Episode 29 – Embrace Vulnerability with Ashley Lemieux & Amy Brown

This week on a very special LIVE episode, Jessica chats with Ashley Lemieux and Amy Brown. Ashley is the founder of the Shine Project that, to date, has provided over 40 scholarships to inner-city youth. Amy is the co-host of the wildly popular Bobby Bones Radio Show and cares deeply for the people of Haiti. These three friends get real – very real – about the times they’ve felt most exposed and how they were able to discover their courage. Get ready for this one!

Going Scared Live - Ashley Lemieux and Amy Brown


Jessica: Hey, guys. Oh, my gosh, thank you so much for coming tonight. We are gonna dive right in to do my first ever Going Scared live recording here in Nashville, so welcome. Yes. Welcome to the Going Scared Podcast and I’m Jessica Honegger. So I am the co-CEO and Founder of the socially conscious fashion brand, Noonday Collection. And, yes, that’s right. That’s right. I saw you guys eyeing the jewelry out there, you’re like, "Is this for sale?" And I’m like, "Oh, yeah, girl. We’ve got you covered. We’ve got you covered." And right now we’re in a middle of a series around the book, Imperfect Courage. It has been so much fun and it’s been really fun to do a podcast series where we’re literally walking through every chapter.

Setting the Sisterhood

So you guys are in luck tonight because the chapter we’re covering tonight is called, "Embrace Vulnerability." So Nashville, I am really sorry, I just hope you’re ready to go deep because we are just like diving right in and we are just gonna go for it. So I feel like this is a safe space and we are gonna dive right into a topic that I am extremely passionate about which is really about vulnerability. So before we get going though, Ashley Lemieux, The Shine Project.

Ashley: Yes.

Jessica: Amy Brown of the…

Amy: You can call it the Amy Show anyhow.

Jessica: I would call it the Amy Show. OK, so why don’t you all just give a quick 101, tell us who you are and what you do. Ashley?

Ashley: OK. So I’m Ashley I have an online community for women called The Shine Project where we cheerlead each other on and build community. And all the meanwhile, we sell products that are handmade by inner-city youth in America to help them go to school. So that’s the gist of what we do at The Shine Project.

Jessica: No big deal.

Ashley: Yeah.

Jessica: Which is awesome.

Ashley: It’s awesome.

Jessica: And did you say, she has a shop in East Nashville, so you should go check it out.

Ashley: Yeah. So this is why I brought Amy. She’s like the best promoter in the world.

Jessica: It’s on Fatherland, Shoppes on Fatherland.

Ashley: Shoppes on Fatherland, we just moved out here last year. So, yeah, we have a Shine Project store in Nashville now.

Jessica: So go shopping tomorrow guys, OK? Thanks so much, Ashley. Amy?

Amy: I live here in Nashville as well and co-host of The Bobby Bone Show and that is kind of what I do by day and then I’m also a mom of two kids from Haiti that we recently adopted by night. And then my other side hustle is I’m co-founder of a brand called Espwa which means "hope" in Haitian Creole which is what they speak in Haiti, my children speak, and I founded that with one of my friends. So I spend a lot of time working on Espwa, trying to give back to Haiti because it’s a huge part of my life.

Jessica: So these two ladies are world changers for sure, world changers. And I’m so honored to be in ya’lls presence tonight. And I think what we’re gonna find in this conversation is to live this kind of life where we chose a life of purpose by living comfort and going scared. The going scared part really can be about vulnerability because one of the hardest things we can do is to show up and be seen. That feels really vulnerable, but you cannot live the kind of life that these ladies are living without choosing that life of vulnerability.

So because it’s the Imperfect Courage series I’m gonna do a little reading from the book. And I have, oh, my gosh, I haven’t read this one out loud yet, so, I’m like, OK. Get ready everybody for the tears, possibly, I don’t know. OK, so this is Chapter 5, I cannot wait for you all to read this book. Seriously, I’m so passionate about this message, you’re gonna love it. OK. So Chapter 5 as Amy endorsed it, Ashley has read it, and sisters, I’m timed.

Amy: Which by the way when Jessica asked me to endorse it and I’m, "OK." And then it comes out and I see all the other people who had endorsed it and they’re like way awesome like I was like…

Jessica: Oh, stop it.

Amy: I was like Brené Brown. I felt like I was like, "Oh, my gosh." Like even some of my friends and my sister were like, "What?"

Jessica: Oh, stop it.

Amy: They’re like, "Amy, oh my gosh." Yeah, it’s the most kind endorsement…

Jessica: No. OK. That was definitely…

Amy: I’m telling you, she shows up to me.

Jessica: No, the company I was amongst, my people that really know me were like, "Jessica had to mix that."

Ashley: She liked the book. She’s liked the book, though.

Amy: Yeah. I was like, I don’t know, I don’t know, I mean I feel honored that they’re like surely, she just like somebody dropped out.

Reading from “Embrace Vulnerability”—Chapter 5 of Imperfect Courage

Jessica: Stop it. Stop it. OK, this is Amy being vulnerable. OK. “Embrace Vulnerability.”

Don’t let my eyelash extensions and occasional spray tan fool you. I’m actually pretty crunchy at heart. Case in point: home births. I know this doesn’t exactly mesh with the ball gown background of my youth, but the truth is that despite the insecurity you just read about, I happen to enjoy being naked. I am from Austin after all, where, as we say, we like to keep things weird. Plus, I don’t live too far from Hippie Hollow, a public park that is legally recognized as being “clothing optional.”

