86: Leaving Toxic Relationships

August 5, 2021

Acknowledging toxic relationships and when positivity becomes just as toxic. We discuss Simone Biles in the news and how removing herself from a toxic situation doesn’t make her a quitter, it makes her powerful and strong. Claire processes through vaccination progress (or lack thereof) frustrations, and we discuss our high school selves.




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This is Joy & Claire Episode 86: Leaving Toxic Relationships

Episode Date: August 5, 2021

Transcription Completed: August 15, 2021

Audio Length: 50:46 minutes 

Joy: Hey guys, this is Joy.

Claire: And this is Claire.

Joy: And this is Joy and Claire. I’d like to do a quick plug before we even get started because I just had to grab some bites of Eat to Evolve before we started recording, and it’s delicious. I grabbed a Grab & Go. 

Claire: I had the barbecue chicken salad.

Joy: I had the, what is it a sweet potato? I don’t have the name in front of me.

Claire: Like the sweet potato family salad or something like that.

Joy: Yes, the sweet potato family style salad, and it’s delicious. I love it. So if you want to support the podcast, you can support us by going to Eat to Evolve and using the discount code JOYCLAIRE15 for a discount off your order.

Claire: Which – this is not intuitive – but the discount code JOYCLAIRE15 gets you 20% off your first order. I don’t know why there’s a 15 at the end. It doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it started off as 15% and then –

Joy: I think it started, but regardless – “Irregardless” – you should probably use that code and support the podcast, and then also get a discount off delicious food. That’s eattoevolve.com, the discount code JOYCLAIRE15. 

Claire: Delish.

Joy: Delish.

Claire: I’m eating it for lunch. I love it. How’s it going? We’ve had so many interviews lately.

Joy: We really have. We always get mixed reviews on interviews because people just want to hear us, which I really appreciate, really appreciate it. And there’s only so much of us to go around, guys. Sometimes we need to hear other people’s voices.

Claire: I feel like it’s less that people only love hearing us and more that they know what they’re getting when they get us, and when we have a guest we don’t always resonate with everyone. But I have really been interested in the fact that every interview that we’ve had lately has really come back to this theme of not ignoring the signals that your body is giving you. I feel like we talked about that with Laura Ligos. We definitely talked about that with Dr. Cook. We talked about that with Noel. Next in a couple weeks we are going to have an interview with Scout from Scout’s Agency. She talks about that. It’s just such a theme right now that I think people are really coming out of the past year out of touch with themselves and out of touch with what living in a non-super-stressed-out state even feels like. And we’re all realizing, oh my gosh, my body is crying out for help.

Joy: Can I share a personal story really quick along those same lines? People can probably tell by now that I’m very cautious about what I share about why I left my job, just because there’s so much complication to it and I want to give it more time to breathe before I really kind of share my story. Because I think it is important to talk about it in more detail, but the part that I want to share is, I was talking to a friend recently about leaving the job and how I saw the signs and I knew I needed to leave, but I tried to put a positive spin on it for so long. There’s only so much positivity you can spin on a bad situation. In my bones, I knew it. I had been looking for jobs years before I actually left, but I kept trying to make it work. And being like, I’m really trying. I’m really trying. Put a positive spin on it. Put a positive spin on it. And at the end of the day, it was literally killing. I know Graves’ Disease was because of stress. So that is just something that I’ve been really trying to work on. I feel like it’s a big lesson of, when am I lying to myself and having resistance. I know that’s such a woo-y word, but you can feel it in your body. And I don’t think it’s black and white every single time, but it’s persistent enough to where the situation had to get to a point that was pretty extreme and dramatic that I could have left before it got to that point.

Claire: Yeah, and I think with jobs and with relationships and with anything that you are choosing or it feels like you’re choosing it, it is really hard to acknowledge when we have all this toxic positivity messaging around us all the time. You make your own reality, you make your own happiness, life is what you make it – it all puts the impetus on you to figure out how to see the bright side of things. I feel like we talk about this a lot. That’s why I very, very much shy away from silver lining thinking. Even when people will write into us or my friends will come to me and say, “Oh, I’m having X, Y, Z problem,” I never, I never, I completely have stopped trying to put any positive spin on it. We talk about this a lot – perspective is important. Of course it’s important to acknowledge, “Oh, other people have it worse than me.” But we do that about everything, to the point where we completely invalidate what we are going through. Okay, you’re choosing this, it could be worse, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, some things are truly toxic. I think there’s also that difference between something that maybe you’re just kind of in a rut with for now but it’s going to come back around, or you’re on a project that you don’t particularly like the team that’s on the project but you know it’s temporary.

Joy: Right.

Claire: All of those things. We’re not saying the moment something starts to feel uncomfortable, just walk away. Because that’s also not reality. We talk about this with looking for your dream job. You’re not always going to love every moment of everything, even if you’re in the perfect fit. It’s the same way with a marriage, with a friendship, with anything. You’re not going to love every second and every moment, even if it’s the perfect fit. But I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we know when that switch flips into, no, this is now becoming, truly, a negative net impact on my life. 

