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Episode 106 Transcript: Refilling Your Cup with Jenny Gwinn McGlothern

Jenny: But then another wake up call was yelling at my kids, telling my kids to “F” off, shut the “F” up, that kind of a thing, that was a wake up call. I’ve had three panic attacks in my life. I had my first, I call it my spiritual crisis, you know, my wake up call. I call it the midlife crisis without the affair and without the cherry red convertible. Those are my wake up calls of realizing how I was showing up to the family and realizing you’ve gotta stop showing this way to yourself. 

Nancy: Welcome to Your Permission Prescription. I’m Nancy Levin, founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, bestselling author, master life coach, and your host. I train life coaches, aspiring coaches, and anyone who wants to add coaching skills to their current career to elevate their life and their business. I’ve coached thousands of people to live life on their own terms, and now I coach, train, and certify other coaches to do the same. 

If you are ready to give yourself permission to finally make yourself a priority and mobilize your vision, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive in. 

Nancy: Welcome back to another episode of Your Permission Prescription. And today I am joined by my guest, Jenny Gwinn McGlothern. And Jenny is really good at taking care of others and ignoring her own needs, started her mini retreat and life coaching business back in 2010, in the midst of raising her two children. 

And Jenny really is the eternal seeker. She evolved alongside her children who are now young adults, as well as her clients, and Jenny coaches teens, couples, men, women, all people. So I’m excited because her soon to be released book Mama Needs a Refill. What a great title. Finding Light in The Midst of Madness will soon be on the Shelves. And when she first felt this initial nudge to write a book and give it this title, Mama Needs a Refill, it started out as a blog. She was creating and holding many retreats, coaching clients, all of this. And just like I do, Jenny believes that we teach what we must learn ourselves. And really this is about honoring the voice of your soul, which she refers to as the metaphorical cup. So I’m excited to talk to you today Jenny, welcome. 

Jenny: Hi, Nancy. Thank you so much. I’m excited to be in conversation with you. 

Nancy: So let’s go back to this first inkling of Mama Needs a Refill

Jenny: Let’s do it. Go.

Nancy: Go for it. 

Jenny: Okay. I actually can see myself there. I was in my bedroom, our kids were little, i’m thinking it was circa 2007.I was shouting, Margaret get your backpack. Simon, leave your sister alone. I’d miraculously had had a shower that day. I’m stepping into my jeans and I just heard this voice, write a book and call it, Mama Needs a Refill. And in that moment I was like, oh, God is talking to me, but I don’t have a time, I don’t have time right now to talk to God. And what? What does that even mean? 

So then what ended up happening is I had my 40th birthday. I rented a house for four nights, had girlfriends come over a four day period and at the end of that four day period, a couple of my friends were, oh, I wish you would do this every year, oh, this felt like a retreat. So then I held my first retreat at the same time I’m writing my blog, and then I became a certified coach. 

And when I had my first retreat, Nancy, it was for a weekend, I rented a house, hired two girlfriends to be the cooks, six friends came, it was a beautiful weekend but then what ended up happening is everyone was very interested in coming back, but didn’t wanna give up a weekend. 

So I was like, I have to get creative here. So I invented the four and a half hour mini retreat, and I did that for 10 years. It’s a sack lunch mini retreat when everyone’s kids were in school. And not just moms came, musicians, my children’s music teachers, people who don’t have kids started gathering. And the idea was, we can’t always get away for a four day retreat at the coast, or a week Tulum doing yoga, right? So let’s create something short and sweet. 

During that time, I became a certified coach, hot life coaching for the school where I was certified and then also was birthing these retreats and my clients. So what ended up really happening is I heard this voice, thought it was for the rest of the world, I need to write this wisdom for everybody. And really, it was, Jenny, you need this wisdom for yourself. So now, 14, however many years ago, later, I’m able to then compile it, get clear about it and realize it’s not just for me, it’s for others. And it’s so funny when you get that nudge, you think you know what it means. I did not know what it would all involve. I did not know I would become a life coach, I did not know I would start a retreat business. I literally just heard, write the book. 

Nancy: Yeah. So I’m curious what it’s been like for you growing your business alongside growing your children and growing yourself. And I asked this as a woman who does not have children. So I’m curious to know how that experience has been for you. 

