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March 21, 2023

Releasing Shame and Embracing Purpose through Hearing Loss | Angela Irwin

Angela's story of resilience, courage, and self-discovery is truly inspiring. In this episode, she talks about how she had to confront her childhood trauma of losing her hearing over fifteen years and how this trauma manifested in her 40s.

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Angela's story of resilience, courage, and self-discovery is truly inspiring. In this episode, she talks about how she had to confront her childhood trauma of losing her hearing over fifteen years and how this trauma manifested in her 40s.


"He would say to me, Angela, if you had a broken leg, would you just continue to walk on it? And you know, he did say that to me a number of times. Sometimes when you're in a state like, you need to sort of hear that because I was just like, all right, let's move this along. And he's like, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's not how this works. And so that was, just really emotionally painful time working through all of that."


Born with normal hearing, Angela began losing her hearing around seven and eventually went completely deaf. At 22, she received a cochlear implant, which she describes as a "second chance at life." Her experience of hearing loss and her journey to overcome the emotional and psychological trauma associated with it is a testament to her strength and determination.


During the pandemic, Angela launched the Joyful Life Cochlear Implant Fund, a 501(c)3 organization that helps cochlear implant recipients access the ongoing critical technology they need to keep their hearing and remain part of the hearing world.


Angela is a confidence coach and TEDx speaker, inspiring women worldwide to reprogram their self-acceptance and build lasting confidence to achieve their full potential. She has lived and traveled worldwide, including France, where she and her husband Colin have lived for 12 years. Her life story is a valuable reminder that the challenges we face don't have to stop us and can take us places we never imagined.




00:19:24 The Unexpected Journey of Hearing Loss

00:27:09 Processing Childhood Trauma in Adulthood

00:30:09 Facing Difficulties and Doing the Work: A TEDx Talk Experience



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Other episode you'll enjoy:

Losing Hair, But Finding Strength and Authenticity | Rebecca Lerch


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Hello, my friends, welcome to the life shift podcast. I am here with a new connection Angela Irwin, how are you today? I'm great, thank you so much for having me matt. It is my pleasure and I was telling you before the recording uh sometimes I get more pitches now that I'm hitting this year mark on the life shift podcast and the way that you approached potentially being on the show was just so gracious and kind and I'm just so excited to talk to you, mainly just because of that, because you know, the human connection is so strong and by hearing these stories, whether or not we've had the exact same experience. 

There are parts of pretty much every story that I heard that I'm like, that connects with me, I can relate to that and so by doing the pitch, the way that you did, it really filled that part of my heart. So thank you for that. Well, thank you. Um I was just really drawn to what you're doing with the podcast and as you say, just the sharing of people's stories um you know, I find myself like nodding my head along as you're having discussions with your guest and so I thought I would love to have the opportunity to come on. Well, thank you and I'm looking forward to it. And so, you know, typically we before we get to that life shift moment, that really pivotal part that kind of changed the trajectory of your life, I like for the guests to kind of paint the picture of what your life was like leading up to that moment. And and I from our earlier conversations there, there's a lot of things that led to this moment so maybe you can just kind of paint that picture for us and give us just like an intro to you Okay. So um it's sort of a couple of different phases I guess, but like what was going on like before um this main life shift was I had spent 15 years working in the corporate world, different medical device companies and various roles of clinical education and and marketing and things like that. Um I had lived and worked on three continents, was doing a lot of traveling um by this point um we were already my husband and I are already living in France and you know, that's sort of an interesting thing that I grew up in south Dakota on a farm Outside a town of about 1000 people. So to now you know have lived in France for the past 13 years and uh 10 of which is nice in the south of France. 

It's you know, quite a different as about as far away as one could could imagine. Um and yeah, so I mean I definitely had some um experiences in my childhood talk about that probably as we go through, but basically I was like okay life is good um And around probably about two months before my 40th birthday, I got notification that my position was going to be eliminated. Yeah. And so I took that very hard because I was enjoying what I was doing I was doing. Um as I mentioned clinical education. And so I had basically with training surgeons in 16 countries around Europe how to use our products in their surgical procedures. So it was a lot of travel. It was, you know, meeting like amazing surgeons and and things like that. But I will say that probably for a couple of years leading up to that moment, there was something just deep within that was like this whisper of there's something else you're supposed to be doing. But I never, you know, really took the time to think about that or what would that look like or pursue that in any way because you're busy and and work and um and when that happened, when my when my job was eliminated, I mean it hurt at the time for sure. But now looking back, it really was a blessing because I don't think I would have on my own volition because you know, you're making a nice income and you're traveling and these perks. 