Joy: Yeah. And I think it’s important what you said about that it’s not that the second things become uncomfortable, but really recognizing… I think the question is, if you’re in it and you think, “I’m not sure if this is good or bad,” truly taking yourself out of it will give you perspective. And that may mean leaving something for a while if you can to get perspective. But there’s no way I would have the perspective I have if I would have stayed. Absolutely not.

Claire: Yeah. You know I always reference the job that I left a couple years ago that was super toxic, and I had the same experience where it was like I knew in my core for months that I was not in a healthy place. I just kept telling myself, “Yeah, but look at how great you’re doing. You got promoted, and you have all these things. Blah, blah, blah. Your boss loves you.” I think the scarcity mindset also comes in. You’re like, “But it’s not so bad. What if the next thing I go to is even worse?”

Joy: Always, always, always, always. And I did that in my previous job. I think what I’m learning right now is, a big lesson that I noticed and I need to figure this out before I talk more about it too, but it’s something I’m working on is, at my previous job I left and there was drama. Meaning, I left with this-

Claire: Your job before – 

Joy: The job before, so the job at the DA’s office. When I left, it was some drama. I felt like I had been wronged. There was someone that really made me mad. It’s interesting that there’s some similar things where I’m like, “Oh. I’m the common denominator with this. What is that about, Joy?” So that’s just been something that I’ve been looking at because I’m like, is there something around jobs that I need to leave before it gets to that point? And I need to be aware whenever next move I make that I don’t have to get it to a place where I’m lying to myself that things are great. But the thing that I want to point out really quick too, just about silver linings, you said something that people – I don’t remember where I saw this. It was some article, somewhere along my career. Maybe someone out there knows it. Please site it. Site the source. Is, what does support look like for you right now? When someone’s going through a hard time, instead of doing the silver lining, positivity thing is, what does support look like for you right now. It’s a great question. That just opened it up to, that may change over time, but right now how can I support you, or what does it look like to you? And that doesn’t mean in all scenarios because I know sometimes it’s hard to ask someone, “What do you need?” People are like, “I don’t know what I need.” But support is just asking me how I’m doing would be great. I can’t stress enough how much I agree with you, Claire, about the silver lining piece of we don’t need to just fix it and fix it mode. We need to sit with the uncomfortable feelings that people bring us, and we need to sit with the uncomfortable situations that are going on in other people’s lives and allow them to be where they are.

Claire: I have two other examples I want to share kind of on the same thing, not to belabor the point, but I think they’re pretty specific and I think that anybody listening might to be able to identify with either of these. One of them is that a colleague that I had who decided to leave her job constantly was asking herself and constantly telling herself, “This job isn’t that bad. What if I can’t find another job that’s any better? And what if the next place I go to is even worse than this? Am I giving up a job that actually isn’t ‘that bad’?” I feel like if you are constantly asking yourself, “It could be worse. What if the next thing I go to isn’t any better,” I think you’re selling yourself short for what your own judgement is capable of providing and also what the opportunities are that are out there. There are a lot of things out there. And whether this be jobs, whether this be any scenario in your life that you’re constantly thinking, “Well, this isn’t that bad, I guess.” There are things out there that are far better than just “not that bad.”

Joy: Right. Exactly. And I’m guilty of that because I did that at the first job I was referencing, the DA’s office. I was like, well what if the job I go to I hate it and I regret – it’s always about “I’m going to regret the decision,” and I never do because you’re moving onto something better. Even if it’s just like, oh, I don’t actually know if I want to be here, so I’m going to move to the next thing. We always have choices, but staying where you are, I feel like it eventually gets so bad that you have to be forced out.

Claire: Yeah. And life is about more than just being in situations that “aren’t that bad.” The other thing I was thinking about is when you were talking about why do you always end up getting to this place where things start to feel toxic before you feel like you can leave. Another friend was recently going through something. They were having a falling out with someone. And I was talking about it with someone else that it feels like this friend constantly has this huge falling out with people. I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a post-high school maybe, true falling out with someone. And the realization that I had about that person was that she holds onto relationships through so much abuse really, and so much take, take, take, take, take and so much conflict and tension and what have you that she sticks with them until the only choice she has is to have a falling out. And that was this big ah-ha moment that this isn’t just you’re doomed to have these falling outs with people. This is a scenario that a couple weeks or months or even years ago you could have started to work on and either eventually anticlimactically part ways with that person or resolve whatever issues were happening before they got to the point where it was unfixable and the only choice you had was to have a true falling out. And I think that also can be the case when it comes to jobs or whatever. Yeah, maybe there was a scenario or a fork in the road that you could have taken, something that you could have been addressing throughout the whole time that would have gotten you to a point where, sure, maybe you still would have left the job or not chosen to have stayed with it, but it wouldn’t have felt like – and I’m not necessarily saying this about you in your particular situation –

Joy: Sure.

Claire: But just anyone out there that, yeah, that’s important to look at too and realize what are these patterns. Are there things that I can be more aware of that are red flags that might seem like really little red flags in the moment, but now when I step back I realize I repeat this pattern throughout my life where I ignore these small red flags until they become absolutely gigantic and the only way to solve it is to leave the situation and go to a new one.

