things, um, that I wanna dive into to there. You said with your genetic predisposition mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and this is interesting. It's not just that you thought things that thought the odds might be against you, you knew Right. Scientifically the odds were against you. And even then, like that, that's like, that's pretty decent reason to not have some hope. Yeah. Right. <laugh>. So even then, I mean it applies there. Yeah. So that,


Um, and it makes me think about people who, and, and infertility is just such a prevalent thing mm-hmm. <affirmative> and so many people struggle with it very silently. And it's, it's, it's shame and many people around me, you know, it's a shameful thing. It's something they heard about. It's just lost hope and dreams. How do you talk to people who are going through that or may have those infertility issues, or even people listening right now, it's just in, in may feel like they're in the depths. Mm-hmm. They may feel like they're in the valley and not have hope. How do you talk to them and what would you say to them?

Nicole Zasowski (27:23):

That's a great question. I mean, I, I think the first thing we have to do is just honor our pain. Uh, we can't move through what, what we haven't named. And this is not, um, I'm glad you asked me this question, because this is not about drawing a silver lining on clouds. Mm. Sometimes clouds just need to be clouds. And this isn't about making something good that would be toxic positivity where we get into spiritual bypassing and, you know, saying silly untrue things like, you know, yeah. I don't know what everything happens for a reason or, um, yeah. Right. You know, those trite platitudes that are not actually truth. Um, and I think just to be able to invite others, invite God if you're a person of faith into the feelings you actually have, instead of trying to have the perfect feelings. Um, because I, one of the things I do in my pain is perform.


I think if I, yeah. If I can just look really good or look like I'm growing and I'm mature and I'm brave, um, then maybe this won't happen to me. Um, and I know that's not true. I know it's not actually going to protect me from pain, but our brains are tenacious with those things that we rely on when we're in pain. Um, and so I think just to honor where you are, um, slower is faster. I think often we, and this is true, if you know someone in your life who's hurting, our first tendency is to pull them out of that place. Yeah. That's so painful because we love them and we want to see them, um, in a different place. And that comes from a place of love. I think what's actually most helpful is to sit with them in that place that neither one of you want them to be in.


Mm-hmm. Um, and that is actually the, the first step naming what Hurts Grieving, that you're in that place, um, if this is someone in your life crawling into that place with them. Um, and you don't have to agree with everything that they're saying in that place to validate the feeling. You know, I get this question from parents a lot. Like, I have this an anxious kid, and I'm worried that if I validate their feelings, that I'm gonna validate the reality of what they're afraid of. And that's not true. And you don't have to agree <laugh> with everything to validate that the feeling is real. Um, and I think, but until we get there, until we connect, we can't Correct. Um, whether that's a friendship or, or with our kids,

Joey Odom (30:13):

That's a hard thing as a parent too, because you know what's on the other side of it, you know, when there's a little, when there's a tiff at school with, you know, with with their friends, you know, we have the context to know everything's gonna be fine. Yeah. And so we want to immediately tell 'em everything's going to be fine. Yes. And it will be. But that's not really, what you're saying is that's not really relevant. Not

Nicole Zasowski (30:31):

Yet <laugh>. Yeah.

Joey Odom (30:34):


Nicole Zasowski (30:34):

They have to know that you've heard them. And so find some overlap. Something that you can validate, even if it's not in the situation itself, but just in how they're feeling in the moment. Yeah. And then I think it opens up more possibility. You know, I, one of the, um, populations of people that I heard a ton from that I could have never talk about, what if it's wonderful I could have never anticipated, um, was a community of parents, uh, who have at least one child with a disability of some kind. Um, and it was such a hopeful message for them. Wow. Because here they have this situation that they thought that they didn't want that, that there was some grief around, um, for their child or for them. Um, it was obviously not what they had expected. Um, it was a huge curve ball in life.


