On this show, we talk a lot about what it means to own your shit and how to do it. My next guest and I take that concept a step further to apply it to our relationships with those around us.
Tami Kiekhaefer, LCSW has operated a successful psychotherapy practice since 2002. She provides individual, family and couples therapy around anxiety, depression, domestic violence, trauma, relationships, and empowerment. Tami is a certified yoga instructor and weaves concepts of holistic therapy into her clinical work.
To learn more about Tami, visit her website, follow her on TikTok, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram. Also, check out her new book, “Preparing for the Jungle: Avoiding Snakes and Pitfalls on the Path to Healthy Love.”
Think meditation is hard. Do me a favor, take a slow, deep breath in, and now breathe out. Congratulations, you just meditated. Hi, I’m Krystal Jacosky, and this is Breathe In. Breathe out a weekly mindfulness and meditation podcast for anyone ready to own their own shit and find a little peaceful while doing it.
Krystal Jakosky: Welcome back to Breathe In, Breathe Out. I’m Krystal Jacosky and I’m really excited to share this week’s episode with you. I first met Kevin Pinnell when I was a guest on his podcast, which is Award A Better Life. It was such a delightful experience. We had so many things in common that I really wanted to bring him on my podcast so that we could talk about the indigenous people. Kevin began his journey with the indigenous people of North America in the early nineties. He met Ken two feathers early on in that journey, and Ken Two Feathers became more than Kevin’s teacher. They had a wonderful friendship. And 10 years into that friendship, Kevin wrote the book, Two Feathers, Spiritual Seed Planter as Kevin Laughing Hawk, which addressed two feathers life and Native American spirituality. There is so much more to his experience and his life. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We’re going to talk about some of the keynotes of Kevin’s experience. I really hope that you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed having him on my podcast. Hello, and welcome back to Breathe In, Breathe Out. I’m Krystal Jakosky, your host, and I am so excited to have Kevin on our show today. Kevin Cannell, welcome.
Kevin Pennell: Thank you. Great to be here. This is awesome. I’ve switched roles for a change. I’m not a host. I’m actually a guest.
Krystal Jakosky: Oh, isn’t that fun? When you get to switch it up a little bit. Kevin and I have actually been recording right now because whenever we have the opportunity to chat, Kevin and I go off on so many different tangents and so many different realms, and it’s because we are both interested in so many different things. We are always looking for something new to learn or something new to teach, which means that we have a plethora of things that we can talk about and go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole after rabbit hole. So we’re going to make an effort to keep this a little shorter, meaning not four hours long, because we could talk for hours.
Kevin Pennell: We’re going to try to focus.
Krystal Jakosky: We’re going to give it the college try, you know, the good college. Not the one where you smoke pot for the first four years and then decide to do college. We’re going to actually try to focus. Welcome to my world today. Kevin, tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what brought you to my podcast studio.
Kevin Pennell: Oh my goodness. Well, if you got about two or three hours, hang in there. It’s just actually been about a year ago that I decided, I’m going to try doing a podcast because for 35 years off and on, I was in broadcast journalism and radio. So I just have a lot of fun with it. And I published a book, worked on a couple of other books, and did some magazine articles. I love to write, but for whatever reason, the publisher just wasn’t impressed. Okay, this is great, but you’re not going to publish it. It’s good stuff, but we’re not going to publish it. And I’m going, Yeah, fine, whatever. And I realized part of writing is you have to be able to accept a little two letter word called no.
Oh, that’s standard procedure. And I just, in one of those moments, I said, you know, I did broadcast journalism and I did human interest stories for years. I really enjoy doing that, just listening and talking with people about their lives. And literally, I think it was like 3:30 or 4:30 in the morning. That tends to be what I call my spirit time. Some of the most significant little truths that I’ve ever had. The title for the book that I wrote came to me in the middle of the night. And when I wrote that book, I wrote it from five o’clock in the morning until 6:30 every day until I got done with it. But that’s my spirit time. This time it came through as you need to do a podcast called Toward a Better Life.Read More
I went through the same thing with Krystal when she first came on my podcast saying, Okay, so when do we really start the podcast? And we had probably, I don’t know, know, 20, 30 minutes on the phone before we actually started. So I appreciate Krystal’s insights into helping people, helping people where they are, helping people to help themselves, and learning that life really can be a truly enjoyable experience if you look at it that way. And if you choose to look at it from a negative perspective, guess what you’re going to get. And I said, You know, we have so many different things in common that we can do with that so this is cool. This is awesome.
Krystal Jakosky: I love you and I want to put you in my pocket and just carry you around with me. Thank you for the boost. One of the things that Kevin and I have the opportunity to really connect with and is dear to my heart is actually the native path. And so today, in the interest of bringing more awareness and more understanding about possibilities and different healing modalities that you guys can dive into, finding your peace, finding your direction, finding your life, I really wanted Kevin to come on and talk about his journey with that native path so that you guys can understand a little bit more, because some of us are really drawn to it. I can tell you that any time I hear those drums, I am bouncing and walking around right along with it, because there is something that speaks to my heart and soul, and it brings me joy to be in that area. So Kevin, what drew you to the native path? Tell me about a little bit of your background and what brought you to that new place?
Kevin Pennell: I became really curious about how the indigenous people worked in close harmony with the world around them. They saw the trees as their brothers. You see the animals as their brothers and sisters. They would call the trees, not trees, but they called the brothers, called them the tall ones. Would call the stones, the rocks, grandmothers and grandfathers. They would go into a sweat lodge or they’d call them the stone people because they were the wisest people, because these stone people have been around for thousands of years. And the only way that we have to communicate is if you’re really in tune with stuff. You’re walking a long garden past some place, maybe out in Colorado or Texas or Minneapolis or wherever you might be in this little stone. You’re just drawn to it and you say, I got nothing, but it looks cute, so I’ll pick it up.
And you, and if you actually tried to tell that person, you do know that that stone just talked to you, Right? They’d say, Yeah, Right. What planet did you just fall off of? But I was always intrigued by the natural world, and I’ve always been intrigued by all the beauty of the natural world. And then I found myself just getting interested in that. And I started to say, Well, I wonder if I have any native blood in me. And I said, Well, you know, and at the time I was living in Broward County down in Florida, and we had a pretty big library. The library in Broward County was huge. And they actually had an archive section, and you could go in, believe it or not, Krystal, you could go into there and you can look up the original manifests from the original Mayflower.
Obviously they’re micro-fish, but it was amazing. We’re talking about handwriting Okay. That they had preserved from some place. And I’m going to just casually conclude the other, you know, and the curiosity part comes in. Oh, I wonder if Pinnell is in the right place. Yeah. 1637, third Mayflower, there’s a Pinal. I went, Oh my gosh. My family’s been here since 1637. And I know my dad had told me that, you know, the other crew came in from Wales, around sometime in the mid to early 1700s, because our ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. So, geez, you know, common sense will tell you, I’ve got to have native blood in me. Right. I’ve been around here for three to 400 years. It’s got to be native blood in me. Right? So I started that path and I started chumming around with different folks, and I was really drawn to a couple of folks.
One of those people as a person, I wrote about. The book is Two Feather Spiritual Seed Planter, and it’s written by Kevin Laughing Hawk, which is my spirit name that he gave me. But when Kenny and I first met, and this is shown in the book, when Kenny and I first met, I went into that guy, and I’m just talking with him because I was curious, and at the time I was doing news for local a radio station, and I said, You know, I wonder, I’m not really into the idea of interviewing this guy for a program, but I did see him identified in a local newspaper, The Gainesville Sun, I think it was. I sat down and I talked with him, and I just said, You know, you’re an interesting man and I would really like to share a little bit more with you.
He said, Sure, by all means, what questions do you have? And that short little time ended up being two and a half hours, difficult to do with you. Well, if you knew two feathers, you’d see that we’re on the verge of destruction here for taking up time. Oh, wow. Both of us just went on and on and on. And one of the most significant things that he said to me, he looked at me and he said, I do have a question for you, Kevin. I said, What’s that? He says, Do you know who you are? And I said, Well, sure. I know exactly who I am. I’m Kevin Pennell, I’ve been a pi, I’ve been a cop. I was in radio, I’m in radio now, and you know, I’ve done this, I’ve done that. I’ve done, No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Do you know who you are? And I said, I, I don’t. He says, We’ll go to that later. And he told me also, You know so you write news stories? I said, Yeah. He says, You know, maybe someday you ought to write a book about me or write a book about us. And I went, Oh, yeah. Right. Yeah. Like, I’m going to do that. 10 years later I did.
But, you know, so that’s the process. I was, you know, Kenny and I got together and I looked at him as my, my good friend, my brother, my teacher, my mentor. We are convinced that we were related in a past life, and we’ve got proof in our hearts and our spirits that that’s very, very true. And if I had a picture of him someplace, I would try to pull it up here to show you, because particularly in the cover of my book, and if you go to Amazon, you can see it. And people would look at that picture and they’d say, Well, it’s about Ken two feathers. Why did you put your picture on the cover?