Joy: Or like Oprah would say, life speaks to you in a whisper and then starts talking, and then it gets louder. Kind of like the lessons we’re “meant to learn” in life will eventually just yell and scream at you. I feel like that is what happens to me, at least in these last two job situations where it started as a whisper. It was like, “Joy, are you going to pay attention to this? Joy, are you going to pay attention to this?” And it just got louder and louder and louder to where it was this huge scream and this dramatic – well, not dramatic. I’ll tell the story one day. [laughing]

Claire: But it was dramatic in the sense that it happened –

Joy: Yeah, it could have been a more neutral departure. The thing that my other friend was asking me was why do you allow people – let’s just use an example – people to treat you poorly? Especially in management roles, like bosses. Because it was very similar situations. I was like, oh, um, probably because I’m a people pleaser. Probably because I want to do a good job. I want people to like me. So that’s kind of the pattern that I’ve seen. So I let people in power treat me really crappy. So that’s something else I’m taking and trying to learn from. Okay, I need to work on that too because I don’t want to create that dynamic in wherever I land next.

Claire: Yeah. I think all of this still goes back to that pattern I was talking about in the very beginning of what are the messages that you are ignoring that you are trying to normalize, you are trying to make excuses for, whether they, again, are in your body, are in your job, are in your relationships or wherever. And what can you do with those before they get to the point where you have to stop what you’re doing and deal with them.

Joy: Yeah, yeah.

Claire: I also thought of this. This is a different topic. But when you said Oprah a minute ago, I recently saw something where a bunch of people were listed out. And it said, “Oprah Winfrey,” and I was like why do we even use her last name? We all know.

Joy: Who uses her last name?

Claire: I know that she officially has the last name. She’s not like Sher, but she could be like Sher if she wanted to be.

Joy: Exactly. Do you know how hard that must be for her to introduce herself? Or how weird it must be. Because you want to, as a human, just be like, “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Oprah.”  But she doesn’t need an introduction ever. Ever. To anyone. I don’t know one person on the planet who doesn’t know Oprah. So that must feel so weird.

Claire: I mean, what if your name was Oprah, but you’re not “the” Oprah. That would suck.

Joy: That would, yeah.

Claire: The other day, I forget where I was, but I saw a list of the people’s names who were – I must have been checking people into something. Where would I have possibly been where I was checking people into something? I don’t know. And a guy was using Woody Harrelson. And I was like, “There’s no way.” And it was just some random old guy with a fanny pack on. I was like, I’m so sorry your name is Woody Harrelson. 

Joy: Oh man. 

Claire: It’s such a unique name too.

Joy: It’s so unique. I would love to know if there’s people out there with famous names that aren’t the famous person.

Claire: I mean, I’m sure there are. One of my good friends, her last name is Palin. When Sarah Palin was really popular, she hated it. We worked at a job together where we had to wear name tags, and she changed the spelling of her last name so that people would stop commenting on it all the time.

Joy: That’s a bummer. That’s a bummer.

Claire: Yeah, I also remember seeing this Twitter thread when Brett Kavanaugh was being confirmed, and it was between all these guys who have the same names of these really controversial figures. And it was like, “Welcome to the club.” So awkward.

Joy: My gosh, speaking of famous names, do you have any comments, Claire, about the celebrity gossip on Bennifer?

Claire: No. I love them. I don’t know, I just don’t even care. If they’re happy, great. Jennifer Lopez looks amazing. I want whatever diet tea she’s drinking – that was a joke, guys.

Joy: Slim tea. It’s tummy tea, you guys.

Claire: That’s all it is. It’s tummy tea. She just is so spitfire. So spunky. Her whole vibe and ambiance is just so fiery. I love her. And you know, Ben Affleck, he’s kind of just like a – I forget where this saying comes from, but have you heard the phrase “tofu personality,” like you just take on the flavor of everyone else around you?

Joy: No. [laughing]

Claire: That’s a term I used to use in college. Someone who has a tofu personality, they just became like the person they were hanging out with. And he’s like that. He doesn’t seem to be all that interesting as a standalone human, so way to go to couple up with one of the more interesting –

Joy: Most famous people on the planet. And you know, I love the 90’s and the early 2000’s. I think that’s when they were together is the early 2000’s. I am really more in for the nostalgia of it. I love Jenny from the Block. I love Bennifer. I thought that they were the cutest couple. Gosh, memory lane. I just remember in the early 2000’s, because that’s when I was in college, is… actually, no, late 90’s. But barely out of college. Jennifer Lopez was “it.” Everyone wanted to be Jennifer Lopez. I remember talking to people, and girls literally just wanted to be Jennifer Lopez. How do I make that career? You can’t. There’s only one Jenny from the Block. But I say, goon on ya. If you guys are happy, who am I to judge? I think celebrities deal with enough. I truly think it’s the greatest.

Claire: I thought you were about to ask me about Simone Biles. Should we talk about that?

Joy: Great, let’s move on, yeah.

