Episode 10: What You Write Matters with Sandy Cohen

Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!

In this episode I chat with journalist and health and wellness coach, Sandy Cohen.

Sandy shares how her chosen writing career led to burnout, and how and why to pivoted to a life more aligned with her values and good mental and physical health.

She also talks about her change of mindset around her approach to writing, how what your write and what you say matters, and the wonderful habits that have helped her to create a life she truly loves!

To connect with Sandy you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @youknowsandy, visit her website at https://innerpeacetogo.com, or listen to her podcast: Inner Peace To Go, on all major platforms.

Sandy’s recommended reads for this episode are:

  • You are a Badass – By Jen Sincero
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – By Richard Carlson
  • Ask and it is Given – By Esther and Jerry Hicks

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You can follow me on Instagram: @jobuerauthor

Join the Alchemy for Authors Facebook Group here.

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Find the full transcript of this episode below.

Episode 10: What You Write Matters with Sandy Cohen

Jo: Hello again, my writerly folk. I hope it has been a creative and productive week for you all. Today’s episode has come at just the perfect time for my own situation. I’ve been enjoying a lovely two weeks break from the day job and have been spending time indulging and working on my new novel and interviewing and working on this podcast and doing all that fun stuff that I absolutely love. I’ve even created a wonderful free gift for you that I’m so excited to talk about at the end of this episode. So stay tuned for that, too. I’ve also had lots of time to reflect on how magical my life has become since I’ve embarked on sharing my voice with the world through my books and through this podcast. But as I now wind up this break and I prepare to go back to the day job, I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I’m going to balance all the things the day job, book deadlines, and podcast while still trying to be a fully functioning human being in all other areas of my life and not burning out. And so this is such a great episode to keep things in perspective.

If you’ve been listening for a while, you already know that I love chatting to writers from all walks of life. I love hearing how other people go about creating writing lives that they love. And so this is why I’m so excited to chat to today’s guest. So in this episode, our guest, Sandy Cohen, shares how her chosen writing career led to burnout and how and why she pivoted to a life more aligned with her values in good mental and physical health. So she talks about her change of mindset around her writing, how what you write and what you say really does matter, and the wonderful habits that have helped her create a life that she truly loves, including – and this is something that I really need to take note of – the importance of getting more sleep. So if you’re maybe a little bit like me and find yourself sometimes walking a little too close to the fine line of burnout, then I think you’re really going to enjoy this episode. It’s an awesome reminder to do what you love and to look after yourself in the process from somebody who’s doing just that. So when you’re ready, grab a drink and a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.

Hello, my lovelies, and welcome back to the Alchemy for Authors podcast. I’m so excited to share with you today’s guest, Sandy Cohen. Sandy is a former entertainment writer for The Associated Press. Now a health and wellness coach and graduate student in public health. She started her podcast Inner Peace to Go earlier this year to present conversations about mindset, self love, and cultivating happiness. So welcome, Sandy. It is so good to have you here.

Sandy: Thank you so much for having me. I’m delighted to be with you.

Jo: Yay. Well, now just to give a little bit of a background to my listeners, our paths actually crossed when we were doing one of Cathy Haller’s courses, which was really cool. And now I’m probably one of your biggest fans on social media. I love following your feed on social media. What makes it so cool is you’ve got all these really juicy self help and personal development tidbits of wisdom, and then you’ve got these awesome book reviews, and then you’ve got pictures of you either photobombing or rubbing shoulders with celebrities, which is just so cool.

Sandy: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Jo: I just totally love that. And so what I thought would be really cool would be if you could share a little bit about what got you into journalism and how you came to be working at The Associated Press.

Sandy: Sure. So I always loved writing. Even as a child, I used to make up little books and magazines for my mom. And when I was in College, I was trying to think of what kind of job I could do that would involve writing. And actually, I didn’t work for my high school or College paper. And once I graduated my bachelor’s degrees in English, I was like, who gets paid to write? And so I was like, well, novelists. But that seems like it would take a really long time, which, of course, you could probably speak to. I bet it probably does. Oh, yes, screen writers. But that seems like it would be really competitive. And at the time that I graduated from College, there were still a lot of newspapers. There were newspapers in every city. So I thought, well, maybe I should try to write for a newspaper that seems plentiful. So that was what I did. And I am born and raised in Los Angeles, and that’s where I’m speaking to you from now. And so I got an internship at the LA Weekly, which is like an alternative paper, like the kind of paper that covers what fans to go see and what activities to go do. That was where I started working. And from there, I worked at a daily newspaper, a suburban daily newspaper. And a friend of mine had been at that daily newspaper. She got a job for The Associated Press. And she said, Sandy, they’re hiring for an entertainment writer. You should apply. And I thought, well, come on, they don’t want me from this tiny daily newspaper. They want somebody from The New York Times or The Boston Globe, like a big flagship paper. I worked at a paper called the Daily Breeze. Pretty small paper. But she said, well, who cares? Just put your resume out there. Like it would be good to just get your resume going and get more eyes on you and your work. So I applied, and I couldn’t believe it. They hired me. So then my job became really demanding and high profile. I mean, the Associated Press circulates to a billion readers a day all over the world. The work is translated into multiple languages, and the entertainment coverage is among the most popular. In fact, the entertainment coverage subsidizes poor coverage because a lot of people this was in Los Angeles, like the heart of the entertainment industry. And so many people wanted to know, like, who is JLo dating? And what is Justin Bieber doing and all that stuff? And also the photographs that would accompany the story. So that became my job. That’s why I have all those funny photobomb images, is because I was in those venues and the photographer was someone who I worked with. The photographer was my colleague. And so they would be like, down in the back of this hilarious picture with, like, Ben Affleck or you’re, like, creeping up on Jennifer Hudson.

