My guest today is Holly Swenson.
Holly shares with us the framework from her book Stop, Drop, Grow, and Glow, helping parents assess their current state, drop any negative influences, and grow into their best selves. She encourages parents to take a deeper dive into their personal wellness journey by assessing their priorities, reflecting on their experiences, and dropping any trauma or drama that may be holding them back. Finally, she offers tips for parents struggling with losing themselves in their children’s challenges and emphasizes the importance of finding joy and courage in parenting.
Holly Swenson, BSN, RN, is a mother to four boys, wellness blogger, perpetual student of life, and the author of Stop, Drop, Grow, & Glow, a book steeped in conscious parenting and infused with joy, intention, and wellness. She says about her book: “This book is truly a companion for child rearing and it will provide you tools and insight on how to infuse consciousness into your everyday, help you make deeper connections with yourself and your family, and will teach you how important it is to not lose “you” in the process of raising your children.”
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Takeaways from the show
- Conscious parenting, wellness, and self-care
- Prioritizing self-care for busy parents
- Personal growth as a parent
- Parenting strategies for maintaining self-care during challenging times
- Finding joy in parenting
What does joyful courage mean to you
I think joyful courage means finding your center, your fearlessness, and stepping into life in a way that brings you joy but also pushes you to keep growing right and then infusing whatever that looks like for you with that joy. And that peace that comes as a parent.
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Casey O'Roarty, Holly Swenson
Casey O'Roarty 00:03
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together, while parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people. And when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already, I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead at Sproutsocial. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is an interview and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show.
Casey O'Roarty 01:26
Hi, listeners. Welcome back to the pod My guest today is Holly Swenson. Holly is a mother to four boys, a wellness blogger perpetual student of life and the author of stop, drop, Grow and Glow a book steeped in conscious parenting and infused with joy, intention and wellness. She says about her book. This book is truly a companion for child rearing. And it will provide you tools and insights on how to infuse consciousness into your everyday help you make deeper connections with yourself and your family and will teach you how important it is not to lose you in the process of raising your children that is so in alignment with what we talked about over here in joyful courage land. Holly, you are also a registered nurse and a yoga instructor. Am I right on those things?
Holly Swenson 02:19
I am a 200 hour teacher training certified for yoga. So I've done yoga for years. And I don't teach it.
Casey O'Roarty 02:26
You could if you wanted to. I
Holly Swenson 02:28
could. Yeah, I could if I wanted to. Exactly.
Casey O'Roarty 02:31
Got it. Awesome. Well, welcome to the show. Holly, I'm so glad to have you.
Holly Swenson 02:35
Thank you for having me. I'm
Casey O'Roarty 02:36
delighted to be here. How have you found yourself where you are right now doing the work that you do? What's your story?
Holly Swenson 02:43
Sure. So I am a mother to four sons who just continue to teach me more and more every day, as any parent will tell you. And I really felt a deep calling to start writing a book last year. And I really have had to learn a lot right and continuing to learn. But for me, I really felt the need to sit down and start putting you know, pen to paper and start creating a framework to help parents step into more alignment with who they are, who they want to be and to really raise the bar for bringing more grace, intentionality and joy to the process of parenting. And for me, I've had to really learn these things along you know, it's really a lived experience. And so I wanted to start to put that into a book for other parents to help their journey. How old are your boys? Our youngest is nine. We have one that's 12. And we have twins that are 13.
Casey O'Roarty 03:34
Oh, yeah. Welcome to adolescence.
Holly Swenson 03:37
For real Hang on.
Casey O'Roarty 03:41
Yes, yes. So, I mean, I totally resonate with that. And even just the book writing process is such a growth journey. I know that for myself as well. What was surprising to you, as you worked towards putting pen to paper and really trying to capture what it is that you wanted listeners to take away? Did anything surprising come up for you?
Holly Swenson 04:04
Well, you know, I think for me, what I found surprising is that my journey was that when I had something to write the words and the thoughts and everything I wanted to share, were right there waiting for me. And so I found that to be really powerful experience. And it helped me to know that I was in the right place at the right time with doing the work that I'm doing. You know, again, like I said, I it just felt like a calling. And so it was just kind of waiting for me to activate it.