Claire: So in case you’ve been living under a rock, Simone Biles, the absolute best female gymnast of all time pulled out of the Olympics, out of the team competition and the individual all around, pretty much due to her mental health. Everyone feels the need to comment on it. A lot of them are positive, which is amazing. And a lot of them are terrible, which is terrible. I don’t really feel a ton of need to comment on it, just given the sense that I have no idea what her life is like.

Joy: No, exactly. That’s kind of where I’m a little tongue and cheek with Bennifer because I really do love them as a couple. I don’t know their live, but it feels like everyone just wants to have commentary. Of course, with Simone Biles, it’s a completely different scenario. She is the best gymnast out there, and all of the sudden she is under this microscope. What drives me crazy is it’s just people from the couch commenting and making negative comments that will never know that level of pressure. To make assumptions, to make judgments is just crappy. It’s just crappy.

Claire: It’s super crappy. And especially the people who are like, “She’s letting down her country.” It’s like, no she’s not. First of all, if you want to talk about letting down America, we’ve had a lot of let downs lately and this does not register.

Joy: Yeah.

Claire: I don’t think any of us are losing sleep over Simone Biles withdrawing from gymnastics. People are like, “She’s a quitter.” Listen, we need to stop calling people who remove themselves from toxic situations “quitters.” This is exactly what we were just talking about. This is why people stay in horrible situations.

Joy: That’s a good point. That’s such a good point. It’s like, yes, yep.

Claire: Because you don’t want to be seen as the one who couldn’t hack it. You don’t want to be seen as a quitter. I love that that she is putting herself out there. I hate that she is having to go through all of this judgement, but I think it’s just an unbelievable way for her to represent, hey, this is what it looks like to take care of yourself. One thing that I read that I really loved was this guy – this post has gone viral, so I’m sure a lot of you have already seen it – where the man was talking about how he used to show his daughters the famous Kerri Strug vault where she vaulted on a broken ankle and went to win gold. And he was like, “I don’t view that as inspirational anymore. I view that as abusive, and I can’t believe her coach made her do that.” I’m paraphrasing. He’s like, “Looking back, what you see is she’s crying.” She’s saying, “Do I really have to do this?” Her coach is saying, “You can do it. You can do it. You can do it.” And she went on to have to retire after that because of her injuries. It was this gold medal above all else mentality. Looking back at that, at the time it was like, “Oh my gosh, she’s so inspirational.” And yeah, sure, maybe she did really want to do that in the depths of her heart and believed that was the best choice that she could make. But she was so young, had been under so much pressure for so long. The gist of this post was, “I no longer see that as inspirational. I see that as somebody being forced to do something for the pursuit of a goal that maybe wasn’t even hers against the best interest of her own self and her own body.” And then conversely to look at Simone Biles who is like, “Listen, I am having a tough year, a tough week. Things are not going the way I want them to. It would be dangerous for me to keep competing, so I’m not going to do it. End of story.”

Joy: Yeah. And I really like that post too, and I totally agree. When the Larry Nassar thing went down in 2016, 2017, I went on deep dive of all the biographies and all the documentaries about it. I consumed that like crazy. So I feel like the other thing that I saw, just from watching these survivors speak against a sexual perpetrator is that to me watching Simone Biles say “no” was the first time that she was standing up to an f***ed up system. Still an f***ed up system. Again, I’m speaking out of my turn. I don’t know this for sure, but I can imagine that she has a lot of feelings around a system that really allowed these women to be abused for so long. And granted, they’re turning the ship around and they’re improving, but for the most of her life, for the majority of her life, she was in that system. And for the first time, she’s going, “What do I want? I’m standing up for what I want and for what I feel. For the majority of my professional career as a gymnast, I’ve not been allowed to speak up, and I’ve not been treated well.” So I think that this is also for gymnasts out there. My guess is they’re watching this too, who’ve been in really abusive system. It says this in all the documentaries of how it was just normalized at the Karolyi Ranch that girls were not allowed to talk to their parents. Just watch the documentaries. It’s abuse. And that was normalized. It was normalized. It was just the culture. It was just the gymnast culture. If you want to survive, you’ve got to put up with it. Blah, blah, blah. And it’s just very interesting how, very differently, but how the conversation you were talking about earlier of how long you put up with something. Just because that’s the way it is. You’ve just got to suck it up and work through it. I watched this whole thing unfold and watching Simone with such grace and such power. I could tell the first day – Scott and I were watching the Olympics, and we were watching her, and you could just see it in her eyes. She was struggling, and you could just feel her brain waves struggling. So when she walked off the mat and she walked off with her coach, she had such purpose and determination. She walked off and you could just see her being like, “I’ve got to do this for my body. I’m not safe out there.” She was adamant. It was almost like she was taking her power back. It was amazing to watch. I understand that I’m also just speaking out of my opinion of what I saw. I just think she’s amazing. And nobody knows what she’s going through unless it’s her family. Unless you have walked a thousand miles in Simone Biles’ shoes, you don’t have the right to say that she’s weak or she’s a quitter or didn’t follow through or whatever the negative things are. Because she also has a pretty heavy past that she’s dealing with and she’s finally able to speak up for herself.

