Taking Up Space with Rachel Valentino – Transcript

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here. Welcome back. I am here with my friend, Rachel Valentino, and I can’t wait for you to hear this conversation about taking up space in your life. Hi, Rachel.

Rachel Valentino 1:06
Hi, Alyssa. How are you?

Alyssa Patmos 1:08
So good. It’s so good to have you here.

Rachel Valentino 1:11
Thanks for inviting me on this is a treat.

Alyssa Patmos 1:14
Hi, I would love if we jump start with you telling us just a little bit about yourself, which I know is very big and broad question. We will put your official bio in the show notes. But I would love to hear what’s live for you. What are you interested in right now? What what’s alive for you.

Rachel Valentino 1:34
I’m happy to report I just turned 40 a few weeks ago. So I feel like I’ve crossed over that new threshold and personal and professional accolades or life, so to speak, think about things a little bit differently on this side of of everything. But I am a single mom of two kids working mom of two kids, I’m based out of Washington, DC. I’ve been here for 17 years now graduated of the University of Miami and then an MBA down the road at American University. And that was an entrepreneurship and marketing and my undergrad was in finance. I’ve been running a sales team, residential real estate sales team for the past 15 years, and gone through a bunch of different iterations of that had my own business merged it in with someone else’s. And the youngest of four kids from Canton, Ohio. So I think that pretty much wraps it up.

Alyssa Patmos 2:29
We care the Ohio background. And I don’t remember I remember the first time that we met but our our dads have a shared history and then and then you have a close relationship with my dad as well. So I know we met through through him. And I just remember growing up when I was younger, because you’re I think you’re 10 years older than me. So so my dad like always used you as an example of like, I see so much of what of what you are like in Rachel, it makes me emotional, I didn’t know here we go guys, we’re gonna cry on this one. So he and he just saw this like light in you. And, and communicated it back to me he was like the, these are some of the things you can do, which which was special to have, you know, someone who I didn’t really know, but to hear your dad talk about in such a good way. And then for us to become friends. In the capacity that we have, it’s it’s so great. And I love it. So you have such a powerful message to share across the board. Because I think in today’s world, you know, there’s the there’s the keeping it all together on paper and having this this amazing business and and you know, beautiful children and you know all the things that we’re taught to go after. But you said something to me when we were talking recently that we both see in so many women, which is we can have that outward appearance. But even the most powerful women sometimes when we experience something hard or something throws us off our edge, the instant reaction is to recoil and to shrink into ourselves. And so what’s been your experience with that? What have you been noticing lately? That has that caused you to bring that up?

Rachel Valentino 4:38
Good question. I think it’s taken me years to get to this point and a lot of pain and hard stuff and failure. I mean, you when you ask me to define myself, I don’t miss point to that more than anything like more than awards or business success or educational success. I mean honestly, it’s more about the failures and So I look for those. Not in a bad way anymore. It’s almost I know how much I’m gonna learn and grow from something like that. So I try to put a positive spin on it. But yeah, it’s it. I’m sorry, I got off track, what was the question?

Alyssa Patmos 5:18
I can have it. So I was just asking what when, when it comes to, to you, we’re talking about how we see these powerful women, you know, and you’ve experienced it, and I’ve experienced it, and then something like sets us off course, or, or we get jarred. And then rather than taking up our space in the world, owning our story, there’s a tendency sometimes that we shrink, we shrink back into ourselves, and almost, you know, become like, invisible with the wallpaper. And so I was just asking if you can illuminate somewhat of, of how that experience has been for you in this journey of learning to take up space. I think the

Rachel Valentino 6:01
more I’ve opened up about my background and story, and the more human I’ve become has been a connecting force. And I’ve seen how much good that does not just for myself, which is terribly important. But also, for other people around me, a girlfriend of mine sent a snippet to me that said something along the lines of you know, even tacos fall apart, but everyone still loves them. I don’t know if you’ve seen that meme. But that resonated with me. And so I’ve been less afraid to let people see the true me, which is a mess. A lot of the times, especially my last five years, definitely 10 years, it’s been messy, it’s been complicated, it makes people uncomfortable, it makes people really uncomfortable when I’m so open about it, right. But I don’t have anything to hide anymore. I mean, I would say that’s one of the nice things going through what I’ve been through, which has been pretty nasty divorce, some legal issues here and there. And I would say the positive that came out of that is it made me I had to get so transparent, and so flawed, and put out to what felt like stripped down everything and say, Here I am, this is my whole story. Here’s every single social media thing I’ve ever posted. Here’s everything in my calendar that I’ve ever done. Like when you have to expose such intimate details about your life, in a courtroom setting or prepare for that. I think it completely strips away any insecurities that I would have ever had about putting myself out there. And so I actually again, look to that and say, You know what, as one of the most painful things in my life, it was also one of the best freeing things of my life, because I don’t care anymore. I’m, I’m, you know, it’s it’s out there. And it didn’t destroy me. And I keep going, and I’m better because of it. So that’s, that’s a very, very cool thing to look back and point to and know that I overcame.

