What is it like to serve in the Royal Australian Air Force? Check out this week's Women of the Military podcast episode where I talk to Jodi Allen about her experience of serving in the Royal Australian Air Force for fourteen years and what she is doing today to help veterans. Although we are from different countries there were so many commonalities between our service and our transition.
This episode is sponsored by Blue Star Families. The Military Family Lifestyle Survey is open until June 6th, 2021. Head over to BlueStarFam.org/survey2021 to take the survey today. You could win one of five $100 gift cards. The stories and information shared become the fuel and information leaders need to help create change that will directly benefit us and our families.
Jodi decided to join the military because she had left school and was looking for something new. Her parents encouraged her to join the Defense Force. She did not know anything about the military and just went to the Recruiter and ended up in the Royal Australian Air Force in supply. She went to recruit training and struggled with fitness. Because she was not prepared, she was getting yelled at for walking something flipped that caused her to decide she was going to be the fittest person. She talks about how embarrassed she was and that driver motivated her. She ended training as one of the fittest people in the group.
While at her first assignment her brother was sent for his training. They were able to bond together. They both loved being in the Air Force. And it was nice to be together after moving away from family. She loved being in the Air Force the challenge of a new job with each assignment gave her purpose and drive. She served for 14 years until the military forced her to leave due to a back injury she had sustained early in her career. While training for a deployment she was unable to wear the body armor and could not deploy. She struggled in her transition out of the military because she was not ready to leave.
Luckily, she was able to find a job when she interviewed with an Army veteran. Shortly after that she started her family and was a stay-at-home mom while her daughters were young. Once they began school she needed something for herself. She decided to go back to college and studied Nutritional Science. She found a community while studying at the University. And also was led to the path she is on today when a friend recommended she come to Mates4Mates. A program for veterans with physical and psychological injuries. She had struggled with identifying as a veteran since she never deployed. But her friend assured her that she would be welcomed.
She was able to learn about Yoga and mindfulness. Mindfulness can help veterans with many different issues and can be used in daily life. It is a powerful practice and something more veterans should look into. When her friend moved to the next assignment she took over her role of teaching classes. She dreamed of creating a program that included mindfulness, yoga, and her nutritional expertise. People said it would never happen but today Jodi now works with Mates4Mates and the Department of Veterans Affairs on well-being programs throughout Australia.
Women Veteran United
Finding Healing through Mindful Meditation - Episode 133
Finding Healing through Yoga - Episode 81
Joining the Australian Army - Episode 33
Check out the full transcript here.
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Welcome to Episode 135 of the women in the military podcast. This week, women in the military podcast is going international and talking to Jodi Allen, who served for 14 years and the Royal Australian Air Force. She shared her experience of why she joined the Air Force what her career field was like in the Air Force and how a back injury caused her to be medically disqualified from service and what the transition was like from military to civilian. We also touched on the work that she's doing today, and one of my favorite topics that keeps coming up meditation. So I really hope you enjoy this interview, and I'm really excited to share it all with you. So let's get started. You're listening to season three of the women on the military podcast. Here you will find the real stories of female service members. I'm Amanda Huffman, I am an Air Force veteran, military, spouse and mom. I created women in the military podcast in 2019. As a place to share the stories of female service members past and present, with a goal of finding the heart of the story while uncovering the triumphs and challenges women face while serving in the military. If you want to be encouraged by the stories of military women and be inspired to change the world. Keep tuned for this latest episode of women on the military. Thank you Blue Star families or sponsoring this week's episode of women on the military podcast the Blue Star Families 2021 military family lifestyle survey is open through June 6. Help Blue Star family show what military veteran and National Guard Reserve families like yours need to thrive. The stories and information share become the fuel and information leaders need to help create change that will directly benefit us and our families. For instance, those who took the military family lifestyle survey last year had an opportunity to share details about the ramifications and impacts the pandemic had on them, their jobs, their children's education, etc. The feedback was extensive and eye opening and has given a first hand perspective of how military families were affected by the pandemic. Visit Blue Star fam.org slash survey 2021. To learn more, and to take the survey. Now let's start listening to this week's interview with Jodi Allen. Welcome to the show. Jodi. I'm so excited to have you here.