I don't think I would have. I highly doubt I would have walked away from that. Um I mean, I think that there's something to be said. I've talked to a lot of people about, You know, this particular concept that society has like kind of ingrained in us that like a good job, Lots of money, lots of perks that should quote unquote should fulfill us and it's kind of like we're stuck in it and like we, it's like why would I leave it? Because I've been told that this is the pinnacle of you know of life is to have a great job that gives all these perks and money and all that that goes along with it. And so I completely relate to the idea of like why would I leave, but also feeling like should I leave? Yes, yes, 100%. And and I think for a lot of that time I was thinking okay, so I might not necessarily be front lines helping people, but I'm helping the surgeons, You know, help their patients, you know, you know, probably 90% of those patients with cancer patients and you know from all sorts of different cancers and things like that. So it's like okay, I'm doing something to contribute. Um so yeah, that's how I started. 

There was like a social good in, in a component of that and maybe it wasn't directly but indirectly you are saving lives. I mean there's, you could make those connections. Yeah. Yeah, that is true. 

Not to toot your horn for you, but you know, I think something like that where you can feel that fulfillment in that way also would make it harder to listen to that whisper in your head telling you like there's more for you out there. Where did you go from there? Like, what? So you lost this job and what did that trigger for you? 

Yeah, so, um, fortunately I would, you know, had a, a great severance package, so that gave me some freedom because, and like I said, having just turned 40 I'm like, if I don't, the easier thing would have been to find a similar job, but because I had that, you know, sort of whisper for quite a bit of time, I'm like, okay, no, I just turned 40 if I'm gonna do something different now is the time. But the scary thing was I had absolutely no idea what that was, like, I wasn't one of these people who was like, I've always wanted to, like, fill in the blank and I'm gonna go for it, I had no idea what I was gonna do. Um but I just basically allowed myself time and I was just curious. So, you know, I would, somebody would invite me to something or, you know, I would be like, okay, well, let me just check that out and see if that's for me, and, you know, you know, tried a few different things and that it was not for me, but I found my way to life coaching and I didn't even know what life coaching was, the first, I met a woman here in nice at, like a meet up group and she said I'm a life coach and I was, I was thinking to myself, what is a life code? I was like, I know career coach, I don't think you're the only one thinking, I was just like, and she kept saying to me, oh, I'd love to offer you a complimentary session and all this, and I was just like, uh you know, I've been making my life decisions for 40 years, so I think I'm okay, but one day she's like, let's just have lunch and we had lunch and she was just asking me these questions and just really interested. And then, you know, after a while she sort of just sat back and crossed her arms and smiled at me and I'm like, what, I don't get it, what's going on? And she's like, that's what a life coaching session is like. And I just remember going, wow, that was really helpful because there was moments of clarity, Like she's helping me sort of find some clarity around in this time where I was like, I don't know what what it is that I'm looking for. And so yeah, it's so interesting how the one decision to, you know, pursue something different, even having no idea what it was. 

I could not have imagined a sequence of events that have come into place since then, but including probably the most emotionally painful time of my entire life, but without going through that I wouldn't have uncovered, I wouldn't be where I am right now and really feel like I've uncovered my life's purpose, which is interesting because it involves the thing that I have felt deep shame about and wish that I could for the majority of my life, wish that I could change now ends up being the thing that's allowing me to, you know, really serve a purpose. So, you know, you just like hinted at at two moments and I'm like, where do I go next? Because I think one informs the other, but one exposed the other. 

So, I would imagine, I, I think I'd like to hear this emotional, this, this part that was really hard because I think people listening can really relate to that and then if we go back to that earlier moment that informed that I think it explains some things as well. So what you got into life coaching and you were doing that, but then you said it kind of brought you to this really emotional hard part of your life, what was that lead up to that? So, um, once I discovered I'm like, okay, this is so interesting, I can really help people, like I like, I can help people, you know? Um, And so I found a program that I wanted to join, I signed up for a year-long life coaching certification and it was also um how to set up an online business. So this is 2016. 

So, you know, this was um, you know, a bit ago and about three months into the year, I was in what I know what I now call shut down um I didn't want to get up, I wasn't functioning well, I didn't know why and I've always been um very productive like you know get more done by nine a.m. Than most people in a day sort of a person. So it was so um disorienting and you know just I was so disoriented and I couldn't understand what are you doing, like why just do what you need to do and um what I didn't realize for probably another nine months was that I wasn't experiencing depression for the first time, but I didn't know that that's what it was. And so I was just in like peak self loathing during those, during those nine months, just like come on, get it together, like what is wrong with you? Because your logical brain was was fighting your your mental health essentially, you're you're you're programmed through, you know, your previous career to continually improve and productivity is the name of the game. And now you're in this new space, were you helping others at this time or were you still kind of exploring the certificate? 