When Amelie was younger, we used to shower frequently together. One of the reasons I intentionally showered with her was so that she could see a woman who was naked and unashamed. I have one too many memories of my own mother looking in the mirror and commenting about how she wished her body were thinner. It wasn’t well until adulthood that I realized that my mom was not fat. Like, not at all. I had looked at her through her own lens, and then I started looking at myself through that lens too—because that is what daughters do.

One evening, as Amelie and I were washing our hair, she asked me when she could start shaving her arms. Leg shaving was still years away, and with no professional swimming career in sight, something told me that an insecurity lurked. I did what all good mamas do; internally, I flipped out. No way was my daughter going to have insecurities. We were paving a new body-image road together.

So, here I was, wanting to say all the right words to wash away like shampoo from our hair any insecurity Amelie may have had. Thankfully, I refrained. It wasn’t necessarily my words that Amelie needed; what she needed was room to breathe. She needed space to be vulnerable; she didn’t need a feminist pep talk. I backed off. “Baby girl, it’s okay to be insecure about something. Did you know I have had insecurities about my body?” She looked at me incredulously. I met Amelie’s gaze and said, “When I was really young, a couple of kids told me that I was fat. After that, I felt completely insecure about my weight.” And then her eyes glanced up and down my body—at stretch marks acquired by carrying Holden, my ten-pound home-birthed child; at pockmarks acquired by carrying all the shingles-inducing stress involved in the adoption process. And do you know what she said? “But Mommy, you aren’t fat.”

I was a little relieved because—well, kids are honest. Looking at my daughter, I said, “I know I’m not fat, sweetheart. But because those kids had told me with such certainty that I was, I’d chosen to believe what they said instead of simply accepting myself.”
I told Amelie that it had taken me years and years to get over those mean comments. And then I said, “But you don’t have to get stuck like I did. You don’t have to accept other people’s mean assessments, Amelie. And when you share your story in a safe place, with someone like me, I get to unstick those stories for you.”

Amelie told me what had been going on. The year prior, when she’d been making Joe
[my husband] a greeting card in class at school, the kid sitting next to her saw her coloring in the hair on Joe’s arms and said, “Your arms are hairy, just like your dad’s.” And in that moment, that became her story. Her lens.

Until that night in the shower.

Until vulnerability worked its unsticking magic.

Just as my brave daughter had experienced that night in the shower, we don’t truly grow until we own and live our stories in the context of other people. Right? I mean, Amelie could have had an “aha” moment when she was in the shower alone, but the revelation wouldn’t have progressed her nearly as much as having had it next to me. We can’t grow without vulnerability, and we can’t be vulnerable alone.

Showing Up to Be Seen & Saying “It” Out Loud

And I was so proud of her that night and it took her a while, I couldn’t explain it all in the book, but that night I really had to coax her out of really telling me what was going on. She didn’t want to say it out loud. But when she said it out loud it was like that moment that defined her for a couple of years totally lost its power. And I believe that each of us are faced in this moments in our lives, those shower moments. Where we can say it out loud that thing that is feeling like it’s keeping us in shame or we can just stay quiet. And vulnerability is feeling our feelings. Vulnerability is showing up and being seen and these women here have modeled so much vulnerability, both in your personal lives also in your public lives. And so, I wanted to ask Ashley about a shower moment that you’ve had in your life where you had that choice, am I gonna show up and be seen or am I gonna stay in this place of shame?

“And vulnerability is feeling our feelings. Vulnerability is showing up and being seen…” Jessica Honegger

Ashley: You’re not beating around the bush. Where is this going?

Jessica: I’m sorry, it’s Chapter 5, you know, I lighted up the whole first part of the book, you know, it’s deep, so here we go.

Ashley: Here we go. You know, I was thinking about this because I knew you were gonna ask me this question and recently my shower moment has happened. To give just a very quick preface to it, my husband and I were parents for several years. We had raised our children for over half of their lives. We were their legal permanent guardians and then we went into a court battle to fight for them because of an unexpected adoption contestion, I just lost that word. And that whole thing was so private and it just ate us away and then we lost our children. And then no one publicly knew what had been going on for almost two years of us fighting in private and all of a sudden now that had happened and nobody knew and now we had lost our children and so we had to explain. But then my shower moment was having to be like I am suffering from major anxiety, major PTSD, major traumatic grief, and I’m not OK.

And I think the hardest part of doing that, I think one of the hardest things about being vulnerable is that out loud we have to acknowledge that something is not OK. I think sometimes it’s not even as hard to tell you the thing but it means that if I say it out loud that I have to admit that there’s something happening maybe that I’m not OK with. But what happened after I was able to start vocalizing that it was so crazy because thousands of women, I still get messages all the time from women who have felt so lonely in their depression and their grief or so lonely with traumatic things that have happened in their lives who say “thank you for saying something” and “thank you for helping me now learn tools that will help me get through this.” But man, that’s hard to take that first.

“I think the hardest part of doing that, I think one of the hardest things about being vulnerable is that out loud we have to acknowledge that something is not OK.” Ashley Lemieux

Jessica: To say it out loud.

Ashley: To say it out loud, yeah.

Jessica: But now that you’ve said it out loud, you become a place of healing for others as well.

Ashley: And the place of healing for yourself.

Jessica: Right.

Ashley: You don’t have to keep—something I found is I don’t have to keep running anymore.

Jessica: Right.

Ashley: When you’re vulnerable and when you can get to that place you don’t have to keep running from who it is that you are or the things that have happened because you can take it as it is and sit with it and that it teach you and be like this is my life and it’s OK.

Jessica: Yeah, so good. Amy, what about you?

Amy: Well, I think just to piggyback off that for a second I think when you’re running from “it,” it’s so exhausting.