And I didn’t. That’s Kenny, that’s how close we looked like each other. And when I was living up in Maine I’d be on the street walking along and somebody’d holler across the street, and this is a little village up there called Bethel. He would holler across the street, and they would say, Kenny. Kenny. And I’m looking around Flood, trying to find Kenny. I can’t see Kenny anywhere, I turned around and then said, Oh, wait a minute. You’re not Kenny
They were talking to me. Things for a compliment. Yeah. Thanks for the compliment. I really appreciate that. Nice thoughts. But Kenny taught me so much about this stuff, and I was still convinced that I was Native American. You know, after all, I’ve been here for 300 and something years. My family’s been here that long. I mean, my gosh, I’ve got to be Native American, Nope. Few years ago, Vicky, who’s my partner, got me one of these DNA test things, and I found out that I am Scott Welsh, Irish, and a little bit of German. And here’s the cool part that I didn’t expect. I’m also a Viking.
That answered a lot of questions for me, because if you go into some of the history of the Carolinas and some of the Virginias, you’ll find out that a lot of the intermarriages that took place a couple of hundred years ago with the Cherokee people, and it looks like they would intermarry with Celtics. If you start looking at the Celtic traditions, and you look at them in comparison to Native American ways, both of them honor the earth, both of them look at the spirits of the world, the spirits of the animals, the spirits of the earth, the spirits of everything. And that’s enough common ground to cause a beautiful relationship between people. So instead of turning my back on it saying, Well, you know, I’m not Native American, I’m a human being.
And that’s what Kenny would tell you. He says, there is no such thing as a Native American, an indigenous person, this, that, the other, we’re all human beings. And that is the essence of it, is to become a human being and a true human being as someone who not only honors the earth, but they honor people and they honor others’ ways. And that continued the journey. But it wasn’t until about a year or so before Kenny crossed over that I came to the realization that, Nope, I’m Scott Welsh and Irish mostly. And I’m okay with that. But in the midst of all of that, what I learned over a period of 15, 20 years of exposure to some of the indigenous people, particularly northeastern woodlands, Kenny was a penobscot and Sarney. You have Pinco, Mick Mack, Ma, Paqua, you know, all that group that’s up there in Maine and New England. And I sat under his tutelage and learned a great deal about sweat lodges, about getting, giving a name about the significance of having a spirit named significance of the sacred pie, significance of the giveaway. All those beautiful stories and how I made them a part of me. And in sharing that book, I encouraged other people to do this as well, from a standpoint of not becoming a Native American, but to become a better human being. So there’s the short version.
Krystal Jakosky: The question of, do you know who you are? Is a terrifying question, I think, for a lot of us. I mean, on the one hand, absolutely, I’m so and so, and this is what I do, but do you really know who you are? And to be sitting, you were drawn to indigenous people, you were drawn to the Native American ways. And to have this person sitting there asking you such a deep question You said, I’m Kevin Pennell, and I do this and this, and this and this, But inside, were you freaking out?
Kevin Pennell: Oh, yeah.
Krystal Jakosky: How did you move from, was it in just that one interview where you moved from where acquaintances and we’re checking each other out, and I wanted to know more about you that you automatically moved into, I want to take you under my wing. Or how did it change from just these two people meeting to, you need to learn more about who you are, and I want to teach you?
Kevin Pennell: It was one step at a time. In the book I talk about asking for a teacher or looking for a teacher, and it was still a curiosity. And I’m a curious person. I’m a very curious person, underscore that several times. And curiosity can be a blessing, could also be a curse. In this instance, it was a blessing. And the curiosity continued that Kenny says, Oh, we’ve got a Native American gathering coming up. Next month they have what they used to call down around Dad city, They called it the full moon ceremony. And it was beautiful, and it was on the full moon. And you would, we would have all these different people come and, and it was intertribal and even those that were not native and yet called to it, and don’t let me forget, I want to go to that in a second. Their essence was drawing me toward a deeper understanding of these people that were so beautiful and so wonderful. And I said, You know, there’s got to be something here and I can’t quite figure it out. So I kept going back to Kenny and talking with him. This wasn’t just one conversation. And to answer your first question, I’m sorry, was, you know, did you at that point in time realize that you were the student and he was the teacher? The answer is no. The universe knew it.
Universe knew, it’s taken us this long to get you two guys together crying out loud. You have no idea what a pia this has been.
And as we moved along, I started hearing about gifting tobacco and asking for a teacher. And really what that means to ask an indigenous person to be your teacher. Kenny taught me a lot as far as being very traditional in some of this stuff, and I’m not dissing anyone for any of this, but, there were people that if you wanted a teacher, then you not only gifted tobacco, but you gifted money. And if you wanted a sweat, you gifted money. It just goes on and on and on. And I’m not I’m not dissing anyone because that’s just their path. But the way that I was taught is, if I want a teacher, I gift them tobacco. If I want a sweat lodge, I gift them tobacco. If I want them to awaken a spirit pipe for me, I gift them tobacco. Why tobacco?
It’s bad for you. No. What it is, is, is it actually, the smoke is lifted with our spirit thoughts in the smoke to creator to the universe, to the ancestors around us, because that’s how the prayers are lifted. That’s why so often tobacco is looked at as a sacred herb, because its essence, the smoke as it’s burned, lifts our prayers and our intentions to the universe around us and the ancestors. So you would gift tobacco. And after a month, I’d say, I realized I really do want to know more about this. And I ended up gifting Kenny Tobacco and asking him to be my teacher. Part of that entailed, when you asked someone to be your teacher, you are like, I still use the term today. You’ve opened the door. You’ve opened the door to what you’ve opened to allow that person to share with you what they find to be the most benefit for you to be a better human being.
And guess what? Some of those things they tell you, if you’re a good teacher, you may not and you probably won’t like. Because they tell you stuff that is better for you as a person. And I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it was all actually roses. As roses have thorns, Kenny upset me enough a couple of times that I wanted to punch him. I’m not kidding at all. It just irritated the crap out of me. And he had me, I’m gonna steal your term. He had me own my shit. And I really didn’t want to own my shit because it’s my shit. It’s not somebody else’s. And it’s so easy to say, that’s your fault. You just don’t want to admit to it because it’s your perception. Yeah. So after a while, I became his student, he was my mentor. So he was my student, I was his student, I was his man, he was my mentor. I’ll slip on that because the interesting thing is, when you get in deep enough with somebody, the roles do reverse. You establish a beautiful relationship that is beyond words.
And as he would say, I’m not sure about our timeframe here, but if you can do this while we’re talking, I’m going to find something since it is going to be shown on YouTube, there’s a beautiful little story if I’m allowed to do this. Okay.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. This is your podcast. Well, it’s my podcast. You are my guest. You can get to do what you want.
Kevin Pennell: If I can do this in a camera. Okay. So I’ve got, There we go. I’ve got three dots here, right? Yeah. Okay, So now I’m going to take this, I’m going to draw a couple of lines here, and here it is again.
Krystal Jakosky: Further back, hold it further back so we can see it better. There we go. Okay.
Kevin Pennell So when we’re here, this is you and I talking to you, Krystal. Okay. Yeah. But the relationship that we’re forming also forms another relationship.
This is our higher selves communicating and they’re communicating in terminology. We cannot identify, we cannot communicate because we don’t know, we don’t understand that language. So in a higher form, you and I are communicating. And that’s how Kenny and I were, and that’s how all relationships are. If you really look at it, and it’s when we have these types of relationships that people should understand that. I don’t want to go down this road because it’s a whole nother podcast. But if you are in a situation where you need to end a relationship, this needs to finish or not finish, but you’d redefine it.
Because you’ve had that communication at that level. And so you have to figure out a way to make it real, to make it a good thing. And one of the things that we’ve used, I know some people think about affirmations, and I got an affirmation years ago, and this was not native, it was not indigenous, but it came from a spiritualist that I met down in Florida. He was an elder in a group down there. And the words go, you put a name or an object in the beginning of this affirmation, you’d say, Jack, I now release you to your good. The good of one is the good of all. Now keep those three little things in mind that I just showed you because Jack and I have had a relationship. But now we need to shift that relationship. So the I that I is the divine side of me, the higher self that I now release you to your good, I now release you to your higher self.
I now release you to the good intentions that you have. The ultimate result of that is in doing so, you help everyone and yourself included, because the good of one is the good of all. And that’s how you do stuff. If we realize that it really helps our relationships a lot more, so you can see where I can, we can really go to town on that. So that information was shared with me in that it’s so important that we really do get the picture of what it’s like to have a relationship with someone and to be integrated with that person because we are not just linear, but the whole picture. Yeah. So we’re embraced together in that whole thing.
Krystal Jakosky: There’s a ton in there. And I was trying to quietly and discreetly take some notes because there are so many things that I want to jump back to. I do the same thing. So, I love the illustration when I am working with a client or when I am being taught with somebody. I have, I have for a long time, 20 years, been very aware of my higher self. And there have been plenty of times that my higher self has been talking with the other person’s higher self. Then I understand. So it helps me to see their perspective. It helps me to see their point of view, why they feel a certain way. When I’m working with a client, I make sure that the conversation between my higher self and myself is very clear. So that if there is information that I need to give to my client while I’m teaching them how to listen to their higher self, it’s a very sacred and beautiful connection that you can build and you can really honor like yourself with your higher self and understanding and trusting the information that you get from them.