I was I was still, for the most part exploring the certificate. Um and and because I just felt like such an imposter, I mean you talk about imposter syndrome, I'm like I wake up in the morning and my body and like it just felt like full body tingles. Like I felt, you know, initially when I woke up, like, I couldn't even move. It was just the weirdest feeling that I had never experienced. And I'm like, well, how am I gonna be out there saying let me let me help you when I can't seem to figure out what the heck is going on with me. 

So, that also compounded that emotional state as well. Um Yeah. Yeah. How did, like, did that, did you find that it was, you know, having gone through what I would call depression? I don't know that it was ever, like, clinically diagnosed for me, but uh did you find that it was a steady state? Everything was very similar? Or did you have these peaks? 

Did you have, you know, good days. Did you have, you know, what was that experience like? As much as you would like to share? Yeah. Um and it's a lot of it is a blur, to be perfectly honest. But yes, I mean, there were definitely some, you know, highs and doing like, some training workshops and, you know, things like that. And then you go, okay, right, I'm back on track and following the high would be a low, um you know, even more low, because then you're like, oh, that was just a fluke and this is, you know, this is um I've gotten to know a lot about imposter syndrome since then, but that's sort of, you know, the way imposter syndrome works, like we tell ourselves we had, you know, we did this great thing at work or we got this promotion or we did a great job on this project or fill in the blank and then all of a sudden the brain goes whoop, that was a fluke. 

They're gonna find you out like they know you're not, you know, capable of, you know, it's all that stuff and that's what's going through your mind and if you don't know how to turn that off, um you know, that's why I stayed stuck for so long. I didn't know, like I said, I didn't know what was happening, but I didn't know how to stop it either. Yeah. So when you got to that nine month period was there like a I mean, I think this is kind of where your, one of your life shift moments was like what was the significant moment that helped you turn it off or kind of emerge from from that state that you were in for so long because that gets even harder when you're in something for so long, it almost becomes normalized in your life and it's even harder to get out. So what was what, what brought you or what snapped you from that moment? So I have huge gratitude uh to a friend of mine, her name is Kathy and I was visiting her in florida and it had been um you know, a couple of years, I think since I've seen her in person and I thought I was covering very well, acting and acting, quote unquote normal, but we spent the day together and I can see it as clear as day we're sitting on um outside patio and she just looked at me and she's like, are you okay? And like, immediately, it was like my brain going alarm sounding like, oh no, no, no, no, no, no, don't look over here, don't look over here. And I'm like, yes, yes, of course, why? Why? And she's like, you just don't seem like yourself. And I'm like, uh no, no, it's fine, it's fine, it's fine. And I don't know what happened in that next moment. 

All I remember is her and I, I should say that this is someone that she has um a personal history with depression, so she could probably spot it pretty pretty well. But I just remember her pulling her Iphone out and reading the symptoms of depression and 10 seconds and I was just sobbing by the time she got done because in a way it was relief but also disbelief simultaneously because I was like thinking, holy cow, this is what it is. So there was some relief from that side followed immediately by, no, no, no, no, I can't, I can't be depressed. Like, no, there, no, I live in the south of literally thought that went through my head like I can't be like I can't be depressed and so I'm incredibly grateful to her for you know, helping me in that moment because I don't know how long it would have continued. Yeah, humans are so good at covering things up and pretending and not being emotionally vulnerable with other people and you know, to have someone that you seemingly care about, open that door and say, you know, have you thought about this? You know, it kind of opened your eyes, Did you feel a little exposed? Absolutely well, absolutely. I was like, oh my gosh, like no. And then it came back home to France and was like, okay, now I know what it is, I can manage this, I can, I can, I can handle this, I know what it is now, you know, so I spent wasted another probably month to six weeks thinking I could outrun this thing and yeah, and so I'm like, okay, finally, um finally I found a great therapist and was also doing um had coaches and stuff as well. So it was, you know, a lot of support, which was wonderful, but what the therapist was very quickly able to uncover was this all stemmed. So the idea of this um building your online business. So within a couple of months of, you know, being in this, your lung program, my mentor was like, okay, so we need to, you need to be doing videos and you need to be like this is when facebook live, I don't even know it was like just starting. And So um what we discovered was that that the whole idea of being visible took me back to childhood to um where I over the course of 15 years I lost my hearing and when you lose your hearing. Uh So I was born with normal hearing in kindergarten when we got our hearing tested at the start of the school year, everything was fine. 