Jo: Oh, my God, it is so amazing. I’ve been telling my husband that I’m interviewing you today and that you’ve got these photos, and I don’t think he believes me, but I think that is just so cool. I’ve seen your picture. I think you’re almost hugging Jack Nicholson, I think, or standing shoulder to shoulder. It’s just amazing. And then you’re photobombing Ben Affleck. Living in little New Zealand, you know, that’s just so mindblowing to me.

Sandy: It was mindblowing to me even doing it. It was like, oh, my God, I’m in these situations. And it’s funny because even though that was the situation and obviously the reaction is exactly how you’re reacting, I react the same way. But then the other part of me was like, this is my job. This is on deadline. This is what I have to do. I just have to interview this person about their latest project and I have to turn it in tomorrow or today, I don’t know. So it was odd because it wasn’t like I was really in that world, even though I was adjacent to that world. Like, I was still in a world of journalism. And the people who worked in the office, the AP office where I worked, they were covering, like, homeless and city Council and, you know, national news. Like, it wasn’t like, oh, we’re all Hollywood people. It was just like me and two other people who covered entertainment business, and then everybody else was covering regular stuff, the politics of Los Angeles, the environment, science, the space shuttle and things like that. So it was a peculiar reality because on the one hand, it seemed like you’re in this glamorous venue, and I often would have to wear, like, a dress and makeup and the whole bit. But the reality was I was still doing the same kind of journalism work that I have been doing at the small newspaper.

Jo: Yeah. Wow. So that is so amazing that you went from the small newspaper to what sounds like such a kind of glitzy job or looks like that from the outside. Was there imposter syndrome, was there anything like that that got into your head?

Sandy: Oh, yes. I mean, first of all, I couldn’t believe they hired me, as I said. And then I was afraid to speak in the office because I thought, oh, if I speak, they’re going to know that I’m like, totally weird. I don’t know, because I have a playful nature. And so I just thought, oh, I better just, like, keep my mouth shut and just like, head down, do the work. And I also had and have such great admiration for the people who I worked with are so smart and so passionate about journalism and fairness. So I definitely felt intimidated. And I remember I had a writing coach from the newspaper who was helping me do, like, narrative journalism. And I called them. I’m like, Tony, this is crazy. Like, all these people are so smart and I’m afraid to say anything. And I think everyone’s going to think I’m weird. And he said to me, he’s like, Sandy, just do your job. Just do your job. Do your interviews, do your research, and write your stories. And that really helped because it’s like, okay, that I can do. I didn’t believe that I was on the caliber of my colleagues, but I knew how to do journalism. I had already been doing it for almost, I guess, almost ten years at that point. So it’s like that the mechanics of it, researching your subject, going to do your interviews and writing the piece that I could do. So that really helps. Relying back into the actual skills of it, the actual craft of it, and a little bit detaching from, Whoa, this is a big agency. Oh, my God, these people are so smart and just be like, okay, well, this is my job. I’m going to do it. And also, if I’m not doing it up to snuff, someone’s going to tell me, right? So I’m just going to do my best.

Jo: That’s so cool. So you had to really kind of get out of your own head and just really focus. So those deadlines help, is that what you’re kind of saying? Like, the fact that you didn’t really have time to succumb to too much of that comparisonitis and impostor syndrome?

Sandy: Yeah. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I worked really hard, and I felt like I needed to work all the time around the clock. I felt like after I was done with work, I should come home and see what all the other entertainment outlets are publishing. I should read about all these people. I used to study People magazine. You guys have People magazine. I would like study to recognize everybody and know who’s dating whom and whatever. So I did put a lot of pressure on myself. But because of the nature of the ever present deadlines, I couldn’t ruminate too much about the work itself. Like, I had to execute the work and turn it in because they were already expecting me to get onto something else. And I think that helped with the imposter syndrome around the writing itself. I still felt like a freak. I probably didn’t talk in the office for, like, three months, but then once I did, it was fine. And I made friends and everything but the writing itself, it was like, okay, I really can’t ruminate over it. I really can’t sit there and second guess every paragraph or whatever because it’s already due and someone else is expecting it, and then their Editors also expecting because we have these hierarchy of Editors. So I do think that helped because you know how it is with writing. I mean, it’s very personal. It’s very sensitive. Even if you’re writing journalism, which is all objective, fact based, you want it to read. Well, then I would read like, say, I and a colleague from The New York Times, for instance, covered the same story. Then I would read their story and be like, see, they wrote it so much better. So there was definitely that comparison. It is going on. But in terms of executing the actual jobs, I just had to do it because the deadlines were unforgiving.

Jo: So you wouldn’t have even had time in that kind of industry to have writer’s block or something that I would assume wouldn’t even be a thing.