And yet they have found Yes. A lot of hardship and a lot of change. Yeah. But a lot of joy. So much so that they can't picture their lives or their family's life, um, any other way. And there are days where that's not the case and it's really, really hard and painful. But there are so many days where they've just been interrupted by this joy that they wouldn't trade. And I heard from these parents because a lot of them said, we didn't know if it was okay to celebrate. We didn't know that this thing that we're supposed to quote unquote grieve has actually brought so much joy and so much richness and we are so much better for it to our lives. And that's not to negate, again, the heart and the pain of it, but this other part is true too. And we didn't know if that was okay.


And I, I, I've done some zooms with these groups of parents and they're just sobbing. Um, and just feeling permission to celebrate what is good, even though it's a story that they thought they were supposed to be sad about, um, was so freeing. And I think to be able to hold what is hard and hold what is joyful intention, um, joy doesn't cancel the pain. <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Um, again, that's toxic positivity. We don't do that here. Joy is able to sit and say, yeah, this is really hard and this is also really beautiful, just like you did with your daughter and the gift that she has. Yeah. There's a challenging part of that gift. And there's also a really beautiful part. And we have to be able to do both.

Joey Odom (33:30):

Yeah. That, that, um, the, the whole concept of practicing this is this being a practice, I think is what, what is one of the turning points of the book for me was conceptual and then just like, and you've said it like practicing disappointment. Mm-hmm. Practicing like the discipline of celebration. Yeah. Um, I don't think that probably most of us are aware of the fact that we're probably, or, or some of us, if you're like me, you, you are practicing disappointment. Yeah. I think I do that. I think I do that quite a bit. Me too.

Nicole Zasowski (33:55):


Joey Odom (33:56):

Um, <laugh>. It's, it's just easy. It's so much easier to Yes. Yeah. Yes. It's just, it it is, it is, it is so much easier to do and let your, your mind run wild. And I think probably too, cause our brains are always seeking out the things that need to be corrected and not the things that aren't there, or something like that.

Nicole Zasowski (34:11):

Yeah. So anxiety is one of my favorite definitions is it's our brain's way of trying to control what it can't. So, wow. It's scanning the environment for, for things that, um, we could worry about <laugh> in an effort to control the unknown. Um, and, and when we're faced with the unknown, that's why it's so important to counter that anxiety by, by asking, well, what if it's actually gonna be okay? What if it's wonderful?

Joey Odom (34:41):

So you have three, three sections here. The, the release your fears, choose joy and find the courage to celebrate. Will you touch on each one of those sections? Uh, the release your fears, choose joy, and then find the courage to celebrate.

Nicole Zasowski (34:52):

Yeah. Um, the release your fears would be just understanding that vulnerability of joy. What makes joy feel scary? Uh, why does it require courage when it sounds like something that should be easy and natural <laugh>. But really just looking at the things that hold us back from that. Not, not only in your own story, but because you're human and you have a brain, and this is the way our brains operate left on neutral, the brain leans negative. Um, and there's all sorts of dynamics and reasons for that that I explore in that section. Um, choosing joy is off can be a phrase, um, that sounds toxically positive. That is not, um, how we explore that in that section. It's actually meant to be freeing and empowering. Um, and that speaks to what I was talking about earlier with when we tell ourselves that we need a reason to celebrate, um, that's incredibly disempowering.


Now wonder, we're feeling vulnerable. <laugh> now wonder. We're just hoping that it all turns out okay so that we can celebrate. Um, when really when we practice it as a practice, um, we can start to move in a new direction. Not that we are dismissing what is hard, um, or painful in our lives, but that we can actually make some choices in stewarding that pain that helps us connect with God and other people, um, and with ourselves in a, in a different way. Yeah. And then that, uh, courage to celebrate is where we actually get to practice that courage. And I outline lots of different practices and what, cuz when I thought of celebration, I naturally thought of like a big party or somebody who's good at event planning or good at entertaining and hosting. Um, I'm working on it, but that's not me. <laugh> <laugh>, um, sounds like a lot of time that I don't have and a lot of effort and a lot of money. And I really wanted these practices to be accessible, um, doable in a 32nd timeframe and able to be practiced wherever you are. Um, and so hopefully that was accomplished in, in those i, in that section. I think it was, I hear from people that it's their favorite section. Um, but yeah. Tho those practices are outlined Yeah. In each chapter there