Casey O'Roarty 04:30
Yeah. And we hear the term wellness a lot. It's kind of a broad stroke phrase, what does it mean to you? And what is the relationship that you see between wellness and parenting?
Holly Swenson 04:42
So, you know, I think wellness can mean a lot of things, a lot of different people. For me, it means, you know, learning to tend to myself on a daily basis. And so I'm a fan of meditation, so I try to make time to sit every day even if it's five minutes or two minutes or whatever I can fit in. I also believe in you Know encompasses your diet, your exercise your sleep, I also talk about, you know, this combination and really honouring your mind, your body, your spirit, and your environment. And so I really take a more holistic approach to my wellness. And I think you have to kind of tend to all of those realms to really hit a more maximal, you know, place in life. And so I think, you know, you might be really good at tending to, you know, your mind and your body. But if you aren't tending to, you know, this whole spectrum, maybe you're leaving part of your wellness out, if that makes sense. And so I just think taking a holistic approach to wellness and to mindfulness can really support you at a higher level.
Casey O'Roarty 05:42
Yeah, and I'm thinking about you, as a mother of four. I'm thinking about listeners, I'm thinking about all the things that come up throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the years. And it feels kind of overwhelming, actually, to think about, like, all the different places on the spectrum that you just mentioned, does your book, talk about how to integrate wellness into what can feel or maybe it's a mindset shift, right, maybe it's a reframe around how we're spending our time and how we're spending our days. But it can feel like I'm even in the stretch of it right now, as I prepare to leave town next week. And I've got client calls. And I know I want to go to the gym. And I know I want to get my friggin steps in that women take that back. It's not a grumpy thing. It's a great thing. I'm really enjoying moving my body, I'm really enjoying feeding myself well. And when priorities or time with my kids are like, it's the first thing that gets squeezed out, isn't it? Or it can be it is? Absolutely,
Holly Swenson 06:51
yeah, I think self care is really something that's lacking. And I think it's something that we've almost framed as being self indulgent, in some ways. And so I think there's a guilt associated with that, which I think is unfortunate, because I've really learned that when I practice self care, I can really show up for my husband, my children in a way that's more grounded. And you know, it's healthier, I feel more nourished, so I'm able to be more nourishing to them, if that makes sense.
Casey O'Roarty 07:17
Yeah, totally. Yeah. So help us with the integration when it feels Yes. I mean, it's not even so much a selfish, like, I'm just speaking from my own experience of literally today, which it doesn't feel so much selfish, as much as it feels like, there's other things on the list. And I say that, and I acknowledge, like, I did get up early, I did have my morning sit down. And you know, there are things that are definitely cemented into my daily practice. And as I'm working to re integrate movement into my life, as someone who spends a lot of time at a computer, you know, I'm finding a need for a reframe around. Nope, this is something that I do, where can I fit it in? Do you talk about that in your book?
Holly Swenson 08:05
So I don't know if I address that specifically, you know, but I think like I talked about organisation, right? So it might be prioritising what feels really important to you. And so for me, I'm like, I like to make lists, or you know, to Airties, like what I'm doing for the day. And so that could be a really great way to schedule that in for yourself. And so maybe look at what your priorities are, you know, and maybe you do it once a week, or maybe you like doing it on a daily basis, but then you are carving time out specifically for those things that nourish you, and help you show up, you know, in a stronger and healthier and more grounded way. Yeah, again, I think everyone does it slightly differently. So I think you have to find what works for you.
Casey O'Roarty 08:45
Yeah, yeah. And talk a little bit about how your book encourages parents, like what is the structure of the book? And how does it encourage people to take a deeper dive into their, you know, personal wellness journey?