Sandy: You kind of can’t. Or if you do, you kind of got to do it on your own time. Like, I’m recalling this one time I interviewed. It was a musician. I can’t even remember who it was, but it was a musician. And the story was due the next day. And I was just like, I don’t know how to get into this story. I don’t know how to begin it. The interview was done, and I had done the research, so I knew the facts of it, but I couldn’t, like, get it out. And I remember I ended up staying up super late that night and working on it at home and computer up on the coffee table kind of thing and just trying to make it come out. And the editor was like, this isn’t that good? And I was like, yeah, I had a lot of trouble with it. It’s not that you like, oh, I exist without writers blocks. And then it’s not like everything I turned in was a masterpiece. And in that case, the editor was like, I think there’s a better way to begin this. And then she and I could have a conversation about it. That always helps, just like why you would want to be in a writing group or something, so you can just kind of get some feedback. So that helped. But the pressure of deadline also made me a little less attached to the copy because it was like, okay, well, I’m going to write eight stories this week. So if they’re not all masterpieces, they’re just not all masterpieces. And that’s okay. And then from time to time I’d work on something that I really cared about that I really wanted to be really good or I was going to take a more narrative approach, and then maybe I could start early or have a little extra time or devote more time to that piece and less time to something more kind of routine.

Jo: Yeah. It’s so interesting because I know when I’m a fiction writer, so I write novels primarily or short stories. And my thought is always that first draft is going to be about getting words on the page. Like, you can’t allow yourself time to get stuck in is this good enough or anything like that. And so that has always helped me. And I guess that’s kind of where you’re at. But because of the pressure, though, of the deadlines that you had, it was just about getting those words on the page. Did you have to do many rewrites, or did you just not really have time for that, that it just went off to the editor?

Sandy: I’m glad you asked that, because so much of what was published was essentially first draft slop. So you’d like, write it. You’d get all the information out, something like you’re talking about, and then maybe you’d go through it and try to polish or tighten. And then that was it. It wasn’t like I could look at it tomorrow with fresh eyes and be like, oh, I see this paragraph has to go here. I’ll make it flow so much better. I think that also contributed to like, you had to detach from it. It’s already published and you’re already on to the next thing. But now as I tried to write more personal material, I need to break this habit of like, okay, first draft has to already go because then I end up overthinking the draft. Right. Because instead of just dumping it all down, I’m like, well, it should sound a certain kind of way because it’s like it’s going to be published, but now it’s not going to be. So it’s a trip.

Jo: It’s so interesting because it’s so backwards to how I work, because I’m literally throwing words at the page and it’s complete crap. And then I go through and polish. Yeah. So I don’t get stuck in that. The idea of anybody reading my first drafts would just be absolutely horrifying. Right. The complete opposite.

Sandy: Right. It is. And so now I’m trying to relearn that approach because my deadlines are more forgiving now, and I want to write with more, especially on stuff that isn’t being published anywhere. I want to write with more heart. I mean, I want to write with more heart everywhere, but especially for material that’s personal to me. Like, I want to put myself more in it. I want to write with more heart. I want to be more vulnerable on the page. And that just had no role in the writing that I did for so long. Yes.

Jo: How long were you a journalist for, or are you still in that realm?

Sandy: I’m still sort of in that realm. I mean, I was working for proper newspapers and news agencies for about 20 years, and now I work for a medical center, but I do kind of journalism for them. So I still report stories about health from a journalistic perspective. But I’m limited source wise to the people who work for this big University medical center.

Jo: Yes, I understand that’s. Cool. Did you ever find that those deadlines and did you ever feel burnt out from that, or were you totally at home in that kind of high paced, high demand environment, or was there a time where it was just too much having to put writing out there all the time?

Sandy: Yeah, I definitely totally burnt out, and that’s why I’m not doing it anymore. Yeah, I burnt out from it. It was not just the fact of the deadlines, which I might have been able to handle if I felt like this content was supporting a more just and equitable world and making people more loving towards one another. But I felt like it was actually kind of doing the opposite because I covered entertainment. Right. So, so often. And we saw this just cultural shift where you could kind of be up on the latest entertainment news, like, you could know what’s going on with the Kardashians, and that kind of counted as, like, current events. Yeah. And so that, to me, felt like people were becoming very distracted by entertainment. Like, you could be super into The Real Housewives and not even into your own household. And this is what I was creating. Some of it was very art oriented, like a writer who had done a screenplay that was groundbreaking or things like that. So some of it was very much about the art, but some of it was very much about celebrity. And I felt like always being on deadline, always being on reading so much on my free time about entertainment. It was like, what is this actually doing for people? Like, is this helping? Is this good? And as you know, what happened here in the US is that we ended up electing a reality star as our President of the United States. And I didn’t do that, but I felt like I was contributing to the kind of a culture that allowed that to happen, that made people so distracted from global affairs or even National Affairs or even kind of seeing themselves in one another, because I don’t watch the Housewife shows. But a lot of the reality shows are very much about sniping at one another and drama. Not only was I burning myself out, I was burning myself out for something that I really, in my deepest heart, did not believe was helping us. And I don’t know where I got these lofty ideals. I truly don’t. I don’t know why. And sometimes I still ask myself this, like, why wasn’t that job enough? It was fancy and it was reliable. I was not at any risk of losing my job or anything like that. Content is super popular. But, you know, from Cathy, like, she talked about being in alignment.

Jo: Yes. I was just thinking that.