And as a teacher and a student connection, it’s even more sacred and special because of the added depth of the relationship that can happen because of the fact that you’re willing to spiritually connect together. My husband has this phrase, he says, the student becomes the master. And I think that goes to your comment that, that it does, we shift for a little while. We become, we are the teacher or we are the student. And after a little while, we are going to shift and we will be the other, we will be the student or the teacher on some level in some manner. And it’s a beautiful give and take because we’re all human and we all have experiences that we can share to help change lives in beautiful, gentle, and not so gentle ways. Some of the best lessons that I have learned are the ones where I just kind of want to flip the finger and say, Screw you, I don’t want to talk to you anymore.
Kevin Pennell: And then I have had those clients who they don’t talk to me for a week or two because what I ask them, what I am inspired to ask them from my eye or power saying, Hey, you need, you need a bigger nudge than what you’re willing to accept right now. So I’m going to say this. And it really upsets them. It’s really infuriating. And yet they always come back and say, thank you.
I needed that. I wasn’t willing to accept that. And the way that you did that was so fabulous. It hurts like hell. It pisses us off. And yet those moments, as long as we’re still saying yes, and, and I’m going to choose into this, then we’ll see what happens and where it goes. And I’m really grateful for you, that Kenny was able to push your buttons.
Krystal Jakosky: Am I? You have no idea. He, he came in, I’ll go ahead. No, you’re good. No, no, no. Please. You had a question. I want to because I will ramble forever.
Kevin Pennell: No, I was, what I was going to say was actually to the audience and the fact that oftentimes those people who are so challenging have the biggest lessons. They have the biggest opportunity for shifting, for growth. If we step back, take a moment and ask, Okay, what am I supposed to learn? What am I being shown? How can I deal with this? Instead of shutting down and putting that wall there and a million locks and everything else to push that person out of our lives, maybe we step back and say, Okay, how can I learn and how can I grow and how can life be better because of this really frustrating moment that I am experiencing? So friction is good.
Krystal Jakosky: It is something, somebody ought to come up with a line like breathe in and breathe out.
Kevin Pennell: Right. Thank you.
So a little while back, I want to bring us back to this because I wanted to come back and you mentioned that you wanted to come back. The whole concept of you thought for sure that you had Native American blood in you, that you were somehow related to that. And then you go in with Kenny two feathers and you’re learning from him. And you said you wanted to return to this concept of the fact that you actually don’t have, and yet you were learning from.
So in some work that I had done on my own and thankfulness to others, for what it’s worth my background, degree is in theology. And I did a flip some years ago and I will not, again, I’m not going to put anybody down because they go to church because that is the level of spirituality. That’s the way you achieve your level of spirituality that you feel that you’re growing from and that you’re getting a lot of benefit from. And that’s fine. It’s just not who I am anymore. It was part of my process. I don’t regret any of that. But all that being said, I’m leading into something. And that is that I strongly believe in reincarnation Now, I believe in it so strongly that I can tell you that there were incidents in my life where dreams that used to come to me after I had made a shift and I had made a change that was needed in my life, Guess what happened to those dreams? They stopped because I made the change that was necessary. And I realized after I had had this one, I had one dream that was, it was to the point, it would actually become nightmarish and it would wake me up. And it was scary. I’m sure people have had these kind of dreams where you would have a dream where you either you want to punch somebody and for whatever reason, everything goes into slow motion and you can’t quite get your fist into it where you need to go stops
Yeah. Or you have the other situation, which was this one that I had a spear in my hand and I was native. I was a pueblo and I had my spear and we were being invaded and I knew that I had to do something and I just kept trying to move forward with this. And it’s, I’m going to kill you. I’m going to do this. And nothing will ever happen with that. I had a past life regression done by a colleague of mine and came to realize the reason why I had such a hard time with that is because that’s not what happened. Oh. I was a spiritual leader of that group, and I had taken the vow to be a peacemaker, and that meant that I didn’t raise arms against anybody.
And the truth came out that I watched my family get killed. Wow. And that was tough. And after I realized what was involved with that, I saw for the first time in that juncture, a real essence of what I was in that life. Not only had it been that, but I also found that there were some roots in the Kwa Nation. And because I was, I talked with somebody one time and we were just having a great time, just like you and I are having a great time right now. And we started singing some wonderful songs and some of the songs that just came from the heart just came from Spirit. I’m just going at it. And the lady that I was with at the time, she says she just held her hand up and she was black feet and Polish.
That’s a good combination. She said, You need to stop right there. And I said, Why? What? You know, what did I do? And I’m still, this is like three or four years into my, two or three years into my path on some of this indigenous people path. What did I do? Did I offend you? And she, No, have you been around K people? And I said, No, I’ve never been around Kwa people. Where are they? And she says, Well, you know, up Midwest. And I said, Okay. So what? She says, Well, you’re singing in the K language. I got nothing. And again, I did some more work. And I’m, I’m comfortable with that, that Kwa. And some people say, Oh, you’re just one of those frilly, fufu people that just believes in anything and everything.
But what I’ve got also down deep inside of me is a real sense. And it was brought into full light when I saw, and I heard from Kenny, but I heard about a story that was given down, I believe by the Hopi, and I can be wrong, but something about that there are so many souls who are out there from the 500 nations that occupied North America. There are not enough bodies for the souls that have crossed over. And so some of those souls went into the people of today, the white people, and those that have the hearts and the minds ready for this sort of thing. Okay, I can accept that or not, all I know is this. I’m going to move along with the way that time feels. I’m the most comfortable. And so, I will talk about, you need to be very wary of being too comfortable because you know, you can get so comfortable that you no longer grow. But comfort in this act, I would say not comfortable, but content with the concept that I’m confident that I’ve been in native in the past. And that’s why one of the reasons I gravitated back to this is because I see the connection between my true heritage of the Celtic people and the inherited or reincarnated heritage of my native side. So yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s powerful stuff.
I’m searching for the right words at the moment because there are a ton of thoughts and ideas going through my brain right now. And I want to say these words in the most respectful and honoring way that I can. We are drawn to different things. We are drawn to different ways of life. And it is all an opportunity to learn and grow. It is all an opportunity to find compassion and expansion with understanding a different culture, a different way of living, a different state of being. And this is, and I would like to mention that not by way of just Native American and indigenous pupils. I’m talking about people who live differently than us. Maybe it’s someone who chooses religion and the structure that that gives them over spirituality. Perhaps it’s someone who has a different societal belief, right? Whether you’re Republican or Democrat or all those things.
Perhaps it’s someone who is lgbtq plus versus someone who is not unaware of it. Somebody who is deaf and in that community and culture and somebody who is not and is trying to learn how to respect and honor the different cultures and ways of living around us. And I think that by learning about it, inviting that in from a very respectful and honoring space, we learn so much more. And just like you are the student, you may also become the teacher and help people recognize that you’re not out to get them and that you are more balanced and that things are okay and whatnot. I think there’s this huge opportunity for all of us to come together in this compassionate, gentle space. If you are drawn to the beliefs and the feelings and the teachings and the culture of indigenous people, I encourage you to dive in.
I encourage you to respectfully dip your toes and send out to the universe and say, Hey, can you send me a teacher and help me meet the people that I need to meet so that I can start walking on that path? Because the only way you will find that person is if you do open up. Kevin and I were talking about the concept right now. Kevin’s very much in this. Yes. And what else can I do? And if you say, yes, I would like that teacher, and what else can I learn? How many things shift?
You bet it does. Just be ready for the ride. I think when you are working with someone within the native community, as an outsider, I would say this, I felt truly honored when I was living out in the southwest living, living in Arizona. And I found the sweat lodge to be so beneficial for me as a person. And it really did a lot for my heart, my spirit, my soul, and what a wonderful group of people they were that were there. It was on the Pima Reservation. And if you’re familiar with Phoenix, that’s pretty much really close within the city limits of Phoenix. But they were Pima, there were Pima and there were Navajo. That was pretty much it. Those two people, excuse me, there was Apache, there were Apaches there too.
And the sweat lodges that I had been to up to that point were a big one for me was 10, 15 people. This sweat lodge alone was probably, I’m gonna guess it was, it was elliptical. So it was probably pretty close to somewhere between 16 and 20 feet long and probably a solid 12 to 14 feet wide, big sweat lodge. Wow. And I thought a big sweat lodge that we would have had a really heavy duty sweat lodge had 12 to 15 stones. No, we had somewhere between 48 and 52 stones in that sweat lodge. And everyone in there, you could just feel the spirit in there. And I faithfully went there for my own sake. I mean, because I needed that in my life at that time. I had drifted a little bit. I’m still on the path and still doing it, but I’m still being pulled into other stuff and we can maybe go into that later or go into another podcast. But we all will drift from time to time off of our given path. And sometimes it’s done for different reasons, but in this one, I felt really good that it gave me that grounding that I needed.