Holly Swenson 09:00
Sure, great question. So, you know, my framework, you know, is in the title, stop, drop, Grow and Glow, and they work together. And so, you know, I say, like, you know, you don't want to, like jump in and started, you know, grow, right. So I think, you know, my framework, it's really about assessing where you are to date, and doing, you know, a personal check in on how you're doing as a parent, how you're doing as an individual, and you know, what's going well in your life, and maybe what's not going well, and taking stock of those dynamics, even doing some reflection, because I really believe in reflection, especially as a parent, and that's something I've woven into each chapter as well is those reflection points so that it gets you to stop and not just read the book, but also then, you know, kind of turn the mirror around and look at yourself and like, how is this showing for me and how does it apply and then the second stop is drop, and drop is really, you know, working to drop it any trauma, drama or like personal lives, experiences in your life that are really keeping you from stepping into, you know, living your best life and showing up fully, right? Because I think when you're maybe attached or you're stuck in these places that you know, you're thinking about this, you're thinking about that, or it's really keeping you from bringing your whole self to the table. So I think there's Yeah,
Casey O'Roarty 10:22
yeah, I feel like there's so much connection to between the stop and the drop, right? Because if we're not pausing and assessing and reflecting, and noticing how we are in response to what's unfolding, then we might not even be aware. And I feel like, I'd love to hear from you. I mean, it's like the lifelong work of dropping the conditioning and the baggage, right? Oh, yeah. No, this doesn't happen overnight. Yeah. It's like, okay, I'm over that now. And then a new person or a new challenge, or a new era of parenting comes up. And it's like, oh, I have not dropped that. Right. So I'm sure that in your work, like that's, you know, I just want to make sure listeners are hearing like, it's not, you know, drop and done. Right. But I think that practice of reflection is so important. I'm a journaler myself, so I can reflect the hell out of things. Gotta get it out. You gotta Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, for sure. So yeah, so stop, drop, you know, and in the stop, like, becoming evermore aware of what there is to drop. And then where do we go,
Holly Swenson 11:31
and then we go to grow, okay. And so grow is really about learning how to expand your awareness as a parent, and lean on habits that will support you and nourish you on a deeper level. And so, you know, to give you some examples of what that looks like, mindfulness practices, you know, so I talked about meditation, that's something that's really a grounding cord for me, sleep, I'm a really big supporter of sleep both for you and for your children. Yeah, it's such an important part of your wellness, eating clean, and Whole Foods, you know, is another component of that I think a lot of folks aren't able to get quality foods that really support them and make them feel good on every level. And I think it should be a priority for your health and wellness. You know, I also talked about maybe reducing or eliminating substance from your life, if that's something that feels like an area of improvement. And that feels different to everybody, just so that you can show up in a cleaner state. Yeah. Because when you're a parent, you have to be on all the time. And so I just believe in really operating from the highest level, is just going to help you feel better in your body and give your kids a cleaner, more refreshed parent, you know, to interact with. So those are a couple of touchstones of what grow looks like?
Casey O'Roarty 12:45
Well, first, I'm thinking, you know, I recognise the privilege that I have to drive into town and have multiple options for really good food, you know, and that really is a privilege, right? And that not everybody lives in a place, which is heart wrenching, and not right. And not everybody lives somewhere where it's easy to get access to clean foods. And as I listened to you, I'm also wanting to say to listeners like and you get to do the best you can, you know, you get to do the best you can I love what you said about sleep. My gosh, sleep is a very hot topic right now in my house, and not even with my kids, but with another member of the household. They will not be named. And myself, it is so interesting to notice how different I feel, when I get that full eight plus hours of sleep, I think there's this like badge of honour that sometimes adults can be like, Oh, I don't need that much sleep. And, you know, the science says different. The science says, you do need that much sleep, you do need to rest and it allows your brain to integrate. And then it allows your brain to be open to new information the next day because you've taken that rest. So I love the sleep. And I also love thinking about who it is we're offering up to our kids like the idea of being clean or being as real as we can be right? Without all the added like layers that can show up when we're tired, right? When we're, you know, jonesing for some more caffeine or nicotine or we've had a couple glasses of wine or, you know, I live in Washington State. So there's lots of, you know, people that use marijuana as well. And we all get to make our choices while also sitting with and reflecting on Who am I offering up for my kid when they need me, right or who am I offering up to my kid as I'm passing them in the hallway or sitting down to dinner with them. And so I really appreciate the invitation to take stock and make some decisions based on what it is that you notice. After you've had an opportunity to kind of reflect on where you're at and what you need and how you're showing up. So, love it, love it. All right, step number four.