Joey Odom (37:35):

One thing I like about this and then growing up in the church and you know, still being in church there, there's a, there's a certain message at times of deliverance mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, if, if, and I, I think that that maybe even from a young age sets this probably false expectation. Yeah. Because we know, I mean, it's a daily practice, you know, you die to yourself daily. Right. And it's, it's a daily practice. The thing I like about this is it's maybe an acknowledgement to some degree this is going to be a lifelong, not necessarily struggle, but just a practice. Yeah. And there's, there's the deliverance. Yeah, maybe there's deliverance, but it's, but it's that deliverance comes, you know, a drop of water at a time every single day. And it's the thing I like about it, it's just this practice that we can get into for ourselves.

Nicole Zasowski (38:15):

Yes. I think, and that's, and research would say that that's how change happens. And sometimes, yes, deliverance can come a drop of water once a day, every day, <laugh>. Um, and sometimes even when we have those watershed moments that we picture when we think of deliverance, we still have to practice walking in the new way. Um, that, that moment of truth comes with a responsibility to keep walking forward in that truth. And so if your story includes some of those moments that you can return to that we're really emotional and, and really significant great practice from there. Yeah. If your deliverance has looked like, you know, daily practices that have helped you move one step at a time over a long period of time, I think that's beautiful too. Hmm. Um, but both stories require practice. We, our brains just don't change without it.

Joey Odom (39:15):

There are a couple quotes that I saw on a lot of reviews in the book. There are a couple quotes that jumped out to me. One of them was, was a really common theme, which, which was this was, this book was a mirror to my soul. This book was a book I didn't know I needed. And I love this. Nicole delivered a gentle me too that helped me feel safe letting her into my darkest spaces. How do, what does that feel like? You get random people that you don't know their names and they're saying like, this is a mirror into my soul. What is that like as an author to receive that affirmation and hopefully not going into performance <laugh>, but once again into the performance cycle. Yeah. But what, what does that feel like to, to get those and just know that people's people's hearts are being touched by this and their lives are being impacted by it?

Nicole Zasowski (39:57):

Huh. I could cry. Um, it's, it's the very best gift. Um, the, I mean, the reality of numbers and sales is of course there. That's not my why <laugh>. Yeah. My why It, it, honestly, I said this to someone the other day. It feels like I've stepped into Jesus feeding the 5,000 and I've given him my little lunch <laugh> and I just get to see him multiply. Like when you share on Instagram a, a book and what it has meant in your life, or when you share, review on Amazon or tell a friend about it, it, it, honestly, when I get a peek at that as an author, it's just like, wow. What God did with the little <laugh> with the message that he gave me. Yeah. I mean, um, I, I talk about this in the book cuz often people are like, as, especially if you've grown up in the church, you've been taught that at times, um, that celebration is somehow, um, egotistical or that it's self-aggrandizing.


And so people are unsure how to reconcile their humility with, they're called a humility with this invitation to celebrate. And I address that in the book because what I've realized is my hesitancy to celebrate is actually a sign that I've made it about me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So when, when you read those, I think this is all God, he gave me the idea, he gave me the opportunity to write it down. So I celebrate freely, I rejoice over each one of those because it's him. Um, and he's allowed me to think through a message to share it and, and to he spread it. So, wow. I, I'm celebrating <laugh>. I

Joey Odom (41:59):

Love that <laugh>. I like that. It's very good. Yeah. Alright. I didn't, I didn't, I didn't prep you for this particular question and it's just come to me and so we can edit this out Sure. If it's just a little bit too much for it. But I'm, I'm curious, what, what, what is, what's, what would you say the, what's the advice that you need most right now?