Jenny: It was challenging. It’s super challenging because I’m, if you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I’m a nine – i’m a peace maker. 

Nancy: I’m a three. 

Jenny: Oh, so we share the triad. 

Nancy: Yes. 

Jenny: I love it. 

Nancy: Yes. 

Jenny: So for me, it was challenging. What I noticed is when I was involved, I was either leading a retreat or having clients going to my office. My children, when they were young, they gave me, I don’t wanna say more respect, but just for lack of thinking of another word right now, that’s what it was. They were like, oh, mom’s going off to work, that’s so great. So that made it nice. Husband stepped forward, kids stepped forward. I was able to do these things and realized, yes, Jenny, the family can survive without you. It gave me a nice balance.

I am wired like the Energizer Bunny on lots of caffeine. So it was great to juggle these things, but it was also challenging because mama needs a refill. I was leaving myself last a lot of the time and ignoring my own tools, my own messages, my own learnings. 

Nancy: So what was your own personal journey toward refilling yourself? 

Jenny: It was getting tired of being distracted. It was getting tired of being unfocused. And that’s one I, I’ve got another one over here. But the first one was getting tired of being empty. And one, I remember laying in bed one morning and I remember thinking, oh gosh, I wish I had time to meditate. And then I realized, you’re laying here in bed, you have time to meditate. 

But then another wake up call was yelling at my kids, telling my kids to “F” off, shut the “F” up, that kind of a thing, that was a wake up call. I’ve had three panic attacks in my life. I had my first, I call it my spiritual crisis, you know, my wake up call. I call it the midlife crisis without the affair and without the cherry red convertible. Those are my wake up calls of realizing how I was showing up to the family and realizing you’ve gotta stop showing this way to yourself. 

And I’m really excited to share. I just got in the mail just ago, Mother Hunger. 

Nancy: Yes. 

Jenny: Just ordered it yesterday and I got it today. And the, I talk about that without her language in my book as well. It’s, I was the youngest of four, my father was mentally ill, my mom had to go back to work and raise a family. And so I have no emotional memory of my mom. And anyway, I just related so much of those messages so that was also part of my wake up call of going into therapy, getting really good hand-holding and guidance and having a light shone on. Okay. It’s okay, Jenny. This is perhaps why some of the pieces of the puzzle are hard to fit together. You don’t remember your childhood, you didn’t get what you thought you needed. So that’s definitely goes with all of it. 

Nancy: So the subtitle to your book is Finding Light in the Midst of Madness. So I wanna unpack this a little bit in terms of, you’re sharing a little bit about how your wake up call, finding light, and what are the steps you take and the steps you offer in terms of for others to refill themselves? 

Jenny: Absolutely. Well, first of all, everyone’s madness is going to be a little bit different. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: It could be whatever stage you are raising kids or it could be stepping out of the pandemic. It could be the state of the world right now, it could be a marriage ending, it could be having a career change. So the steps that I offer is number one is just stop, drop and get present. Create rituals and practices that are easy, that don’t take a lot of steps, and that you do first thing in the morning.

The fundamental teaching of Buddhism is that everything changes. We change constantly, right? So when we wake up in the morning, we’re different than we were the night before. So it’s about taking a step of hand on my heart, what’s needed today, what’s needed right now, emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally. 

I offer and invite using the journal, the blank page. And this is how you and I met through Wild Writing through Lori. That’s therapy right there, right? Also, one of the tools, Don Miguel Ruiz, those four principles so important. 

I also invite anyone who is right in the middle of madness to just slow down. Less is more, stop comparin,g and get present. And there’s more, but that’s like the fundamental of it. 

And it’s so interesting where we are in the world right now with social media, with politics, with injustice, all of that happening. And it’s so easy to get caught up in that storm. And what can I do? I don’t know what, what I can do.Really the best thing that you can do is to come home to yourself. Because then that is like the stone in the water, right? That ripples out. 

So that’s my invitation. And when I work with clients one-on-one, which is my favorite, we just look at where they are, where are you right now? What’s going on? And when they break away all the smoke and mirrors and all the fog, they can hear their own wisdom. You know this, you’re a life coach, right? The answers are right here. 

