BIRTHFIT Podcast Featuring Carl Paoli at the BIRTHFIT Summit
BIRTHFIT Podcast Featuring Carl Paoli
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What’s up, BIRTHFIT? This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder. And this is episode number two coming at you recapping, giving you a little insight into the BIRTHFIT Summit. So, number two means there’s more to come. This is Carl Paoli. You may know him as a human movement expert or I like to say constant student of life. He is also a New York Times bestselling author of Freestyle Connection. He’s got lots of other things going on. But he is also a father, for many of you that may not know this, and he shares a little bit into his personal journey adopting his sweet wonderful now semi adult young woman.
Before you dive in and get comfortable listening to the one and only Carl Paoli, I want to remind you that we have BIRTHFIT seminars happening this fall. A lot of them are sold out. Yes, I know. And we have a waiting list. But there are still spaces available in the BIRTHFIT Coach Seminar that is happening in New Jersey at the end of September. And there’s also space in the Coach Seminar that is happening in Chicago and that is the weekend of October 21st. So, sign up. I can’t really do anything if it sells out, sorry. But there will be more to come in 2018. But that’s it for the seminars for 2017. Get in where you fit in. Otherwise, we’ll see you in 2018.
Carl: Thank you. Think I need to take a breath real quick. This is pretty intense. Holy shit. Can we swear? Unreal. Unreal. I don’t know when it was but, I think, it was maybe — It was a while back, maybe 2011, 2012. Lindsey called me and she’s like, “Carl, I’m starting this thing called BIRTHFIT. I’m making it official. I just want to talk to you about it.” And I was sitting in my car and I was in my garage and it was actually like a very — I have a vivid memory of the conversation.
The memory I have of Lindsey was this level of confidence that what she was saying was right, although it was clear she had no clue what she was doing. You still don’t, right? And that’s the beauty of this whole thing. And to kind of look back at that moment and now be standing here in front of you guys is pretty remarkable. And I’m just so thankful for you giving me this opportunity to come in here and talk to you guys and for you guys for being here and letting me speak to you, guys. I just want to take a second and appreciate that. I feel like Lindsey needs a round.
I was sitting on the plane yesterday flying from London and thinking to myself, okay, I’m going to the BIRTHFIT Summit. And what is thing? What is BIRTHFIT? I was struggling to kind of put my finger on it but I had this feeling that it’s something very meaningful and it’s something that’s going to clearly make an impact on how the medical field talks and addresses birth and the whole process that comes before, during and after. And it’s bound to break, I think, the gridlock that exists in that medical field and how it’s communicated to us people, and being able to take that gridlock and what’s in the medical journals and really transcend it to women and men alike.
I think that’s what the power of this whole thing. It kind of reminded me of one of these dad jokes where there are four people in a plane — I was on a plane thinking about this — and the plane is going down. It’s going to crash. And there was the pilot, there’s the president, there’s a very smart guy, probably the most, the smartest guy in the world, and a ten-year old kid. Unfortunately, in the airplane, there are only three parachutes.
The president says, “I’m the president. I need a parachute.” So, he takes one, jumps out. The smartest guy in the plane and in the world, apparently, says, “I’m the smartest guy in the world and the future depends on me. I need a parachute.” He takes a parachute and jumps out.
And the pilot looks at the kid and tells the kid, “Kid, you go ahead. Take the last parachute. I’m going to go down with the plane. That’s my job.” And he said, “Don’t worry. The smartest guy took my backpack.”
We, this group of people, and every person that interacts with BIRTHFIT, is that child. We’re smiling because the smartest people in the room took the backpack, not the parachute. And, I think, that’s an exciting thing. To quote Logan, who I don’t know where he is right now, “What an opportunity!” Right? What an opportunity to make a difference! And back to today where I think I have 30 minutes to talk to you, guys, seven minutes are up, I was thinking what qualifies me to come and talk to you guys about something that relates to birth and maybe impactful and could be a catalyst to be part of this movement and part of this change?
And I started thinking, I was like, okay, I was born but I can’t remember a thing. That doesn’t work. I know something about gymnastics and then I pictured a woman doing a handstand and giving birth and it didn’t make sense. It was kind of nasty, actually. It just didn’t make sense. So, that didn’t work either as a qualification. And then the third thing I thought about was, okay, I’m a parent. I’m a dad. My wife’s a mom. But then I realized that we weren’t biological parents. So, I was like, okay, what am I going to say?