Holly Swenson 15:05
All right, step number four is glow. Right? So, glow is really taking what you learned from my framework and then starting to put it into practice, and you know, for yourself, for your family for the world, because I think it extends beyond your home, right? Like what you're practising at home really matters, but then you are taking that out into the world too. And so it really can just magnify if you allow it, right. So you're in charge of what you're bringing to the table, and then what you're sharing. And the other piece I want to mention too, is just, you know, again, the importance for daily self care, because that really is going to help you glow, right, that's going to help you maintain, and I just, I cannot drive that home enough that it's not like, you know, in my book I talked about, like, you know, getting a massage every six months is great. But that's not a good marker of self care, right, I really believe in taking time on a daily basis, you know, and then I also, in this glow section, talk about the importance of keep dreaming, as a parent, I think it can be easy to, you know, put everyone else's needs ahead of your own. But I think it's really important to also nourish that part of you, that creativity, the dreamer that really has goals and aspirations. And I think that's a tremendous way to keep that glow evident for others to see. And then the other thing I wanted to mention is reminders. So one of my favourite ways to remember to glow is I have reminders in my home. So it can be a piece of art, it can be a quote on your fridge, it can be a brace that you put on or something that means something for you, to help you remember your consciousness and your intention for really being the best person you can be. And as a parent, I think sometimes you need more reminders, rather than other points in your life where maybe you aren't being asked as much of so I love this idea of reminders. And it's something that I use.
Casey O'Roarty 16:57
I love that too. My husband's like you need to stop buying things that are like inspirational quotes. But they help, don't they? Yeah. Do you want to have a bitchy wife? Or do you want to have a centred wife legs back off, buddy?
Holly Swenson 17:09
That's right, that's right. And I just want to drive home that you can find your radiance and your luminosity as a parent, you know, and that it is attainable. You don't have to be stressed out burnt out, you know, operating like a maniac, you can really slow down and get more intentional in your life. And really, you can glow as a parent, even if it doesn't feel possible. You take these small steps and you start making small shifts, and they add up.
Casey O'Roarty 17:34
Yeah. And I feel like the glow shows up in the relating between ourselves and our kids. Right? And it's not necessarily like, Oh, I'm taking care of myself. And now there are no challenges. Instead, it's like, wow, that was a doozy today and kind of feel good about how I showed up. Right? Right. I feel really good about how I showed up. And I'm listening to you. And I'm of course you're speaking my language. Love it. And also conscious of how, you know, I do have listeners who are men. Hi, guys. I see you out there. I know you're out there. And it's so interesting to me. And it's not fully on the gender line, right? There's some flow here. But I feel like women tend to move towards these practices and the self care the way that you're describing it so much more willingly than the men. And maybe there's a conversation just around how we see our roles as men and women provider versus nurturer. So it makes sense that we nurture ourselves to be able to nurture others. How do you invite men into? And is this something you thought about as you're writing your book into the work that you're doing?
Holly Swenson 18:59
Right? Yeah, I mean, I really want my work to feel accessible to anyone, you know, to moms, two dads to you know, grandparents, I've even had people read it, you know, and say this really resonates their grandparents. So absolutely, I want men to be part of the dialogue. And I think, you know, wellness is something that should be important to everyone. I don't think anyone should be left out of that conversation. And men might find different ways to tend to themselves, you know, I mean, each person finds their own way to fill their cup. And so, again, I think it doesn't matter what your go to is just that you make a go to, yeah, so that you can take care of yourself, you know, and so for men, if that's getting outside or hitting the gym, or you know, maybe you love to read or, you know, maybe you like yoga, I do a lot of yoga, so and I see a lot of men in the yoga studio. So I know that that's something that does resonate for men too. But again, it can be so different for each person, but absolutely wellness should be something that should be accessed by everybody every day.