Nancy: And Yeah, always. 

Jenny: Always, always. So that’s, it’s actually really a simple answer, I think, to, to get your refill. Your refill isn’t outside of you. It’s within you. It’s getting present, plugging into gratitude, plugging into your wisdom, your voice within, whether you call it God or whether you call it your soul, or whether you call it a tree, right? Just plugging in, getting rooted. 

That’s the basis, the foundation of what I believe and what I offer. 

Nancy: I so appreciate what you shared, that the refill is not outside of us. And especially as I was sharing before I brought you on, you know, if we are constantly making sure everyone else has their needs met, and we are letting our needs go unmet, if we are putting ourselves on the back burner and meeting our needs last, then the resentment rises, then the anger rises, then we, we tend to have the big blow up. And so also maintaining, keeping with the metaphor of the refill, but like really maintaining our sense of fullness allows us to be able to give from generosity.

Jenny: I love how you word that, Nancy. Absolutely. And we’re all wired differently. And I’m very aware that my wiring really is when I first wake up in the morning, it’s really how can I serve? How can I help? Who needs me? What can I do? How can I create peace in my environment, right? 

And I get lesson after lesson after lesson of what happens when I ignore that. And you touched on the word anger. Anger can be our teacher. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: It’s what you, you do with it. And anger is definitely one of my buttons. And I remember, I don’t know, maybe six, seven years ago, I’m guessing I was by myself. It must have been a Friday night. My husband must have been playing soccer. I think the kids were with my husband. And I was really sad. I was really sad and I took a bath, and I remembered learning in yoga that your hips hold emotion. And I remember also learning that anger can be repressed sadness. So I was really sad. After my bath, I still have this sadness. And so I came down to my office and I wrote for about 40 minutes, simply asking the question, what am I so angry about? What am I so mad at? And I just filled these pages, filled these pages, filled these pages. I went through three pencils. And then I, when I was done, I was exhausted, went to bed. And when I woke up in the morning, I had this journal full of 17 pages of anger. And I was thinking, all right, I don’t want anybody to see this. What can I do? So I got out my colored pencils and took me a few days, I colored each page over with a colored pencil. And then I treated each page like a work of art. And I hand on heart, connect to wisdom, connect to love, what do I want to create instead? And whatever word came to me, peace, transformation, love ,accomplishment. I then wrote that over that piece of art. And now I have this beautiful journal  no one can see the anger underneath. And it was transformed into a work of art. 

And I share that with you because that was such a pivotal point after I did that. I wasn’t as snappy, I wasn’t as gripy and reactive. Instead I responded with what’s possible instead of reacting with negativity to my family. 

And so, yes, anger is a huge teacher for me. So I’m glad that you brought up that word. It’s not that we’re bad because we’re mad, but it’s like, okay, something’s under there let’s get curious. What needs to get up and out. 

Nancy: Absolutely.

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Nancy: Yeah, I mean, anger is as vital emotional experiences, any of the other emotions we experience. And I think, you know, I know for me, in my own journey with anger, I grew up in a family that didn’t express a lot of anger. There wasn’t yelling and fighting and all that kind of stuff. And then when I married my husband, I came from this place where I don’t do anger and he does anger dirty. So it was not a great combo. So I really had to learn how to have a healthy relationship to anger, which post divorce was something that I was really able to explore and learn. And I’m grateful I have now. 

Jenny: Right? Yeah. That’s a beautiful story. I resonate with it, my husband and I came from very similar, youngest of four, both fathers left families at the age of nine. And I came from anger is bad and it’s big and explosive. And he came from, let’s not talk about it. Yeah. 

And then you do this little dance and you wanna teach your children that it’s okay that mom and dad are arguing. It’s all right. And then you unpack it and learn what’s mine, what’s not mine, what can grow this relationship, what’s, yeah. 

Nancy: And so I know that you work with teens as well as adults. 

Jenny: I do. 

Nancy: And you Work with individuals as well as couples and families. I’ve never done a family, but I do couples and really, if they were to all have the common thread, it would be that seeking that longing for a spiritual connection without a religion. And it would also be the thread of change and discernment. Make a decision. 

