This episode is brought to you in collaboration with Arza Jewelry. Shop the one-of-a-kind sustainable jewelry at arzajewelry.com
So much happening in this episode! Come hang out with me on August 11 at Boneshaker Books for the Girl Boner book launch
. I’ll be emceeing the discussion and Q&A with author August McLaughlin and I’d love to see you there. Make it a Wild Cozy Weekend by joining me at the ModernWell popup
on August 12. Free yoga starts at 10:30.
The Feminist Book Club book of the month for August is Austenistan by Laaleen Sukhera. Member Kianna heard about this book on an episode of NPR’s Rough Translation
and suggested it for our next read. Snag your box (with a one-of-a-kind pair of earrings from Arza Jewelry) at feministbookclub.com
and use code WILDCOZYTRUTH for $10 off.
Today’s interview is with Sharon Podobnik Peterson, multi passionate entrepreneur and founder of the Go Love Yourself subscription box. Why oh why would I want a competitor on my podcast to celebrate my 50th episode? Because Sharon is fucking amazing and we both strongly believe in collaboration and community over competition. The Go Love Yourself box features a personal-development book, a discussion community, self-care products, and an exclusive workbook to help you work through the book of the month. I’m so so grateful for Sharon’s insight leading up to the launch of the Feminist Book Club, and can’t wait for you to hear our chat.
Listen to this episode using the player below, or find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts!
Don’t Ask About My Back
We all circled around the night’s speaker, who shared an admittedly boring tale — she lost weight, quit her job, and started her own business. Yawn. Haven’t we all, I wondered. But her talk took an unexpected turn. Despite all her personal training, her body began to fail her. Spine issues left her unable to walk for a time period. Complications to the painkillers left her in the hospital for far longer than anticipated. What was to be a quick procedure turned into a spinal fusion.
In the Q&A session, one woman shared that her spine is fused, too. Then another. Then I raised my hand and said “Me too!”
Truth be told, it took a few moments to remember that my spine is fused. My back surgery was once such a hallmark of my identity. I had an extra long vertebra that fused to my pelvis and it threw my back into a curve. Now I tell people it was scoliosis, because that’s easy to explain and how it was first diagnosed. But scoliosis doesn’t have extra long bones, it’s just a curve. My condition was severe. After the bone was removed, I had screws inserted into my spine to stabilize the fusion between my lower vertebrae. I wore a back brace to encourage my spine to straighten for about 6 months. That’s how I started college. Nothing like trying to make new friends when you cosplay as a turtle everyday.
But now I’m nearly 15 years post-op and it’s no longer the first thing people think about me. It’s nice. No one pities me, worries about me, or looks at me strange. No one asks me if I need help lifting or if my back is okay doing a certain task. In the rare occasion I run into someone I knew from my teenage years, I’m often thrown off by this question, because it’s such a non-issue anymore. My back is fine, how’s yours? I squat and deadlift with the best of them, can hike several miles, and will happily chase little kids around the yard. I’m not Renee-the-girl-who-had-back-surgery anymore. New friends are surprised to learn about my fused spine. And to my relief, new friends don’t pity me for it. They’re curious but it’s just another one of my quirks, like the shitty car I drive, my love of bold lipstick, and my hatred of bleu cheese. It doesn’t define me but it’s a part of me.
The moral of the story here is that we have to allow people to evolve, change, and heal — literally and figuratively. Fifteen years ago, my back issues were a huge part of my identity because I was scared to have surgery, then proud of surviving it, then self-conscious about my back brace. But none of those things matter as much anymore. As much as we love to connect with what we know, next time you see someone from way back when, don’t ask them about things that happened then, ask them who they are now. What lights them up, what makes them tick, how have they grown? Humans are not meant to be stagnant. The process and progress will always be more meaningful than the starting line.