Nicole Zasowski (42:16):

The advice I need most, well, I'll tell you about a conversation I had with my husband a couple nights ago. Um, just thinking through all that I'm called to do, you know, I've got these three beautiful children. Um, I'm married to a great guy. I've been called to be a therapist, and God has put these books on my heart and I, I hope he puts more. Um, and it can be a struggle knowing what's the right, um, amount of time. Um, what, yeah, how are we doing these callings together, um, and how are we doing them well? And it's, it's been heavy on my heart this week, which is why I'm just thinking out loud with you right now. <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Um, but I was, I was reading, I can't remember whether it was in Chronicles or Samuel, um, but Nathan, um, gives this, he, he basically gives this wisdom of Yeah. Like it makes sense to build that cedar house, like go build it. Yeah. And then I love this, God comes to him in a dream and says, uh, you're gonna need to roll that back. When have I ever

Joey Odom (43:38):


Nicole Zasowski (43:39):

That I needed to live in a cedar house? I never said I wanted a cedar house. And it just really highlighted for me, you know, we can make so many decisions in our different callings based on what makes sense or what opportunities we're given or what gifts we have. And often we don't ask, does Scott want me? There does, yeah. Does is that where he wants me to be? Um, and simultaneously I'm preparing for this women's retreat where I'm gonna do some teaching on kind of a, a biblical and whole view of femininity. And one of the talks is our calling and how that's expressed in the community. And, you know, I know so many women that have passions or business ideas or callings outside home and obviously they're called inside their home, whatever that looks like too. And I think we're always thinking about what's the right combination or, you know, what does that look like for me? And I think the question I'm asking more is, God, do you want me there? Yeah. Yeah. And so if anybody listening wants to call me and speak

Joey Odom (44:52):


Nicole Zasowski (44:53):

Um, and having the courage to listen to the answer, um, I think I feel really convicted in that cuz I can blow past some signals and signs that aren't telling me to go in the direction that I wanna go. Um, yeah. And yet desperately wanting at the end of my life to look back and say, you know, what I'm proud of and, and really blessed by the way I spent my time and maybe it didn't look like hustling in the way that the world would've wanted it to. Um, but it was, it was where God wanted me to be. Um, and so I, I hope that I step in the places he wants me to be.

Joey Odom (45:42):

That's so good.

Nicole Zasowski (45:43):

I don't know if that was what

Joey Odom (45:44):

You were looking for. Sorry to sur I'm sorry to surprise you. No, that was great. I did want to hear, I wanted to hear like the real time. That was

Nicole Zasowski (45:49):

Real time. What's

Joey Odom (45:50):

Going on? No, I love that. That was great. Uh, we asked this question of, of everybody on the RO podcast. The RO podcast is conversations with people who strive to live intentionally. So I'll ask you open-ended, very broad, take whatever direction you want. But what does, what does the word intentionality, what does intentionality mean to Nicole Suski? Hmm.

Nicole Zasowski (46:09):

Yeah. I think when I think of intentionality, I think of congruence. And I say that because a lot of, in, in this dovetails on what I just shared with you, a lot of, um, the focus as a mom who works outside the home as well is on balance. Like, what's the right ratio? What, how do you, how do I know I'm checking the boxes and being all things to all people at all times. Yeah. And I think congruence has become a much more peaceful way for me to think about that. And an intentional way to think about that is, is the way I'm spending my time align, aligning with a, where God has asked me to be and b, my values? Yeah. Um, if I say this is important to me, if someone looked at my day, would, would that be the message they took, took home with them?


Um, yeah. Is is that the impression they would get? And, and again, not as a performance, but just as an accountability. Um, and that really, it helps me put my phone away. Um, yeah. When I'm with my kids, if I'm saying that they're important to me and that eye contact is important and that I want them to feel seen and heard and celebrated for who they are, you know, as me being on my phone majority of the time, giving them that message. No. Yeah. Um, and that's just one example. And I, I like that the word congruence allows for different things in different seasons. Yeah. You know, when, when my book's releasing, it's gonna be a unique few weeks <laugh>. That's

Joey Odom (47:50):


Nicole Zasowski (47:51):

Yeah. And they're gonna see their mom work really hard and, uh, celebrate with them and, and share some tears. And, um, and that'll look different than six months later, um, when summer comes and, you know, we're just playing together most of the time. So Yeah. I, I think congruence is what screams at me when I hear intentionality.