And I love working with teens because I didn’t like being a teen. It was tough. So I don’t know, I love the authenticity and the realness. Lately though, I will say, and you probably know this in your practice, it’s never an accident that whatever season I’m in with my clients, there’s this right common thread. 

So right now, I don’t have teenagers beyond my following on Instagram, they like my short videos, that kind of a thing. But the thread that I’m having right now is parents of children who are suicidal, parents of children who are like this close to the edge. And so it’s walking with and holding these parents and inviting them to see it’s not their job. And this might sound harsh, it’s not their job to save their child. It’s their job to model saving themself. That’s how the teen will learn, right? We can’t tell our kids what to do. They will learn by watching us. Does that make sense? 

Nancy: Of course. 

Jenny: So my heart goes out to teens right now. It’s, oh, I mean I didn’t like being a teenager back in the eighties, I can’t imagine now. And what the teens that I do connect with, they just resonate with authenticity, I have a mindfulness deck, they resonate with that one word for the day. How can that keep them from spinning? But I just love their minds and their raw hearts. Yeah.

Nancy: You know, as I said, I don’t have kids, but I have a niece and a nephew, both who were teens when the pandemic began, one who was still a teen. And I really saw a tremendous impact on that particular age group. Certain needs that we have in our experience of growing, certain needs around socialization, were not being met because of the isolation. And in fact, in the past two weeks, my sister has two friends whose children have died by suicide. 

And it’s a very concerning time. And it’s seems to leave a lot of parents feeling a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. Yeah. 

Jenny: It’s hard in that hopelessness to find the hope, but you have to. And it can just be one small thing in a day that can give that parent hope. And then the hope is that then ripples out to their child. 

I wish I had an answer. I wish I had a solution. Yeah. That breaks my heart. 

Nancy: Yeah. But I think, you know, what you’ve been sharing is the parents learn the tools to then be able to model for their children. And I think this happens across the board, no matter what the circumstances are. If the parent is taking good care of themselves, it also models that for the child. And I think in the argument around sort of either what makes a good parent or the argument around a parent taking care of themselves, being selfish, I will always sort of stand on the soapbox of the old oxygen mask. And it doesn’t actually serve anyone if we put ourselves last. 

Jenny: It doesn’t. And to follow in that metaphor, finding out what is your oxygen? 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: In the book, I call it your fuel, you know? And you can break it down spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. And what is your fuel for that day? And my children are now 21, our daughter and our son is 18 and I have totally screwed up as a parent and I’ve nailed it. I mean like all of it in between. But what, even just last night, my son is a senior in high school, the emotions have just been this crazy rollercoaster ride. And I’ve been doing my, trying my best to stay off of the rollercoaster, right? But I jumped on it, I jumped on the rollercoaster last night, and what was so beautiful was to watch him just stay super calm and super grounded. And we are, each other’s mirror. We’re the emotion, the emotional ones in the family. Whereas dad and sister are these steady pillars, and we’re like the whirling dervishes. And so it was so beautiful to watch him just stay grounded and calm and mom all of it. So it’s really cool to see them be my teachers. 

Nancy: Yes. 

Jenny: Right. Your teacher is always standing in front of you, whether it’s someone in your family, someone you work with, a stranger at the grocery store. 

Nancy: Absolutely. 

Jenny: Yeah. 

Nancy: Yeah. So what are the things that do fuel you and refill you? What are those things for you? 

Jenny: Absolutely. So for me, it’s anything to do with spiritual connection. So it’s meditating, it’s being quiet, it’s stepping out in nature. Even if it’s just into my backyard. No, it’s not always moving my body. It’s, I’m 55, and I do move my body, and I know it’s very important, especially when you’re at that age. But it’s not my number one cup filler. However, physically right now it is. I go to the gym and I row three days a week, and I also walk with a girlfriend. So that fills me one-on-one connection fills me, reading something, listening to music fills me. 

Just before our call, I went outside into our garden and I picked a bouquet of blue bells and I put them in a vase and it’s just that tiny moment. So those are the things that fill me. It doesn’t take a lot for me, but it has to do with connection, whether it’s spiritual connection, connection with a another person, or connection with myself and laughing. We’re really into standup comedy right now. 

Nancy: Yep. 

Jenny: That fills me. And always a good book and sleep.