First grade they said, oh looks like she might have a mild hearing loss. And of course my parents are stunned. We don't have hearing loss in the family or anything like that. And so they took me to a professional says yes, looks like she does have a mild hearing loss but don't worry this this sort of thing at her age that won't progress, it'll you know, but we'll just monitor it every year and just just keep an eye on it and um famous last words because I slowly lost my hearing completely over the course of the next 15 years. And like I said, when that happens when you lose your, your hearing, your speech start to change, which is so bizarre when you think about it because I already knew how to talk, but without having that feedback your, your voice starts to change. And so by the time I was in junior high or even sixth grade um when I would meet new people for the first time, they would say why do you talk funny? Why do you sound like that? So that little girl learn very quickly, Keep your mouth shut, stay in the background and you'll be safe. And so here we are, you know, decades later. And I said to him, I just remember saying to my therapist, this can't be it is it. And you know, it was sort of just like and he's like, no, that's how trauma works. And I'll you know, small t trauma. But he said your your body remembers, You know, and and at a cellular level your body remembers different feelings and different motions. So it doesn't have the ability to differentiate between that terrified little girl talk about being found out because I didn't, in the course of that 15 years of losing my hearing, I never wanted to talk about it. 

One day of the year I would have a hearing test. My parents were taking me um everywhere, like I went to so many different states and they're trying to figure out what was going on. And the professionals would say the same thing every time they would say, we've never seen this type of hearing loss in a child and we don't know why it's happening. So if you hear that over and over as a young person, what I interpreted them saying or what you know I mean, I know what they were saying at a you know, in a logical level, thank you. But what I took was holy cow, You are so damaged, you are so flawed. Like none of these experts and six dates know what to do with you. So that that's what you take on and you're just like, wow. So like that's the basis of the foundation of like how I felt about myself. 

My self esteem was just like that belief that you know, so of course it is trying to just keep, I don't want to talk about that, you know, so we just never talked about it. So there wasn't any and to like back back then people weren't sharing the hard parts. People weren't really like digging deep and finding what this emotional trauma that goes along with your actual physical trauma that's happening to you. People aren't investigating that may be as they are doing a little bit more now, you know? And so I completely relate. 

It's just, it just introduces this fact of I'm not quote unquote normal. So now I have to take on this shame as a kid when you had no control over what was happening to you. I can understand how that that builds and then sits there for a long and probably the fact that it wasn't So like sudden is also probably what what compounds that because every year you said over 15 years you went from fully hearing right to were you, were you essentially non hearing it? Yeah. So, So by the time um you know, then by the time I got my first cochlear implant um at the age of 22 I made it through college by the skin of my teeth by being able to lip read. Um That was something early on that my parents were told she's not going to graduate from high school, don't encourage you to go to college because she won't be able to keep up. And so that actually, and my parents didn't know that. 

I knew that they had been told that that's, that's one of the things of a small town, one of my classmates told me that um so you know, I held onto that for years as well, but in a way it did serve as a motivator for me because I was like just watch me, just watch me. And so I was able to, you know, complete my undergrad and I moved to colorado shortly after that. And who knew that elevation impacts hearing. Yes. So within Yeah, me either. So that was not a fun surprise. So within I think about a month or six weeks of getting there, like it was Um if I couldn't read your lips, I couldn't understand anything, I couldn't use the phone. So this is like 1997 or 1996. Um couldn't use the phone anymore. 

I this was before. Yeah. And so then um I just felt like, okay, well I'm gonna have to try this, I wasn't, was not excited about getting the cochlear implant. I didn't think it was gonna work very well. Um Um, yeah, whole whole story around that as well, but the good news was that it didn't work, you know, works fabulously. 

I just um have had, have had it now for over 25 years has given me my life back, has given me a second chance at life. And so I thought at that point, all that stuff in childhood and all that, you know, I was just like, oh that's that's done and over and so the surprised 15 years oven dealt with emotions pop up at 42 or whatever it was at the time was just mind blowing, right? Because your therapist was, you know, uncovering that your new path that you felt possibly like was the right path for you was now forcing you to be the antithesis of what you were as a teen and a child when you were shrinking back to the back of the room and and just not sharing, holding on to shame that didn't need to be there, but was introduced to you in some capacity because you know of the time, I'm going to say that's probably part of it and just the fact that in a small town who has the tools, the emotional tools to help a child through that, especially in the time when people just weren't talking about things, you know, in the way that we do now, imagine that was there and like what and the fact that you were losing your hearing, but people didn't judge you any differently and maybe they didn't, maybe that was self imposed, you know, who knows how that goes, how we do that as Children. We take that on. 

I mean, I can relate that. I always went into a room after my mother died, I always went into a room self identifying as the child whose mom died. And so I'm sure that as, as a child with hearing loss, that was always top of mind, that like, someone's gonna discover this. So let me let me just hide back here or in my case was always like, let me lead with that because that will protect me as well from all the other things that come from it. Yeah, exactly. That's yeah. So your therapist introduce the fact that your childhood trauma Was now manifesting in your 40s. How did that, How did you, like when you first heard that? How did you process That? Um Oh my gosh, there's just so much emotion. 