Casey O'Roarty 19:53
But you know, if you are a man who's listening, and you're like, Casey, I'm totally into this. What You're talking about I see you, sorry, not all men. But that is something that, you know, in the clients that I work with in the men in my life, like I am not seeing the same kind of, and maybe, as our couples counsellor will say, well, it doesn't have to look the way you think it should look, Casey, it can look a lot of different ways. So I really appreciate that you shared that. And as someone who works with families who have teenagers, things get really real during the teen years. And, you know, they get real no matter how well you're taking care of yourself. teen brain development, there's no bypassing teen brain development and the fact that they're on their own individual journey. And it's so easy. I know this from my own personal experience, and the experience of the people I work with, it's so easy to get lost in the challenges that are coming up. What are some tips because like I mentioned in the bio, that piece around, not losing you, inside of our role as parent or caregiver, what are some tips that you have, for parents who are struggling with losing themselves just in the worry of what's happening with their kids?
Holly Swenson 21:16
You know, I talk about reaction versus response in my book, and, you know, I think when you're hitting some of these tougher stages in life, you know, maybe your kids are acting out, or they're calling you names, or they're saying things that hurt, or you know, they're just not listening to boundaries that you've put in place, I think you need to learn how to centre your energy and not get pulled into their energy. So if your child's having, you know, a meltdown, tantrum, or saying things that are really hurtful or just not following your protocol, I think first you need to pause before you speak, especially if it's, you know, in a heightened situation. So take that second, four seconds, five seconds before you even open your mouth, to just take a deep breath, because breathing makes a difference. You know, and I think so many people operate from this place of reaction. So your kids yelling at you, and then you instinctively maybe yell back, because, wow, this hurts, and I don't like where this is going. And you know, you kind of give it right back to them. And that's an instinctual drive. And that's kind of what's helping you survive. But those instincts aren't always the most helpful. And, you know, maybe you feel badly afterwards, because, wow, I really didn't find my kind words, or I couldn't show up the way I know, I want to show up because you kind of get pulled into their storm, right? And so I think, learning to pause and centre, your energy, no matter what's going on around you. And holding space for them in a way that's not reactionary, can make a huge difference in any situation you find yourself in, so responding with care. And even if it's hard, just trying to hold your own, in a way that's a lot more intentional. Yeah,
Casey O'Roarty 22:53
you know, as I listened to you, and I think to myself about like how, even in my own practice, right, like, there's what we know, in our head. And then there's the moment of willingness or unwillingness to practice what we know is useful. And I'm wondering, I'm like thinking about, what are the baby steps that you take, right, when you've got a kiddo showing up, however, they're showing up, right? Or sharing some really hard information, you know, or you find out some not so great information. And that, you know, like, for me, it's this energetic, right, heat and tension in my body. And like, really, like, my face kind of gets tight. There's some micro steps because I think there's a lot of people and myself included, who you know, find the pause, calm down, right? Wait, before you speak. And even in my own practice, where I'm like, oh, man, I am so triggered. I find the pause. I walk into my room, I sit on my bed, I'm breathing, while simultaneously thinking to myself, screw this guy. Right? I am so pissed right now. And it's so interesting how, you know, sometimes the talking off the ledge is yeah, when when we walk away, right? And don't come unglued. But then even in that moment of like, okay, I've walked away, and now I'm breathing and I just can't get out of this anger, or this sadness, or this disappointment? Do you have any tips or things that you do or you use to help you like, get to that centre that you're talking about? Because it's hard? Sometimes
Holly Swenson 24:30
it's super hard? Yeah. I want to say one thing before I forget. I also believe in the power of apology. And so you know, if you can't find your words in a way that feel helpful, and you've misspoken, or you stepped into a space that you know, isn't how you want to show up. I believe the power of apology is tremendous. Yeah. And so going to that place of just saying, You know what, I'm really sorry, cleaning it up. I know better, but you got to make amends. Yeah. And to go back to you know, the micro adjustments and when you're in In that space, I think that's a really good question. And, you know, I don't know if I have real specifics for that. But I think, again, like, I just go back to that, like, if you're feeling really angry, or you're feeling really sad, to allow yourself to feel those feelings, not try to like, push them away. So let them like simmer. Because I think if you just try to work through them, it's not really helping you, you got to feel those feelings, because you're there for a reason. Yeah. And maybe just let them settle, I mean, really allow yourself to be with them. And then when you have calmed down, and you re approach whatever is in front of you, in a state that's a little more balanced. Yeah.