Alyssa Patmos 8:07
I love that. And, and so there were some things I heard you say in there. And one of them is, is about this, this idea of truly owning our story. Because I think so many times, well, I’ll just ask you, did you feel this way? Like, were you worried about protecting certain people in your life? Before you really could tell the whole story

Rachel Valentino 8:32
absolutely stolen? You know, I, I’d be dishonest with you. If I sat here and said, there are definitely parts where it’s like I said before, it’s messy, it’s complicated. People are struggling. And so you do the best you can. I mean, I struggle in certain ways. I’m very open about my own struggles. But other people have struggles that aren’t my stories, and they’re not mine to share, but they’re part of mine. So that’s where it becomes really convoluted, in a way. And so I do the best I can to respect other human beings, but also not get taken advantage of and take up space, which is a hard combination to get to.

Alyssa Patmos 9:22
Yeah, it’s really important because there’s this balance of, you know, we want to own our pieces of it. And the context around everything matters, but we can’t control how someone else receives the context. And then it’s this balance of Okay, protecting someone else, but at what point are we denying ourselves, right? And that balance can be so hard. It’s like we know once once you get a taste of being truly vulnerable. It becomes Okay, wait, I can see the light. I can see the freedom in that and yet, then Sometimes it’s this, especially as women, I think we have a tendency to want to protect those around us. Whether that comes from codependency or, or wanting to, you know, keep the peace ends in some ways it’s really, really hard to dance that dance of when it’s no longer my responsibility to to protect other people, or to hide my version of the story to make someone else comfortable. That’s the other thing that you talked about, like you said that it’s very uncomfortable for other people when you share pieces of your story. And one of the things I’ve had to learn as a coach is to sit in discomfort with the person and be able to do that, and we’re not we’re not usually taught how to do that. So what have you experienced in that realm? Like, what are the things you’ve observed just about making people more uncomfortable as you started to take up more space?

Rachel Valentino 10:57
Exactly. All the things you’re saying. And I think the important part to highlight at least it was for me is I, I would share with people and you’re never or not, I shouldn’t say you’re never, you’re sometimes not going to get the reaction that you want or think, is validating. Right. And so it that was a whole nother layer of this, right, because you go through certain things in life, and then you want to be able to share and say this is what happened. Listen to me. And we hear this over and over again, like with the senate hearings, with the Olympic gymnast, right? They they took their story that somebody and there was a lot of hearing it, and then smoothing over shoving it under the rug, hoping that they didn’t have enough velocity to keep going with it. And that it would just all go away. Well, that wasn’t the case. Right? Thank God for that. Because those stories need to be shared. But yeah, I think it took me a couple years to realize not everybody wants to hear it. Not everyone’s ready to hear it. Not everyone has the perspective to listen and sit with it like what you’re describing. I think the more I’ve done that with other females specifically, it’s allowed me to have a whole different perspective and see the common threads that occur through a lot of this the things that we’re covering today. And now I just get better about picking up on it right so it’s the nuances when you’re having a conversation with a girlfriend and they say something that makes you scratch your head for a second say, oh, I’ve seen you know, I’ve seen this before. So it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t mean to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, right, you don’t want to jump so far into conclusions that you can’t see the bigger picture. But I do think paying attention to red flags and not being ignorant or naive to a very kind of ugly world that can exist and that our friends and our daughters will have to grow up in I think that’s what you this entire movement of female empowerment should be all about. And I hope that’s the case for years to come.

Alyssa Patmos 13:10
I agree there there it’s it’s hard because especially I feel like there’s this it’s it’s the balance of strength again, you know, where we’re coming out of, you know, the 40s and the 50s where women are buttoned up and you know you took care of the house you weren’t in the workforce in the same way and now it’s like okay, work and be feminine and take care of the house and the kids and all these things and and and that’s talked about often I think sometimes the piece that isn’t talked about is is something that you said earlier it’s how do you maintain your humanity and all of that how do you how do you put on this space of strength that’s needed in a very masculine driven business world and then also allow yourself to to be the mess that comes up and I don’t think it’s just women that faced this but I do think there are unique struggles for women in this given our current society so So what was the deconstruction process for you in in transforming from I call it being a robot because that’s how I felt I felt like yeah, I when I shut off emotion and like disconnected and just tried to be perfect it was like okay robot Alyssa showing up. So what So what was the deconstruction process for you between okay feeling like potentially like this robot and if that word doesn’t resonate with you, I’d love to hear what does and then wait a second. I’m allowed to be human here.