And literally out of the proverbial blue, the leader came to me and parenthetically the leader and his wife actually helped young men and women on the PMA reservation with substance abuse. And they used the sweat lodge as a vehicle to help them overcome substance abuse. So it was pretty powerful. Yeah. He came up to me after I’d been there for some months, he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, Can I speak with you for a minute brother? And I said, Sure, what’s up? He says, You know, we have another sweat lodge. I said, Yeah, I, you know, coming next Tuesday, Wednesday, whatever it was, he says, No, no, no. He says, We have a family swat lodge every Sunday and I’d like you to start attending.
Krystal Jakosky: Oh wow.
Kevin Pennelll: That blew me away.
Krystal Jakosky: Literally invited you into the family.
Kevin Pennell: Yeah. And no ceremony. It just was what it was. And I also had the opportunity, one of the Apaches in the group came up, put their hand on my shoulder one day and then said, we have a very special thing. And we’d like, and this is after I had been invited to go to the Sunday sweats, because it was at one of those Sunday sweats that he came to me. And let’s face it guys, I don’t look native
And he puts his hand on my shoulder and he says, Are you familiar with a very special Apache dance where a young woman is ushered into a young lady and is ushered into womanhood? And I said, Yeah, I’m a little familiar with that. He says, Well, we have a young lady who’s doing that. This, you know, whenever it is, he says, we’d be honored to have you. And this is the one where you would have the dancers, and the brain’s gone right now. Hopefully it’ll come back. Wink wink, nudge, nudge Krystal, maybe you can help me out here. But you have the special dolls that you can buy at gift shops and they’re the really cool looking dolls that you get. And they’re Hopi basically. Yeah, well the Apache have them too, just so you know. And I went to that dance and they had the bonafide ones. They didn’t have the tourist ones because you can go to either one of those dances in Arizona and this one you were stopped on the road when you were coming in saying, who invited you?
I told them and they said, Okay, you can come in.
Krystal Jakosky: Okay, fine. We’ll admit you. What I want to know, and I want my listeners to know, what is the purpose or the intention behind the sweat lodges?
Kevin Pennell: Good question. There’s a chapter in the book about that.
Sweat lodge. I attended the sweat lodge basically to– how do I start with this? Sweat lodge is an opportunity for us to bear ourselves to the universe and to cleanse ourselves from whatever is holding spirit back. Black Elk and his nephew, Frank FOLs Crow also had the same thing. And that is that with sweat lodges, you are given the opportunity to bury your soul and to go down deep inside and reveal to you what you need to change. Fools Crow talked about being a hollow bone and there’s a workshop that I’ve done before called Becoming a Hollow Bone. And interestingly enough, to me it’s also one of those central truths like love because the Dalai Lama talks about becoming, believe it or not, he uses the term becoming a hollow tube. But the hollow bone is just simply this.
That you get rid of the stuff that’s inside that bone to allow more spirit to come through that’s unobstructed. And to give the analogy, they give the example of a plumbing pipe that if it gets clogged, the water can’t get through and you have to unplug it. And so the Sweat lodge is one of the vehicles that can be used to help rid ourselves of the stuff that’s within our being, within our bones that will help spirit to come through better. That’s one of the parts. But in most cases it’s an opportunity to be cleansing and beautiful. That’s what’s done. And that’s another piece that I was taught if you want to have a sweat lodge. I was honored in being able to be taught how to do a sweat lodge and I’ve poured a few sweat lodges.
The way that I would do a sweat lodge was somebody would come up to me, and this is how Kenny taught me and others chimed in with the same thing, is that you come up to me, you give me tobacco, and you give me a reason why. And I’m not trying to be a jerk, but if somebody comes up to me and says, Oh, I want to have a sweat lodge because I want to know what it’s like. No, why do you want it? It’s like the same question, Do you know who you are?
If you give me a good reason or if you give that elder a good reason and tobacco, there’s your way. And typically what I did was somebody would give tobacco or somebody would give Kenny tobacco and he’d say, Give me a few days to talk with the spirits. And that’s what you do. And my thing was, he taught me if I wait three times to come back through. And the third time it affirms that. In fact, if the third time doesn’t come at a certain length of time, then it ain’t going to happen. It’s just not meant to be. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a sweat, it just means that I’m not supposed to be the one to do it. Or maybe you’re not supposed to have one. So there’s no money exchanged, it’s just your gift of tobacco. That’s the way I was taught. And you typically break bread afterward too. There’s a lot more to it than that. Does that answer the question?
Krystal Jakosky: No, it’s a fantastic answer and I very much appreciate it because it literally brings everything back to intention and spirituality and being connected with source, being connected with the universe, being connected with spirit, whatever that phrase is that works for you. So Native Americans, indigenous people, some people are going to do sweat lodges, and that is how they connect with that spirit. And other people are going to go to organized religion. That is where they have that connection with that higher power that brings them the peace and joy that they need. It all works for everyone depending on where you’re at and what you are seeking and what fills your heart and gives you the answers that you need in that moment. And so I love the intention behind it. I love the purpose behind it. It’s I am seeking, or I would like to connect or I need this, and because I need that, I am going to seek for answers. I’m going to seek healing. I am going to find somebody who can help me move forward and be better in my life than I already am right now. So thank you for that answer. Thank you for sharing.
Kevin Pennell: Part of it is, the magic word that you used is something I used with students when I teach not only workshops, but when I teach in massage school and when I teach whatever, intention is key. Intention is critical. So it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you need to look at the reason behind it. Yeah. And you need to really say, Am I doing this for the right reasons? What’s my intention? What am I really engulfing in this? What am I really putting into this? What kind of energy am I putting into this? Yeah. And if you’re working with someone, side note massage therapy is, is if you don’t have the intention when you’re talking with somebody, or excuse me, when you’re working with someone and you’re doing the massage with someone, you’re doing the body work with someone, any of the stuff that we’re talking about, even if you’re doing counseling or if you’re doing anything like that, and if your mind is not totally focused with good intention with that person, don’t think for a second that they won’t feel it.
You don’t have to say it. Words don’t have to express what’s really going on. And if we’re human, we’re going to do this, but if my brain is on, well, geez, I wish this interview would get done because I’ve got other things to do. If I let that intention come out in that, going back to the little three globes I had, and if your higher self picks up on that, guess what? You say, Okay, that’s good. See ya. And I never hear from you again. But it’s the side. The other side of that is if you’re a body worker and you are totally committed to this person and you’re not thinking about your rent, you’re not thinking about, Oh geez, this is this person again. And you’re not thinking about, Oh, what am I going to do this weekend?
And if you’re not, you know, all the little thought monkeys coming in and if you’re not sidetracked by all that, guess what? They know it. They know when you are connected to them. And then the magic really happens because they say, Wow, I don’t know what this is that you’ve just done with me as far as a massage is concerned, or whatever the case may be, but it’s the most fantastic, most beautiful, most awesome experience. And I will come back and you say, Okay, great. And I will, It’s just magical when you do that because people want that. I was talking earlier today with someone and they said, You know what people are starving for right now. I mean, we’re doing this on a podcast, we’re doing this on YouTube, but they really miss being together. Actually touching each other. And it’s that communication that is so important. But anyway, ramble on intention next.
Krystal Jakosky: No, you’re good. I’ve also noticed for me personally, I have done ti massage, meaning I am a trained ti massage therapist. And so I have often found that when I am in it, and this goes for, I mean, you brought out massage therapy, but I think that this goes for almost any action that we’re doing. If you focus on the action that you’re doing and you are really in it, I am cutting these vegetables and I’m getting the same size. I’m sanding wood, I’m chopping wood, I’m working on a client. If you focus on that and let everything else go, it actually becomes a meditation. One of my favorite things was to be working and losing my mind in what I was doing and having that intentionality and the fluidity because I was just present in that moment. And that presence is what brought me peace, is what brought me more energy to continue with the rest of my day. And so intention, the presence and things are completely different. So Kevin, what are you doing now?
Kevin Pennell: I’m talking with you. You ask, I mean.
Krystal Jakosky: Like these days, I mean you and I could shop talk forever, you guys, I’m telling you Kevin and I could do a year’s worth of podcast and probably not touch on the same subject twice. And that’s fantastic to find such a gift like that. So I sincerely thank you for having me on your A Better Life podcast. And then I really thank you for being here because I really wanted to talk about the native way of life and their love for the earth and their connection to the world around us, because I think it is so absolutely beautiful. I feel that draw and it is one of those things that speaks peace and joy to my heart with all of the other things that we have talked about, but not necessarily on this podcast. What else are you into these days? Like what else are you doing in life?
Kevin Pennell: Well, I do have to share one other little thought with Native American stuff. It just came to me and I would just want to honor that, that if you are a person listening to this, watching this, and if you’re being drawn in that direction, be you white or be you native. And if you are drawn in that direction and you start to seek out someone, know this, that eventually, if you’re doing it for the right reasons, with the right intentions, it goes back to the old saying, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. But at the same token, when you find that teacher or where you find that person, you don’t just run right out and give them tobacco right on the spot. No, just take your time, go slow. Take it to somebody who has been there. Oh dear. You know, I want everything and I want it right now. Because that’s the way you do stuff, right? No, take your time. Be patient would be one key word. Another key word to keep in mind is love, trust, and thankfulness.