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
So let's start with why did you decide to join the military? Well,
I was 16, quite aimless, didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. My dad was a professional musician. So he went to a new school every couple of years, which was good in one way how it had its pros and cons. But I had never really developed through school, any kind of notion of what I wanted to do with myself. So I didn't complete school, I went to work part time, let's go in grade 11. When work part time in a theme park Dreamworld one of our big theme parks in the Gold Coast here, so did various jobs there, one of them was a clown. So that got to a point where that wasn't really giving me a sense of purpose, I did enjoy it. So it really I did struggle, I struggled with what I was going to do with myself and was quite just not not in a happy place really. And my brother and my younger brother had always wanted to join the Air Force. And my mum said to me, why don't you go and join the Air Force? Basically, we don't like you very much right now can you just let's get rid of two kids instead of just one so they had a very smart idea. So I went to recruiting the recruiting office in Brisbane here in Queensland, we've no idea what service I wanted to join what job I wanted to do, I just wanted to get in to the defense force and leave where I was basically so no research under my belt whatsoever at the time and I just said whatever service takes me and whatever job job I can do so I think now could have been in the Navy or the army and had a completely different life and experience but it was the Air Force that accepted me I did my aptitude testing the cycle psychological commit and say that at the moment testing and they said okay, these are the kind of jobs that you can do. And I just said okay, whichever one I can get into the quickest. So that happened to be supply so like logistics stream and I was very lightweight at the time so I was a little bit underweight so they said go away and try and put on some weight so I couldn't so I had a really big breakfast and I went back and they said, okay don't worry about it you'll be fine. So I was a tiny little 17 year old off to join the Defence Force with no idea what I was getting myself into basically. So that's my beginning of the story. And did your brother end up serving till he did he joined 12 months after me so which was great he with his training was done in the same location in Victoria bottom part of Australia. So there was a time there that we were serving together while he was training that was my first posting down in Melbourne so so it was great for both of us to have that time together down there as well.
Yeah, that's really cool. And so how does it work? Do you go to boot camp like in America? Yeah, we
have our roughly three months of recruit training and then depending so we call it a mastering so depending on the trade or mastering or what job this is at troop level, I wasn't an officer as an A woman. It depending on that is depending where you went for your trade training. So my trade training, so I went to recruits for the three months and then I had my trade training for three months and then I was posted to my first posting so that was all an eye opener as well. Because again, I
was so eye opening about it.
Due to my lack of preparation when I arrived at recruits was as I said, I was quite under weight under fit if that's a word it's not really I've just made that up. So we were you just thrown into it. And I remember running because my preparation was okay, you've got a couple of months before you're you're off and my dad used to drive me so we have a 2.4 Fitness kilometer fitness test around that we have a certain time frame to do it in my dad used to drive me and drop me off and then drive home and I had to run back and he would tie me and half an hour later I'd be no walking. Right And yes, I my preparation wasn't great. So my first day of fitness test was someone yelling You know, there's no walking on my you know, fitness test. And so that was the beginning of my Okay, I can't walk here I need to but something switched. In the very beginning for me. I was not a fitness orientated person at all that I wanted to be the one of the fastest by the end of Recruit Training something is competitiveness. This tenaciousness just clicked in inside of me on that first day, because I was embarrassed that I was walking when I was supposed to be I was joining the military and here I was walking on a on a run test kind of thing. So that pretty much changed me for the rest of my life really, in that first instance. So that was challenging, but I I took it on and I did I was was quite fit by the end of the three months.
Wow. So it had like a huge impact on your life from like the very beginning.