Claire: So in sum, no one gets to talk about Simone Biles, but we just talked about Simone Biles. I just love it from the perspective of setting an example for people to say, hey, I don’t owe anybody anything. I think we also really get in that trap of sunk costs almost of, “I’ve been working for so long for this. I can’t leave now.” Yes, you can. You can say “no” at any point, even if you are already in Tokyo, getting ready to step on the mat. You can say, “Actually, I’m not doing this.” I just think that that as an example is so inspiring.

Joy: Yeah. And I like what you said about, she doesn’t owe us anything. Hey, do I love watching her as a gymnast? She’s amazing. I was very excited to watch her perform. And when I saw the pain and the fear, the emotions that she was going through, I was like no, no, no, no. This is not good. I’m really worried about her. Scott and I were just like, oh gosh, what’s going on? We were concerned spectators. It just really is something that I think people will be talking about for a long time because prioritizing mental health and prioritizing yourself is just something you don’t see all the time, especially with athletes. They’re just expected to be these performers and to be perfect. Can you imagine the weight of that pressure? To say that you are the greatest of all time. I was telling Scott this. Did Michael Jordan go through…? I’m trying to think of all the GOATs. Absolutely.

Claire: Scott, the Michael Jordan scholar.

Joy: I was just like, I can’t imagine being at that level and not having something affect you in a way that’s pretty profound. Because that pressure of the world wanting to be like – it’s almost like they think that you’re super human. It’s like, no, I am human, and I can’t take it. The world was watching her every move. She’s never going to listen to this, but Simone, we love you. Joy and Claire are supporting you.

Claire: There was something else that I reposted on my personal Instagram stories the other day that was like, “Simone Biles will never see the comments that you make about how disappointed that you are that she’s doing this for her mental health. But your friends who have mental health struggles will.” And I think that that’s also so true, and it is like all the negativity that she’s receiving still goes to show how far we have to go to honor people in their mental health the same way that we honor physical health. The same way that we honor a broken leg, we should be honoring a panic attack. And we just don’t. And the same way that we honor a chronic illness, we should honor depression, which is a chronic illness. Or addiction, we should view that as a chronic illness. Again, it’s like if you can’t view something as a medical emergency, then it’s viewed as a weakness. That’s just so wrong.

Joy: I want to finish this with encourage everyone to follow Brittany Packnett Cunningham. Her Instagram handle is @mspackyetti. She’s an activist, an educator, a writer. She’s amazing, and she hosts the Undistracted podcast, which is great. Subscribe to that. She’s a Black woman, and she recently wrote – because we can’t have this discussion either without addressing that Simone Biles is a Black woman. One of the pieces that Brittany wrote is, “The only time we seem to love Black bodies is when we can hold them up as a trophy. And somewhere between being seen as a tool and being used as a trophy, Black people never actually get to be fully human.” We can’t have this discussion without acknowledging that as well and how race plays a part in this and how the public is treating Simone Biles. I just needed to call that out.

Claire: Yeah, I’m glad that you brought that up. And they’ve been comparing this to Naomi Osaka who recently withdrew as well for her mental health from a tennis competition. Sorry, I’m butchering this. I don’t follow tennis. I can’t remember which one it was, but it was really recent. Saying that women of color are having the bear the burden for the impetus of the shift in our culture. But also at the same time, I’ve seen a lot of posts from different women of color that we follow who are like, this is the revolution. This is the time when women of color can take back that autonomy. I’m really glad that you brought up the point about obviously Simone being black and how that factors into this. I hope that it allows us to have more conversations around the commoditization that we do, even more so, of women of color. It’s so harmful. I really hope that this is seen moving forward as this incredible example and hopefully doesn’t take anything away from her legacy long-term. All these Piers Morgans of the world who are saying that she’s a disappointment –

Joy: Yeah, these great white men.

Claire: Yeah, these white men can just move right along.

Joy: And let me plug one more thing before we move on is that if you have a subscription or have signed up for Peacock, you can watch the series Golden. I don’t know if it aired on NBC.

Claire: Which we all know you have Peacock right now that you signed up for the month of July and August to watch the Olympics. So just hop on over there.

Joy: Just hop on over there because the… I think it’s Peacock. I’m pretty sure it’s Peacock. It’s this series called Golden, and it follows all these female gymnasts as they go through all the finals and all the competitions – I’m sorry I don’t know all the exact names – to get to the Olympics. And it’s really interesting that all of these elite gymnasts except for 2-3 are women of color. And how they are treated in the gym. It’s not explicitly about that, but you see it. Especially one of the younger gymnasts, she’s 16. She’s a Black woman. She has to leave a gym – actually, it’s not explicitly saying this, but I could sense it, and it was during the election and how the gym owner was just very much a Trump supporter and some things were said that really offended her to where she ended up leaving this gym. It was just really interesting to see that. These gymnasts are seen as tokens to win money or prosperity for these gyms that they train at or USA Gymnastics and no one’s recognizing how racist the system is. So really recommend watching Golden if you can.