Rachel Valentino 14:44
Mm hmm. Well, I I wear this necklace with an R on my neck and I of course my first name is Rachel but I used to say ours for robot because I completely agree with you. I actually often got told the same thing. You’re such a robot, you don’t, you know, nothing bothers you. And so the problem with that is, is people feel like they can unload more and more junk on you. Because you can take it, right. And so I read a saying once and I read a lot, I, that’s just one of my hobbies. But anyway, in one of these books I read, it said something about talking about abusive relationships. And that said, you know, just because you can take a hit doesn’t mean you deserve a fist. And so I think that, that stuck with me, because I think, for many, many years, through a lot of different variety of relationships, people thought that they could be extremely tough on me, because I could take it internally, it was, you know, just one job after another and is, essentially, after a bunch of years of taking all those jobs, you know, you’re gonna, your self esteem is going to be in the toilet, and totally questioning everything you are about and who you are, and what gifts you have to share. So for me, I mean, it was such a long kind of battle down, and then hitting rock bottom and say, Okay, this, this entire structure that I just felt, isn’t me, and it doesn’t feel right, and it no longer suits my life. So I went to Miami, Miami’s kind of for me become my reset spot. I tried to, you know, get away a few times a year. And it was one standout weekend down there that I sat down with a notepad and I legitimately rewrote every aspect of my life that I wanted to overhaul. And it was a long list and very scary. But it was absolutely needed. And so there wasn’t one stone kind of left on turn. I mean, I literally took my entire family and, and lifestyle and everything down to the studs and rebuilt from there. And that’s not that’s not for the faint of heart at all, and it can’t be done it you’re not going to snap your fingers and have it happen overnight. I mean, it was very much for me, because my life was Uber complicated. It took, I’d say a good part of 24 months to really go line by line and accomplish that. But I personally I don’t think there’s a magic pill that the question you just asked. I mean, I think that’s the hard reality, right? Everybody wants to know, how can I lose 20 pounds? Well, there’s, there’s no easy way to lose 20 pounds, like you diet and you exercise like it, people can market all these other ways. But it’s the same thing with life. I mean, I’ve been in therapy since 2016. And I’m proud to say that I have nothing died, I used to feel ashamed for needing it because I was supposed to be stronger than that. But nothing happens overnight. I think it’s the series of a lot of thought provoking conversations, and really getting true with yourself on what you want your future to look like.

Alyssa Patmos 18:10
Yeah, because we have, like, we hide so, so much. It almost sounds like that process you went through is really this unveiling process of allowing yourself to see yourself for the first time in years. And instead of, you know, taking all these stories that other people can put on us and accepting them. It was like wait, what if this story was mine, and that work? That’s the work I do with people but it’s also the work I do personally for myself and in years. So right? Like there’s not, there’s not a quick fix, we want it to be easy, we want it to be one other strategy. And I always think back you know, like in the business world it’s like okay, what other strategy Do I need to adopt here to make this work? But it’s like most often it’s it’s you don’t need more information. It’s like we have to implement what we know and and, and do the scary work. And it’s so scary sometimes.

Rachel Valentino 19:07
What I love what you just said and there’s two I think themes in there that if I can highlight a little bit, I think one is surrounding yourself with amazing mentors, and I’ve definitely been blessed with somebody like your dad and a boatload of other people personally professionally that ever really helped me through the years kind of just yeah, that could be completely honest with me and half the things come out a little bit differently. And then the second piece was mentors and there was one other thing I’m gonna forgive it now My mind

Alyssa Patmos 19:46
goes it I guess

Rachel Valentino 19:48
it was about strategies and now I’m I’m Oh, I know what it was. The other thing was one of the on that Miami trip. One of the things I wrote out was, I am going to stop asking everybody therapy Because it does not matter like I have all the information that I need like you were saying you have lived your life you know yourself better than anybody else so and I highly encourage all of my friends to do the same thing when they ask me my opinion I’m like okay, here’s some thoughts that you might want to think through but what do you feel like once you get in touch with your in in ternal wiring you don’t need to ask anybody else and that’s been a saving grace for me because as you know, you know my mom passed last year and she was very much kind of the person that I would pick up the phone and say mom you know here’s what I’m going through what do you think and when you lose that person if you don’t I mean I’m a very religious person obviously so I get some of that through prayer. But I think it’s so important for females especially the start trusting their instincts and every single way right when you when it doesn’t feel right inside stop it immediately do not question just stop it and go in a different direction.