Yeah, I think it revealed joining the Defense Force revealed something in me that I didn't actually know that I had, I was extremely shy as a child like the hide behind my parents legs kind of shy. And it's so for me to go and do something crazy, like joining the Defence Force. It really just revealed all of this strength and grit and things that characteristics that I had inside of me that I never knew I had.
that resonates with me so much because I was I was very shy and the military like drunk something out of me and I was and I'm not the same person.
Yeah, that's it and I think no matter your experience in the military, it brings up something in you that you're often don't recognize that you have it shapes who you are as an adult and he become for the rest of your life.
Yeah. So you went to your first assignment and then your brother was there for training so you had like someone to hang out with and yeah, so I had some
family which was great because we're very close knit family. So you know that was challenging. I did the whole crying on the phone homers, probably all of us can relate to my family, my mom, my dad, but they had a very, they were very smart in skirting both of us off as my brother was 17 as well when he joined so you know, they were free and easy living the life of Riley while their kids were defenseless. So I ignored all the crying phone calls like, yeah, you'll be right off you go.
Fine, you're fine.
You're fine. We're off to the movies now.
That's funny. But isn't it like it was it was really good for you. And did your brother enjoy being in the military do?
Yeah, he loved it as well. It was just my pop. My dad's father, he was a rap of Tupac in World War Two. So we do have a link to defense as well. He's not army and very proud. And I think it's, you know, as teenagers growing up, we did have a very difficult, we fought a lot. We were very close in age. But being in the airforce together and seeing each other regularly, really. And he played football down there. So I bring all my crew and with these fan club, and it really brought us together and it brought our relationship together for until he passed away. So yeah, it was. Yeah,
I'm sorry to hear that.
That was a good bonding experience.
I'm sorry that I'm sorry to hear that. That's,
yeah, it was hard for our family. So but I'm glad that I have those those memories of our time together in defense and made our whole family proud as well. So yeah, so wouldn't change it for a second.
Yeah. That's, that's good. That's awesome that you had that time together?
So what was your career? Like? Did you face any challenges? What does the Australian military do I know, a lot of American military because I've been talking to people for over two years, but not Australia. Well, I
can imagine you're, as we were talking about earlier, we have our similarities and our differences in that as well. And my support, my role is mostly support. So in a nutshell, if, you know, I did work in various warehousing locations or squadrons, so basically supporting getting our aircraft, our jets to fly, and whatever they needed, you know, for our flying capacity to be operational. That was my job. But I had, I was in for 14 years. So I had so I think the fact that I was in so long as well, and so many different jobs, there's always a new adventure. And because I've been brought up with constant change, regular change, I embraced it. And I loved it. So every couple of years, I had a new posting a new job. And I think another thing the military gives you is that adaptability. So it's constantly adapting to things that I've never done before. And which has led me into the work that I do. Now, if someone asked me to do something that I've never done before I just go Yep, I can do it. Because there was so many times, and you know, we would get new software and it you know, we had no idea how to use it, but you just had to hear you go that's it, work out how to use it or use systems procedures or aircraft grounded and you know, you can't be in a flap, you've just got to know, okay, this is this has to be done with me to get this where we're going to get it from. So just, yeah, my adaptability to change now is, you know, because of my service career has, it's carried over into now my civilian life. So that was one of the probably the best attributes as well as confidence. And that I think, as well that I got out of it. So constantly moving, constantly changing and the different experiences different adventures was what kept me in. Yeah, even when I sometimes jobs that I didn't really like as well.
Yeah, that happens too. Yeah.
You just any just do it, you know, you don't really have any choice.
How does the service commitment work? When you signed up to join the military? How long were you supposed to stay in? Or do they do it differently?
Yeah, I'm not sure if what the current arrangement is, but when I joined up, I think it was initially three years and then you had a choice of reengaging for like three or six years. So you you're tight. Your time comes and you just say, Oh, yeah, I'm staying in. I wanted to stay in for forever, basically. But that wasn't to be.