I swear it was 15 years of tears or maybe even 30 years of tears stored up that it was just um so, again, it's like simultaneous emotions. There's relief. There's let's okay, now we know what this is, let's let's, you know, get this done and dusted and you know, I can remember him sort of chuckling, I'm like, well we've had two sessions like, let's let's let's close this deal, Like, just like exactly, It's like, let's get this done. That is, and He would say to me,   Angela, if you had a broken leg, would you just continue to walk on it? And you know, he  did say that to me a number of times.   Sometimes when you're in a state like, you need to sort of hear that because I was just like, all right, let's move this along. And he's like,   sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's not how this works. And so that was,    just really emotionally painful time working through all of that. Um having conversations for the first time in my life with like childhood friends and my mom and just um family members and stuff around. Um yeah, around the whole thing, I ended up um doing a Tedx talk where I talked about a lot of this stuff and I do not recommend doing this first first time talking about many of these things ever. Um and so I just thought right, like, let's go right to the next stage and just open this band aid off, right? And so my mom was there in the audience and she's hearing a lot of this, you know, I was explaining how I felt the shame that I felt the self loathing that I felt, she had no idea, even though we were quite close. Um because it it all you hit it all, You hit it in. Yeah, you covered it, right? Yeah. Just like, your depression absolutely covered it. 

You hit it, Yeah. So, you were sharing that in front of her, I'm sorry, I interrupted you. Yeah, no, no, no, it's true. 

It's because you look back and you go, okay, right, that's been my m o my whole life. Cover it, just covered up, act like, it's not happening, keep moving forward. And so, this, you know, stopped me in my tracks to have to sit in it and actually do the work. Um and then say it in a Ted X talk that's now commemorated forever on the internet. 

I remember waking up at, like, three o'clock in the morning, sitting straight up in bed and thinking, please, no, please, No, I I did not actually say that, just, like, full panic, Please tell me I didn't just do that. Um but it was part of the therapeutic, it was therapeutic in the end. Yeah, I was gonna say, did you find that it helped, kind of, putting it out there, because sometimes, you know, writing can be different, uh compartmentalizing moments in your head are are are different. But when you string them all together in a story in the way that Ted X requires you to, kind of do it. It must have been as scary as it was cathartic in the end of like it's out there, I've said the things that I've normally kept in my head out loud, 100% accurate and um yeah, scary. 

My right leg was shaking the entire time, I was convinced that when the video came out that looked like it was like a nervous tic or something, I don't think you can tell. But yeah, my my right leg was shaking the entire time, but you're absolutely right. It was like, okay, wow, okay, that's out there and you can sort of release some level of of the story and of the emotions and had I not, I ended up, you know, pivoting my life coaching focus based on going through that experience because I didn't realize um we can change the way that we feel about ourselves, you know, that our self esteem, our self worth or whatever you wanna call it, is formed in childhood in those years, usually around 6 to 9 years old and until it's ever looked at at some point in life and most people never even evaluate what, what is it that I truly believe about myself. Well, as I was sharing my belief was I was so flawed and broken and I just needed to keep moving fast and not let anybody see that um probably why you were so successful in the corporate world. 

Yeah, I I agree with that. Yeah, yeah, Yes, so that served it, that very much served its purpose um in that environment and so when I was like, oh my gosh, we can change the way we feel about ourselves, so we can have that self compassion, you know, we can comfort that little girl um you know, all of these different things and I was like okay this is what I want to help people with, I want to, so I pivoted just from like general life coaching, more into confidence coaching, which you know what what I really spend most of the time or the majority of time on with my clients is around the self acceptance, the self compassion, the turning down the negative self talk that we all do um you know, getting them into action mode because when that's when we really that's what confidence comes from is actually taking action, you know, we think that oh, I'll feel confident once I get the promotion, lose the weight, find the partner, you know, fill in the blank and it doesn't work that way. We have to um be compassionate with ourselves um and just take action, put ourselves out there, you know, a little, you know, one, you know, 11 step at a time, but at least we're in forward motion and that really helps, you know, the self compassion part is so important around building resiliency because we're not aiming for perfection, we're just saying like take a step and then the next step, the next step and whatever that is and whatever area of your life, whether it's relationships or parenting or um in your job, you know, or just trying to have that forward movement and life is life right? It doesn't always go the way we hope, but you know, the goal is to not stay stuck and so when we do have a setback, we're able to bounce back much quicker. Um resiliency muscle is really um it's driven by self compassion. We're like, okay, shoot that didn't go the way I wanted now, what can I learn from this, What can I do different next time? 

Alright, let's let's go again, sort of a thing. Um and so that's what my self talk sounds like more more these days than just the brutal self loathing and beating up of myself. Um during that time, do you think that, I mean, I would imagine you see this in your clients, Is that the first or like one of the first steps is really the self awareness of like where we are and what we are and not the stories we've told ourselves, not what we've allowed society to tell us that we are, You know, even in your, your journey, it's like you have these little moments and it's it's like not little you have these big moments in your life that have really pushed you in certain directions, right? Like the cochlear implant pushed you to probably like, okay, now I can do even more than what people said I couldn't do and then your job going away pushed you to be like, oh now I have to figure out like society was pushing me along, right? 