Sandy: It wasn’t in alignment with who my deepest self is. Even though I tried to make it that it was, I tried to just tell myself, oh, who cares? Who cares about that? Just do this job. Just try not to worry about it. But the fact is, it was so demanding. It’s like, okay, well, if I’m going to do something I don’t believe in, then it should either be like super duper easy, which it wasn’t, or it should be super duper high paying, which it wasn’t. So it was like, okay, I’m killing myself for this thing I don’t believe in. And it’s hard and it’s not like super lucrative. So what am I doing? So it was very hard for me to reconcile that too, because when I would tell people what my job was, he would be like, oh, my God, you have like a dream job. Oh, you get to do that or you go to the Oscars. And it was like, yeah, but why doesn’t it feel like a dream job to me? And then it’s like, what’s wrong with me? So it took a while to really reconcile. And I felt really terrified to leave journalism because so many newspapers had closed over the course of my career. It wasn’t going to be likely that I’d get another job at a newspaper, especially since I didn’t want to cover entertainment anymore. It wasn’t going to be likely that somebody would hire me for their race and gender team when I didn’t have any clips like that. And my expertise was in entertainment. So I made a big shift about, I guess, almost four years ago now, and I just left that job with nothing on the horizon. Yes, it was really terrifying, but I just thought my health is going to deteriorate. I had already gotten into the habit of drinking quite a bit of wine. I would drink wine almost every day. When I say almost, I mean every day. And then I would get home from work and sometimes I would cry after work. It got to be like, okay, I can’t deny this. And then after Trump was elected, it was like, okay, this is really serious. The stakes are high. And also to the other thing, too, is I was about my early 40s. And so it was like, okay, I have to work for another 20 years before I can retire, right? I can’t do it doing this. I already knew there’s no way I’m going to make it. If this is what I’m doing, I will probably become an alcoholic or I’ll be depressed. I won’t make it. So I had to leave that job. So all those photos that I posted the celebrity back on, but these are all old. None of them are new. I am not in that world at all anymore. I’m 100% focused on writing about health and wellness and mental health because these are the things that I really care about. And these are the things that I think ultimately would be helpful to readers because it’s helpful to me as a reader.

Jo: It’s so interesting. And I have so much respect for people that can make those big decisions and leave what they kind of know. And there’s comfort whether you enjoy something or not. There’s comfort in continuing doing something that, you know and, you know, the industry and that. But then just to finally leave and leave without. So you’re saying you left without anything else kind of lined up, correct?

Sandy: Yeah.

Jo: That’s really scary. But I have so much respect for that, just knowing that you are out of alignment and things needed to change. And can you talk a little bit now about what you’re doing now and what happened after you left that kind of celebrity entertainment industry because you look like you’re doing some amazing things now.

Sandy: Oh, I appreciate it. Thank you. I’m much happier now. It’s like night and day. I’m so much happier now. I always wanted to be the kind of person who had, like, a morning routine. You know how when people like, they have a morning routine, I totally have one now. It’s amazing. I love it. I Journal in the morning, I meditate in the morning, and it’s awesome. I have my coffee with it, and it’s just great. But after I left that job, I was actually really adrift. It’s funny because I thought, oh, I’m leaving this job. I’m going to be so much happier, like, tomorrow. And I wasn’t I felt pretty lost. I felt pretty worried. I had saved. So I planned for a whole year to leave the job so that I could just save. Right. So I saved and saved financially. I had to cut my expenses way back, but I was going to be kind of okay there. But I also felt like a drift, like, okay, well, what am I supposed to do now? And how would I fill my time and what kind of work should I try to find and what do I do? It was really weird, especially to find yourself like that mid career. Right. It wasn’t the same kind of feeling as when I first graduated from College. Like, oh, where should I try to work as a writer now? It was like I’ve done all this stuff and I still don’t know what to do, and I wish I would have already had it figured out. Yeah. I felt a little confused, but then I just decided to try and follow what was I really interested in. And I knew I was really interested in health and mental health because those were the things I felt deteriorate in my own life. When I was doing this work, I had felt anxiety and depression. I had felt that I wasn’t exercising because I was working all the time. I was drinking. Plus entertainment events. All of them serve booze. So it’s like I could drink at work. So I knew that that was my area of interest. I actually went back to school and I took a health and wellness coaching program at the University of Wisconsin. It was like graduate program. So I thought, okay, well, this is good. This is proper school, and I loved being in school when I was younger, so it was really fun to do that again. And then that’s what led me to pursue this graduate program that I’m in now. So I’m going to get a master’s degree and I’m going to be like probably 50 something when I get it, which is like pretty exciting.

Jo: That’s amazing. That’s awesome.

Sandy: And then I was just pursuing that, just studying health and wellness, which to me incorporates mental health and building my little morning routine and getting exercise and getting sleep and doing all the things that actually make us feel good. And then a couple of years ago, I got this job at the University of Medical Center. So now I’m actually interviewing scientists who are doing research in all kinds of stuff, not just health and wellness. It’s been a lot about COVID, obviously, the last couple of years, but also like neurology and sports medicine. And I’m doing a story about pre diabetes. So it’s super interesting. And I think it all fills in any little gap in what I’ve learned about health and wellness coaching, especially knowing that so many of the diseases that kill in the Western world are lifestyle based conditions like heart disease and stuff like that. That’s all diet, exercise and sleep and stress. Those are the things that contribute to it. And that’s where my passion really lies, like how much better our lives can be when we really mind our stress, give ourselves sleep, give ourselves kindness. So that’s what I’ve been doing now, and it’s super fun. And that’s like what led me to start the podcast because I was like, I’m going to talk about this stuff and it feels like a big growth, like a big growth opportunity that I would not have expected at midlife.