Jessica: Right.

Ashley: Yes.

Being Vulnerable Together

Amy: It’s really taxing, and it will take a toll not only on you but on all of your relationships. So I feel like my job has given me a platform and not all radio shows are like this, but the people I work with, especially Bobby, he is one of an authentic environment where you can share. We don’t just cover the news or the fun stuff or the Hollywood stories like we really try to give our personal life. And we share it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So there’s some stuff that I don’t really tap into on the air too much though because it’s not like I’m in the room full of the guys and some of it is pretty sensitive.

So this is a stuff that I’ve shared with family and friends that I’ve had to be vulnerable about because that’s another space because not everybody has a platform to be vulnerable that can be relatable but if you’re going through something, I think finding those key people whether it’s your best friend or your mom or your sister or someone you meet somewhere that you just connect with like having that place to go. For me, and this kind of even ties in to stuff that you’ll read in Jessica’s book but body image stuff is huge. And for me, my dad left. I don’t even know that mine was body image related because it really had to do with my dad and therapy has taught me that.

Jessica: Yes.

Amy: But my dad left when I was eight years old and left my mom for someone else and they got married and, you know, then in high school I developed an eating disorder. And didn’t really know why or where it was coming from, like I didn’t really understand what I was doing. I can’t even really recall and I still to this day, it perplexes me like how did I even…where did I first hear of, I had bulimia, where did I ever first hear of throwing up? When did I ever think that OK, if I eat all of these then I can just go throw it up? And then, was it at school, were other girls talking about it, was it a movie? Like I don’t even know. But for whatever reason, that was very therapeutic to me and I felt awesome when I did it. And then I felt awful and then I felt awesome and then I felt awful.

And I couldn’t take it anymore one day. I literally couldn’t take it anymore and the person I chose to go to was my mom. And it was really hard for me to do that because I didn’t want her to think like she had let me down because, you know, I didn’t really know what it was but really honestly a lot of my binge and purge situations would happen at my dad’s house when he was not there. But that was where I would like sort of emotionally didn’t know what the heck to do and then I would just eat and eat and eat and I would feel awful and then I throw up and then I feel great and then I feel…it’s a cycle.

So I went to my mom and she was amazing because it was a no judgment space. She immediately wanted to help me figure out what this was. She contacted some friend she knew that had had eating disorders. She didn’t personally so she’s like "I can’t relate." But she, you know, hooked me up with like a mentor type situation who had been through that. So anyway, that was my go-to and then I was healed from it. And it took me having to confess that instead of hiding from it because it was just so miserable to finally get better. And then by the time I got married, it wasn’t even a part of my life and I got married in my young 20s but like this seems like a distant memory to me.

Finding the Courage to Share and Heal

And so I thought, "Well, this is great." But it’s almost like you’re an alcoholic, right, and I didn’t learn this until recently. So you kind of get your chip and you’ve got your chip for 5 years, 10 years. For me, I think I probably had it for I don’t know, 12 or 13 years, and I’ve been married for like maybe 8 years. So my husband doesn’t know this life of me. Now, he knew my story but he’d never lived with me like that. Which when you have that going on and it’s such a secretive thing, it’s toxic. And he didn’t have that in our space.

Jessica: Right.

Amy: And then about four years ago my mom died and I had been fine and literally my mom died on October 27th, 2014. And on October 28th, I ate something and I threw up and there’s nothing you could do to stop me from that happening. I didn’t even eat a lot. It was my sister’s birthday, whole another thing having your sister have a birthday the day after your mom dies and like people wanting to have a party because it’s weird. It really was. It was awkward. But we had a celebration because that’s what my mom would want and there was food and we ate and I really hadn’t eaten in a couple of days because my mom was in hospice care at my sister’s house and she died by her side so it was a whole…you know you don’t really eat. And I ate and then I threw up and then all of a sudden I had this thing back in my life that had a hold of me. And it clearly was traumatic after more therapy, realized that as a child that’s how I dealt with my trauma.

So then also as a 33-year-old who hadn’t had that in her life who instantly had one of the most traumatic things that’s ever happened to me, losing my mom, instantly back the next day. And I literally didn’t even know how to…I don’t even know how to tell you how it had happened. It’s not like it wasn’t thought out, it just was part of my thing. So instantly my next vulnerable moment that ties into this is I had to…I didn’t want to be that person because I knew how awful it was. So I had to get help. I had to tell my husband.

I mean I haven’t even shared this part on like the show, like I don’t even know that this show like this is a stuff we would normally talk about and it ever organically comes up and there’s a space for that. On the show, yes, years ago I’ve talked about previous eating disorder stuff. But the fact that you know something can happen in your life and then something from when you were a kid comes back and then you have to be vulnerable again, it’s like gosh doggit.

Jessica: I think we think, OK, we’re at that moment where we’re like…it’s like I’m wondering what keeps us from wanting to speak that truth because it’s obvious that ones we speak that truth that’s where the healing is. When you speak the truth and then someone else receives you with compassion and with empathy that’s where the transformation happens. So what do you think that fear was because you, I mean you have an awesome marriage, you’ve been married to your husband for years. What do you think it was like that made you afraid?

“When you speak the truth and then someone else receives you with compassion and with empathy that’s where the transformation happens.” Jessica Honegger

Amy: Well, he hadn’t seen that side. I feel like he’d seen all sides of me and he kind of knew. But to know…and it’s not like for me, I don’t know, I don’t want to rank, OK, losing somebody. Eating disorders are just bad, like I don’t want to rank this up. But I mean I feel like it would be a lot easier for me to tell him like "Gosh, I haven’t eaten in five days, I just haven’t been able to eat." Well, that would be bad. That’s not healthy that’s, I mean when you’re depressed and you have stuff going on, I mean, I was sad. I lost my mom. I mean, I got down to like 108 pounds, which for me is not healthy. Like now I’m like 125, like that’s my healthy range. Like sometimes 130 on a like…now I like to be strong.