So before we jump over to the transition, was there anything from your time in the military, like one of your favorite memories or favorite or favorite jobs that you had? Oh, wow.
There's there's probably two there's too many. I think one of my best times I went on an exchange with the Navy up in Cannes, the northern part of Australia and spent weeks on With the Navy, going out on their survey boats and just experiencing what another service was like, and that was purely the purpose of it to experience how another service operated and made some great friends out there. And I, but I think there's too, there's too many. But I think the friendships, definitely the friendships that I made, which are for life. And yeah, some of those experiences that were outside of my usual role. And definitely working with try service, which, which is when we get to work with all services together. So there's some really unique places in Australia that you can have a try service experience. And normally, you'd be on an Air Force Base, predominantly working with air force members and civilian contractors. But I did have a couple of experiences working with all branches. And that was a really great experience for me Next, I can embrace that now as well, in my my civilian career, working with all the services, I get a greater understanding of them. So yeah, but there's way too many cool things to count.
That's why you kept saying, Yes, I want to stay in Yes. I want to stay in it. Yeah, yeah. So you love this. Why did you decide to leave the military behind?
Well, I didn't decide it was decided for me. So I was medically discharged. After 14 years, I fought tooth and nail to stay in. But it came to the crunch that so early in my career, I had a very physical job that was involved a lot of heavy lifting and things like that. And then going out on exercise. I did some permanent damage to my spine, which led to a spinal fusion. So there's only my early 20s and I had major spinal spinal surgery while I was in the Air Force. So I had four bolts, two titanium plates, a bone graft, from my right hip eliminate to me, which is a dis removal. So it at the base of my spine. So it was completely fused. So normally, for many, many service people, they would be medically discharged early after some kind of major surgery like that. But I was very lucky to spend another 10 years in the airforce with a major injury like that. I worked really hard with my rehab, I was running again within 12 months. And I managed to keep my fitness standard up and I flew under the radar in the various different types of jobs that I was doing, I was able to operate in, I never never complained about my back or my pain I and that's another thing that sometimes can be a good and bad thing in defense is we're taught to ignore things and just push on. So it had its advantages and disadvantages. For me, I probably made my back worse. But I also got to stay in for a fairly long period of time. But it came to the crunch of when I was being, you know, ready for deployment. I couldn't carry out that role. Because, you know, one of the standards that I had to lay out to carry a full pack and where the full pack was said it was right on where my operation but my surgery was I should say. So that highlighted okay. Jody is not operational, we're going to have to downgrade her. So when you're downgraded medically in the Defense Force, it's not a good sign. So if you're temporarily, medically downgraded, that means that okay, you're going to improve, we're going to give you time, and you know, hopefully, then you'll be right. And then you'll be deployable in the future. But I was permanently downgraded because of the condition of my spine, and they knew that it was only going to get worse. So yeah, I was medically discharged. So I fought for about a year, but because we were, you know, deploying heavily over to Iraq at the time, it was just, that was pretty much set in stone. So I didn't want to go, but I didn't have a choice. So that led to a very, you know, difficult transition for me. Yeah.
So it was like taken from you. It wasn't something that you chose to do.
Yeah, I we have a term I don't know if you have a term similar. You probably do over there. But you know, it's a lifestyle. And a life is someone who, you know, the military is your life and your career and you don't see yourself ever leaving. And at 14 years, I saw myself I loved it. I loved everything about it, even though it's given me this permanent injury, I still would go back and I would still join up. I probably wouldn't join up in the job that I did. wasn't the best choice for me, but I would still join I would still do it all again in a heartbeat. But you do that you ruminate over Oh, I would I would I would still be in what would it be like now? Where would I gone? All that kind of stuff? Would I have deployed that that in itself is a whole level, you know, issue as well. Not I I served and I never deployed. So there can be. There is some issues in the veteran space in Australia here where there can be some judgment or if you served but never deployed or saw active service, then you shouldn't be called a veteran. So I personally don't call myself a veteran. Even though I am classified as a veteran. And I've got one metal, the defense metal, and I have struggled with that, because I did serve for a long time. And I only have one metal to show for it kind of thing. But it in insane that insane. What has the result of active service has done to many of my friends and colleagues, part of me is also grateful that I didn't deploy. So it's a double edged sword. Right. I wish I had deployed and at the same time, am I lucky that I didn't have the opportunities to book to deploy How would that have affected me? So? Yeah,
yeah, that's that's something that is American deal for they have the veterans who've deployed and sometimes they look down on or say things like, you're not a veteran, if you haven't deployed, which I don't agree with, I think if you've signed up to serve, then you're a veteran, but I can't. And that inner turmoil, and then the outward pressure.