Casey O'Roarty 25:41
And it's just so interesting, isn't it? Like, there's those things that are so hard to let go of? I was just talking with my team at spreadable gals that I work with, and we were talking about, you know, there's those certain people or certain actions or behaviours, you know, that are the ones that are just like, man, you know, my son and I, we both really like to make it right and move on. It's interesting, we were talking about I don't know if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. I don't know if that's like, a reaction to we just like to feel good. So we're gonna move on from this, which I mean, has a dark side and a light side versus like things that come up with my husband where I am like, hold on, for over an hour, right? And it's like, what am I waiting for? What am I hoping for? And what is it about that particular relationship that has me hanging on? And I'm asking these questions to myself, right, this is something that I journal about, and explore. And I think that going back to the beginning of our conversation, those practices around reflection, stopping considering reflecting and noticing like, oh, yeah, it is a different response to my 17 year old son versus my 50 year old husband versus my 20 year old daughter, or my mom or my dad. And it's so interesting, when we bring curiosity to how we're reacting and responding to the worlds. Yeah,
Holly Swenson 27:17
absolutely. And I think you're right, I mean, each relationship you have is slightly different. Right. And so the word that's coming to mind is surrender. Right. And so I have
Casey O'Roarty 27:26
it tattooed lit? Do you okay, dude on my wrist?
Holly Swenson 27:30
So that's one of my favourite words. And I think it's so applicable to parenting, because sometimes you just have to let go. Yeah, I mean, as much as you want to control or fixer make things, right, you just sometimes can't. And so I think if you can surrender to, you know, what's in front of you, especially if it's something that's hard that you feel like you can't fix or if you're holding on to things, the other piece that's holding on is that you're really hurting yourself in that process. I think when you're keeping score, yeah, but that's a hard habit to break. And I think we all have certain things that we do hold on to, and it's like, oh, man, I just can't let this one go. But when you look back at it, you really injuring yourself, instead of just like, you know, what, it's just what it is, we're gonna make it better, or we're gonna work on this, or we've got to grow here, or whatever it is. I think just having compassion for yourself and for your different relationships and the different dynamics totally, you just kind of do the best you can.
Casey O'Roarty 28:22
Yeah. And I think there's something too in the finding our observer to like, I can't let this go versus, look at me. Look at me hanging on, you know, and being an observer of ourselves and bringing some lightness to it. I know that that's really helpful for me, moving through when I'm feeling a little Rayji. Which happens. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for your work and your voice and what you're bringing to the world around wellness and parenting and being our best selves for ourselves and the people in our lives. Is there anything else that you'd like to leave listeners with before we wrap up?
Holly Swenson 29:03
Sure, I mean, I really just can't drive home, you know enough how much I hope you take the time to read my book, stop, drop, Grow and Glow. I've just barely scratched the surface of what is you know, within my book, and I really think it can help take your parenting to the next level and help you live with more grace more gentility, more intention. And my book is available on Amazon Barnes and Noble Good Reads really anywhere you buy your book. Awesome. And then if you want to keep up with me, I'm at WWW dot live your glow dot live.
Casey O'Roarty 29:34
Awesome. All of those links will be in the show notes. I have one more question for you that I asked all my guests Sure. What does joyful courage mean to you?
Holly Swenson 29:43
I think joyful courage means finding your centre, your fearlessness and stepping into life in a way that brings you joy but also pushes you to keep growing right and then infusing whatever that looks like for you with that joy. And that peace that comes as a parent.
Casey O'Roarty 30:02
Love that. Love that. Well thank you so much. I really appreciate having you on and everything that you shared.
Holly Swenson 30:09
Thank you so much for your time. I'm really grateful to be here
Casey O'Roarty 30:17
thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at beasts bra audible.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace