• Thrive Inc.

A Year of No Nonsense with Meredith Atwood

We have a very special guest with us today – author, speaker, coach, mom, and podcaster Meredith Atwood. A former practicing attorney, Meredith is the author of the best-selling book ‘Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You.’ She’s recently released her new book ‘The Year of No Nonsense’ and she’s here today to tell us why we should all be cutting the nonsense out of our lives.

So many of us live our lives the only way we know how, and we often deal with a lot of nonsense. Whether it’s something that somebody has told us in our past that has stuck with us, or whether it’s simply the story we’re telling ourselves, we can create self-fulfilling prophecies which prevent us from moving forward in our lives. But we can change that!

Join us this week where we’ll discuss how to start cleansing our lives of the nonsense we put up with. We’ll learn why failure is actually an important part of growth, and why if you want something bad enough, nothing will stand in your way of getting there. If you want to change your life, you have to make the change. Now’s your time!

If you want to learn how to deal with conflict more effectively, as always, we are both available for individual one on one and couples coaching. For the next couple of months, we are also offering free virtual training to organizations. Our goal is to support you, your team, and your business both at work and at home during this pandemic. Get in touch with us to find out more!

If you enjoyed the show, please share the podcast with your family and friends, or post a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. Rating and reviewing the show helps spread the word, which means less friction and suffering for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?

Listen on Apple Podcast | Stitcher | Spotify

Learn More:

  • How to get rid of the nonsense in your life.

  • Why it’s essential to show yourself compassion.

  • How old stories might be affecting your life today.

  • Why failure is a good thing.

  • How to stop making excuses and start creating a life you love.

  • How to get un-stuck in your life.

  • Why people resonate with authenticity.

  • Why you’ll succeed if you want something bad enough.


Full Transcript:

CrisMarie: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. Hi, I'm CrisMarie.

Susan: And I'm Susan. We run a company called Thrive, and we specialize in conflict resolution, communication and building strong, thriving teams and relationships. Conflict shows up in our lives in so many ways. Most people, unfortunately, are not very good at handling conflict. Most people have never been taught the right tools for dealing with conflict, and then it leads to unnecessary friction, arguments, passive aggressive emails, tears, hurtful comments, stuck-ness, all kinds of things we don't want. We're on a mission to change all of that.

CrisMarie: We've spent the last 20 years teaching our clients how to handle conflict in a whole new way. We're here to show you that conflict doesn't have to be scary and overwhelming. With the right tools, you can turn a moment of conflict into a moment of reinvention. Conflict can pave the way into a beautiful new system at work, a new way of leading your team, a new way of parenting, a new chapter of your marriage where you feel more connected than ever before. Conflict can lead to beautiful things.

This episode is an interview with Meredith Atwood who is the author of a Year of No Nonsense.

Susan: And originally I got introduced to Meredith Atwood by actually looking into some of her books that she’d written about becoming a triathlete. She’s known also for her podcast Bike Swim Mom, I think is what it is. But a fascinating woman, she was a lawyer, made some changes there. Extraordinary story about becoming a triathlete and then in this book, The Year of No Nonsense, she really gets down to how we get into a whole bunch of nonsense in our lives.

CrisMarie: And in this episode we talk to her about the process of what she went through to coming into herself, to stop being a fake or an imposter, and how that transformed her life. And I have to say, that’s exactly what I do when I coach women leaders who are smart, successful, but they have this underlying anxiety. And often when we get into it, it’s they are holding themselves back.

And so I coach them to actually be more in integrity and alignment and take those risks, and their confidence increases, they relax and get into their peace and serenity, and it’s a really powerful transition.

Susan: And I loved in this interview, she talked about how she shows up now in such a real way in her working, speaking, and going out there with the book. And that was just not what she did before, even though she was sort of looking incredibly successful. But now she’s bringing more of herself to everything.

CrisMarie: And how that resonates for her audiences when she tells her really personal story, and people are like, “Oh my gosh, that’s me.” So we hope you enjoy this episode as much as we do.

So today we have a special guest, Meredith Atwood, is an author, speaker, coach, mom and podcaster. A former practicing attorney, Meredith is the author of the bestselling book, Triathlon for the Every Woman, You Can Be a Triathlete. Yes. You. And her recently released new book, The Year of No Nonsense: How to get over yourself and on with your life, which you can buy online or at Barnes & Noble, Target and Wal-Mart.

Now, Meredith inspires through her podcast, The Same 24 Hours, which aims to help the listener make the most of their 24 hours. The podcast has over one million downloads and is a top 100 on iTunes in the fitness category. The podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Podbean, Pandora and Spotify, and also at www.same24hourspodcast.com.

Meredith is based out of Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband and two children, and is originally from Savannah, Georgia. She spent her adult life in the metro Atlanta area and is now in New England. And I’m wondering how you’re doing with the winters, Meredith.

Meredith: As I sit here with my hands in my pocket, freezing.

CrisMarie: I bet.

Susan: It is very different.

Meredith: I know, and everyone around here is like, “It’s not even winter, this is not winter.” And I’m like, “What is this then?”

CrisMarie: We just were in Savannah two weekends ago.

Meredith: Oh, no kidding.

CrisMarie: Yeah, it was so beautiful there, it’s so stark and pretty and we went on the ghost tours.

Meredith: How nice, very nice, good for you.

CrisMarie: So how has it been? And maybe you could tell the listeners kind of just your premise around the book and how it was writing it and now releasing it?

Meredith: Yeah. So the release was fun, I mean it’s crazy, for years that this thing is going out into the world. And then on publication day it’s like, how did this happen, why is this happening to me? How is this book out and everyone’s reading it? And it’s this crazy process of baring your soul and then realizing that it’s no longer yours, because when you write a book you let it go, and then it becomes the readers. And so that’s been an interesting struggle and process, but I’m very grateful, it’s doing very well.

And so that’s been fun, but the origin of the book, kind of been on this decade long – well, it’s a lifelong journey. But the last decade has been sort of the big one.

So about 10 years ago I started the sport of triathlon, which is swimming, biking and running, I was a 250 pound mom, litigating attorney with a bit of a drinking problem, found triathlon. And that really did a lot for me, it changed my life, it taught me how to do hard things, to move my body and to start to want more for myself. And that was when I wrote the first edition of the triathlon book.

And so about eight years after that, I was really proud of myself and feeling good, but I realized that I still had a problem. Because I woke up one morning and my husband had left a little note for me on the counter next to pizza boxes and ice-cream container, and some unpaid bills that told me I needed to get my beep together. I was like, oh boy, what is, you know, first of all, are you talking to me? I don’t think you’re talking to me with this note, this must for someone else.

But it started this sort of process that yeah, I had made a lot of changes and I had come far. But I still had a lot of stuff that I needed to work on, for starters, my alcohol consumption and then my career, and just my presence and the way I showed up for my own life. And the word ‘nonsense’ sort of popped in my head around this time.

And I thought, gosh, I sure do have a lot of nonsense in my life. And for some reason that word just stuck out and it became this sort of cornerstone for where I went from there. And I thought, gosh, I’m going to have a year of no nonsense and it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be lighthearted. And I pitched a book to a publisher and she’s like, “Yeah, that sounds like a lovely lighthearted read.” So I kind of proceeded with that. And what I uncovered in my year of no nonsense is that nonsense is a pretty lighthearted word for some pretty dark stuff.

And meaning that when we start to peel back the layers of our life and identify our own nonsense, which is a subjective sort of concept, what is considered nonsense to me is not necessarily for everyone, so we each have our own versions of it. And when I started to uncover the darker stuff, it really took me on a very interesting path, which is kind of what the book is about.