Jo: Yay. I just resonate with so much of what you’ve said. I’ve been in a situation where I’ve been in a job where I got very depressed. It was a little bit of a toxic environment. It really pulled me down. It was actually what actually kick started me into writing the books that I had always talked about writing. So that was a positive. But part of the reason that I started this podcast is because I know so many people who have the same passion as me to want to write. They want to be able to create a living doing something they love or they want to be able to incorporate their writing as part of their life and not push it aside for a day job or have it just kind of fall through the cracks and things like that. And so when you’re talking about how a lot of what you’ve been looking at is the stress and the heart disease and everything that comes up in Western society as big kind of killers in that, how much of that do you see? And I think I know the answer to this is related to people just in unfulfilled jobs or just not doing what they’re in alignment with, do you think?

Sandy: I think it has a ton to do with it because stress we get used to stress, right? I certainly was used to it in my previous job. It was like this. I just feel stressed and I feel kind of shitty, and I’m just going to come home and have, like, two, three, four glasses of wine and whatever. I’m going to take the edge off. And stress is really, really bad for our health. It’s bad for our mental and physical health. It causes inflammation, which is implicated in every disease you don’t want. It’s implicated in heart disease and cancer, in just dementia. Everything you don’t want inflammation is part of it. Stress directly causes inflammation. And also to what I have to remember and what I hope we all remember is like, this is our life right now. Our life is not later on, after I finish doing this job, I don’t like our life is now. And so if you spend every day doing things you don’t like or things that really bring you down or that stress you out or that take time away from healthy practices like sleeping, that’s happening now. That’s the life that we’re creating for ourselves. And I think it takes some guts and bravery because our culture is one that’s super hustle culture, right? Like, oh, work hard. Oh, I’m so busy. Oh, I didn’t get any rest because I’m just doing every single thing. And everybody’s like, wow, good for you. You’re on it. So I think part of it is a culture that supports burning ourselves out to a certain extent. But I also think, like, that’s not free. That’s coming at a cost. That’s coming at a cost of our life enjoyment and of our actual health. And so you get to retirement and now you’re, like, sick or something. I think it’s of paramount importance.

Jo: So what advice would you give? What small steps do you think people could start to take now if they find themselves in a situation where maybe on the outside their job looks amazing, but it’s just not meeting their needs or fulfilling them. Like, they just feel like how you are feeling with the entertainment industry just a little bit out of alignment, and maybe their real passions being neglected because they don’t have time for it or something like that. Do you have any small pieces of advice or first steps that people could take?

Sandy: I think that we have to be willing to honor those feelings inside of ourselves and not just push them aside like they don’t matter. They do. Your heart isn’t keeping telling you that because it doesn’t matter. Your heart is keeping telling you that because it’s worth paying attention to. And I think that’s hard to do because I know it was for me, I was just going to keep doing this job until it got to such a point that it was super obvious that I really didn’t like it. So I would say, honor that inside yourself. Don’t let it get to the point that you have to see a doctor, which is what I had to do, and that you had to get on medication for depression, which is what I had to do. Listen to that voice. And then I would also say, if you can like that, I don’t know. I want to say set boundaries, but get rest, get rest. Like, if you can prioritize sleep in some way, even if you just get like 20 minutes more than you used to, like when you’re well rested, it’s a lot easier to listen to the messages inside yourself and to feel like I think it takes courage to honor those messages, especially when culture tells you, no, everything is fine, we’re all exhausted. That’s just how it is. So I think it takes courage to listen to that. And I think having a little bit of rest, whether that’s actual sleep or just a break to sit outside and look at the garden, I think that can help us reconnect a little more. I guess that would be my advice, because ending up taking the leap to me, that took a lot of planning and the support of my family, my family and friends, like my parents and my friends and my husband, they all knew that I was not happy. They could all see how much I was drinking. So they were very supportive in my plan, and that helped a lot. But again, like I said, I planned for a year, and then I still had a whole another year of kind of floundering about. So I think it’s hard. So just start to listen to yourself and honor it. Don’t ignore it for the sake of what culture tells you is normal.

Jo: That’s so good. So good. I love that. The concept of rest, I don’t think we as a society get enough of that. Like, I totally agree. There’s so much burnout out there and there’s a competition with who’s the busiest. Yeah. And I’m a complete hypocrite with that because I totally understand all these concepts and I’m the worst person for busy, busy, busy burnout and then falling on my face and having to do it all over again. So I’m still in that process of learning and that it’s a practice.

Sandy: It’s a practice. You don’t just make that shift in one day, but if you can take like ten minutes a couple of times a week to seriously sit in the garden and do nothing, like I have a hummingbird feeder and I just can look at it even if it’s two minutes and just watch the little bird. And those little moments provide you with some quiet that makes it a little more possible, I think.