Claire: Okay. So now, pivoting, we want to talk a little bit about the updated mask mandates and how we’re feeling about it. So for most of the country, the CDC is now recommending that even vaccinated people start wearing masks again indoors and in areas where basically there’s a lot of transmission. It’s almost all of the United States. If you look on the map that they provide with all the codes, the only places that don’t fall into that category are really rural areas. By the time you guys listen to this, I will have already gone to the CrossFit Games and come back, but we’re traveling this weekend with our kids to Wisconsin. I’m really nervous about it. We scheduled this trip just a couple weeks ago, and even a couple of weeks ago things felt a lot safer. And now I’m really worried. Delta is a very serious variant. It’s very contagious. And it’s affecting kids more than previous variants have. My kids can’t get vaccinated. It’s not approved for them yet. Once it is, they will, but who knows when that will happen. I just feel really frustrated, and I’m having a hard time. This almost feels like the election anger all over again where it was very hard to feel like, on the one hand, I want to take about it because it’s so important to me and I want people to know how I feel because it is about more than just a personal choice. It is about this bigger picture. I can’t wrap my head around how people still now, 8-ish months after the vaccines were rolled out to healthcare workers. We’re 1.5 years into clinical trials. There’s no science that shows long-term effects for the vaccine, while there is a lot of data that shows the potential for effects from COVID. So that question to me doesn’t make any sense that people are still asking. The people who are saying, “Well I’m young and healthy, so I can handle the virus.” Well then, surely you can handle the vaccine. That doesn’t make any sense to me. The questions that people are still asking, I want so badly to have empathy for those questions, and I’m just having a hard time. Because I feel like a few more months have gone by. We are getting more and more data. Okay, maybe we know Johnson & Johnson was less effective than we thought it was going to be, but now you have a choice of which vaccine you’re going to get. I’m frankly mad that so many healthy eligible adults are viewing this as nothing more than their own personal, individual choice. I feel like they don’t think it’s as important as I think it is for them to see the bigger public health and societal implications of this. So now, it feels like we’re back where we were six months ago where I’ve seen people like, “Make it make sense. How are the unvaccinated people now a risk to the vaccinated people?” I’m like, first of all, “make it make sense” needs to go away. We’ve used it, and I’m ready for it to go away. But the reason is that this is a super, super, super, super contagious virus. That’s been the problem this whole time. The symptoms are confusing. A lot of people don’t even know that they have it until they’ve been spreading it already for 3, 4, 5+ days. And the vaccine is not 100% effective. No one ever said that it was. But if everyone in your community, if everyone has that 80-90% immunity, that’s a heck of a lot more effective than 40% of the people having that immunity and the other people having no immunity. The math there just makes sense. 

Joy: It’s just math. It’s Kady Heron. Kady Heron loves math. I love Kady.

Claire: Speaking of Kady Heron, this feels like word vomit a little bit because I’m just like, “Here’s all my thoughts.” I’m frustrated. I’m angry. I’m disappointed. I am trying hard to have empathy, and I’m just in a day right now where I can’t get there.

Joy: So the other thing that I want to bring up too – and I completely agree with you of course. I get angry as well. This will make sense I promise, this will relate. But I’ve been seeing patients on BetterHelp. I get to see patients from all over the world because the licensure requirements allow me to do so. Patients from all over the world where vaccines are not available are like, “I don’t understand why you Americans are making it such a political choice. We would kill to have the vaccine.” That’s another thing that I’m like, ugh, sometimes I hate privileged people. It’s really frustrating. It’s really frustrating. I’m like, yeah, I hear you. It’s this whole, “We’re not going to get the vaccine” when we have so much available to us and other countries would be so lucky to have it.

Claire: Right. And I think there are people out there who would be like, “I’m not going to sign up for an experimental jab.” So then what’s on the other side of an experiment? Everyone else who is getting vaccinated, and your social media hashtag #experimentaljab is now thwarting the progress of fighting a global pandemic. We are part of a global society and a global community, and this decision to not get it just because you don’t want to. Again, always there are medical reasons, and I think that those are absolutely out there.

Joy: Yeah, we’re not talking about that, so we don’t want hate mail around it. We get that. We understand that.

Claire: But we’re not talking about half the population here. We’re talking about a small faction. Even pregnant women, I get it. The science isn’t there. It can’t be there. If you feel comfortable waiting it out. But again, that’s not half the population. I just am so frustrated by it. I wish that… a lot of times, I can have empathy for those people, and right now is not one of those moments.

Joy: It’s fine.

Claire: It’ll come back around maybe.

Joy: Yeah, it’ll come back around maybe. It’s interesting thought that when conversations like this come up, I have such memories of anger and frustration during the Trump era that I think it’s important that we stay fired up about these things and we don’t get complacent, like I’ve said before, because we have a president who actually has some compassion in his heart, that we don’t lose the passion to change because it was so in our face.

Claire: And that’s what I meant when I first started talking about this of it feels almost familiar to how I felt when the election last year where it was like, on the one hand, me using my stress and my energy to care about other people’s choices is doing very little other than just draining me of energy. 