Alyssa Patmos 21:05
How How has that been for you? Because for me, I won the 1,000% i 100% agree with everything you’re saying because our art intuition can be so strong and our instinct is there to guide us in in so many ways and yet for me I feel like one of my coping mechanisms along the way and especially in some of the relationships that were not healthy there was not healthy conflict it was it there there was definitely toxic behavior and it’s never just from one person when you’re in that situation so so in those moments though, I felt like I started to detach from my desire I don’t know if you experienced this but I think it went more into the robot Alyssa where it was like okay no emotions because then conflict is going to start and then that’s going to lead down to another cycle but but in that I also lost connection to my desire and started doubting myself more and so how is it for you getting back to that process of of even being able to make that list in Miami of sitting down and being able to say this is what I want who

Rachel Valentino 22:29
I have never really thought about that like what spurs that conversation with yourself? I mean one of the reasons I you know have well I’ve stayed single for a bunch of different reasons. But one of the major reasons is because I’ve never been so in tune with myself as I am right now. Right and I love that and I’m almost afraid that I’m going to lose that if I get into a serious relationship again. And so I guess it’s just having this space to really think through your thoughts right? I don’t I don’t I wouldn’t say I’ve ever not that I can pinpoint any way lost my desire. But I certainly feel like I’m alienating myself when I start handing over power to other people which happens pretty frequently.

Alyssa Patmos 23:26
Yes, what are some ways that that shows up for you?

Rachel Valentino 23:32
taking too long to say what I want to say. I think this goes hand in hand with you know, we were talking earlier about I show up very strong in a professional setting right and then I get to my personal life and it’s taken me a very long time to be crazy direct with people and I have to watch that a little bit right because some people depending on what setting you’re in, it can be you know, some people look at me and say oh, you’re being too abrasive right? But I think the people that know me best will say she really sits and thinks about things for the most part before she speaks up and so when she speaks up and especially if she does it with excitement, or you know even if there’s a little bit of grit and i don’t i’m a Miami fan. So down there we would say you know the team has swag or whatnot. I think there’s a little bit of Miami edge that comes with it. So it can hit it can hit pretty pointedly but it takes me a long time to get there. And so what I’m trying to do these days is because get get faster to get there right like stop hanging out over here. If I already know what I want to say. And I am not just holding it in because usually then it erupts and that’s not pretty either.

Alyssa Patmos 24:59
Right, right I, I can relate to that. Because it’s like, sometimes you get the you get the gut reaction of like, Oh, this is what I need, or this is what I want, or this is the response I want to have right now this is my opinion, and it’s strong. But then those voices that sit on our shoulders that are not always very nice, can cloud the picture, and it’s like, wait, like, oh, start thinking about what other people are going to think about this? or, or, or have you really thought through this, like, as much as you should have to be able to say this. And I think that’s something that many of us struggle with, when and then what that does is it diminishes our connection with ourselves because we’re ignoring, ignoring that first strong hit. There used to be a joke with when I back when I was a copywriter, there was a client I worked for, and ended up that there was this running joke that it was like, oh, if Alyssa has a strong opinion, we go with it. Because like, I wouldn’t speak up until I had like a very strong opinion. And, and then it was like, perfectly laid out. Because I hadn’t spoken until I got to that point, which is less pressure on ourselves. But then it was like, but then it was always like this question of like, Oh, do you have a strong opinion? And I’m like, Well, I don’t, I don’t necessarily need to have a strong opinion to speak every single time. But there’s this iterative process, you know, that can happen. But it’s things like that, that, that inform the stories that we end up telling ourselves about, like who we are, and how we have to be in the world. And sometimes that’s just so annoying.

Rachel Valentino 26:45
It’s It’s horrible. You’re right. Yeah, I would say the same thing. I mean, that’s probably why we’re similar. And your dad identified that, in so many ways, I would say the same thing is with myself. There are so few things, though, that I find important anymore. And I think that’s an important distinction is I get very annoyed with the noise, right? And especially in today’s society, people will try to pull opinions out of you for a million different things. And there’s, there’s only a couple priorities that I actually care about anymore. And I’m not at all shy about saying that about if it’s not in this you know, if it’s not, it doesn’t fall into one of these buckets. I don’t know I don’t have an opinion. And that’s okay, too, right? But yes, I would say being 40 now and being forced to explain my position as thoroughly as I’ve had to do it for the past five years against some pretty nasty attorneys and where you’re constantly getting questioned on why did you do this? Why did you think that way, you know, explain yourself when you’re forced to really sit down and do that on a regular basis. I think it it has definitely given me the confidence to stop holding back and speaking up with a lot more freedom.