Jo: Yeah, that’s amazing. So in your life at the moment, you’ve got this amazing podcast that you’ve started. I’m always looking at your Instagram feed, and I know that only shows one part of your life, but you’ve just got such amazing pearls of wisdom that you share from us. And you’re obviously a little bit like me, that you’re a bit of a personal development, self help junkie. So I love that. Would you say right now your life at the moment, you’re loving your life at the moment?

Sandy: I’m loving my life at the moment. I’m excited for what’s coming next. I tell you what, I sleep eight or 9 hours every single night. It is delightful.

Jo: Wow.

Sandy: I quit drinking. It is amazing. I mean, I don’t have a glass of wine here and there, but I don’t need to drink every night. It is wonderful. I exercise like five times a week. It’s fantastic. I don’t run a marathon. I don’t go to the gym. I mean, I just take a walk and listen to headphones, but I do it all the time and it is wonderful. It’s so funny. And I say this a lot, but it’s so funny. So the stuff that you’ve heard like, hey, this is what will make you happier. Like, keep a gratitude Journal, meditate, get enough rest. All that stuff actually really works. And I’m doing that stuff now, and it is working for me. I don’t have the stature and status that I had when I had the entertainment job, but I am 100 million times happier. And what’s exciting is I feel like this is just the beginning of a whole new path. Like, I’m learning more and more about this stuff. I’m constantly reading. I have time to read. I read about a book a week. I never had that kind of time when I had that other job. Like I said, I’m going to get a master’s degree. I’m telling you, I think I’ll be 52 when I finish it. And that feels awesome to me. I never would have expected that. So I feel super encouraged because I’m not extraordinary. I am a completely regular person. And I just made the time for these things that I’ve read about by the gurus who I admire. Right. The same ones you read, I’m sure. Yeah. I just started actually doing this stuff instead of just reading about it and continuing as before. And it’s made a huge difference. And I didn’t do it all at once. I did it little by bit. The first thing I did was try to get more sleep. And then after that, doing that for a while, then I took the booze out, and then it was little by little.

Jo: That’s just so inspiring. So inspiring. And I can just feel from your energy that you’re absolutely just living your truth and loving life, which is just what I think we all aspire to. We all want that. Now, where do you stand with manifestation practices or the law of attraction? What’s your thoughts on that?

Sandy: Well, I think it seems a little nebulous, but I think it’s also true. I think that what we focus on expands. I’m taking a mindfulness meditation class right now. It’s just like a once a week class. And she even said that the teacher, she’s not talking about manifestation. She’s seriously just trying to teach us mindfulness techniques. And one of the things she said, and I’m going to maybe screw it up. It was like where attention goes, neural connections grow and thought patterns flow or something like that. But basically, you know what? I’ll have to email it to you because I know I’m screwing it up. But something along those lines. And basically what she’s saying is that where we put our attention. Like, if we think into patterns, which we all do, that’s what makes those neural connections, right? So then those neurons wire together. So now I automatically think that way, and then that gets repeated and we create the neural pathways. I mean, that’s what neuroplasticity is about. We can change. If you change your thoughts, eventually you’ll be able to automatically go down different roads. So I used to smoke cigarettes, and when I would get in the car, I would light a cigarette. I mean, getting in the car meant light a cigarette. And when I first quit smoking, when I would get in the car and I knew I wasn’t going to light a cigarette, that was like an issue, right? My brain was like, we’re supposed to light a cigarette now, and eventually the new thought pattern of, no, this is not I’m going to have a piece of gum or I’m going to whatever have a Mint. Then that became the new pathway. So now when I get in the car, I never, ever think about lighting a cigarette. To me, manifestation is along similar lines. When we think about the things that we want and take steps toward them, not just think about it and then do everything. You used to think about it and move in that direction. I think it does create thought habits that support this type of growth. And another thing is that reticular activating system. So there’s a system in our brain that I always use the example of, like, if you buy a blue Honda or you’re about to buy one, all of a sudden you see so many blue Hondas on the street, right? You’re like, oh, my God, there’s one and there’s one. And if you learn a new word, you know, this happens as a writer, you learn a new word. And now it’s like in this article and on an Advertisement and you’re like, I never knew that word. Now I see it everywhere. So that’s like actually a filtering system in your brain that’s doing that. And I think this also is the science that would support like a law of attraction idea, which is if we are looking for it, if we’re aware of it, our brain will point us to opportunities to connect with that thing. So I don’t know if I’m like, you know, manifesting properly or whatever, but I do believe that thinking about what you want rather than what you don’t want makes for a better quality of life.

Jo: Yeah, I totally agree with you there. And I’m very much of the frame of mind, too, that when it comes to manifestation or the law of attraction, a big part of that is taking action. You have to take action, but keeping your thoughts really focused on what you want. And then you start to draw that towards you, which sounds like you’ve been doing that kind of along the way. Just even by taking those small steps of getting rest and then cutting that back, the alcohol and doing that, whether it was subconscious or not, you obviously had this idea of where you wanted to get to with yourself or with your health.

Sandy: Yeah. I mean, I just wanted to feel better. And I also felt too like, I mean, I’m youngish, I’m not super old yet, so it’s like I should feel pretty good. I should be in pretty good health in my 40s. If I’m not feeling good, then there’s probably something I could fix around. I don’t have any kind of chronic condition, so it was really about just like wanting to feel good. And two, our mind and brain, it’s inextricable from our body. It’s all one thing. So taking care of your body really helps your mental health and vice versa. Taking care of your mental health really helps your body because all stress, stress all happens in here. Stress. You might feel it in your heart racing or your stomach tight, but you’re processing it all through your brain. So taking really good care of your brain is just going to lead to a better quality of life.