Jessica: On a donut day.

Amy: On a donut day. I like to lift weights but like…

Jessica: You’re having a lot of donut days during this book tour, let me just tell you.

Amy: I mean I’m into that but I think I was just scared, like was he gonna love me? I mean I knew that was a lie because like, of course, he’s gonna love me, but is he gonna be grossed out by me because it’s like, you know, here I am, I’m gonna be like, I don’t know? I mean, I just ate and I threw up and it didn’t just happen that night, obviously. It started to continue to turn into a pattern and it was unhealthy and it’s been a journey. And now I’ll say I’m on a healthy track, I feel like I got my chip back like, well, like whatever like…

Jessica: Yeah, the chip is back, yes, we got it.

Amy: But it’s, yeah, I had to…and he, I will say he’s been amazing I think knowing, you know, if you have an amazing partner to be with you on these tough roads, like if you have someone like it’s scary to go to them, "Gosh" like if you can’t go to them, yeah, you probably gonna figure another stuff out.

Jessica: Right.

Amy: Right? Because luckily that’s who I felt like I needed to go to. Other people may have a best friend and I have some close girlfriends and like my sister that know the situation but it’s once, yeah, once I said it and I had that release and I knew I had him for accountability and no judgments and like just a safe space, that feels so much better than just hiding.

“Other people may have a best friend and I have some close girlfriends and like my sister that know the situation but it’s once, yeah, once I said it and I had that release and I knew I had him for accountability and no judgments and like just a safe space, that feels so much better than just hiding.” Amy Brown  

Fully Living in Our Stories

Jessica: Right. Well, the thing is we are wired for connection. All of us want to be seen, all of us want to be known, that is common to all of humanity. And yet we can’t be seen and known if we’re not showing up and being who we are and embracing all of the stories not just like the pretty shiny version that we think our husband wants but just the messiness of it all, the imperfection of it all. And so to have that moment of courage to say "I’m just gonna let the cards fall where they may," and in that safe space where he’s like, "I love you, we’re gonna pick up the pieces together," that’s that moment of healing that you’re able to have. And, you know, it’s so crazy that we’re talking about this because I actually had not read the chapter previously. I was just reading it to you all right now. I was like, "Oh, yeah, I remember that chapter." Then I was like, "Oh, it’s body image," like just right there when I was reading it out loud.

Amy: Oh, I knew that because I read it.

Jessica: Yeah, because you did your prep work. I was like, "Oh, damn, I’m like having to talk about this chapter right now in front of all these people?" I did write a book and now everyone is like…thousands of people reading it, but it was so funny because Amy and Ashley and I were just out there getting our picture taken together and I was putting my arms around them, I was like, "Oh, my gosh, I’m sandwiched between these tiny little girls." And I think years ago that could have triggered like a shame for me. And I think years ago I would have been like, "Girl, you look great." And now it’s like no, that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about comparing our suffering. It’s not about, you know, comparing our bodies. It’s not about comparing our circumstances. It’s just about showing up and receiving our story with empathy and thinking, you know what, I’m here. I’m listening, I’m creating the space.

And I think that if we can’t show up and be seen, we’re not gonna have that connection that we long for. This is less, this is not as hard as bulimia but even in my own story of starting Noonday Collection, I felt the sense of like I don’t have an MBA, I don’t really have any money. And I literally posted a picture actually today on Instagram of the day that I went and pawned my gold jewelry at a pawnshop to fund Noonday Collection’s first website. And there’s a lot of you here that actually don’t know what Noonday Collection is but we’re a socially conscious fashion brand and we create economic opportunity for people living in really, really vulnerable parts of the world. And we do that through a group of Ambassadors here in America, these are social entrepreneurs who are earning an income while also creating an impact.

And when I started Noonday it was born out of sheer desperation. I mean we were completely financially broke, we were putting money on credit cards. Actually, I was at the Dave Ramsey station here like a month ago and I thought I was gonna get struck by lightning because I remember during that time, I don’t know. What’s that like, does he have a show or something? And I was just like credit cards, like don’t even have credit cards but I was like I don’t know what I’d do without a credit card right now. We wouldn’t be eating. Oh, my God, I did not get struck by lightning and I’m on one of their shows, so it’s fine. I love you, Dave.

I wouldn’t recommend doing what we did but I knew that we have a little guy for us waiting for us in Rwanda and so there was a lot on the line, there was a lot at stake. I knew that we were supposed to grow our family through adoption because you all heard I had a 10-pound child at home, I am not gonna do that again, like "No, thank you." I didn’t actually say this in the book. See, I didn’t fully show up. I’m just gonna say it right now, it was like 10 pounds like 15 ounces. He was almost 11 pounds. I think I said 10 pounds in here.

Amy: Yeah.

Jessica: Anyway. But I still like because of my body image issues like I had issues about even telling people, my kids, wait, which is supposed to be like this happy beautiful like "Here’s my baby" announcement instead I’m like "See?" I mean, anyway…

Ashley: You’re like he was six pounds.