Alyssa Patmos 28:08
But is it Did you ever notice that I mean, because in a lot of sense, it sounds like you’re being interrogated across the board on multiple facets of your life so did you ever experience that it was hard to remember things in those situations? Did you ever and I know there’s something you know with trauma that will come up where like our memory just like does not function in the same way did you ever experience anything like that?

Rachel Valentino 28:35
A little bit but I would say for the most part now my memory with with certain events was very very clear. Now if you’ve dealt with anybody who’s does very strategic gaslighting and manipulation and twisting of facts you know, that’s where the stories collide because my version of what occurred and how I think of certain things does not at all align with maybe other people and how they’ve promoted it to do their sphere so there’s Yeah, I’ve never really had trouble that I can think of Route pinpointing like exact trauma I think it’s gone pretty deep for me and that’s that you know, it’s there. The scars are there they’ll always be there. I hope to forget it as much as possible because That’s no way to live. And and you’re right it is a coping mechanism, but there’s some part of it that likes the fact that it lives in that it daily creates a fire in me to keep creatively figuring out life.

Alyssa Patmos 29:47
Yeah, well that’s a that’s the beautiful part like the transmutation where it gets turned into something else. And I think that’s where like when we allow ourselves to be human. We recognize Is that like our vulnerability is such a strength. And it just, it just takes being able to value that in ourselves to see it? Absolutely. Which is freaking hard sometimes sighs that that is an easy thing to say, and not an easy thing to do. Ah, there was one other thing I wanted to ask you about something you just said, in terms of, I lost it, we’ll see if it comes back.

Rachel Valentino 30:27
And I think on that point, too, it’s important to note just for many one that kind of goes through this evolution, I guess of self, especially in the female community, it’s split pretty much 5050 from my experience anyway, with women that just want to say, let it go ignore it, don’t think about it, don’t pay attention to it, don’t even acknowledge the existence. And then there’s another 50% that do want to talk through it, and learn from it, and grow from it and don’t mind. Again, having those those complicated conversations right with just how to how to make changes and adjustments and, and also educate the younger audience to write. So we’re not repeatedly generation after generation, having the same struggles. So anyway, that’s always an interesting spin for me is like, what women just would rather kind of turn a blind eye and say, I know, I know, there’s probably something over there. But, you know, it’s not convenient for me to look there, because it hurts too much, or disrupts my plans, or whatever it might be, or I don’t have, you know, I don’t want to see a certain element of someone. And then there’s another 50% that don’t mind talking about it. And yeah, they’re, they’ve they’ve, they’ve had shared experiences and know what that’s all about.

Alyssa Patmos 32:06
Yeah, it’s interesting, because there’s, there’s definitely an element of boundaries, and people are able to set their own boundaries, they’re able to say, like, please don’t talk to me about about that thing. And, and it’s, it’s hard because it’s sometimes then sometimes, then it’s like, okay, but if a boundary for us in our friendship is that we have to be vulnerable, and we have to be able to be our full selves, then that changes, it transforms the relationship somewhat, if, if we can’t talk about certain certain things. And so it’s always this interesting dance of, of, of allowing relationships to be what they can be, in the moment, I am firmly in the camp of like, we have to, we have to be able to process and accept things in order to let them go in order for them to have less weight over us, like one of the most powerful things is to be able to be an observer of our life, and see it outside of just being in the thick of it, you know, and I think that’s, that’s the process that you did when you were in Miami and making that list. And so much healing can happen in meaningful relationships. So unlike, unlike you use that you’ve stayed single for a long time after I got out of relationship that wasn’t serving me anymore. And Jeff fell out of the sky, basically, in the park. And so for me, there wasn’t there, I was expecting a much longer process of getting, you know, fully in tune with myself and having some of the experiences that you talked about. And yet here’s this person who two weeks before, I had written a list of lists, or powerful, I had written a list of everything I wanted in the next relationship. And and then like here, it was, it was presented way sooner than I was expecting. And the amount of healing that has happened in the context of that like being able to see myself in different ways experiencing a relationship in new ways. And that has been so so so powerful. And yet I still think it’s important. There’s there’s always like to do a relationship consciously like it has to be two people who both have means who are coming together to support each other’s wholeness, which like sounds Whoo, but to people who recognize that we’re individual people, and we’re each on our own journey and supporting each other in that not this not not this, like engulfment of getting lost, lost in each other and losing ourselves because there’s so much there’s that that’s how we get kicked back to the robot self Would you agree