Jo: I love it. So you read a lot of personal developments, self help books. I see you’re reading them all the time. And recently I haven’t been reading too many, but I’ve got a huge bookshelf of them and I love them myself. Can you possibly tell us what your maybe favorite three or three recommendations at the moment that you have just for people who just want to live better lives, be happier in themselves, what would maybe three of your top ranks be?

Sandy: Okay. Well, one of them is You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. Have you read that one?

Jo: I haven’t, but you’re the second person on the show that’s recommended that to me. So I’m going to have to sign from the universe.

Sandy: And it’s a fun read. It’s about all this stuff, but it’s like very light hearted. So I love that book. I’ve read that twice and I’ve given it to many people as a gift. I think that’s a great book. Another one that I love that I’ve read many times, given as a gift is Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. That’s an old book.

Jo: It’s a classic.

Sandy: Yeah, it’s a classic. And you know what? It’s awesome. Actually, as we’re speaking now, I think I should give this to my niece who’s a teenager. She’s like applying to College, and it’s stressful. I think that would be helpful to her. What’s great about it is the chapters are really short. It’s not like you have to sit there and read it. Read it. You could just read one page. Each chapter is like one page. So you could just read one page a night. Easy. So those are two of my favorites. Let me think of the third one to recommend. And I know as soon as I say it after we hang up, I’ll be like, I should have said, there’s so many good ones out there. I know there are so many good ones out there. Well, you know, what’s coming to mind is Ask and It is Given, especially, too, because we’re talking about law of attraction. Did you read that one?

Jo: Yeah. So that’s Esther and Jerry Hicks, isn’t it?

Sandy: Yeah. So I was reluctant to read that one just for your listeners, if they’re not familiar. Okay. That one is Esther Hicks, like channels an entities. Okay. So I was like channels and entities. I’m like more on the science tip for this, but when you read it, you see, actually, it’s a lot of what exactly we’re talking about thinking about pointing your mind in the direction you want your life to go and believing that things are here to support you. And to me, whether there’s science behind that or not, I mean, there is some science behind it, as I mentioned, with reticular activating systems, things like that. But whether or not there’s actual science behind it, if thinking this way makes you feel better, then go for it. There’s no harm in it. It’s not about being delusional. So I was really kind of reticent. I didn’t jump right on that book. No. But after I read it, I was really glad I did.

Jo: Yeah, I was the same as you. And I’m completely open to all the woo woo stuff, but I was introduced to that book. Oh, gosh, so long ago. But just the idea of it being channeled at the time, I was like, oh, maybe that’s just a little bit too next level for me. But it really is a good read. And I think you’ve even said actually in one of your reels on social media that a lot of these self help personal development books, they really are kind of saying the same thing just in different ways, different voices, different views. But all of it is kind of saying the same thing. And now science is backing this as well. The basics of it. It’s being backed by science.

Sandy: Yes. And they do. My anecdote is that my husband was like, oh, you’re always reading a self help book. Do they all say different things? I was like, no, they tell me the same thing just into different voices. But that also tells me because I actually read a book about building wealth and it was from 1912 or something. And that guy was basically talking about what we would today call manifestation. He was talking about you put your mind on it, you believe it’s for you, you act with integrity and wealth is inevitable. So these ideas, even if finance wasn’t supporting it, which it is, these ideas would not persist if it was total crap. Everybody is saying the same thing because they’re getting fruit from that. That’s sharing fruit for them. And I also am of the mind that it’s not like you get in shape and now you stop exercising like you get in shape and then you continue to exercise. To me, that’s why I keep reading Self Help and Personal Development and Spirituality books, because I want to just keep putting this into the processor. Like, let’s just keep putting it in because it helps me to have it more top of mind.

Jo: And it’s obviously working for you because you’re just so happy and full of energy and doing these amazing things and putting this amazing content out in the world, too. It’s working.

Sandy: I do think it’s working. And it’s funny, too, because sometimes you’re like, is it working? And of course I still have insecurities. And it’s not like, oh, my life is a dream and I float on a cloud. I still have bills and still things I want to achieve. But I do think that the more that I’ve put these practices in place and especially my big challenge that I continue to work on is just being more kind and loving to myself and appreciating my own inherent worth as of just living being. The more I do that, the more my life brightens and opens up. And that’s why I want to talk about this and post about it and write about it, because that’s where it just feels good.

Jo: Yeah, that’s awesome. So you’ve got lots going on. You’re doing this master’s degree, you’re still researching and writing these articles and that for health and medicine, and you’ve got this amazing podcast as well. What’s next for you? Do you have another goal or is it just all of these things kind of together, or do you have other kind of plans as well. What are some?