Well, the interesting thing is I’m a person and we all are. And we were all born, which is the biggest transition we go through in our physical life. And this transition is so impactful that we celebrate it every year. We talk about it every year. And although I wasn’t aware of my birth, I was present in that moment. And my mom, she reminds me that I was born on April 13th, 1982 at 1:31 a.m. Marin General in Greenbrae, Northern California, and it was a pretty quick delivery. I think it was like 30 minutes. It was good. I behaved.
That being said, she had a pretty stressful pregnancy. I was technically supposed to be the fourth child but I ended up becoming the third. She had a miscarriage before me. It was a baby boy. That caused a lot of stress on my mom. She was fearful. She didn’t know what was going to happen. And, I think, that actually carried over to me. And I’m glad it did because that fear, that emotional baggage and that feeling of not knowing was the biggest gift I ever received because it made me 100% present.
Today I’m not scared but I’m definitely shaky because I drank way too much coffee. The BIRTHFIT mug did it. Yeah, it got me going. I think that is something that we want to appreciate. And today’s talk is about living in that transition and celebrating that transition. I think that’s what this whole weekend is really about. And it’s exciting. It’s exciting because there’s so many opportunities, so much to learn, and so much knowledge to gain.
I mean, I could stand here and talk to you, guys, about technicalities of movement which is something that I supposedly specialize in. But, I think, you’re going to get enough of that today. So, I thought I would just share some stories. Besides my birth being simple, it also was just one of those reminders that it’s happening all the time. Is there anyone here that has a birthday today? Do you know anyone who has a birthday today? Yeah. See?
We’re all connected to someone who was born today. Probably at this very moment, this very minute. And there’s so many kids showing up every day. And it’s something to be thankful for and it’s something to appreciate and simply acknowledge.
Just the act of acknowledging something makes you aware, makes you present, allows you to make decisions and it makes things real. And when things are real, you are living and you’re truly in that moment. I think that’s what’s so powerful about BIRTHFIT and I’m so excited about. I’m reminded of this every day from my mom and my dad and my siblings and my friends and people like you, guys.
After I was born, I, of course, did what everyone else does — goes to school and has somewhat of a challenging upbringing even though you may have all the needs met. Sometimes we get challenged because that’s what life is all about. And thankfully, my mom realized that although I had a lot of emotional stressful challenges inside I had this body and this body was my most powerful tool.
She decided to put me into gymnastics and I got into gymnastics as a little after school program at my school. And it was great because for the first time in my conscious life that I can actually remember, I was able to make decisions. I was in control of how I was acting, behaving, moving, and I had somewhat of a purpose, although that purpose was mostly defined by gymnastics itself, by our coaches, by the people around me.
In gymnastics — Side note, I was at the Espy’s last night. Don’t ask me how I landed there. But I realized that it was very narrow minded in terms of the sports. All the minority sports in terms of action sports, gymnastics were just kind of discussed briefly when they were on a commercial break. And I realized that the standards that we’re setting for ourselves in sports and life are always limited. And that’s something that once again I’m very excited about BIRTHFIT is that it’s about breaking that gridlock and separating from that narrow mind and appreciating everyone and including everyone.
I realized this in gymnastics when I fell in love with the Olympics and all I wanted to do was win and stand on the podium and I defined winning by standing on the podium, getting the gold medal, celebrating with friends and family and again the flowers and the accolades and the fame and the fortune, whatever that means. And that’s what I dreamt of every night. And although I appreciated the process of training and moving and getting better and competing and challenging myself, all I thought about was that moment, reaching that point where I stood on the podium.
And, unfortunately, that moment never arrived. And the day I realized it never arrived was the most disappointing day of my life because I had these expectations that the culture, myself had set upon me and when I didn’t get those expectations met it was, or at least it felt like, a downhill spiral. It felt like that plane crashing down, no parachute.
Fortunately, I was excited about life and I found snowboarding and wakeboarding and through snowboarding and wakeboarding I learned that all the work that I had done in gymnastics actually transcended into those sports. It served as a base. I knew it was working. One, because I was doing things that most people couldn’t do and the reason I knew it was cool was because when I landed a trick or did something right, people celebrated, people cheered. That was the scoring system. That was the way of measuring.
And, I think, when it comes to human performance, I say this all the time, true performance can only be measured by feel. The numbers will follow. And, I think, one of the most powerful things that’s happening here in this group of people is that you all come from different backgrounds. And Lindsey is trying to set the best standards she can to help you take what you know and transcend it into being part of this process and serving a role and making an impact where you can and how you can.