Jessica: Yeah, exactly. I know, you know, the day he was born, my parents and they’re at my house. They weren’t like witnesses or anything like that because I’m not that crazy but like we had the little infant diapers and my dad had to leave and go get like the second stage of the diapers for my kid. He was just this giant. He’s still giant, he’s a giant person, adorable and giant. So there’s these different parts of my story that I hid. So when Noonday started getting some traction, I would go, maybe I’d be in an entrepreneurial space where there’s like VC funding or maybe their businesses are much bigger than mine and I did not tell anyone for years that I pawned my gold jewelry at a pawnshop like shopped around five different pawnshops in Austin with sweaty palms in order to fund our first website because I thought, you know what, I got to look better than that like I got to look like I have more to gather than that. And I remember even when I started traveling and going to New York and LA for maybe like fashion events or scouting out trends, I would hide the fact that I was from Texas because I’m like Texas people don’t really do fashion, like I need a wig.

Amy: Jessica, as a fellow Texan, I’m ashamed.

Jessica: I am so ashamed especially like you have such mad fashion style, I love your style.

Amy: I have help. I know, right.

Jessica: Oh, it’s amazing.

Amy: I have friends that know what they’re doing, not me, but, yeah.

Jessica: Yeah, OK. So there were just so many times where I just hid. I hid. And in that the shame festered and I remember when I started coming out and I started sharing the pawnshop story and people were like, "Really, oh my gosh, that’s amazing." You know, and it’s like people love the messiness. And as I looked back and I think, "Why was I hiding?" And I think I was just living into what I wanted other people to perceive of me and it’s like the hustle like what you’re saying, it’s exhausting because then you’re just putting up these fronts, you’re not experiencing the connection that you really long for, and then ultimately you’re just like living your fake story, you’re not showing up and being seen.

“You know, and it’s like people love the messiness. And as I looked back and I think, ‘Why was I hiding?’ And I think I was just living into what I wanted other people to perceive of me.” Jessica Honegger

Jessica: I’m going to interrupt this conversation for just a hot second. We have been having so much fun on these Imperfect Courage book tours. I meet so many Going Scared listeners at every single one. We have decided to add four more stops: Grand Rapids, Waco, Washington DC, and Colorado. So please, if you live in any of these towns or if you know someone who does, hop on over to my website, jessicahonegger.com, gitcha some tickets, because these have been so much fun. And make sure you hop on over to Amazon and buy Imperfect Courage. You guys, this book is going to transform your lives. It’s already transformed the thousands that have bought it. We made the 24th best book in the nation its first week of release. Don’t miss out. I want you to be a part of this message, especially during this podcast series. Alright, we’re about to get even more real. So let’s hop on right back into this conversation with Ashley and Amy.

Jessica: So, I’m curious why do you think, what are some of the things that you think prevent us from showing up and being seen like that?

Ashley: Well, first off, I’m gonna answer a different question first that I’m making up in my head right now.

Jessica: That’s a good PR, good, you just answer the question you really long answer. Go for it, Ashley.

Ashley: I’ll answer it in one second, but as I’m listening to you say this, you know, we look at Jessica as a leader in this powerful businesswoman and this world changer, right? And so we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t fully express or accept our story and where we come from. Like that takes so much power and hustle and motivation and determination to be able to rise out of circumstances like I think you’re even so much cooler than I already did knowing where you started.

Jessica: Right.

Ashley: And so I think we have the opportunity to fully live in our stories because when we fully live in our stories then that means we can fully accept ourselves as who we are and who we were created to be. And who were created to be are powerhouse women who can rise up. And so let’s tell that part of the story because that’s the most exciting part. But I think that maybe we shy away from that because it’s scary and we don’t want to admit it and we don’t know what you’re going to think or she’s going to think because I think a lot of times in our own minds we tell ourselves our own false narratives and we jump to the worst case scenario and we’re our own worst critics. And so if I feel like this about me then she’s gonna think I’m even crazier than I already think that I am.

“When we fully live in our stories then that means we can fully accept ourselves as who we are and who we were created to be. And who were created to be are powerhouse women who can rise up.” Ashley Lemieux

Jessica: It’s like we’re worried about the judgment and the thing is is like there we do, there’s a little reputation I’ve heard among women that we can side eye and compare and judge each other. I don’t know if you have heard that about us but…

Amy: We don’t do that.

Asking for Help and Accepting Compassion

Jessica: But honestly, that’s such a huge part of my book, ya’ll. It’s like we can change the currents Like when we start making generous assumptions or when Amy shares her body image story instead of comparing it to my own story I’m just like creating a compassionate space for her, that is what it’s gonna change the current and the reputation among women. And, you know, this book has my name on it but honestly, I love the Maya Angelou quote it says, "I come as one, but I stand as 10,000." And the only reason I’m here today is because I am standing with 10,000 people around the globe. I mean, you guys showed up for this tonight and I wanted to talk a little bit about this whole showing up thing because something that was super vulnerable for me was to ask you guys to actually be a part of a night…

Ashley: Which kills me… like that kills me.

Because, ya’ll, we are terrible about asking people for help. I mean how many of you guys just love calling and saying "I’m really having a hard day and I need your help." I mean, it’s like so, we don’t want to be perceived as weak, we don’t want to put someone out. For me, I’m like if I ask them for help like I want to be able to pay them back, like I want to get them back sometime somehow and I don’t know what I have to give, I mean it is terrible. You know, Amy and I have told the story…

Amy: Go for it.

Jessica: So a couple of weeks ago, it was like, "Amy, ticket sales just aren’t quite where we want to be," and I was like, "We’re gonna be more aggressive about the marketing plan," and she was like skimming…

Amy: Which I read it wrong.