Joy: Yeah.

Claire: And at the same time, I don’t want to feel like I’m just letting the world go by while I do have a platform where I can voice my opinions. I don’t think anybody who’s listening to this who hasn’t been vaccinated is going to be like, “Thanks Claire. Your impassioned, annoyed speech really changed my mind.”

Joy: Really changed my mind.

Claire: Listening to you be annoyed with me really helped.

Joy: Right. The point is, we can be frustrated because we’re frustrated. It’s objectively frustrating for your children. You said Miles has to go to kindergarten in a mask. 

Claire: Exactly. Kids can’t get vaccinated. Our kids are at risk. The people who for whatever reason can’t get vaccinated, they’re at risk. I think the other thing too is, if you really don’t want to get vaccinated, it’s your choice. So then stay home, or wear a mask all the time.

Joy: All the time. Yeah.

Claire: You can’t have it all. 

Joy: You can’t just walk around and pretend that this isn’t happening.

Claire: That’s the thing. Maybe that’s the biggest thing. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, fine. But then you can’t just live your life as if everything is normal. That’s not the world that we’re living in right now, and it’s not going to be for some time, and it has not been for some time. And you have to just stop pretending that that’s not the case. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, fine. But then you have to stay home, and when you do go out, you have to wear a mask. That is the science. That is the data. Those are the facts. You can’t have it all. You can’t have your cake and eat it too when it comes to this. I’m mad. 

Joy: Mad. Alright.

Claire: This is mad Claire.

Joy: Let’s talk about high school Claire.

Claire: Okay. Mad Claire transitions. So to wrap this up, as I previously said, I’ve been listening to Dare to Lead a lot. It’s really the only podcast that I listen to. I just love listening to Brene Brown talk about leadership. 

Joy: It’s great. It’s great.

Claire: I think the sociology behind leadership in particular is so fascinating. As someone who’s sort of always been labeled “the natural leader,” it’s just been – and I say that dripping with… I hate that label, but at the same time it’s just been interesting for me to open up what that label means. So I love it. In her podcast, in Dare to Lead, she always asks people, “Tell us your story.” For the people who just sort of skip, hop, and jump throughout their story, she asks them to go back and asks them, “What were you like in high school?” I was thinking about that question. I love it when she asks that because people come up with these great little anecdotes about themselves that reveal so much about them. So I wanted to ask us that question. So Joy, what were you like in high school?

Joy: I was a cheerleader from junior high all the way up until high school. That was very important to me. I love doing dance and cheer, but I think where it comes from is I had a very big fear of not being liked and not being cool. So that was my way of being like, I’ve got a ticket to coolness. I’m going to be a cheerleader, and I’m going to be a dancer. I’m going to make sure that I’m in those popular groups. Because I don’t think I could have handled not being in the “in” crowd. For better or for worse, guys. For better or for worse. That’s just how I was. I was a very good student. I never skipped class. All of my friend would skip class and go eat food somewhere, and I never ditched with them. I wanted to please my teachers. Friends with all my teachers. All my teachers loved me. I got good grades. Kind of the annoying, I had a really good time in high school kind of person. I love to tell the story that – I love this story so much, slash everyone probably hates me for talking about it. But I was a freshman in high school, and I went to prom with a senior. I will never forget – well, not only that, but I went to Homecoming, my first dance, with a senior. I’m sure my parents were terrified, but my first boyfriend in high school was on the football team. CJ Ellenson, if you’re still out there.

Claire: CJ, if you’re listening – 

Joy: He was so cute.

Claire: – Why are you listening?

Joy: Why are you listening? I know you’re not. So yeah, he and I dated. So I went to Homecoming with a senior. But my favorite story is there was this girl. In cheer, when you’re on the varsity team – and yeah, I was on varsity as a sophomore – when you’re on the varsity team, the seniors are the captains. You’re put in your place, so to speak, because you’re just a sophomore, so you have to listen to them. But there was this senior cheerleader who wanted to go to prom with the most popular guy in school, and he asked me to prom. I still don’t know why he asked me. But I remember she was so mad because she was a senior and he was a senior, and she wanted to go to prom with him. And it was so awkward for me because I was like, “I just go here. I’m really nothing special.” I don’t even know why he asked me, but we went to prom. I was just kind of like this little naive, but I wanted everybody to like me. I was friends with everybody. I didn’t have one set or group of friends or two best friends that I hung out with all the time. I kind of hung out with everybody. But yeah, I look back on high school and I really had a good time. We had a huge graduating class. I think our graduating class was 3,000 people. I feel like for the white Mormon town that it was, we still had some good diversity. So I was friends with people of color and hung out with a diverse group of people. There’s a pretty strong Hispanic culture in Mesa too. Looking back, I’m like, I took that for granted that I really was surrounded by a lot of diversity in my high school. But anyway, good times. That was a good memory lane. What about you?