But it aims to help the reader first show up to see that we are here to live. And I think that seems like a no brainer, but so many of us are caught in the hustle and bustle and in our own worlds, and names and numbers that we’re letting define us. That we’re not even recognizing that we’re here to live our lives, that is the main goal of the book is to point that out. And then to help us see the truth so we can begin to change the things that are nonsense to us. So that’s it in a nutshell.

CrisMarie: I think that’s so true, I mean the ways we distract ourselves or make ourselves wrong, the nonsense that we create by comparing and despairing in our lives. And being in the rat race and trying to get ahead and then judging ourselves for not being ahead.

Meredith: We’re always behind, we’re always behind, yeah.

CrisMarie: Yes, I know.

Susan: Well, it’s just amazing to me how, having coached and worked with so many different people, people who have, what seems like to me, everything, in terms of money, in terms of comfort, in terms of luxury. And they are still playing the same crazy game. And then people who have nothing sometimes, but their hearts are open and they are actually living more fully.

So it’s just so interesting that, you know, what is it that makes the difference? And I do think it has to do with whether we are fully engaged in our lives, like you said, living fully, or we’re in some version of a transactional. I’ve got to get better, and there’s something I’m seeking, and when I get there then I’ll be living. There is a big difference, and I don’t think you actually do one or the other, even after a year, I don’t think we can say, you know, that we still have – it’s an ongoing process. It’s part of the human dynamic I guess.

Meredith: Absolutely. And it’s that delicate struggle between wanting to do better and wanting to change and improve and also acceptance, which I mean how do those two coexist? I mean that’s the big struggle, accepting the situation in where we are, breathing it in, being this is where I’m at. But I want to do better, but I don’t want to do too much because then I can’t accept it. It’s like this crazy cycle, but that’s kind of where you want to be is find that – and I don’t like the word ‘balance’, but harmony with all the spheres that you live in.

CrisMarie: I do think when we are in that striving mode, I’ll be better when I got over there, it’s often very serious and I’m usually beating myself up or I’m not being good enough. And if, even in that process I can take a moment and have some compassion for where I’m at, the energy shifts. And maybe I laugh at myself, maybe I relax a little, so I do think you’re right, we’re wired to kind of want to keep striving and then how do we come into this moment? And I do sometimes think there are just moments of like compassion for ourself, yeah.

Meredith: And being able to laugh at yourself, that’s an excellent point. I mean you have to have a sense of humor in life, or it’s just, it’s way too hard.

Susan: And I know, we talk a lot about conflict, and I think your book about the no nonsense has a lot to do with that internal conflict that is constantly going on between the parts of yourself that, you know, the part of you that wants to be successful. The part of you that wants to be a good mother. The part of you that wants to be the best lawyer, whatever it is, even the part of you that – the little girl or little boy who wanted something different than he got. And it’s such a hard thing to deal with even that internal conflict.

But the same idea, if you can accept it as opposed to trying to get rid of parts, that’s – too many times I see people try to get rid of like, okay, I’m going to get rid of that critical part. And it’s like, well, probably not, good luck with that.

Meredith: You’re stuck with your warts, all of them. Yeah, I mean that’s so true that oftentimes we are just fighting ourselves, we’re just torn between some of the core beliefs that we’re carrying around, that we maybe don’t even realize that we’ve been hauling around with us for years, and years, and years. The example I have, it seems like a simple one is I had a coach in 8th grade tell me, “If you run like that, you’re never going to be a runner.” And I thought what are you talking about, I’m running down the court, I’m running, what do you mean I’m not going to be a runner?

But that really stuck with me, I mean it stuck so sticky that I just never ran after that, I actually went into weightlifting because someone said, “She’s strong.” And I was like, well, a good thing I’m strong because I’ll never be a runner. And that’s like, you know, it seems silly but that literally stuck with me through all of adulthood until I started doing triathlon in my 30s. And even when I would be out there running 10 miles, 26 miles, I’m like, well, yeah, I’m still not a runner but, you know, and I’m out there running.