Sandy: Well, my dream is to write a self help book. So part of the reason I started the podcast was to just open up a little more to my own voice because like I was saying, after so many years of journalism, I felt like even when I try to write something personal, I’d have a friend read it and they’re like, Sandy reads like a magazine article. She doesn’t read like a personal story. So I hope that by practicing talking and putting myself in the conversation with my guests, even with you right now, that will help me to discover my own voice more for writing this kind of content. So that’s my ultimate big dream. And I would like to make this kind of work my full time job. I would like to eventually, as much as I love working for the medical center, it’s great. I’m learning so much. But like I said, I write about subjects that are a little more on the periphery of my interest. And I’d like to just be awash in this all the time, be awash in this energy, be talking to people about this. If I can inspire people, I absolutely want to do it. If I can give to people, I want to do it. And so that’s kind of like what I’m hoping to do. So I’ve kind of given myself a little bit of a trajectory with the master’s degree. So maybe by the time that I’ll be able to have launched this new kind of second career act chapter.

Jo: I love it. And you’re going to have to keep me in the loop with your book that you’re looking at writing, because I think that’s just so fabulous.

Sandy: So fabulous. Thank you.

Jo: Yeah, very exciting. And quite different from shorter articles, too. It’s quite different writing something more, longer and all that. Yay, it’s going to be an awesome challenge for you.

Sandy: I’m sure it will definitely be a challenge. I’m super excited about it, but I’m also daunted by it. But again, if I take it in little baby steps, I can do it.

Jo: Absolutely. That’s so key. Well, I’m just kind of aware of time. Did you have any last advice or anything that you want to leave our listeners with?

Sandy: Well, your listeners are writers, so let’s just remember that what we have to say matters. And I feel like I was just talking about this yesterday. Sometimes I feel like, oh, well, does it matter? And kind of who cares what I have to say? But think about the people who we’ve been inspired by. What if they thought that? And meanwhile, I’ve taken so much from their work. What if Jen Sincero never wrote that book, which is like one of my favorites, and I’m sure that we all have insecurities about like, am I good enough? Does this matter? Is anybody going to care? And this is me totally needing to take my own advice. But let’s remember that, yes, they do. And yes, it does matter. And every person is just an individual who, like, did a thing. All the people who we love, like Gabrielle Bernstein or whoever, Wayne Dyer, they were just somebody who are like, you know what? I think I’m going to write this. So I would say to all the writers out there, like, let’s just write it. Let’s just write it and let it find its way in the world. Let’s not, like, clamp down on our own voice before we even put it out there.

Jo: Awesome. Love it. I love it. Totally love it. All right. So I know after listening to this, people are going to want to connect to you. They’re going to want to listen to your podcast. Can you tell us how they can connect you?

Sandy: Thank you. The podcast is inner peace to go, and it’s on all the platforms. So, yeah, I love to welcome you over there. We’re having conversations like this, and you can find me on Instagram and Twitter. I’m at YouKnowSandy and I also have innerpeacetogo.com, so that’s where I’m at and say hello. I love to have these conversations.

Jo: Fantastic. I’m going to make sure that those are in the show notes as well. Thank you so much, Sandy. It’s been such a blast, and I feel like I could just chat with you forever.

Sandy: This is. Oh, my God, me too. We are so on the same page. No pun intended for the writer podcast, but we still are. Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been such a hit. Thank you.

Jo :I love it. Thank you.

Wow. So wasn’t that conversation just golden? Sandy not only has had such a fascinating career, but she’s just so fun to chat with and she really does know her stuff. So I really do recommend that you check her out on social media or listen to her podcast Inner Peace To Go. It’s so good.

So here are some of the takeaways from today’s show:

  1. Being out of alignment with where you put your energies, for example, being in the wrong career can cause stress. Stress, in turn, can cause inflammation, the leading cause of many life threatening diseases. So if you need a reason to reduce your stress or leave your unfulfilling job, this is it.
  2. Being busy submitting to hustle culture – it isn’t free. It comes at a cost, particularly to your health.
  3. Honor your feelings, your desires, and your dreams. You’ve been given them for a reason.
  4. Get rest. Prioritize sleep. It’ll help you hear the inner voice.
  5. All the stuff that you’ve heard before about exercise, keeping gratitude journals, meditating, getting enough rest, it really does help to create a happier life.
  6. Put new habits in place, one at a time, bit by bit. Not all at once.
  7. Manifestation is not all woo woo, but is also, in ways, backed by science. So what we give our attention to really does create neural connections in our brain and repetition can cause new neural pathways. So if we change our thoughts, we can eventually create new habits and new ways of living. Also, our reticular activating system, a filtering system in our brain, really can help us find those new opportunities to connect with the things that we’ve been thinking about and focusing on.
  8. Thinking about what you want versus what you don’t want makes for a much better quality of life.
  9. Those three recommended reads that Sandy gave us were: You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson, and Ask and it is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks.
  10. And finally, number ten, and probably the most important of all these takeaways: what we say, what we write, it really does matter. So don’t clamp down on your voice before you even put it out there.

So I hope this episode gave you things to think about that could help you supercharge not only your writing life but your life in general. Even if it’s just to make the intention to get more sleep every night. And if you really are interested in using manifestation in your life, I wanted you to know that I have created a free PDF for you of some of my favorite, most wonderful tips and tricks to supercharge your author life with the Law of Attraction. To be honest, you can use these tips and tricks for any area of your life. Whatever you’re trying to manifest. All you need to do is sign up for my Alchemy for Authors newsletter and you can sign up at www.subscribepage.com/Manifestationforauthors. You can also find the link here in the show notes.

Final Note: If you’ve enjoyed this episode, I will be forever grateful if you’d subscribe, rate or review, or send a friend my way too. That’s fantastic.

Until next time, happy writing.