Sleep is my favorite. 

Nancy: Amen. 

Jenny : Right. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: Hallelujah. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: Yeah. I appreciate that question. What fills you right now? 

Nancy: Yeah, what fills me, time of self connection more than anything is what fills me. So meditating, journaling, hiking. I am a loner, so I do a lot. I actually prefer to be alone than with others, but of course have others in my life. And I love to be with others as well. But I know that what really fills me is when I can really just sort of sink into time with myself. And that’s what feels very rejuvenating and very “ah yeah. Like I can breathe”. That’s how I think about it. Like, oh, I can breathe. I don’t have anyone pulling on me or needing something from me or wanting something from me. I just am here for me. 

Jenny: It’s such a beautiful gift to give ourselves for people that are wired like you and I, that we give a lot, right? You give a lot in your work. I know it. And you refuel and plug in by connecting to yourself. I love that. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: And people, whether they’re taking care of their aging parents or they’re married to their job, it doesn’t even have to be about kids. It’s so essential and vital to figure out that connection and that relationship with theirself, because that is the game changer. 

Nancy: Yeah. I mean, I always think like Louise Hay used to say, you know, the longest relationship you’ll ever have is the one with you. So you know, you best make it a great one, 

Jenny: You better. Yeah. 

Nancy: And I, I take that to heart, you know, and I think the sort of argument for, or the, this sort of defending our need to really be in connection with ourselves gets a lot of flack. You know, going back to the, it’s selfish, or it’s this, or it’s that, or whatever. And I think, I think it is the most spiritual connection, and I think it actually is the most, there’s something about the responsibility of it, you know, taking responsibility for ourselves in that way that I appreciate. 

Jenny: And it’s not selfish, right? 

Nancy: Well, I might even go the other way. It is selfish, and there’s nothing wrong with being selfish. 

Jenny: Okay. I love it. 

Nancy: That’s just me. 

Jenny: I love it. And I just, maybe, just different wording. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: It is, to me, it, when you do that, when you take care of you, you take that solitude, whatever it is that ripples out, and that actually, it’s energetic, right? Energy is contagious. 

But I like to remind people and myself every day to replace the word should with must. 

Nancy: Yeah. Like must I, in regards to that conversation of selfless, selfish, selfless. 

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: Yeah. 

Nancy: Yeah. I look at it like, what are my non-negotiables? What are the things that really fill me, fuel me that have me experience myself fully? Because those are the things that I don’t want anything to get in the way of. Those are the ways in which I really sort of book myself in my calendar as my most sacred client, you know? And I really create the space and time to have that. And I’m very aware of what happens when I don’t give that to myself. 

You know, that’s the other thing is I’m very aware of what neglecting myself, what the cost is of neglecting myself. Let me say it that way. 

Jenny: Do you physically, Nancy, put an appointment in the calendar every day for yourself? 

Nancy: I physically do. 

Jenny: I love it. I’m just starting to do that. I’m just starting. 

Nancy: Yeah. The big shift for me happened when I went to Thailand in the Fall of 2015 to a meditation retreat at a monastery. And it was a 10 day silent, the whole nine yards. Came home and really, and had never been a meditative before, but really began integrating consistent meditation in my life.

And what I found is that I sort of started building on this, I guess it’s sort of like the atomic habits thing of like the habit stacking. So I, I’d always journaled anyway. So now I built together meditation and journaling. But then what I recognize was if, if I start my morning routine the night before. So what I do is I put my phone into airplane mode when I go to sleep.So when I wake up in the morning, there are no notifications on my phone coming at me. And so I meditate, I journal, I do all of that for myself first before I even ever look and see what’s happening in the outside world. 

And that has made a tremendous difference in my ability to sort of, to wake up without anxiety. You know, you were talking about the first thoughts when we wake up in the morning, my first thoughts used to be really, what do I need to worry about today? Which ultimately meant, who do I need to worry about today? Or who do I need to take care of? Or what outside of me needs my attention? 

And so I also made a very conscious shift to wake up to what is the most self-loving action I can take today. Or what is the most self-honoring choice I can make today? So that I would wake up with attention on myself first, and then be with myself first before being with the rest of the world. And I’ve been doing that now for many years. And that, you know, that whole thing makes a difference. That going to sleep, I’m already in my morning ritual.