Honor sharing, caring, giving, loving. That’s the ones that I’m trying to run in my brain. But that’s what we would say all the time to love, to share, to care, to give. We’re coming up on a season called, of course, Thanksgiving. And I have a podcast coming up that’s going to be on the Thanksgiving address. And if you have an opportunity to look up on Google or listen to the podcast, it doesn’t matter to me. It really doesn’t. What’s most important to me is that you look and find the Thanksgiving address. It was as it was delivered by the Iroquois people. Because it’s beautiful. When I did it the other day, I got emotional. It just really hit my heart when I would listen to my really good friend Mike Douglas giving that information to me. He was the main preventative skill school.
Hope you don’t mind my sharing that. But, thankfulness is so important to be thankful for the air that we breathe. Be thankful for the life that we have. Be thankful that we are old because we could have died young. Be thankful for the simple little things. Be thankful for the person in your life. Be thankful for the people in your life. So what am I doing now? Well, I am enjoying doing podcasts. You’re talking about being focused on stuff. People really, my partner can’t believe it about how I can sit down with my audition software and I can spend hours editing. You can share that information with Avery. I can just go away. I mean, hours will go by and I’m just sitting here going on.
Yeah. But I’m such a big picture person and yet at the same time I can be very detail oriented when I need to be. In Native traditions sometimes that’s referred to as mouse medicine. But anyway, so I do my podcast, I do some instruction, I do some workshops. I am a massage therapist who sees people here in Asheville, North Carolina, Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, I have people ask, even if you’re a massage therapist and your listener watching this, and some people will ask me, Well, how many massages do you do a day? And I typically am going to do two to four, and that’s my happy place. Yeah. Could I do six? Yeah, I could, but I wouldn’t last. I’ve been doing body work of some level or another for about 22 years, and it can be done.
So I do the massage, I do podcasting. I walk in nature. I love to get out and about. I just like being when I can. Through our other conversations, Krystal knows that we’re into cars a little bit. And I do have another podcast called the Driving Experience. I’m really into BMWs, and racing. I used to race, but I don’t race anymore. Just because, you know, I’m not going to say I won’t because I don’t know, but I just like to live an active life. We are currently living in a senior community while we wait for our house to be built. And we tried this for a while and, Krystal, we can’t do it. And I’m not putting anything down, but I, I cannot be that old person.
Just can’t do that. Nope. Just can’t. You’re not ready. No. And, I don’t know that I ever will be. There was a teacher who taught, she was actually responsible forTrigger Point Therapy, and her name was Janet Trave. And Janet continued her work as a massage therapist and, and doctor up until about three to four months before she died at the ripe old age of 96. Oh, wow. I intend to beat her record. So I gotta go good. But just stay active. And if you’re older and if you’re a senior and you feel like, Oh man, I just know, just stop doing what you’re doing and go out for a walk in the woods, bathe in the woods.
And no, don’t take a tub with you for crying out loud. I’m talking about being one with the forest. But, you know, be active. Get around young people and, and just be and enjoy life because that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to learn. We’re here to be filled with joy. We’re here for contentment. And I mean, if you look at the Dalai Lama that still does live things on occasion, and I saw something the other day and I realized he’s pushing 90 years old. And you look at him and he’s still smiling and he’s still going around and he’s still happy and he’s not dejected, he’s not down. So yeah, let us see. What else do I do?
I build things. I stay active and I let my brain stay active.
Krystal Jakosky: In all of that activity, in all of the things that you’re doing and loving and enjoying, what is your favorite or most unique?
Kevin Pennell: Geez.
Krystal Jakosky: Activity for self care.
Kevin Pennell: Oh, good one. Yay. Wow.
Krystal Jakosky: I don’t know what you thought I was going to ask.
Kevin Pennell: You know, I didn’t. What’s your favorite one? Oh God. No.
Krystal Jakosky: No. What’s your favorite, what’s your favorite way to take care of yourself and rebuild, regenerate? Because you’re doing a lot. You’re out and you’re functioning. What do you do for you?
Kevin Pennell: I will answer this with a line that I’ve used for years. It’s four words, go with the flow. What I mean by that is, today I missed my run and I missed my walk. Because I’m doing two podcasts. One I did, and one I’m being done. What was that?
So I could get all upset about that or I could look at this as an opportunity for me. Because that’s what this has been. Yeah. You know, I’m sharing with Krystal and this is me time, this is what I want to do. But the rest of that part is for self care, and I’ve taught, and I have a workshop that I do with this, but self care is one of the biggest things for self care is awareness.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah.
Kevin Pennell: You know what’s missing? So I might fill that void with going out for a walk in the woods. I might fill that void with doing some Tai Chi and Chiang. I might start to do the ch style 48 and I might get through half of it and start saying, Oh, I’m good with this. Yeah. And you know, I want to go with the flow to what generates within me, the sense of being me and no one else. And if you look at that book that I wrote, one of the things that came up in that book was, I am a chameleon. True, true story. Or I have been where, because of my background, and this will really spin us off and I’m not gonna go there but because of the way I was brought up a long time in a residence or a place or a community was two years when I was growing up, two years mostly it was like 18 months on average.
Wow. And we moved and it was no regrets, not upset, no problems. But it’s funny because what that taught me to do is how to connect with people like that. And I could make a connection. I could get that. But in order to do that, I had to be like them. Listen to that. I had to be like them, not like me, like them. Why? Because in the way that I thought, it made me more comfortable around them because I’m like them. But then is when I really got the message that Kenny was trying to ask me years and years and years before, Kevin, who do you think you are? Who are you? And I went, Wow. And that’s when the change really happened. And people say, Geez, would you do that again? I said, I would try to avoid it like the bubonic plague, but I don’t regret a bit of it because I had to go through that. I had to do that change. So back the to question, what do you do for self care? I listen to the still small voice in my heart. When I used to, when I’ve signed off on my books before, I would say something to the effect of, let your heart and spirit guide you because they’ll never let you down.
Let your heart and your spirit guide you because they will never let you down your heart, your spirit, not the other persons, but listen to your heart within and go with that. And once you get that message, you can maybe find that what you want to do today for self-care is meditate. I do that. I can meditate for a few minutes or I can meditate for two hours. I’ve done both. I can go down that road and we’re not going to go there, but you know, meditate, Tai chi, Chiang Reiki. I can get lost doing massages. That can be, believe it or not, be my self care, giving a massage. And of course receiving a massage because that is also self care. But you’ve got to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else is going to.
Krystal Jakosky: You are, you are echoing so many things that I already say and I absolutely love it. It’s like these gigantic exclamation points coming down saying hello. Hey guys, remember self care is the conscious and intentional act of taking care of your own needs. And it could change from day to day. It does not matter. What matters is that you are letting your heart and your spirit be your guide because they’re not going to be false to you.
I mean it’s like bam boo. Yeah. Bring it on. Meditation, you know, meditation is the moment that you tune out the world and tune into yourself. You tune into the breathing, you tune into the moment and you let everything else go.
Kevin Pennell: I think one of the things you should do with part of the self care is change it up. Don’t try to do the same thing every day. Because if you do the same thing every day, it becomes a habit. And before you know it, a habit becomes a rut and you are only different, you know, do you know the only difference between the rut and a grave? Both ends are knocked out. That’s the only difference when a rut and a grave is where you haver both ends knocked out.
Krystal Jakosky: Wow. Okay guys, let’s stay out of the ruts. I have one more question for you Kevin. You’ve already given us a really good one. So who are you is a great journaling question. I love to leave all of my listeners with a journaling prompt or a question that they can think about and really answer. And who you are is amazing. Is there another one that you can think of that you would love to encourage people to explore?
Kevin Pennell: What have you done for self care for yourself today?
Krystal Jakosky: Okay. Just today.
Kevin Pennell: For the whole week?
Krystal Jakosky: It doesn’t have to be huge. It’s one little thing today.
Kevin Pennell: What have you done for yourself today?
Krystal Jakosky: I have, I have loved having you here. I have loved chit chatting with you. I really hope that everybody out there listening has enjoyed listening to us as well, and that you’ve been inspired and that you are leaving this session of this podcast uplifted and smiling. I am. I love Kevin. I love just the way that it’s so free and easy to talk with you. How do people find you and are there any last tidbits of wisdom or words of knowledge that you would like to share with people?
Kevin Pennell: So I would say first you can contact me through my website, which is toward better life.com. If you want to reach out to me, just write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am available to do consultations and stuff like that from time to time. I haven’t mentioned that, but I do, I have done that and I will be more than happy to do it. so that’s the two easiest ways to do it. You know, if I go into phone numbers and stuff. When we get acquainted, you can have my phone number and we can text. That’s fine. Yeah.The easiest thing is toward better life.com and Kevin toward better life.com. And that’s an email and the website. That’s the easiest way to do this. And if you’re in the western North Carolina area and you’re looking for a massage, you can still do the same thing. I’ll just direct you to who to contact to get a massage. I think I would leave people just with those same simple words that if I can get them again in my head properly, and that is listen to your heart and spirit because they won’t let you down.