I was just being successful. I need to show everyone, I would prove them wrong. That was my motive when I was, when I was a kid, like, you're gonna fall apart, your mom's dead, you know, like, but I was like, well no, I'm gonna be the best, I'm gonna be the best student, I'm gonna get this, I'm gonna get, you know, and just kind of moving through it. And then at one point I was like, no. So that was kind of like your job going away is like, oh no, now you need to figure out what I what I wanna do. So then you're like in this avenue of like, okay this is right. But then you realize that you needed to figure out you were depressed which then triggered the therapist which then reminded you of your childhood which then made you do the ted talk and the ted talk feels like that's the moment that has shifted you into the space that you're in now into this. Like you let it out and you realize, oh wait a second, I can love myself, I'm allowed to do this. 

Maybe I can help other people do it now that I've done it with that beer. Did I paint it somewhat close? Um perfectly close? That's a that's a very vivid um you know, whatever iPhone 12 vivid uh photo. 

I just feel like it's so interesting, you know, listening to your story, I can't tell you what your life is like. But listening to your story, it feels like the fact that you forced yourself in whatever way that was to publicly share your story out loud for everyone to hear, including the people most close to you was really the like the most freeing part of of your journey thus far and kind of aligns with why I even have the life shift podcast to begin with is like the power of sharing our story. One can do so much for ourselves, right in that moment when we're doing it. But also the people listening to it and curious on my sense. Did you have did you have a conversation with your mother after you did that ted talk? Did you guys get to talk about that? 

We did And um yeah, she just, you know, again, she had no idea of all of that. And um you know, I, you know, we've had some hard, I'll be honest, we've had some hard conversations around that, but it wasn't about blame you, you get on it. So so well it's like we're in a town of 1000 people. She's 30 years old at the time. 

This starts happening or you know, whatever. She's not like, she doesn't know how to guide me on the emotional thing she was there were so focused on why is this happening, You know, and how do I fix it? And I'm not a parent myself, but I've had enough conversation. I've had, you know, lots of conversations with people who say, um but you know, that I totally understand where your mom is, just so focused on why is this happening? 

I mean, even today, she wants to know why this happened. And I have let that go even before all this started happening. Um, probably around the time I turned 30 I was just like, we don't know, it's yeah, it happened. And what's the point and of, you know, trying to waste any energy looking into this. 

I'm happy I have this career. I'm you know, I'm on my way and then this stuff wouldn't have happened or or if it wouldn't have happened. And I do talk about this in my ted talk as well. It's like everything. And same with you losing your mom as a as a young boy. And those things shape us and, you know, as you share here the you your response and your personality was shaped in a different way than had you not had that experience. And so that was also the free and part of the of the ted talk and the work that I was doing with the therapist to be like, I wouldn't have been who I am without that experience, I am very much an empath, very much compassionate to other people. And the funniest thing to me, that ironic things to me is I'm a very, very, very good listener, which that's a funny thing for the deaf person, but I had to be because when I was growing up I would, you know, I had to listen, I had to pay attention to be able to, you know, to hear. And so even like in high school, like, you know, people would come and want to talk to me when they were going, you know, which is interesting, you know, sort of fast forward all this, all this time later, I was like, okay, so this is what I'm, this is what I'm doing. Um and yeah, it was, it's funny that you say um what you mentioned about, you know, after the ted talk being, you know, having that free moment, you brought a memory for me that even up until that time, if I would be out to lunch or I'd be out with people, uh even friends if so with the cochlear implant, there's still this external component, so if the battery dies, I'm deaf, so, you know, I had carry batteries with me and I would, you know, still on the shame and still in the hiding, I would, you know, change my batteries under the table. 

Like, you know, no one could see what I was doing or go to the bathroom and change the batteries because I didn't want to and whatever after that, I would be like, you know, at the table changed by the batteries in front of it. And people were like, what the heck is that? I'm like, oh, I have a cochlear implant and they're like, your duff. But you know, they're like, well first they're like, what's a cochlear implant? And now I was just joking with some friends the other day, it's like now, you know, you can't stop me from talking about cochlear implants, right? 

It's changed your life. But I mean it's like we don't talk about, we're like, oh, you're wearing glasses. You know, like it's the same concept in a way, you know, I mean a lot less, you know, impactful I guess. But I mean, some people can't really see without glasses, right? And so I think that's that's great. It allowed you to feel free. 