Yeah, exactly. And it's how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel that we're judged by other veterans, I instantly connect with if I meet anyone that served on like, you're my mate, you're, you know, they owe you serve to you ever. We're best friends. So I really I struggle with the concept that there are people out there that, you know, we served in the Defense Force, you know, we're all unique, and the fact that we just served, what to think that there's people out there looking down on other serving members, because they didn't have the opportunity to deploy, you know, it's so hopefully, hopefully, we can improve the language around veterans and supporting each other, and, you know, taking care of each other and that mate ship as well.
Yeah, we just met today. I mean, we talked on LinkedIn a little bit, but we were like, Oh, we should actually start the interview, because we're just gonna chat. And it's the same thing. It's like, it doesn't matter that we're from different countries. It's like, Oh, you served in the military? Okay, let's, let's Yeah,
yeah, that's it. Well, you know, it's instant, I find it instant connection. Because we get each other even, you know, you served in the American Air Force, the Australian Air Force, it's still we still had similar experiences of having to do what we're told whether they liked it or not going were going to places that we don't want to go and and, you know, leaving our families and all that kind of stuff. You have that instant understanding of Okay, I can I can see some of the things that you you know, we've been through together but differently, but incident report, I think,
yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah. It's awesome. And I love that it's International. And it's not just yeah, American thing. It's really cool.
Like we did do more international connections with veteran.
Yeah, don't we? Well, this is you're, you're, you're paving the way.
I'm working on it. So let's talk a little bit about your transition. You talked about how like you were kicked out of the military, you didn't want to go and so you probably weren't ready. You weren't ready to go. And then they were like, see you later.
Yes. So chances are even though I had a year's notice a year's time to to adapt and get my head around the idea. There was at the time when I was transitioning the kind of even though I had the awareness that I was getting out. It's still I don't think it changed anything about being one day in uniform. And then the next day not for me, I was still Yeah, there was no readiness for me because it was something that I didn't want to happen. So there's probably a bit of denial and that there as well that it was happening and trying to find civilian work. As well, was extremely stressful for the first couple of weeks that I was out. And, you know, I packed up my uniform thing I cried myself to sleep every night, even though it was something that I knew that was happening. And I was well aware of it, that loss of identity, the loss of purpose, I had no job, I was lucky, I did find a job within a couple of weeks of just a part time one. And that was because funnily enough, the guy that was interviewing me was ex army. So again, that incident report, as soon as I walked in, and he found out I was ex Air Force, I basically had the job, because he knew that I was reliable, dependable, adaptable, all of that kind of stuff. So he already knew that I could do it. And I'd never done the job before. I was just like, okay, yeah, yes, I'll do it. I'll do this. So it was a real struggle. And I was up, my husband at the time was in the Air Force, and he would travel a lot with the Jets around internationally and that as well. So he, he was still in, so he didn't really get it. He's like, you know, you'll be fine. You'll be fine. But I wasn't fine. But I just had to pick up my you know, pick up my shoe laces and and keep going. But it was really, it was really tough. I think, yeah, the biggest part was a loss of identity. Because for 14 years, I said to people, I am in the Air Force, and they get all it's instant. Oh, wow. That's interesting. What do you do? Where have you been all that kind of stuff. And that was all that was all gone? You know. But even now in art for a very long time. It's still one of the first things like I identify with that I was in the Air Force. It's almost like you can't let go of it. It's, yeah, it's just a because it's a part of you.