Krystal Jakosky: Amen. Oh, thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for sharing with me and starting my day off so beautifully. So Right. Thank you.
Kevin Pennell: Thank you. Pleasure’s all mine. We’ll do this again.
I hope this moment of self care and healing brought you some hope and peace. I’m Krystal Jacosky on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. And I hope you check us out and follow along for more content coming soon. I look forward to being with you again here on Breathe in. Breathe out. Until next time, take care.
Think meditation is hard? Do me a favor, take a slow deep breath in and now breathe out. Congratulations, you just meditated. Hi, I’m Krystal Jakosky, and this is Breathe In, Breathe Out: a Weekly Mindfulness and Meditation podcast for anyone ready to own their shit and find a little peace while doing it.
This is Krystal Jakosky with Breathe In, Breathe Out and before we get to the main episode, I just wanna tell you we are human and we had a little bit of a snafu in the recording of this next episode and I hope that you can look past the humanness of it and the sound quality and just enjoy the content and the conversation that I got to have with this wonderful, beautiful human being. So without further ado, I hope you enjoy today’s episode.
Krystal Jakosky: Hello, and welcome back to Breathe In, Breathe Out. I am Krystal Jakosky and as always, I am so glad that you’re here. I’m honored that you’ve decided to spend this time with us and expand your horizons and just be the amazing you that you are showing up in this world. You know, I told you guys that we’re gonna introduce you to different stuff and different ways that you can take care of yourself and different people that can help you or inspire you on your own journey. And today I’m excited because we have Tami Kiekhaefer, LCSW. We’re gonna ask her all that. What does it mean? She has operated a successful psychotherapy practice since 2002. She provides individual family and couples therapy around anxiety, depression, domestic violence, trauma relationships, and personal empowerment. Tami is a certified yoga instructor and she weaves concepts of holistic therapy into her clinical work. So I’m really glad that she’s here and welcome today.
Tami Kiekhaefer: Thank you, thanks for having me on.
Krystal Jakosky: Licensed clinical social worker, right? LCSW?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Yep. That’s correct.
Krystal Jakosky: In the moment my brain went, wait, what am I doing here? Oh, let’s pause, brain fart. It’s all good. It happens to the best of us. So you’ve had this successful practice since 2002. What brought you to psychotherapy?Read More
Krystal Jakosky: It hit you when you were in tenth grade. What was your exposure to counseling and that kind of social work? What was your exposure before that?
Tami Kiekhaefer: I, you know, I think I was always the person in my family who, um, everyone came to talk to and my friends came to talk to, um, I think I’ve, I’ve always been empathetic and I, I think just kind of seeing things big picture and how I’ve described it before is that I feel like everyone kind of has a puzzle, their own little puzzle box, and your picture is on the front. And sometimes it gets all jumbled up and you have to like put your pieces back together. And I’ve always, I’ve always looked at that. Like, there’s a “why” behind the behavior. And that’s always been fascinating to me whether, you know, I was, I was younger working with my friends or talking to my friends about their problems or, uh, yeah. So it’s just kind of always been, uh, connecting with people and helping people has kind of always been my thing.
Krystal Jakosky: I really love that statement. The “why” behind the behavior <laugh> is because we don’t, we don’t just act the way we act. There’s a reason that we are reacting to something that somebody said. There is a reason that we don’t like this or that or the other, and taking a moment to say why I don’t, I don’t think that we often enough do that. Let’s all be little kids. Why, why is the sky blue?
Tami Kiekhaefer: I love that. Exactly. But why, but why?
Krystal Jakosky: I did that, but why?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Some of us have lots and lots and lots and lots of whys behind the behavior. So you have to dig and dig and dig and, and, uh, and that’s okay because pretty soon all of it becomes clear and, and then you have the power to change it. Cause now you know why.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. And you, as you said, it’s, they have all of those whys, but those whys are like a protective layer before you get to what’s really going on. It’s like, well, because I think we do that so that we can avoid going deeper, avoid trying to admit that we don’t know, or avoid facing something unbelievably challenging. That’s like just sitting there saying huh.
Tami Kiekhaefer: Yeah, it’s scary. It can be very scary. And I think that that’s why, you know, I guess also in my, in my practice, I know when people come in for the very first time, they’re nervous and you know what, I’m nervous too. Um, I’ll kind of have a few jitters before I meet somebody new. Like, oh my gosh, are they gonna, are they gonna like it here? Are they gonna like me? Are they gonna feel comfortable? And so I, you know, I really that’s. The first part is just helping people feel more comfortable because if you’re not open, then I don’t know what’s going on. And if I don’t know what’s going on, then I can’t help you. So it can be scary to look in the mirror and own your stuff.
Krystal Jakosky: It’s okay to cuss. My tagline is own your shit. It’s OK. What, are some of the biggest conceptions of talk therapy that you have come up against that you feel are hurdles for people going in to get help?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Um, I think, I think just opening up, I think making that first phone call to say, I think I need help. Um, that’s a tough one, because like you said, all of the little protectors that we have around us all the time, I mean, you have to have per protectors because otherwise you never get anything done. You just be kind of a bubbly mess I would anyway. So, I think that, yeah, um, I think making that first phone call and just saying like, I don’t know what else to do. I feel like I’ve tried everything that I can do. Um, and I think that you know, I rarely get the phone call of someone saying, I think I’m getting ready to go into a crisis. Um, that never happens. <laugh> people are like, I need to get in now when’s your first opening. And, and it’s, I mean, people, we do, we just wait too long to make that phone call every now and then I’ll. Yeah.
Krystal Jakosky: I want everyone to hear that for a second. I really wanna repeat it in a different way. You mean that talk therapy is not only for people in a state of crisis, it’s actually beneficial before you get there.
Tami Kiekhaefer: 100%
Krystal Jakosky: Because I think that’s a misconception people have is that only people in crisis have it only people in crisis, go talk to somebody and need that extra boost or need that extra direction in life. And having that relationship with a therapist ahead of the crisis means that you’re not panicking. And you’re not for lack of a better word dating around, trying to find a therapist that really jives with you and understands you and works with you. So, um, if you hear me correctly, I’m just gonna tell you right now, it’s great to look for that ahead of time and say, you know what? I hear that it’s good. And maybe it’s something that I could use and maybe I’ll just kind of go check it out and see what’s there and see if there’s somebody that can help me. And you might be surprised at how much easier life becomes because you have that safe space, an objective friend, for lack of a better word that you can go to and just say, Hey, this is a problem for me.
Tami Kiekhaefer: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And, uh, because I think you think about how often people are actually in crisis enough to pick up the phone. Um, I mean, hopefully not 24/7, but, and it doesn’t last 24/7, so the crisis hits, and then there’s the panic. And then that’s, that’s when you pick up the phone and, and find someone? You know, you’re right. It’s like you’re in panic mode, you’re in survival mode. So then the, then the crisis goes away and you’re like, ah, I don’t really need a therapist. I got this, I got this. But then the next crisis happens and then they start building. And now all of a sudden, you’ve got a different level of anxiety, a different level of toxicity in your relationship. And so why wait?
Krystal Jakosky: I really want you to think about this guy. When was the last time you were in crisis and you actually picked up the phone and called somebody and said, I need help? I think the majority of us when we’re in crisis actually shut down more and it’s less about reaching out for help. And it’s more about survival and just trying to get through what we’re going through so you don’t reach out. And then the next time that thing comes around, it’s just bigger because you didn’t have the bandwidth when you were in crisis to find that trusted source that you can talk to. Right? Yeah. Not really where I expected this conversation to go. And yet I’m very, very glad that we’re going there. <laugh>, that’s fantastic.
Tami Kiekhaefer: It is. I like it when I’m watching a hockey game or football game and they’re talking about mental health and they’re talking about men in mental health and they’re talking about, you know, Sondermind has a ton of advertisements and I’m like, wow. In the middle of a hockey game, they’re encouraging people to get into therapy. Like, this is amazing. This is great because the stigma of like, something’s wrong with me or, um, or I’m broken or I’m a mess, or, you know, no one’s ever gonna want me because of my counseling or just all those kinds of things that you tell yourself. They’re just so false. And you’re just such a better person when you can do some self-reflecting and, and feel good about yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, you’re gonna be so much more available for healthy relationships, whether it’s your neighbor or a colleague or a family member or a romantic partner. But yeah, I mean it, yeah.