It's out in the world now, it's really out in the world. It's not like telling your friend, but you did it on a Ted X stage, it's there and now, I mean, I bet you think about this, there are people that are watching that Ted X talk that now feel less alone and now feel like, oh these feelings that I had as a child without being able to hear other people have those feelings to I can, you know, I can move forward with this knowing it, acknowledging it addressing it and then and then finding a space to just let it be and carry on with this world. So you're impacting people on a daily probably without even knowing that you do it and it served you in this new space in your life. 

I think it's wonderful. I think storytelling is so important and sometimes we feel like just my story like whatever, but your story probably wouldn't have been as impactful had you not uncovered really what that childhood trauma was with your therapist and whatnot? If you had just been like I you know, I lost my hearing and here's what happened and but I was so successful in my career and you know, like but now that you understand what that trauma really was and the shame that you attached with it and the fact that you just didn't have the tools. I think it's such a wonderful story. I mean, and that's what I think now. Um you know, I've gone just even a step further than I thought it was gonna be. 

I thought, you know, the, the confidence coaching and um speaking and helping people in that regard was sort of like that was the thing like that's what all this happened for. And then in the pandemic, I ended up starting a nonprofit organization to help cochlear implant recipients. I talked about that external equipment um in the U. S. And you know, it's a funny thing because most insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid will pay for the initial surgery, which you should have. Hopefully the internal implant is designed to last a lifetime. So hopefully you have just one surgery and across your life. But the external part it's much like um, you know, a smartphone technology and that it needs to be repaired, replaced, upgraded across the course of someone's life. And those very same insurance companies that might have paid for your surgery won't necessarily pay for the upkeep of the device, which is just makes absolutely no sense because we're back to being deaf 100%. 

You know, we set up our lives around being part of the hearing world and you know, we're having this discussion that I wouldn't be able to have if my external component wasn't working and um And I knew that this was an issue and in France, my healthcare reimburses me 100% for this for what I need. And you know, it was not at all on the bucket list to start a nonprofit that was never, um, but again, it was just sort of like that calling and I can just remember saying to myself, I have to try, I have to try because there will be people who are having to choose um between, you know, being able to hear and food or you know, other necessities that they need and um I reached out to one of the, there's three main cochlear implant manufacturers in the world. Actually worked for. Um I kind of skipped over this part of the story. Um I actually worked for the company for eight years that made my devices. So I know you know a lot about you know this, this space and so I had reached out to them and said, do you think this is a need? And I said, Oh my gosh, we get calls all the time. Like this is really needed. 

So, um, you know, just to give you an example and upgrade is about $12,000. So if you don't have insurance, um, or even a rechargeable batteries, $250. So I mean $250 can be the difference between you being able to hear and not as well as I have to try and so then, you know, I think that final full circle comes and I am doing confidence coaching with cochlear implant recipients and being able to guide them and navigate them through. You know, some people had uh sudden hearing loss, like it's more common than theirs talked about, but it's, I need to look at that statistic but it's not an insignificant number of people that just wake up and their hearing is gone, no warning. And so they're trying to navigate, you know, as you mentioned earlier, I had, you know, the luxury, I mean it was painful at the time, but I do appreciate being able to have that period of adjustment, like I taught myself how to lip read, you know, I didn't know I did it, my parents didn't know I did it. Um I hope I didn't say luxury. No idea. That's probably a bad word, That was my word. But yeah, but I I my heart goes out even more to people who have that sudden hearing loss because they're they're thrust into this world overnight and they're like, I don't know anything about hearing loss. What's the cochlear implant? Hearing aid? What, like, they're just and then the process, they're terrified and they're, you know, they're like, is this my life now? So there's this whole grief process that we're working through as well. And so it's so interesting to me to now be able to be the one providing some of that emotional support and helping people navigate how, you know, acclimating to life with a cochlear implant, I mean, it's simple as stuff is like, what do you say to people like when you if you go back to work and now you have you're wearing this thing on your head, what do you say to people, you know? And so that's some of the stuff we, you know, we'll write out like scripts okay here because it just helps them just sort of, you know, take this overwhelming, I don't know how to explain that. 

I mean, that's the other thing too, is like if everyone knew what a cochlear implant was that would take away like half of it, but people are like I don't get it or then they think but you had surgery so now you hear perfectly and I don't understand all this other and it doesn't work that way either. Like we still have hearing loss. It's not it's very very good but it's not normal hearing and it does take an adjustment period for your brain to be able to decipher and here in this new manner. So you know that's another pressure that people face when after they get you know their implants they you know They're trying to figure out okay what is this sound or and people are like yeah but you have the surgery you should be hearing 100%. So there's not um a level of passion, compassion and patience and so that's you know just something that I can help them navigate that part help them build their confidence back up. Um This doesn't have to be all that you are, you still have all these other you know that all these other attributes of yourself, you know that we want to bring back to the surface. So it's been just amazing to be able to do that that you know for so long you didn't that wasn't like a public part of your I mean it was but it wasn't something you wanted to talk about actively and now you're helping people lean into talking about, it lean into helping others understand where they're coming from now in this this newer journey for them and how they can operate in the hearing world, in the same way that that people with no hearing loss can do. 