Joey Odom (48:15):

I love that. It, it it very quickly when you have that real clear why you have that real clear intention, you can very quickly eliminate distractions and distractions. We, we say distractions, anything that gets in the way of your intention. Mm-hmm. So you're very quick in that few week, hey, book just released, I know what distraction is, I know what intention is. Yeah. And so you're able to quickly eliminate those things. And it, and I, what I like about what you said is it it does, it ebbs and flows. It's different for seasons and, uh, and it's not always hard and fast. Mm-hmm. That's why we don't demonize phones at all. I mean, if phones are very necessary. Yeah. And so there, but there are moments, you know, for us, you know, dinnertime, it's probably not the right time. So I like how you define that.


Um, and I'm gonna put this on the, on the after show notes, but everybody does need to go get this book. <laugh>. This is, this is, um, I I mean, it, it was, um, very, very exposing. It's, um, it's something that when you get into the practice, it's not all, it's not all theoretical or just conceptual. It is get, gets down to the nitty gritty of practice, which I love. Um, where should people go to pick up a book? How can they go learn more about you, your socials? Give us all the things, we'll put 'em in the show notes too, but where, where can people go out Sure. And learn

Nicole Zasowski (49:20):

More. Um, I have some free downloadables that accompany the book on my website if you're interested. And that's a good place to connect with me. You can message me there too. It's just my name Nicole, n i c o l e, Zow, Z a s O w S k i.com. Um, you can buy the book anywhere books are sold. Certainly it's on Amazon or if your local bookstore doesn't have it, they can get it for you. Um, and then I'm on Instagram the most in terms of social media. So at Nicole's ows ski there,

Joey Odom (49:55):

When Nicole, you asked the, the cover, your book asks the question, it says, what if it's wonderful. And I will tell you, the book is wonderful, thank it really is. And here's, here's my two, two extra quick little nuggets. One, you're a brilliant linguist. Oh, you, your word pictures are really great in reading. It's, it's super, super well written. And secondly, my advice for you in writing a second book is this is such, and you said earlier, so good for parents and every parent has a question, how do I engender this for my kids? So whether it's a kid's book or whether it's for parents about this, this is, I think this deserves a sequel. It's that good. So

Nicole Zasowski (50:28):

Thank you so much. I really appreciate those kind words.

Joey Odom (50:32):

Yeah. Thank you Nicole. Thank you so much for joining us on the RO podcast. Appreciate

Nicole Zasowski (50:35):

It. Aw, thanks for having me.

Joey Odom (50:37):

All right. Nicole Zasowski dropped some bombs on us. l let me give you a couple that I loved. The first one was, she says that joy is the most vulnerable feeling we feel. Now if you're like me, you tend to flee vulnerability. It's a little bit uncomfortable at times. So it makes sense if we're fleeing joy, and I can see that in myself that I may flee joy, I may expect disappointment instead of joy just because joy is so vulnerable. And the second one is about anxiety. Anxiety is the brain's way of controlling the unknown. I see that in myself. I know a lot of people that do. Just knowing that in and of itself, I think is a helpful thing for me. Now, I've, I've read her book, it's so good. And I would encourage you, if you struggle with any of this, if you expect the worst, if you have these many defense mechanisms that come up, if you struggle with shame, any of that, or if you see that maybe in your kids, I'd really encourage you to get this book. It's a really easy read, but it's super, super deep. She's a great linguist. I said that. It's a great book. Please do go pick up a copy of her book. And once again, thank you so much for joining The Aro Podcast. We loved having you. We can't wait to see you next time. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support. And to our executive producer, Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.