Krystal Jakosky: Realistically it helps you in the self-ownership aspect of life because I don’t know very many people that can take constructive criticism from a family member or a close friend. It really just makes them mad that you’re judging them and telling them how to live their life and yet going into a counselor, um, or a therapist and actually talking and saying, this is where I’m at. And having them help you understand where you’re at and helping you see a different perspective allows for deeper self-introspection and deeper ownership – ownership of your shit. Yes. See there. That was a Freudian slip. Oh, I like that. I like that. It’s kinda a new word. What’s your ownershit, what’s your ownershit? I wanna know. Yeah. So it’s, it’s a lot easier to do that with a trusted other outside party than it is somebody who is too close to the relationship or too close to you in that moment as somebody like, I wanna talk about toxic relationships because this is an example and it segues right into it.
A therapist can help you see that this relationship is toxic for you and not benefiting you in healthy ways. Whereas a family member says that it’s really common to say, screw you. I’m gonna do what I wanna do. And the therapist can help you say, okay. So how does this feel for you? And is this beneficial? Is it bringing you more joy than pain and sorrow? How do you know, like what’s the definition of toxic in relationships and communication? How do you know what that is?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Hmm. I, that’s a really good question because you hear “toxic relationship” and it’s a very, it’s a very vague term. I think that I would look at a toxic relationship as, um, I guess in my own life. I try to strive to be around people who after I leave them after our connection, after our dinner, lunch, whatever, whatever I feel better afterward, I feel good after my interaction with that person.
And, maybe I look at toxic relationships as someone who you’re close with, you’re supposed to be comfortable to be vulnerable with. And if most of the time you feel horrible about yourself after your interaction, if most of the time you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable with that person because you’re afraid or you don’t trust them, or, um, a fear, I mean, fear drives it. I mean, I would kind of say, that’s your toxic relationship.
Krystal Jakosky: So it’s really paying attention to where you’re at, how you feel, and how you feel in that relationship. Is this a beneficial, beautiful, positive thing? Or is this something that’s actually causing me this ease and unrest and upset?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Yes. Yeah, I would say so. How do you feel in that relationship? I think that you know, there’s, I, I have the foundation of a relationship is something that I talk with my clients a lot about. And I think that there are four areas that are the foundation of any relationship and that’s respect, trust, communication, and appreciation. And, and you can, if those, if any of those areas are cracked, um, for a romantic relationship, most of the time intimacy is the first thing to go in the last thing to come back. But any relationship, if you think about it, um, you know, maybe, maybe those four areas, the foundational areas are ways to gauge. If your relationship is toxic or not, do you feel respect? Do you feel trust? And trust isn’t just like, oh, I’m cheating on somebody or affairs. I mean, it’s like a trusting atmosphere that you can be yourself, that you can talk about. The things that you wanna talk about, that you feel comfortable asking a question to question your partner. And, you know, you’ve gotta have a trusting atmosphere for that. And then you’ve gotta be able to communicate. So maybe if those areas are compromised and you could gauge your level of toxicity based on those.
Krystal Jakosky: I love that. I love that right there, level of toxicity. It’s not that somebody or something is absolutely 100% bad for you. There are levels and there are warning signs and there are things that we can be aware of and say, wait a minute, if we’re in tune with ourselves, if we’re owning our shit and saying, no, no, no, this is where I’m at. Then, you know, oh, you know what? “I like being around you. And we communicate really well, but I don’t trust that person to…” and maybe that’s an opportunity to say, Hey, let’s communicate about this area and you can improve it. So it’s not like, just because something is toxic, quote-unquote in your life doesn’t mean that it’s doomed or that it’s like, you gotta cut it out. I think you have an opportunity. Right?
Tami Kiekhaefer: And, and I think, yeah, the level I like that you pointed that out. The level of toxicity. I think a lot of times people stay in a really bad relationship because they say, well, they’re not cheating on me and I’m not getting beat up and I’m not. So, you know, it can’t be that bad and there’s not, you know, a ton of drugs, alcohol, and whatever. And it’s like, man, but look at how you get treated. You know, there’s no respect or you’re constantly being put down or, um, dismissed or, or just not cared for. I think there’s toxicity in that also. And I think a lot of times people justify staying because it’s not that bad.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. Where is your level? Where is your threshold? And what, like, what is your limit, your personal, where am I at? And how do I, and I think that comes into personal self-worth, which is, I’m sure something that you end up having to work with a lot, people just valuing themselves in their relationships and in the life that they’re going through of, I deserve this, or I deserve that compared to it’s okay.
Tami Kiekhaefer: Yeah. <laugh> and, uh, confidence. Self-worth. And unfortunately, when you’ve been in a relationship that is pretty toxic in one way or another, your confidence goes down, it takes a hit, and then you start second-guessing yourself. And you, you don’t say, I wait a second. I deserve to be treated well. I, you know, you just like, well, I’m really lucky to have somebody who, um, you know, says hi to me and you just start compromising everything about yourself. And, and, um, and it’s, it’s sad to watch that.
Krystal Jakosky: It just makes my heart sad. It just makes my heart heavy. I just wanna hug every person. That’s like, no, I deserve this cuz no, no, no, no. You deserve so much better. Like come into Tami’s office, call me up. I’ll give you a nice little virtual <laugh>
Tami Kiekhaefer: There’s an enormous influence on how you grew up. And uh <laugh> and it’s not going back and like blaming mom and dad for all your stuff. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about understanding how you grew up and understanding what was role modeled to you as far as showing love, showing affection, um, being heard as a little kid, um, knowing that your opinion is respected. Um, I think, you know, I, I do a lot of, um, my therapy, something that I believe in very much is the, uh, attachment theory. And it’s that between zero and three years old how you, um, learn how to trust other people, how you learn how to trust the world, how you learn, how to have empathy that’s developed during that zero to three age range.
And if there are a lot of inconsistencies, I mean, there are always inconsistencies. Um, you know, I have two kids and I was always like, oh my God, I’m screwing, ’em up, I’m screwing ’em up. I’m, it’s zero to three. I’ve gotta be, like, perfect. And, and, um, nobody is so I’ve screwed up my kids probably every single day, but they’re great. Um, but yeah, that <laugh> that zero to three is crucial because you’re learning, you’re learning trust. Um, and when there are a lot of inconsistencies, that’s where I believe that a lot of the personalities are developed. So narcissism dependency, borderline, um, and we all probably have little bits and pieces of all of the different personality types. There’s a bunch of ’em. Um, but when you see somebody who is very, very narcissistic, you know, you look at how they grew up and there are likely some pretty big attachment issues that they were up against.
Maybe their caregivers weren’t available to them. You know, they had to learn to rely on themselves to get their needs met. Um, they didn’t, it’s that they didn’t learn how to be vulnerable. They didn’t learn how to trust their environment and trust people around them. So they grow up, like, I’m not gonna let anybody close to me. I’m gonna get my needs met, you know? And, and that’s like a nutshell kind of description. But, I think that how you grew up definitely impacts you on how you move forward, and what your relationships are gonna look like going forward. Um, how you learned how to communicate, how you learned, how to pro uh, problem-solve when in your family. Huge.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. Yeah. Did your parents talk through their conflicts or did they yell, you know, like how did people talk to each other? Was it a respectful environment or was it a challenging environment?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Or did anyone talk at all? Maybe no one talked and then it, yeah. And so any kind of conflict is just like, ah, my world ending, cuz you never saw conflict growing up.
Krystal JakoskY: Yeah. It’s, it’s really this, this, like, this huge spectrum and we are all on that spectrum somewhere with any kind of issue, whether it be anxiety or depression or even narcissism, we all have those little bits of, and we’re on that spectrum somewhere. And yet it’s how we find balance. It’s how we find self-care, how we take care of our own needs. That will then improve the way that we show up for other people. So if we’re feeling anxious, what do we need and how do we help ourselves through that? And if that’s coming to you and talking, or if that’s a little meditation and, and personal whatever you know, something that, you know, already works for you, you have to do that because you know your own experience, you know your childhood experience and you know what your relationships are like now. So it’s, it’s just huge in that self-ownership thing.
You know, not everything that I bring up is gonna work for everybody. You know, everyone is gonna find a little something somewhere that really resonates with them and helps them out. And I’m a firm believer that I may ask one question, you may give nine answers, but of those nine answers, something really hit somebody. And they were like, oh my gosh, that’s what means, whoa, that hit really hard. And so I love all those answers because it just expands the possibility of people connecting to it and being able to say, that’s me, I get that. I see that. I feel that. And so they’re more open to it, you know?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Yeah. And you know, I think you’re right, like going back and, and I’m sure there were tons of mistakes that I could look back and look at, you know, my family and my parents and, and whatever. But I think that it goes back to that whole, the why behind the behavior, and that’s where you have the power to change. So if you go back, you know, a lot of times people go back into their childhood, there’s a lot of trauma for some people. And looking back, even, I don’t know, even, you know, middle school, high school, like no one wants to redo middle school. There’s a lot of trauma that goes on <laugh>.