Rachel Valentino 34:58
for absolutely nothing. And percent like you said, No, I, I tried to surround myself with people, whether that’s dating or whether that’s professional relationships or friendships with the people that I think are going to bring out my best sense of self, right and make me the best version that I can be. And so that’s hard to find. And you have to like you said, there are certain relationships where it works for however long it works for, and then it stops working. And that’s been a really cool realization to come to right like it that you don’t have to be best friends or lovers or whatever it is, for forever on end, because people change and they evolve. And so even with some of my closest girlfriends, like their, you know, our lives, maybe start going different directions. And you just give it that space to evolve. If it’s meant to come back together, it’ll come back together. But it is, it’s very hard to find, I think what you touched on, which is mature romantic relationships, or mature business relationships, or however you want to categorize all of this, right, that allow people to be one person and the other person and be together, but still not overly crowd with dependency issues, and there’s a lot of unhealthy relationships out there. And so, again, that’s just, I want I wanted and needed to be free, and alone. Unfortunately, that also comes with a little bit of a target because I’m, well, that’s a whole nother conversation. But I have enjoyed kind of my freedom to realize what I want the next 10 2030 years to look like. And it’s it’s shifted my perspective quite a bit. I used to never see myself out of a relationship. And now I have trouble sometimes picturing myself in a traditional relationship.

Alyssa Patmos 37:07
Yeah, traditional and me don’t get along. I

Rachel Valentino 37:14
totally get it.

Alyssa Patmos 37:15
You’re there. I do that tradition, where like, someone like my brother is so traditional. And that is his jam, and it makes them happy. I am like me. No.

Rachel Valentino 37:27
Yeah. And I mean, that’s the beautiful part is figuring out with all this stuff, business wise, and boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, whoever is what works for you, right? And it’s, it doesn’t have to be super confined in a box. I mean, I, I’ve just started being more open with my family about, you know, I never want to get married again, I have, I have no desire, that’s not me. I don’t see the point doesn’t mean I don’t want a serious relationship or a partner eventually. But just that formality is not something I’m interested in.

Alyssa Patmos 38:05
Yeah, and then it’s hard for people to explore other other scenarios, you know, like, a commitment ceremony or like a, or, or, for me, it’s interesting, because, because Jeff and I talked about this, and and I’ve never been married, and he has, and so we have very different viewpoints on that. And obviously, you didn’t like certain things in my past and things with my family, I’m not under the illusion that marriage is perfect by any means whatsoever. And I don’t think that there’s a there’s a contract that it’s like government that that makes a relationship more valid. The hard part is how is how other people see you sometimes in that, and how they judge your relationship or how you feel that they judge your relationship and, and the seriousness of it. And when people ask, Well, are you going to get married, and they are they don’t think it’s serious, like until that point. And so that that circles us back to like the point you made in the beginning where it’s like, we have to stop asking other people for their opinions. And we have to trust that like, the way we want to do things is fine. And and to boldly own that. And yet, I feel like that’s some of the hardest work we end up having to do as humans.

Rachel Valentino 39:23
Absolutely. And taking up your space, right? Like defining this as this is what I want. And you’re going to get people people extremely close to you that will walk away. And that’s really sad and unfortunate, but you can’t again, I I’ve tried to get better about understanding that I can’t control the outcomes of other people, right? I can only control myself and knowing myself. I’ve gotten very okay saying this is the kind of business I want to run. This is the kind of life I want to have. This is the kind of, you know, relationship that I’m going to seek out and that’s Yeah, that’s a very cool new element. For me.

Alyssa Patmos 40:05
The intention, like the intention behind everything is what intoxicates me, and it sounds like it’s what has lit a fire in you everyday now to. Yeah, it’s interesting.

Rachel Valentino 40:15
I mean, we, you and I have talked for a long time, but I think both of us are so intentional about our business lives. And we’ve always been, you know, on a certain track of I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do that, and I’m gonna, you know, this is the next step. And I had my entire 20 year future mapped out for years on end, and then all that kind of went up in flames. And I was like, Okay, well, you know, now what, what do now what is my new reality? And I tried desperately to cling on to certain things for a number of years to to thinking that, Oh, well, I can, you know, this part failed, but I’m going to keep all the rest of it. Well, the reality was, you know, everything else was kind of based on this original reality of wine, and that no longer existed, it was obliterated. So anyway, that everything just kind of had to go all the way down and start fresh. But you don’t give up on dreams. I mean, I think that’s the one. There, there are certain themes of my life that I would point back to 20 years ago, or 30 years ago, for that matter. And certain elements haven’t changed. Maybe the timings changed a little bit, maybe some semantics have changed. But for the most part, what I wanted as a 10 year old kid, that hasn’t shifted, a lot of it hasn’t shifted anyway.