Jessica: She was like skimming the text, she was like, you want me to be more aggressive? Like what can I do? And it was…

Amy: No, I talked to Jess and it didn’t sound like her language. So that’s why I was like, even my language with her, I was like “Jessica…” I was like, "You just used the word aggressive." But you know text can be really tricky so then I read back my text to her and I’m like that sounded aggressive. So I immediately like fired off like five more texts after that being like OK, and then the more I typed the more I was like this isn’t just sounding right. So I always like wanted to pick up the phone and call then I was like that’s just being dramatic because I mean…

Jessica: Getting on the phone is so dramatic these days.

Amy: Yeah. I mean because you get these texts. Its fine but you never know someone’s text tone. So it’s always so hard but, yes.

Jessica: Apparently mine is aggressive, it’s my text tone.

Amy: Yeah. But then just because like, no, no, no that’s not really…and then I went back and I reread it fully and I was like, "Oh, I mean I get where what she’s saying now and she’s not…" but my personality took it as and then Jessica tried to Enneagram me like she’s trying to guess my Enneagram, remember, and I was like did you just guess my Enneagram, like…who’s taking the Enneagram.

Jessica: Actually we’re gonna have…yeah. Only people in Nashville and Austin even know what that was. When I moved here…

Amy: They knew, you know, they’re like what number are you?

Jessica: What number are you?

Amy: I’m like what are you talking about?

Jessica: Yes, we’re finally doing a whole Enneagram episode for Going Scared with Suzanne Stabile.

Amy: Yes, yes.

Jessica: We can come out finally and talk fully about, I’ve been holding back on my podcast because I didn’t know what my listeners to like be like Ashley, like what on earth are you talking about?

Amy: Well, I know now because I live in Nashville but before that…

Jessica: Well, now, I finally can say refer to episode this and then, so go for it.

Amy: OK, so I won’t derail the podcast with the Enneagram but you can Google it and, you know, it was a funny back and forth with Jessica. But I, you know, similar with you like Jessica, you are someone that has shown up, you’re doing great things. Like for you to come to us, I mean, if we’re available or someone is available, like if you don’t ask you don’t know. Like to me, it wasn’t even an issue and I don’t feel like for a second that you owe anybody anything. I feel like organically when you show up for someone, someone else is gonna show up for you, it’s not always going to be like equal with that person but it’s just gonna end up being equal in some way. I mean, it maybe like a couple of years from now. Yeah, we rise together, we just support each other and like do your thing and not be…we can’t be intimidated by each other and we can’t be…because I feel like there are sometimes can be this thing. And I even felt that not because Jessica she’s not intimidated, she has to put that out there.

“I feel like organically when you show up for someone, someone else is gonna show up for you, it’s not always going to be like equal with that person but it’s just gonna end up being equal in some way.” Amy Brown

Ashley: She’s not aggressive.

Amy: You’re not aggressive or intimidating but I would say a few years ago, you invited me to a retreat at your ranch. And I was like, "OMG." I was like "Is she sure?" Like, you know, again, same thing with the endorsement. I was like, "Is this the right Amy Brown?" because there are some other Amy Browns we know like mutually. Like sometimes I get, yeah, we have mutual friends, an Amy Brown like works with them and sometimes I’m like, "Oh, I don’t know any other Amy Brown." But you asked me to come out there with your friends that it was a very intimate thing and it was a lot of people like I, well, a handful of girls I really look up to. Like older, wiser, not significant elder, not older, but more like more life experiences.

Jessica: I get it. I got you. I got you.

Amy: And I have to admit like I probably asked like a handful of people like, "Do you think I should go?" because like I’m probably just gonna sit there like, you know? And I mean I really appreciated that. But, you, I feel like you gave me that weekend which was really special and you probably don’t even know what a gift that was and that was a few years ago. And so, yeah, I mean I’m just paying you back for that.

Jessica: Great. OK, so we’re like debt is canceled, now we’re like we’re equal.

Amy: We’re equal.

Jessica: We’re equal.

Amy: That’s what I’m saying, you just never know.

Jessica: I know, it’s ridiculous. Listen, I’m not saying that this is a good thing, guys. I’m just being vulnerable like that’s what’s tonights about, so. But let’s talk about this asking thing because on one hand, I can be afraid to ask people to show up for me. But then, on the other hand, there’s times when I’m like, I mean like right now guys, I’m sorry if you’re following me on Instagram because I have no problem asking you to buy my book right now. And it’s because I’m so passionate about this message and I have no problem saying, "Do you want to become an Ambassador and join our community? Do you want to host the Trunk Show?" Because I am so passionate about the change that that can make, so like that ask doesn’t, I’m not afraid at all about that. So let’s talk about sometimes where we’re just like when we show up for our ask because I know you have one with Bobby that’s how you even got your job. Can you think of a time when you just like you don’t have any problems asking people to help you out?

Ashley: Oh, no. I have a lot of problems asking people to help me out. But I think, oh, man, I remember, I’ll use a motherhood example. So when I was a mom and then also going to work and like doing all the things and I felt like the wheels on my bus were just going to roll off and I was gonna explode, I remember I would come home from work and there would be housework that I would have to do and I would just think “I cannot be the person to do this.” And my sister sat me down one day and she said, "Ashley, if you don’t figure this out, you’re driving us all crazy, you have to figure it out." And one of her simple solutions was why don’t you hire a house cleaner? And I was like, "Well, I don’t want to do that because if I have to go ask for a house cleaner that means I’m failing in my home." That means that I’m not capable of doing all of these things that I want to be capable of doing all of these things because I can.

Jessica: Because you’re a perfect unicorn, yeah.

Ashley: And so, yeah, I am.

Amy: Do you have a housekeeper number, I know…

Ashley: I do.