And the way this is currently celebrated is through cheering, through having circle time, having a cry and maybe connecting with someone later on and realizing that what you’re doing, the best you can right now, is good enough.
And it is keeping the needle moving in the right direction. And that’s exciting. And although this is clear now, it wasn’t so clear back then. I continued my exploration. And thankfully, I got to experience a lot within the physical realm of things where when I came to physical education I became pretty well versed, I practiced a lot of different disciplines. And what hit me was the importance of inclusivity, being inclusive, and allowing for everyone to participate, for everyone to have a say. Because the moment you do that, you expand your mind.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, when you’re a little scared, you become present and aware. I went through a very long phase where I was scared of researching and looking up information about physical performance because I didn’t want to hear something I didn’t know. I felt so confident with where I was at. And although I failed in gymnastics I feel like I’ve succeeded as a whole because every step of the way, every handstand, every tear of the hand, every painful second I spent in the gym has served as a base for me to be here speaking every word I’m speaking to you guys and hopefully connecting at a level where you guys feel like you can relate at some level.
And as soon as you can relate there is some sort of confidence that you can take a step forward and make a difference and use every single aspect of information and knowledge that you have to make that happen. Now, knowledge is great. It’s compound information that we all accumulate. Understanding, though, is a whole different thing. Because understanding is when you take your knowledge, your information, and you apply it in context like I’m trying to do right now.
And trying is sometimes just good enough. And when you try to apply your knowledge in context and you develop that understanding, all of a sudden you see more. Every single aspect of the little stories that I was just telling you are simply transitional moments of my life. And when I talk about movement at my seminars, I talk about this framework position-movement-purpose. And what this framework really says is that all movement is simply a change of position.
The same way BIRTHFIT is a movement. It’s a change of ways of looking at birth, which is such a big word that I almost feel like it’s limited. Big and limited at the same time. It’s kind of overwhelming. But we can study that movement through different positions, ways of doing things. And there’s so many different practices within the movement of giving birth and the process of helping or facilitating that process of giving birth that it gets a little complicated.
But every process is a case study and every case study is an opportunity. And there are infinite positions that we go through. But where it all comes to ahead is in the transition, in that moment where you are experiencing change. And whether that is hard or easy, what we wanted to do is to make it feel right. I think that’s one of the biggest things that Lindsey talks about, which is the mindset. How do we go back to making things feel right so it can go right?
Now, one thing that I’m also very inspired by is this lack of judgment that exists in this group and that the openness to seeing different styles. And I can relate to this because as I transition from a very structured sports such as gymnastics into action sports which was very free, I discovered that freestyle, the essence of free styling is being able to first accept and respect all styles of movement, all different people, and include them. And once we do that, we have this general lens, which is the human lens, that allows us to create some relevance, make something specific and ultimately make it functional, serve a purpose.
And, I think, that’s something that you just mentioned right now, functional progressions. When we understand the different stages and steps of any process, we can develop those progressions. We can improve those progressions. We can make an impact on them. And when it comes to functionality, functionality is our best try at defining perfection, idealism. It never will be. And that’s okay.
And as we were doing our circle time, one of you said, “I feel safe right now.” Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make this process feel safe. The second thing we’re trying to do is we’re trying to make this process useful and not just useful for the kid but also for the mom, for the dad, for the brothers and sisters, for all the friends to come, all the businesses to be built, all the movements to lead, and we need to be reminded of this daily.
I think that’s something that at BIRTHFIT is happening. You guys are reminded of this daily, the epitome of functionality. And why is this relevant? Well, because what we’re trying to do, and I assume this is what Logan is going to talk about later on, is we’re trying to set better standards. And by setting better standards, we’re setting better examples and we’re getting people to relate more often to their purpose as individuals and as a group and a collective.
And, I think, that’s where the prescription comes in, which is what we’re all kind of chasing. What is the right way? To quote Logan again, “How do I go right?” That’s hard, very hard, but it’s possible. And, I think, that’s the million dollar question. At my seminars, I ask people all the time, “Do you want a million dollars?” Of course. Whether I have it or not, I would love to have it because a little bit more doesn’t hurt. The question is, what are you going to do with it? Well, most people don’t know. That that doesn’t matter right now.