Claire: I loved high school. And not in like an Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite kind of loved high school. You know, “if I could just go back in time” sort of way. I wouldn’t want to redo it, but I absolutely loved it. Looking back, when I was in high school, I would not have said that I was popular, But I think looking back, I was. And I think that that’s probably one of the hallmarks of being popular is that you didn’t think about it. But what I mean by that is just that I had friends in every single different group. I really did everything. When I was in high school, I had a really tumultuous, dramatic, unstable – my home life was not great. My dad was in a marriage with a woman who was really emotionally abusive towards me. My parents had shared custody. When I was at my mom’s house, things were okay. My brother and my stepdad really didn’t get along, so they fought all the time. So that was just a tough situation to be in. And then when I was at my dad’s house, his marriage was just completely falling apart and she was truly, clinically bipolar, if not a handful of other untreated diagnoses that made it really, really hard to deal with her. I don’t want that to sound like a commentary on people who are bipolar because I know that that’s not everyone. But for me as a high schooler, I didn’t know how to handle it. I just spent all my time at high school. And if I wasn’t at school, I was at church being super involved in youth group and choir. I wouldn’t consider myself to be religious anymore, but at the time socially that was the most involved group that I could be in. I would get to school at 6:30 in the morning for either choir or some other – Student Council, I was super involved in. I was the President of the class junior and senior year. I would be at school until 5 or 6 at night, and then I would go to youth group. So maybe the best way for me to explain who I was in high school is by saying that my senior year in high school, the yearbook editor had to make a rule to limit the number of pages of the yearbook I could be in. 

Joy: You were that person.

Claire: The only thing I didn’t do was play sports. But what I lacked in athleticism, I made up for in school spirit. I was at every game.

Joy: Oh wow.

Claire: Even the obscure sports. And that’s what I mean. I went to everything that I could go to. I went to the swim meets. The stuff that you normally don’t have a lot of spectators at.

Joy: They’re like, “There’s Claire again with her banners. She’s got signs.”

Claire: I was like the only girl that did the full body paint for the rival football game.

Joy: Oh my God, that’s amazing.

Claire: I won the spirit award. I won so many yearbook awards. Guys, I was in it. I was so into high school.

Joy: But that’s how you coped too. It’s a healthy way to cope. It’s better than getting into drugs. 

Claire: I mean, I’m the only kid in my family who didn’t go to rehab during college. 

Joy: You made some good choices. You made some good choices.

Claire: Yes. So that was me. But I just loved that question because it lets you talk about a part of your lie that you don’t normally go into too much detail about. I mean, there’s a reason I don’t go into too much detail about it. Because now that I’m talking about it – my upbringing wasn’t tragic at all, but I definitely did not have a great home life.

Joy: Well as a teenager –

Claire: So I’m lucky that I had a great high school.

Joy: You made a good life in your high school.

Claire: And I grew up in Boulder. Boulder Valley has amazing high schools. I’m really lucky that the high school that I went to had as many programs as it did and had the healthy, supportive environment that it did for me to find this very default resource where I could just really throw myself into it. So that was Claire in high school. I was like Miss High School. And fun fact, because I was the President – was I the President or the Vice President of my senior class?

Joy: You don’t remember?

Claire: Well, so here’s what happened –

Joy: You had so many different roles you don’t remember.

Claire: I’ll tell you what happened. My junior year of high school, I ran against my best friend for President and I won. So then, my senior year –

Joy: So she became your un-best friend?

Claire: I mean, we were okay. But then my senior year, we ran on a ticket together because we were like, we don’t want to do that again. But as a fun fact, I now have to plan all my high school reunions.

Joy: Oh. 

Claire: Which in high school, because I loved high school, was like, “This will be the great.” 

Joy: This will be the best.

Claire: And now I’m like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I have to do that.”

Joy: Well someone’s dropped the ball on our high school because I have not seen a reunion for anything. I think our 20-year passed already. I’m like, where are you guys? I went to my 10-year. Long time ago. We’re coming up on our 30-year. No.

Claire: You’re probably at 25 because you’re 10 years older than me and I’m at 15.

Joy: 25, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire: I have to keep track of this stuff.

Joy: Yeah. 25’s coming up. Mesa High, where you at? Class of 1996. 

Claire: So good. Alright guys, well thanks for hanging in there with us. 

Joy: Love you.

Claire: This week, go to eattoevolve.com. Discount code is JOYCLAIRE15. Also, if you watched the CrossFit Games last week and it got you fired up, get yourself a new jump rope from Double Under Wonder. You can get mermaids on your handles now. 

Joy: They’re the best too. They’re just the best to work with.

Claire: They’re just the best. Go to doubleunderwonder.com. Use discount code JOY. They’re so wonderful. The people who work there are just gems of humans, all of them. So give them your business. They deserve it.

Joy: Great customer service.

Claire: They have earned it.

Joy: They have earned it. Yeah.

Claire: Thanks guys. You can follow us on Instagram @joyandclaire_. You can go to our website joyandclaire.com. You can email us at thisisjoyandclaire@gmail.com We love you. Thank you for being here. We’ll talk to you next week.

Joy: Bye guys.

Claire: Bye.

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