Amy: OK. Well, like after the show.

Ashley: But, yeah. So it was just, I remember getting to that point though where I was like, you know what, I cannot do everything and I cannot be good at everything. And that is OK and I’m still as important as I was yesterday when I thought that I could do everything. And so asking for help I think also allows us to live in a space where we can do the things that we are good at and thrive at. I also think, you know, like you said when you ask me to be involved, I feel like it’s my privilege and honor to be here with you.

“I cannot do everything, and I cannot be good at everything. And that is OK and I’m still as important as I was yesterday when I thought that I could do everything.” Ashley Lemieux

And when we get to ask other women I think for help too, we get to create a space where they can use their talents and what they’re good at to rise up and then all together, if we’re all doing the things that we’re good at, I mean that’s how we take over the world. That’s how change happens.

Jessica: Amen, Sister. Yes, this is how it happens, right? OK, so asking. By the way, I also speak to, I really love to free woman up to hire a housekeeper if it’s in your budget, even if it’s not in your budget I was willing to like go without anything. Like I would do anything for that and now it is my great honor when a woman comes up to me and she’s like, "You have freed me up." So you are gonna release so many people right now that are in that same place that just feel like it’s an indictment. People think it’s an indictment.

Choosing Compassion over Comparison

Amy: I think it’s important for women to acknowledge that depending on how you grew up I don’t know everybody’s story but I think sometimes when you go into a marriage or a relationship or you have these expectations as a child of what you saw or what you saw maybe in your church for example as what a woman’s role was supposed to be and kind of what was put into your head. And for me I feel like I grew up in sort of that way so it is very freeing to hear other women say like, you know, you can have a career. You can work. You can have kids and you can continue to work. And this has evolved for me because when I was first married, when I was pretty firm in the fact that when we got kids I was not going to work because that is what you did was raise your kids, period.

Ashley: As if you can’t also work and raise your kids. It was like…

Amy: No, not in my mind.

Ashley: So it was like you said a mutually exclusive thing.

Amy: No, no. Bobby and I used to argue about it on air. He’d be like this is ridiculous and I said, well, just so you know, when I get pregnancy like I’m quitting. Like I quit the show probably, well at least twice.

Ashley: On Air?

Amy: Yeah. One time I walked off on air but…that’s the other side, we’ve gotten over some of those bumps. But, you know, I think it’s important for instance we do have women here and you’re addressing that, that this can be very freeing to hear from like working women that are out doing it, entrepreneurs or people that work for other people, or people that are hustling, right, you’ve got something you’re really passionate about and you don’t have time to dedicate to cooking and cleaning. Maybe that’s not your jam, I realized recently once I got kids I thought I was gonna cook all the time. Like I just realized like it’s not my jam.

Ashley: And it’s OK if it is. Like my sister is the complete opposite where growing up she would like we’d be playing house and she would be the mom with all the babies and her dream is always been to have all the babies, to stay home and do those things that drive me nuts that I’m not really good at. And so that’s the best news is that we get to choose what it is that we want to do but we also need to work no matter what that is that we’re not ashamed in that. And we just go full speed and that’s OK.

Jessica: Yeah, we’re not ashamed because when we’re ashamed, we shame others. And so if we’re feeling shamed, then we shame the other mom for staying at home or we shame the other mom for working. I’ve had the similar thing. I am so sorry but I used to shame mom that I used to shame moms in my head who worked and were parenting littles…

“We’re not ashamed because when we’re ashamed, we shame others.” Jessica Honegger

Amy: Guilty. But here’s the tricky thing.

Jessica: I hate admitting that.

Amy: And I know I talked about this on air so it’s not a thing. But on Instagram or however it appears when you’re following people and you’re like how in the world are they doing it all? Like I don’t get it. Well, you know what I don’t ever put on Instagram and I have this because my husband works, I work, we both work fulltime jobs. Now, we have children, they’re in school. Like yes, so there’s options, there’s daycare, there’s family that can step in and help or there’s a nanny which sounds like such a weird word rolling off my tongue because I never thought I’d have one. But, you know, what you don’t ever see on my Instagram is my nanny. And she’s pretty awesome. We’re actually on the third one in less than seven months but…

Ashley: It’s going really well for you then.

Jessica: Your third nanny, let’s hope she stays.

Amy: That’s another story, not my fault. But, you know, you can’t compare yourself to other woman thinking they’re superwomen or something when, you know, obviously, if I didn’t have a job we wouldn’t have the nanny. Like that doesn’t make sense but I do, so my husband and I we had to come up with a plan to figure out how we were gonna keep our jobs.

“You can’t compare yourself to other woman thinking they’re superwomen.” Amy Brown

Jessica: We’re not shaming you if you’d stay…

Amy: But shame on you to say…no, no, no there are women who do that.

Jessica: Oh, my, did I just shame…shoot.

Amy: It’s OK.

Jessica: I mean that’s what we like…if you can do that, like high five. High five. Like I’m, yeah, it’s a high five. But, yeah, my sister she’s like got four kids. She’s a stay-at-home mom. She cooks every night, her house is always clean. She doesn’t have him…

Ashley: It’s like the perfect crafts that are like planned out for two weeks so the activities are done every hour of the day.

Jessica: At one point. She’s like Martha Stewart.

Ashley: Better than Disneyland at their house, yeah.

Amy: And then like I got kids and so I thought we we’re related so this is clearly just gonna ooze out of me and then like it’s not. Like I’m not Martha Stewart and that’s OK and that’s taken, I think it’s helped to have…again, it’s a shock to me because growing up I just knew my role or what I thought my role was.