Yeah. I've told that same story. Like when I was in, and I would be like, Oh, I'm in the Air Force. And people said this thing. Wow. And then they'd be like, what do you do? And then you get out and they're like, Oh, we don't care who you are.
Yeah, yeah. Oh, what you work. You work where? You know. I've never heard of that. Oh, that's because it's a really small company. And I just do that stuff. Book work stuff. Yeah. Boring. So yeah, for so long, I had something really interesting to talk about. And, you know, again, and that's when, so it was, okay, I've got this job. I'm bored. I was in my early 30s. So natural attrition, I, you know, I was with with my partner, then he was still serving when I had two children. And when my youngest the day, my youngest, so I was very fortunate that I could be a stay at home mum with my girls while they were young. But the day my youngest started prep school, I just had this heaviness of now I have no purpose during the day. And you know, I was at the time I wasn't working. So I needed a new purpose and a new identity. And I thought I can't financially I didn't really need to work, but I needed and my back was, you know, not great with having young children, but I needed something. And that's when I went on to study at university, which gave me a new sense of purpose and a new identity, which is what I needed craving.
Does the military have tuition benefits the way that it does in America?
It does for some forms of study, and depending on when you served, and you know, it's not like for everyone, they do encourage short term or short term stories study. But at the time, when I started, there was nothing for me. So that's okay. I didn't let it stop me. I just went and studied anyway. And, but it was something that I was I made sure it was something that I was interested in. So it was in nutrition, which I was always interested in specially once in the Defence Force, because I was, you know, very fit at the time while I was serving, and always, you know, focusing on on nutrition and food, so for performance, so it was something that I really loved doing. So that was gave me a new purpose, which was bored. I needed that.
So did you feel like when you had kids that you kind of felt like a new purpose, and you were able to be a stay at home mom, and then you went to school? And you were like, Oh, I'm back in the same spot?
Yeah, yeah. So I kept. It's funny. I think I was finding, I was looking for purpose in other ways without going I need a new sense of purpose. I wasn't saying that to myself, but I was seeking it out and so fortunate to be Hiring with my girls. And I felt lucky to be able to do that. So I saw I was doing okay. But then when my youngest Yeah, when she went to school it was I was really hung up on the stay at home mum thing as well, you know, like, why your kids are in school now? Why wouldn't you? You know, why wouldn't you be doing something? So it was a real Yeah, I have to do something.
So you went to the University and you've studied nutrition and were able to find a purpose again.
Yeah. And I just thrive to being at uni was an I was a mature age student with other mature age students as well, and some younger guys, but I found it was almost like having you, your mates in the military and that as well, because you have, you know, similar interests. So I made great friends that I'm still great friends with today. So I've got like, my, you know, my, my veteran mates and my current serving mates and I've got my uni mates. So it was all just like a duct water. I just absolutely thrived in that environment. I loved it. So it was giving me new purpose. So while I was studying for the few years, that was something else like, Oh, I'm studying to be a clinical nutritionist. Oh, that's interesting. So anything that raises the eyebrows, it's like, yeah,
yeah. And so when did you graduate from? I was gonna say college from the, from college.
Yeah, in 2018. I graduated out in the real world for a few years. And that's, that's a transitioning in itself going from a busy uni student to then, okay. Now, now, what do I do that what I'm doing now just found me purely because of my military service. So it just it morphed into something that I never thought that I would be doing. And that's, that's another story.
Amanda Huffman 32:11
Yeah, tell us a little bit about what you're doing.