But that kind of stuff sticks with you and then that’s the importance of pinpointing that, hey, that’s nonsense, that’s absolutely nonsense. So I’m not going to do that to myself, but yeah, there’s a conflict that we’re dealing with, with our own mind.

Susan: I have a similar thing, when I was a young child I’d be out at this camp, and there was a woman who was the Art Director and she was quite a – she was an amazing artist. But we would always be – have to start art projects. And she actually had a box over in the corner that she called, ‘Susie’s unfinished art projects’. But in the life of me, I think it’s wound up being this thing where I never think I can finish something, whether it’s art or writing. And it’s taken me a long time to realize how it goes back to that unfinished box of stuff.

And it wasn’t until I really realized what an impact that had, that I started thinking, I’d better work on this because I do want to finish something.

CrisMarie: Well, it’s those old stories are so powerful, I mean it’s – similar, I was, for whatever reason, thought I was ugly. And my sister was the beautiful one, she was older. And it wasn’t until, I think, more in my 40s somebody said, “You’re really pretty.” And I’m like, “What?” And I still don’t – I struggle with actually embracing I have a certain beauty. And people would think, you’re crazy you don’t know that, versus the story of the pretty girl who grew up knowing she was pretty and could it use it all the way, I sometimes think I wish I’d had that story.

Meredith: That’s how I think too, because I was the fat girl with the pretty face. And so when I look at myself now I’m like well, at least I have a pretty face. But now I’m getting older so my face is going too. Man, if I don’t have a pretty face, then what am I, just a blob. But I know, it’s just those early perceptions, they stick. They stick, and we’d better work to switch that around.

CrisMarie: It’s so true, because otherwise we’ll just kind of – they’ll be self-fulfilling prophecies and they’re really not helpful.

Susan: That, or you have to learn how to use those stories to your advantage because I do remember when I was playing basketball, I couldn’t jump, I couldn’t shoot. I was really not meant to play basketball, but I still wanted to be on a team.

And so I remember going to my coach and saying to him, “You need me on the team, because you need somebody who doesn’t want to shoot, who’s doing to slow the game way down.” And four years later he joked at me, he said, “You’re the only person who’s ever made my team over and over and again by the things you told me you could not do well.”

Meredith: But that takes a certain level of self-awareness that I mean is that you know that you, you know, I mean how smart is that actually? You had some cunning going on right there.

Susan: Yes, I don’t know where it came from but it worked well for me because I just love that, it’s like okay, yes, now.

Meredith: That’s some innate grit right there, that sounds like my daughter. My daughter is 11 and I mean she will make the world conform to her. And it sounds like you have that personality too, like no, I’m going to be on this team, it’s just where are you going to put me?

CrisMarie: Well, and I think about how many people stop themselves from engaging in things because of these stories. And really I think the people that are successful in anything are the ones that keep leaning in, keep trying, they fail, they pick themselves up, they go on. I mean you know, writing a book is not easy, we’ve done it, you’ve done it. And you get up every day and kind of keep slogging through it.

And if we don’t have that ability to kind of bust through those old stories of I’m not a writer, that was another one of Susan’s, I’m not a writer, and so we started doing blogs. Finding a way through, so the nonsense isn’t debilitating and keeping you stuck.

Meredith: Right. And a big part of the book I talk about is failure and how good failure is. And if we don’t stretch the failure muscle, people who say that they have a fear of failure, and they also have a fear of success. And some of that is true to a degree, I mean who really likes to fail? But it’s also a way to stay status quo, it’s a way to stay exactly where you are, if you’re like, “Well, I’m afraid to fail, I’m afraid of success,” that means you don’t have to do anything. And so you can just be like, well, I’m just, I’m going to stay right where I am.

And so stretching that failure muscle, and what’s what triathlon taught me, because I was not a natural triathlete, I was pretty terrible at all of it. And so you go into a race and you put on a really tight spandex suit and you get wet in it. And then you get on a bike and then you run, that is an exercise in failure.