Alyssa Patmos 41:42
I think it’s funny that you bring that up, because I always said, like, when someone asked me what I wanted to be growing up, when I was younger, it was never like, Oh, I wanted to be a doctor, or a teacher or a lawyer, it was always like, the essence of how I wanted to feel, which I think is so much of the underlying theme of what we’ve been talking about where it’s our intuition and our knowing, and it’s not just our mental way of knowing, but like what we want in our bodies. And so I always said, that I wanted, like, it was very New York, it was like, I want to wear heels. I want to be like, in a black awesome outfit. And I want to like carry a portfolio, like and have pen with me. And it was like, that’s what I wanted. It didn’t matter what the rest of it was, it was like, I don’t care what job I’m doing. It’s like about how, how I feel. And that hasn’t changed my entire life. Which is kind of funny.

Rachel Valentino 42:37
No, I love it. I mean, and that’s, that’s what it’s all about, at least for you. And it’s definitely the case for me, it is all about how I feel. And if I feel good, and I feel amazing. And I know I’m living my own dream, everything else falls into place. I mean, I you know, it’s like that we didn’t really touch on business at all today. But that’s another I mean, when you have the right people around you when you feel a certain way, when you’re when you’re living with purpose and intention and dreams ahead of you. Everything else is cake. Right? But that’s those are the hard Nuggets to figure out.

Alyssa Patmos 43:16
I have one semi other big question that I am totally going to try and put in here right now. And let’s see where it will see where it goes. But I sitting in my OCD that’s sitting on a zoom call with my OCD therapist one day, and the words he told me were Alyssa, your self esteem is shit. And I was like, okay, and he’s like, and you hide behind your smile. So like a big smile on my face in that moment. He’s like, can you hide behind your smile? And I’m like, Okay, and so and and what I realized though, is it’s true and you mentioned something about achievement a few minutes ago, which is where this is coming from because for me, I wrapped so much of myself worth up in achievements and these goal based things for so freaking long and deconstructing that was was some of the biggest work that I’ve had to do on self worth. And so for you going through going through multiple iterations in the business and in how you defined yourself in your life and in relationships, what, what is something that you have learned about self worth?

Rachel Valentino 44:35
What I’ve learned about self worth,

I would say it’s not at all what I thought it was right? Like I spent a lot of years chasing things to put on a resume and Success in my field although I would still say that wiring that the hard work wiring and the ambition I guess is the right word that doesn’t leave easily and it’s been I think a really great awakening for me to understand that about myself and appreciate it and value it and acknowledge it because it is who I am right like that’s never not going to be a part of my life I don’t think anyway but I’ve also I’ve also recognized that you know, my my marriage fell apart and my mom got diagnosed with a terminal disease within weeks of each other and that so as horrendous as all of that happening at the same time was it very much made me focus on okay what are the priorities in life and one was maximizing time with my mom for however long she had left on this earth and getting to know her in a whole different way and spirit that I hadn’t previously and the second was I was forced to you know, I mean that was a disaster emotional disaster and I totally acknowledge it and so I always say thank God I didn’t work for anybody right because I’m like I can’t I can’t imagine having to show up every day and try to work through that when I just self confidence wise or self worth was on the ground but I gave my state that myself the freedom to kind of say I’m going to I’m going to work through this I’m going to figure it out I’m going to recreate my self worth that’s not so tied to all these elements that I always thought were the important pieces. And so now it’s wrapped up and how are my kids doing right? How are they emotionally secure? Are they academically progressing? But I also I’ve also detached from that a little bit right? Because we’re not all about who our kids are and their success is is I want them to build lives that are right for them it at the end of the day there’s a whole you know yeah mom is one piece of me right? But it’s not the entire my entire being and I have a whole nother life outside of them too. So yeah, it’s been it’s been a ongoing kind of you almost have to take yourself out of your body and look at you from you know the 30,000 foot view and that’s where those lists come from of what you want or how you’re going to rewrite everything but i i definitely I think my self worth has come from knowing myself and now that I know myself my self worth is I’m not going to let anyone else or anything interfere with what I know is right for me

Alyssa Patmos 47:57
that’s so beautifully said I love it. And it’s that unpeeling of getting to our authentic selves and realizing like no we’re worthy you just for who we are. And then being able to then map that to and because of that, here’s what I want to do in the world. Versus here’s what I’m doing in the world so that’s why I’m worthy which is what the story was for me for years and years and years. So I’m gonna put you on the spot you can say no, totally but in the context of this conversation and and and the journey that you’ve been on who who is Rachel now what is the essence of Rachel and in in this theme of of taking up space, like is there anything that you would add to the beginning about who you are now?