So while I was, in the last part of my degree, I met a colleague, Meredith, who is a partner of an Air Force pilot, and her brother was a Navy pilot in the Australian Navy. And so she had strong ties to the military. She was a civilian, as she was working for this organization, mates mates here in Brisbane, who look after injured military and veteran members who have been injured physically or mentally by their service. And it was and she said you should be. So we were studying at uni together, and she still you should come along to make mates in Australia have this whole thing. I don't feel like I deserve to be part of that organization. That's what injured soldiers. That's not for me. I had this preconceived notion of what it was. And so No, no, no, you were injured by your service. This is organization is for you. So I went along. And she was teaching part time there, trauma informed yoga, which was specifically for injured veterans. So I would go on to a classes and it was amazing for me for my back injury, and also for my mental health, because I was, you know, stressing out about union that finally wrapping up my uni, and she was getting posted with her husband was getting posted with the Air Force. So they were amazing. She just said you this is you should be doing this. I wasn't a yoga teacher. I was doing my own meditation practice. And my own yoga practice, makes me and said, if you do the training will support you. And you can count you belong here. So next thing I was teaching, they embraced me wholeheartedly. And I started teaching yoga. I did all my training. I did specific trauma informed training as well. And yeah, I've been there since I've been there for a few years now. And I've certainly love it. And then so then that just led to more so a few years ago, I was saying to a few people in the military and in the rehabilitation space for veterans that one day I want to be able to teach nutrition, lifestyle medicine, yoga, meditation, for veterans for mental health, and especially the nutrition side of things. I was told that's never going to happen. Fast forward to now. I'm now running the first of our national well being programs for young veterans, as in Australia, the younger transitioning veterans, especially ones like me That a medically discharged when there are highest risk of mental health transitioning for whatever circumstances, but it's the younger veterans. So yeah, I'm targeting programs now where I get to teach nutrition, mindfulness yoga, Grant, a gratitude practice and paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Australia. So it's a first of its kind. So I'm just absolutely loving, loving that. And I was told that it would never happen. So
That's right. Don't Don't tell me it can't happen. That's so yeah. So it's just and now it's just snowballing. And I've been invited to be on the board of a new a newly formulated charity called the women veterans united of Australia. And they're an India, an independent welfare and advocacy organization. So I'll be involved in encouraging wellbeing programs and connection for women, because often women may not feel welcome or safe in some of the other organizations, if, you know, they're just on past experiences they may have had. So it's just creating that safe space for all those women that have served that that may feel like they've been forgotten. So yeah, so that's it's all been an interesting year, especially after last year was, you know, everyone going through COVID, that, that had its own challenges, but this year, everything's just for coming together. So it's pretty exciting times,
that's really exciting. I'm a strong believer in meditation. I've been doing mindful practice, I guess about a year. Excellent. And it's, it's like the best. It's like, Yeah, I just love being able to do a daily meditation and like calm thoughts and just find that piece that I need. And
yeah, and that's a theme, that's my purpose is as well as introducing meditation, these mindfulness practices that a lot of people believe they cannot do. So I can't steal my mind, or the type of yoga that I teach is not active yoga, we're still on a match. There is movement involved in it. But often people have a preconceived idea that it's emptying your mind. It's, you know, it's, it's being in the one spot, and you've got to, you know, you can't think about everything, anything, and it's all about, um, and it couldn't be further from the truth. You know, mindfulness can be going for a swim in the ocean or walking in the rain forest are, you know, there's a cool study from Japan of rain forest therapy, that testing the stress markers in participants after being in nature, then it was only maybe 2030 minutes reduce their cortisol, your stress hormone by 50%, just by a brief stint in being in nature. So it's incredibly powerful stuff. And I teach people that you know, those wandering thoughts that come in their rk and then normal, we just, we, we acknowledge them, then we let them go and send them on their way and we bring ourselves back to our breath. So spend a lot of time in practice, helping people to connect with their breath, because that helps to calm their nervous system reduce anxiety, yeah, all that kind of stuff. So that's my, that's my jam now.