Jessica: You thought it was just clicked when the kids came home which they’ve been like not even a year?

Amy: No, it’s been 7 and a half months.

Jessica: Yeah. OK. It’s not gonna click…

Amy: But even for my husband it was like he had certain expectations I think built into his mind, I don’t want to say brainwashed.

Jessica: I don’t mind saying it.

Amy: But I mean sometimes I feel like, we both grew up, we’ve been to the same church. Like we both had the same like weird something like we go to…I don’t want to call it just weird, everybody was really nice there. But like we’re not us like, "uh" as we grew up like we’ve got, we’re a little bit more like “love you Jesus” but like you know, we’re progressive, you know?

Amy: You love Jesus and you cuss a little.

Jessica: I don’t cuss.

Amy: Really?

Jessica: I really don’t.

Amy: We talked about this actually.

Jessica: Yeah, but that’s not a thing. It’s just, I just don’t. Like stuff happens and it doesn’t…

Amy: It just doesn’t come out. It just doesn’t roll off your tongue.

Jessica: It just doesn’t come out.

Amy: Apparently, I cussed a lot when I was a little kid because both of my parents cussed but I don’t, I just have stories like major potty mouth, like F-word. But that’s my dad. My dad cusses all the time and I don’t know if maybe growing up I just was like, "Eww, dad." And it just, but it’s not a thing like I don’t know. I say like darn or shoot.

Jessica: You can keep your pure mouth…

Amy: But I mean that’s not because I’m trying to be pure. It does not, I mean I could start. OK.

Jessica: No, actually I quote I have this beautiful Tina Fey quote in the book and my publisher asked me to like change our quote to clean it up a little. I was like "No, I’m sorry. I’m not touching Tina Fey. I’m like not messing with Tina Fey." So, yeah, we went all in for this book. But, I just love this idea of creating an environment where we become askers.

Can we just all give each other permission tonight? Like I want you all to think about that tonight. Where is a place of need that you have right now in your life and how are you gonna ask for help? And that is your Going Scared moment. This is called the Going Scared podcast and I want you to think of a place, I want you to think of a place of shame. Like what’s your shower moment? You know, I just think about my daughter that night and I’m gonna read this story, the end of this chapter, and I just think what would have happened had she not been able to be vulnerable with me that night.

If you’re longing to leave a life of safety for a life of risk, meaning, and impact, then please read this carefully: you cannot get there on your own. You—even you—were made for community. To flourish, we must work with, not against, togetherness, and to prize togetherness, we must come out of isolation and be seen.

Regardless of whether you fear being perceived as weak, or you think that you will be a burden to others, or you don’t know if you can return the favor, or you are afraid that people will say no, or you are afraid that your need is excessive and, well, needy, choosing self-reliance and isolation is never the better bet. While it may indeed be safer to curl up on the couch for The West Wing reruns night after night, that is hardly the life you were made for. It’s not at all what flourishing means. My friend, you and I cannot serve in a context of isolation. We cannot give in a context of isolation. We cannot grow in a context of isolation. We cannot truly live all by ourselves. And so we are here at vulnerability’s doorstep, knowing that we simply must let it in because it’s in the safety of each other’s vulnerability that we finally find the healing we’ve so frantically and desperately sought.I think back on

Amelie’s insecurity, the one she shared with me in the shower that day. For months and months she swore me to secrecy regarding the exact nature of the pain she bore. A year after all this happened, I was preparing a keynote talk for a conference. I got to a certain point in my outline and thought, “Amelie’s story would be a perfect fit here.” I found Amelie to ask for her permission. “Sure, Mom!” she said. “But I forget: What was it again that I was so upset about?”

That moment, for me, is framed. She no longer felt any shame. It was gone. Until this beautiful moment, I hadn’t realized how much shame lost its power that night in the shower.

This is the beauty of vulnerability and empathy, my friend. The “me too” we hear when we are brave enough to invite vulnerability in? It heals us every time.


“Embrace Vulnerability,” Imperfect Courage, pp. 93-94


Invite Vulnerability In

Jessica: So that is my invitation to you tonight. And some of you guys came alone tonight which honestly I think is such a Going Scared thing. At every tour stop, people would come along and I don’t want anyone to leave alone. Raise your hand if you came alone tonight, just raise it high. OK, right over here guys, do not let these sisters leave alone tonight, and brother, we have a brother too. Thank you, brother. Don’t leave alone and I just want you to invite you into this life. And if you’re thinking like I don’t even know what this is, like I’m running around with a group of friends. We’re all just trying to like live into each other’s perceptions. We’re all just trying to carry the right bag and say the right things in order to just not feel rejected. I would love to tell you about our community at Noonday Collection, our community of Ambassadors.

We are a sisterhood. We believe in second tries and going scared and we really embrace vulnerability. And so I just wanted to thank each of you guys for coming tonight for our first ever Going Scared podcast live, yes, awesome. It will air in a couple of weeks and so you guys can spread the word. And thank you so much, Ashley and Amy. Were they not, I mean, are they not the real deal? I mean it’s one thing to be vulnerable with a friend but you guys show up and are vulnerable in a very public space, and, you know, when you go first in vulnerability, it begets vulnerability because courage is contagious. And courage and vulnerability to me are one and the same. And so courage is contagious, so thank you for letting us all be ignited by your courage tonight and just how you show up in the world. I love how I experienced you guys.

“When you go first in vulnerability, it begets vulnerability because courage is contagious. And courage and vulnerability to me are one and the same.” Jessica Honegger

Ashley: Thank you.

Amy: The feeling is mutual. I feel like she needs a huge round of applause, right? Yeah.