Jenny: I love it. And so it sounds like you don’t even have to put it on your calendar because it’s ingrained. It has now become a part of you. 

Nancy: Yeah. And you know, so I’m very conscious of, you know, the boundaries of when I will start my workday, so to speak. But I also will put in my calendar, my hike. I go for a hike almost every day. I’m in Boulder. I can walk out my door. It’s, I’m blessed, but I put that right in my calendar. Here’s my hike. 

So I think that’s important because I think otherwise we do put ourselves last, or we do have the whole thing of like, the dishes need to be done and the beds need to be made, and this, you know, all whatever, all these things need to happen. The kids need this, the partner needs this. All of that takes first precedence before I’ll give myself what I need, and I often will invite my clients to flip it, do what you need to do for you, and then make the beds, you know, or whatever it is, you know? 

Jenny: absolutely. 

Nancy: There’s nothing that says you, you have to make the beds before you can do anything for yourself. 

Jenny: Unless it truly gives you peace. 

Nancy: Right. 

Jenny: Yeah. I don’t have to do that anymore, because our rule is the last one out of the bed makes it. I’m always the first outta bed. 

Nancy: Love it.

Jenny:  I’m in the living room meditating. Yeah. 

Nancy: I love it. 

Jenny: Yeah. And I think just to bring this around with beautifully what you’re saying of, at the end of the day, if, if that’s all you’ve done is take a hike or whatever your fuel or oxygen is, that is enough. That is plenty. Because then you didn’t, I don’t know, you didn’t explode, you didn’t unravel. You held up a little corner of the earth by showing up to yourself with that hike or your fuel or your oxygen. 

And that would be the message that I just want people to really take, right? Don’t you just want to lovingly fake them, or gently rub them on the shoulders and say, say yes to yourselves. 

Nancy: Always. 

Jenny: Yeah. 

Nancy: Yeah. You know, always. And I think that one of the other through lines here is something that I feel strongly about, and it sounds like you do too. This whole idea of really being able to separate our sense of worth and value from our productivity and our achievements. And Yeah. And I think that that’s, you know, another big piece. And I imagine that’s a big piece that comes in parenting as well, from a different perspective, perhaps from the way we might show up at work. 

Jenny: Absolutely. So many parents, they use that, well, I’m just a mom, or what, I’m just doing this. No, it’s, I don’t think parenthood is a job. I think it’s a relationship.

Nancy: Yeah. 

Jenny: Yeah. And often we need to parent ourselves first. 

Nancy: Yeah. Parent ourselves, reparent ourselves. Yeah. 

Jenny: Yes, yes. 

Nancy: Jenny, I have so enjoyed this conversation with you.

Jenny: Me too. I wanna go out to go out to coffee and keep chatting. 

Nancy: I know. 

Jenny: Thank you. 

Nancy: Yes. So the name of this podcast is Your Permission Prescription, so I would love to hear what you invite our listeners to give themselves permission for, to give themselves permission to do? 

Jenny: What a beautiful question. I invite the listeners to give themselves permission to love themselves as they are. I invite them to stop comparing, and I invite them to know that all is well, all is well, and that they are enough.

And lastly, the prescription that I will write is that they come home to themselves every day at least bookend it at the top of the day, end of the day, throughout the day is bonus extra credit. And what I mean by coming home to yourself, it’s hand, heart, hand, gut, whatever’s comfortable filling your feet on the floor and just letting your breath cycle through at least once. That is your prescription because you’ll notice that when you allow your breath, when you open up this gift of your breath, all is well and all is going to be okay. 

Nancy: Thanks Jenny. So once again, Jenny’s book is Mama Needs a Refill coming out soon, and best place to find you online is..

Jenny: mamaneedsarefill.com and Instagram @mamaneedsarefill. 

Nancy: Fantastic. Wonderful. Thanks so much for being here. 

Jenny: Thanks so much for having me. What a delight. 

Nancy: And to all of you listening, I’ll be back again with you next time. 

Thanks so much for joining me today on Your Permission Prescription. For even more, I invite you to head on over to nancylevin.com and sign up for my newsletter, The Practice, and follow me on social media. 

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See you next time.