Yeah, I love I think that's my favorite part about meditation is when they're like, are you distracted, come back, it's okay. Instead of be like, distracted, you're not supposed to be it's always like, that's fine. Let's just start again, start focusing on the breath. And it's just, you can't do it wrong. And so it's so healing and it's just great.
Yeah, and you just nailed it by saying, you can't do it wrong, because so many people, they'll, they'll give it an attempt, and they fight with the busy, busy mind their distractions, they'll fight with it, or they'll get into it, they'll engage it and then they go, No, I can't do it. You know, it's too difficult, but sometimes sitting in a little bit of discomfort. And as you know, if you've been practicing for a year, there'll be times when it's easier, and times where it's more difficult depending on what's going on with your day or, you know, ah, but you know, that just take a few breaths. And it's it can be really quite powerful, something so simple that we all already have nothing thing. See, it's not it's not something that you take and not it's not a tablet. It's it's really it's and it's free. So, yeah. I'm glad about that practice. That's really awesome.
Yeah, I was I went and got my first COVID vaccine, and I was freaking out a little bit. And I told my boys and I was like, oh, mommy has to do. It's free. And so I was like, freaking out, they'd be like, Mommy, just breathe. And then I'll be okay. But it was funny because I could feel my anxiety rising up, but I was like, I just need to breathe. And then and then then I told him that because I was freaking out. And we were driving there. And then when we got there, I said, Oh, mommy skinny, I'm nervous. And you're like, remember, you're just supposed to breathe. I was like, Oh, they were listening.
You they Ah, and see, and it's leading by example. It's that is so cool. Because, you know, they're those tools that sometimes I wish I had when I was younger that we can give our kids as well. And my kids are the same. They're hilarious. I burnt myself recently doing something. And my oldest daughter said, Mom, just breathe. Oh, thank you. I'll just breeze through my hands blistering and being on fire. But yeah, but it does. I had an MRI are from my spine recently, and they used to terrify me and I'd have so much anxiety they have to because I also have claustrophobic. And just those, you have to been there for quite some time and the noise and you know, let's put headphones on my ears and an eye mask and, you know, all these kind of things to you know, make me feel better. But the last one I had, I just was purely focusing on my breathing and you just saying some things to myself. You know, everything's okay, you're safe. And I actually fell asleep during it, which was unheard of in the past. There were times where I was pressing the button, get me out, get me out where and they're like, wow, you actually fell asleep at night? that just does not happen. So and that's the power of breathing. Yeah. Yeah,
that's really cool. Well is, is there anything from your time in the military? Or what you're doing today that I didn't touch on that you want to talk about?
No, I think I've rambled enough.
Well, I have one more question. I always like to end my interview with what advice would you give to young women who are considering joining the military?
I think that is such a good question. Because I, as I said before, I didn't ask myself any questions before I went to recruiting? And I possibly did not join up in the right job for me. So I would definitely be looking at what are the pros and cons, you know, talking to as many if you can find people that have served, talking and asking really important questions and doing your research in what kind of job you want, what you want to do, and what would suit you, I think, physically and mentally and that as well. Are you prepared to be away from your family? You know, for for me, I was part of a close family, but being away from them also forced me to grow into independence. So that was actually a good thing for me. Yeah, I think I think there are things that probably would be important that I would think of a bit of research. Yeah, pros and cons. Is it? Is it right for you. And I think, you know, sometimes saying yes to things that even scare the hell out of us. That's where we grow. So it can be such even if you think oh, I might be not confident enough, not shy enough, not fit enough. I'm an example of not being fit enough. And then you know, you can still you can still thrive and in these challenges, make us who we are for the rest of our lives. So yeah, it can be such an amazing experience.
Well, thank you so much for giving me some of your time and coordinating. It's in the evening of the day before and the morning of the next day. Opposite. Yeah, we we figured it out and made it happen. So I'm so glad to have you on the podcast.
Thank you so much for having me. It's been an absolute pleasure. It's been great to chat. We're mates now. So I'll talk to you again soon.
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