And so it’s not like you wanna go back and relive it, but that’s a lot of times where, you know, your identity and, and I would never tell a middle school teacher this, and I’ve got a lot of friends that are middle school, but it’s not so much about the academics in that time period. It’s the socialization, you know, and, and you go into, um, I always think you go into like middle school with this level of confidence, especially women and girls and, and then middle school happens and you go, you just kinda shrink and, and question yourself and maybe I don’t look like everyone else. And what if I, you know, what, if I’m single forever and I’m gonna be a nun with cats and, and you know, whatever. And, and so middle school is huge for going back and looking at where’s my confidence, how do I feel about myself? What do I need to do, what did other people tell me that I thought was like, the word of, I don’t know, the universe. And, um, and it’s like, man, you can undo what somebody said in your brain and rewire it to be something that’s empowering. Something that you can challenge all these thoughts and tapes that are in your head, from how you grew up from parents, from friends, from teachers, from coaches. And, and you can rewire that at any time and, and improve your sense of self and your confidence.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. Yeah. I applaud middle school teachers. I think that they are saints because to be in middle school, to choose to be in this hormonal shifting upheaval of these, this, these youth and they’re, they are in the depth of trying to figure out what the heck is going on with their bodies and who they are, and trying to figure out socially where they belong and what, like, it is so huge for those kids. They are going through so much and to be a teacher that is able to be present and help them through that and just be like, yeah. Okay. Yeah. You’re amazing, my hats off to you. And I just thank you for choosing to be in that space. I thank you for choosing to give yourself to those kids because they need that. And it’s a beautiful gift.
And then another thing that you said, um, a conversation I have had multiple times with multiple people and clients, is this: that yes, you grew up, yes, you had a difficult time. Yes. There was a really shitty bully in middle school or high school or whatnot. Here’s my question for you. Do you think that their actions were intentional? When you fought on that playground with somebody, do you think that they intentionally thought I wanna hurt this person today because I’m having a bad day? Do you think that your parents intentionally imprinted something on you that was, you know, like mom didn’t have a lot of time for you? Well, do you think that she did that intentionally and said, I don’t wanna spend time with you, or was that just a product of the way that mom’s life was and mom was doing the best that she absolutely could?
When we, as you said, look back and unwind and see what are the circumstances and what were the things that were happening at that moment. And when you honor, not only the people around you, put yourself in that, because you made a pattern, you chose to make a pattern or habit from that experience. So when you go back and you honor that, and you say, you know what, I see that that happened and that really sucked. And yet I’m gonna give myself a hug and say, Hey, good job, high five for surviving that. And I’m gonna let everybody else give them the respect that they need because they were obviously going through their own shit at the time. And now you’re better here because it’s like, yeah, I don’t have to go through that again. And my intention is completely different and I can live a little bit freer. So that was really beautiful. Thank you for bringing it up. <laugh>
Tami Kiekhaefer: Yeah. And, um, and I think, yeah, I think with anyone, and so you go through that in middle school and then you go into a job in your twenties and there’s that bully person there. And then you go into a job in your thirties and there’s your boss who’s a bully, or, you know, I mean, it’s not like it ever ends. It’s just that going back to the why behind the behavior, if you personalize their stuff, it’s highly not likely it’s not about you. I mean, if you have to go back and say, oh, well, it’s probably because I did this and this and this to them, then yeah, you gotta own your stuff, but otherwise, um, it’s not about you.
It has nothing to do with you. And it, and I guess I look at it going back to toxic relationships, to be in a relationship with a toxic person, um, better just reacting to their own inner turmoil. And you happen to be the person who chose to be with them. Um, and it doesn’t have to be like that. You’re not responsible for someone else’s negativity and inner turmoil. And you cannot fix it. You cannot fix it. <laugh> You can’t fix someone else. <laugh>
Krystal Jakosky: Oh, no, exactly. Hear that guys. You cannot fix someone else. It all starts within. It all starts with you and who you are. So if you are taking care of your own shit, if you are recognizing that you had this challenge and you are reacting this way, you’ll treat other people better. It doesn’t mean that you can make other people treat you better. It means that you are treating yourself better and life is a lot better. Life just improves. You’ve given yourself that allowance, that permission, that acknowledgment that mm-hmm <affirmative>. Yeah. Got it. Okay. Oh, Tami, is there anything else that you wanna bring up today that you wanna chit chat about?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Um, let’s see. I think, you know, I, I just, I want to, um, first thank you for letting me be on here, but, but just for people to know how much control you actually have over your own life. I think that a lot of people don’t give themselves the amount of, um, recognition and confidence that you have so much control over your own life. And, and even the things that you feel completely out of control over, you can, you can tease out areas that you still have control. And when, when you realize that, I think your confidence goes up because your anxiety goes down, confidence up anxiety down. Um, and, and it is, I just, um, I hope that people can recognize that if you’re in a bad space, go talk to somebody, go, go get some help, just get a second opinion. Um, yeah.
Krystal Jakosky: And if you’re not in a bad space and you just want a little extra boost, or you wanna find that perfect person for when you are in a bad space, right. Check ’em out, find it out. It’s out there too. <laugh> right. I, uh, grabbed a little, uh, quote from your website and I absolutely loved it. That’s why I grabbed it. It says, “as we all know if you want to be happy in your job, your relationship, your friendships, it starts with you. If you want to be less anxious, more confident and have consistent boundaries, it starts with you. If you want to be available for a healthy, loving relationship, it also starts with you.”
You are the creator of your life. You are the one who gets to say, no, no, no, I want this. Instead, I want that. And we, we are like Tami and I are here just saying, do it, like, do it, dig in, find out how you could be better and how you can let go of all that stuff. That’s just holding you down and toxic and not being where you want to be so that you can start creating where you do wanna be.
Tami Kiekhaefer: And that was the basis behind my book. It’s out on, on Amazon. Um, and it’s actually an online course also, but it’s called Preparing for the Jungle: Avoiding Snakes and Pitfalls on the Path to Healthy Love. And, and it, that’s why I wrote the book is because it has to start with you, but I take you through the family roles, the, how you attached the why you’re attracted to certain types of people, how you communicate, how you resolve conflict, um, what your non-negotiables are. Look, how do you know what a healthy relationship is versus a toxic relationship? Um, what makes a healthy relationship and a checklist at the end to say, like, who’s my person, what am I even looking for? Cause if you go out there and you’re like, I just choose you. Um, I don’t know, how’s that gonna work for you? Well, we’ve all done it before. So how does that work for any of us? <laugh> um, but, but I just, I just believe in that wholeheartedly, that it does start with you and, and I wanna give you that starting place. And how do you know? So that’s the basis of my book, and it’s also on an online course that I’ll personally walk you through. Um, so it’s a more in-depth experience, but that’s the basis of it is it starts with you. What do you want your life to look like? And times just ticking’. So if you don’t wanna figure it out now, you’ll have an opportunity in a year to figure it out. Um, cuz all that stuff will still be waiting for you just hanging out.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah. Not gonna leave. So two little things before we go, I have a couple of questions that I just wanna ask you, orange or green?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Green.
Krystal Jakosky: OK. City or country?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Country.
Krystal Jakosky: Large groups or personal time?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Personal time.
Krystal Jakosky: Pine trees or salty ocean air?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Pine trees.
Krystal Jakosky: Which season and why?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Spring because everything is new and fresh and clean and growing and yeah.
Krystal Jakosky: Okay. And then self-care is big in this podcast. And so, uh, our listeners wanna know what is your biggest, favorite, or most unique type of self-care that you didn’t realize that you enjoy, but actually, really fills your cup?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Hmm. That’s a good one. Um, I think I love being with my family. I love being with my kids. I love being with my dog. Um, I love being with my fiance. Um, I, as I thought before COVID that I was very, I wanted to go out. I wanted to, I got a taste of COVID and I gotta tell you, I like just kind of hanging out. I love camping. I love being outside. I love okay. As I’m thinking about more of your questions about sitting by a river, <laugh> sitting by a river. Um, probably like maybe on some rocks in the mountains, um, warm air and just listening to the water.
Krystal Jakosky: Love it, Tami is absolutely fantastic. She has a website, healthyhealing.com, and then absolutely check out her book, Preparing for the Jungle: Avoiding Snakes and Pitfalls on the Path to Love. Is there any other way that people can get in touch with the youth that you really wanna highlight right now?
Tami Kiekhaefer: Um, I have a Facebook group. It’s a women’s empowerment toolkit group and it’s just for women. Um, and it’s a private group. I monitor everything there. Um, but it’s a great group. Um, I post, I encourage everybody to post, but I post, um, very inspirational type things, healings, self-confidence, self-empowerment. Um, and it’s all just about where are you? What do you have going on and how can you feel better about where you are today? So women’s empowerment tool, kit group. Um, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a great place for people to start.
Krystal Jakosky: I love it, Tami. Thank you so much for being with us and for just talking about the truth and the reality of therapy and how toxic stuff fits into it and how personal ownership really is the biggest foundation that we can build, to begin with, and then grow from there and branching out. So I really appreciate you being here and spending time with us today.
Tami Kiekhaefer: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Krystal Jakosky: Yeah, absolutely. Until next week you guys, uh, we’ll see you again on breathing, breathe out.
I hope this moment of self-care and healing brought you some hope and peace. I’m @krystaljakosky on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube and I hope you check us out and follow along for more content coming soon. I look forward to being with you again here on Breathe In, Breathe Out. Until next time, take care.