I mean it's just fascinating to see this journey for you of like, you know, and maybe I'm just like reading into this a lot, but like for so long you were kind of running from it in a way that you were trying to perform at the tip top, gonna be great, gonna, you know, travel all around the world and be successful in these careers, make a ton of money and and then like you were kind of forced, like someone slammed on the brakes and you were forced to go, Let's let's let's unpack this a little bit and you know, you have this nine plus months of deep despair which was probably that inner child, like deal with me, you know, like acknowledge me, acknowledge this is who you are, this is a, this is a core component of like, your journey and how can you use it and then you, like uncover it's amazing that you're now in this space of like helping others not have to face some of the hard parts of your life. Right, Do you see that? Is that in my Yeah, no, it is, it's a again, very accurate description. 

You have, you have such a beautiful way of being able to assess things. Um so clearly, um that yeah, it is. I sometimes I'm like, wow, you know, and I had already made, as I mentioned a little bit before already sort of made peace with this had happened, but now it's just it's so much larger and it's, you're exactly right if I can spare someone, you know, some despair and help them um on their, you know, getting, you know, navigate life with this new life with, with this hearing device and get them back to, you know, their full potential. If I can help speed along that process. I mean what's what's more cool than that, you know, and I think part of it, what I connect to the most and this is the power of story and how your experiences. Oh, 100% different than my experience. But I feel like we're on these like parallel trains in which we were both young when something happened to us and we probably let that aged version of us make the decisions moving forward and like what we did in a protection way or in a, in an escape kind of way. And then at some point we, we were introduced to the fact that we were doing that and that's when our life kind of went into the more authentic aware space in which we can do what we do here, I create this so that I can have these conversations and people can share their stories to feel like we do, but you creating the nonprofit and helping people that had similar experiences as you, uh to avoid some of the parts you didn't enjoy. 

You know, like it's just I think this is our story right now. Our conversation right now shares the proof that we have a lot in common whether or not we've experienced the same exact thing. Yeah, no, I agree. 

I love the visual of the parallel trains, I think that's 100%. And I like how you said that we were introduced, hey this awareness but what a life changing awareness and I absolutely, you know, with the authenticity part that was not part of my corporate persona, let's just say it was always sort of um again because it comes back to that shame or that the hiding part, I can't let anyone get get too too close. You know, um I have great relationships but looking back and you may experience this as well and you're like, okay, I was not vulnerable. 

I was not like I was, the one was like, okay, tell me your problems and I won't tell you, sort of let me help you. So I've always, I think I've always had sort of that wanting that desire to, to help people. Um um you're, you're doing it and you're you're so inspiring. And I, you know, I like to kind of wrap up these conversations with a question and I'm wondering who I'd want this version of Angela to go back and and and talk to you and I almost wonder if you could go back to that that first grade, second grade version of you and give her some advice or tell her something or just be there, is there anything that that you think would serve her well? 

I think I would go to around the 6th grade, seventh grade um age of her. And because that's when like I said the speech really started to be noticeable and you know, some people would make fun of it. Um sort of mimic actually it was the, if you remember the charlie brown cartoons, the teacher whenever the teacher would talk blah blah blah blah blah. 

That's what you know um one boy in particular really liked to do whenever you heard me speaking. Um and you know, you just want the ground to open up and swallow you. So I think it would be yeah for her just keep going, just keep going. It's gonna work out and ways you could never have imagined just keep going. Yeah. And it goes back to that point that you made earlier and I say all the time. 

Is that like these experiences make us who we are and and how we got here and as weird as it is to say out loud, there are a few things that I would change because even the bad, terrible parts created a new awareness, created some kind of growth in me that brought me to this point and brought us to have this conversation, you know, like one thing could have gone differently. We would have never shared this story with people. You know, it's it's I I love this and I'm going to share the information of what you're doing with your company and with your nonprofit in the show notes and people can connect with you and if they feel inspired, you know, check out your ted talk or your Ted X talk and and and see all that information, but I just so appreciate you coming on and sharing these vulnerable moments with with my audience and and who knows who knows who is listening that just needed to hear what you had to say today. So thank you so much. Thank you so much for the opportunity. 

I I love what you're doing. I agree with you. Um um people need to hear these stories and it's so powerful what you're doing and creating connection and community when time in the world where we need that so much. So kudos to you for doing this and thank you so much for the opportunity to be here of course. And if you are listening and you're enjoying the life shift podcast, I'd appreciate five star review on Apple podcasts and say something nice because I don't know if it does anything but make me feel good, But it helps other people understand what the show's about and hopefully reach new audiences. So until next week, uh, we'll see you on the podcast feed.