The next question I ask them is: With what you’re doing right now, can you make a million dollars today? Most people answered no. But thankfully, we’re smart people. And we’re able to come up with a plan. Well, how much money do you make an hour? $20? Great. If you work 12 hours a day every day for ten years you will accumulate a million dollars. That’s exciting, right? You have a road map towards the thing that you want. Easy. This is what a lot of coaching looks like in the fitness industry. It’s, unfortunately, what the medical field looks like for the most part. And a lot of people are left behind. A lot of people drop out. They can’t hang. They can’t follow that prescription. They can’t follow that standard. They can’t follow that process.
So, I like to flip things around. What if I gave you a million dollars right now? Do you want it? Heck, yes. Well, all you have to do is sign this contract that says you’re going to work for me 12 hours a day every day, no breaks taken, for ten years. There you go. How does that feel? That sucks. Okay? All of a sudden you have become a slave to the thing that you want, or at least you thought you wanted.
So, the question is, that thing that you want, the thing that you’re chasing, what is it really? For what is it? And ultimately, what is it you’re hoping to feel? Is it some sort of fulfillment, emotional satisfaction, peace? Whatever that may be, it exists right now and it just requires a little bit of awareness to be able to see that, to pay attention it. And I’m reminded of this every year when my mom talks about my birth. That was the million dollars. And it didn’t happen once. It happened five times.
And even her miscarriage was the million dollars. Because the feeling that she had in retrospect, unfortunately, which is how we live life, was the feeling of satisfaction and understanding that she could carry over to me, to my siblings, and we are now doing the same to our families and with our families and our friends.
And that’s pretty cool. I think, once again, what BIRTHFIT is, is an amplifier of that. It’s simply allowing us to have a megaphone to multiply what we are feeling, what we are thinking, and how we can come up with practical solutions that will take this idea we have in our head to the next level. There’s going to be a lot of disruptions, I think, Lindsey. A lot of angry people soon. It’s okay. That just means you’re doing something right.
And I bring this up because when I was thinking about my qualifications I thought about me being born, not being aware of being born. Thankfully, my mom reminded me. Doing gymnastics. Not really finding exactly what a handstand or a muscle up could do for you right now in terms of giving better birth, if that’s even a thing. And ultimately, I was thinking about being a parent because the moment you become a parent is the moment you realize how meaningful that transition was as a kid.
My wife and I, we’re not biological parents. We became foster parents and, yeah, it was a really interesting process. For one, this is a teenager who used to be my wife’s student. She was beautiful, awesome, strong, but grew up very rough. Her mom, unfortunately, couldn’t take care of her. She was the sixth technically from one side in her sibling ranks but she has more brothers that she doesn’t know. So, a lot of them out there. But she was the last. The last was, unfortunately, left behind. But thankfully we crossed paths.
When we crossed paths, it was one of those moments where you think about falling in love and that feeling you get when you fall in love, how powerful it is, how crazy it is, all the tingles and all the stuff, the crazy shit you do, and you think once you’re in a serious relationship that you’ll never have that again, that that will never happen again. I was wrong. I tried to tell myself I wasn’t going to cry right now but…
We fell in love with her. She is awesome. And that is what this is really all about. It’s very special. Foster food, I guess. Yeah. And there were so many people, family included, that didn’t want this for us. It was hard. It wasn’t real. That’s not your kid. Someone else’s kid. It’s not true. And I and my wife were so thankful for her mom who we now have a relationship with and she’s able to connect with, even speak to and live with, and we’re still mom and dad and we were part of the process of giving birth. It’s just that our process didn’t look like a biological birth. But it was equally as meaningful.
And just that alone just shows you how powerful this whole thing really is and that BIRTHFIT is way more than giving life to a biological kid. And that’s the beauty. And it’s all tied, as cheesy as it may sound, up with love. And love cannot be defined, described, there’s no process that’s right or wrong. It just is. We can’t judge it. We just have to accept it.
And the sooner we do that, I think this thing is going to pick up some serious speed and I’m excited for it. And I’m excited to be a part of it and I’m thankful. Thank you, guys.
Lindsey: All right. So, little recap. I hope you all felt like you were sitting in the sun, maybe sweating a little bit, on the grass, listening to the one and only Carl Paoli share his story and, yeah, it’s just really powerful. I want to challenge you to use the term motherhood transition because we like to include all those that go through adoption and even those that maybe have miscarried in the first trimester or that are still healing post-partum a year later, two years later, all that is encompassed in the motherhood transition. So, keep that in mind and, yes, dads, partners, they go through it too.
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