Rachel Valentino 48:56
I just think I’m a whole lot brighter than I used to be in every way you know, I mean, I people that get to Washington say people that get to know me I this weekend I mentioned you I was down in Miami and so I met up with a lot of friends from college. And I was also with my niece which was such a cool experience right? Because you then start thinking of yourself she’s just turned 16 years old and so I was trying transporting myself back to who was I at 16 and what has this beautiful evolution been you know and look like so anyway, I just think I radiate a certain light because I’m, I’m so in touch with what I want. And I’m literally living I mean there’s there’s here and there I feel stuck a little bit because there are certain constraints in my life. I have two little kids, which I love and adore and they are my world, right? But there’s realities that come from having this Have an eight and a half year old. So I respect that I sit with what I need to sit with. But I also have this. I know where I’m going. Finally, and I know my story, which I know, I never knew either one of those a decade previously, I think I lost that I had it. High school I had at college. And then somewhere along the way, in my 20s, I completely lost touch with who I was, I was also trying to fit in too much and be the perfectionist and not be too loud, and not make too much of a wave, right and just kind of Yeah, skirt along without too much interference or recognition. And now I’m like that doesn’t that didn’t feel right didn’t work. I was successful, but my personal life was an absolute nightmare and Rec. So that’s not success, either. So I think now, you know, I’m happy with my business production. I’m very happy with my personal life, I love the evolution that my family has gone through, and where we’re at, and it’s, it’s no family is perfect. But I think we’ve worked through a lot of really cool dynamics that have just promoted a glow, and every everyone around, which is cool.

Alyssa Patmos 51:27
So if there’s one last piece of, of great earned wisdom, like the practical wisdom of not just reading the self help books, and you know, like skimming over the exercises, like so many of us do, because it’s like, no, I’m sorry. Now. What is there? Is there one piece of advice for someone who who knows that they are at the point where it’s like, no, I need to take, I need to take back my power, I need to take up my space in this world, what’s one element of wisdom or something that you would want to impart and share with them.

Rachel Valentino 52:04
Don’t pass up those forks in the road, right? It’s so easy, I think where I got so off course in life, is I kept coming to forks. And I kept picking the easier route. And so that’s something I was really drilling into my 16 year old niece, this weekend is like, pay attention. Don’t make excuses for other people. And it’s not easy, and you’re gonna fail and you’re gonna, it’s gonna be hard, and you’re gonna need mentors around you. And you’re, you’re gonna need to have a resiliency factor. I mean, everybody always asked about my kids, and I, you know, they’ve been through a lot, they’ve seen a lot. But they’re strong human beings. And that’s one thing I love about this younger generation, like I saw it with my knees like they are so in touch with who they are, which is a beautiful thing, right? Because I don’t know that I had that at 16 or in high school. But I think so often there are there are definitely moments in my life that I would look back to now and say, Thank God that I had like that come to Jesus moment, and picked and picked to do it differently, right? Because there were a lot of decisions leading up to that, but I just kept going down a direction that I knew didn’t feel right. But it was much easier than doing what I needed to do.

Alyssa Patmos 53:29
That’s beautiful. So picking, paying attention to the forks and not just going the easy way, but maybe looking at that other prong and seeing Okay, like what is challenging me here. What? Why am I resisting? Wanting to choose this one and then being able to make a decision from from a very conscious place? That’s what I got from my, from what you just shared?

Rachel Valentino 53:51
Yeah, absolutely. I’m reading this book right now that I think it’s called one thought changes everything. So I would say that’s kind of it kind of goes in this theme, right? That you Yeah, there’s just there’s these these moments that completely flatline us that we have an option we can we can flatline with that situation, whether that’s a business failure, or personal life failure, or kid failure, sickness, or whatever, or you do what the really crazy inspirational people do. And you say, I know this other parts not going to be smooth, and it’s not going to be what everybody wants me to do, but it’s it’s what I feel like I need to do to actually make a statement to myself and take up space. I think that’s the beautiful piece.

Alyssa Patmos 54:45
I love that. I think that’s a perfect summary. I don’t have anything to add there. taking up space is such a hard lesson, and I love how you just articulated that. So thank you. Thank you so much for being here. Rachel. I love This conversation it’s always such a joy to talk to you.

Rachel Valentino 55:03
Likewise Thank you so much. You helped bring everything together for so many people and I truly admire and appreciate that.

Alyssa Patmos 55:11
Thank you. Thank you. You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to Alyssapatmos.com/thepeel. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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