Normal is overrated
April 6, 2022

What REAL VULNERABILITY in ART is like with 77-year-old creative, Zita Christian

What REAL VULNERABILITY in ART is like with 77-year-old creative, Zita Christian

How do you create unashamedly with vulnerability and openness? Helen talks to Zita about showing up consistently to help and serve others, how Zita continues to love and support her husband during his diagnosis of Dementia and Alzheimer's, and sharing the process along the way!

Discussed in this Episode:

1. How External Validation does not produce long-lasting happiness - ([00:00:00] [00:22:34])

2. Ongoing Healing from Our Past ([00:22:34] - ([00:41:38]

3. How to Express Vulnerability in our Art ([00:41:38] - [01:23:45])

Discussed in this Episode:

1.  How External Validation does not produce long-lasting happiness -  ([00:00:00] [00:22:34])

2. Ongoing Healing from Our Past ([00:22:34] - ([00:41:38]

3. How to Express Vulnerability in our Art ([00:41:38] - [01:23:45])

Supporters of the Show (affiliate links)


Social Links


[00:00:00] Helen: Hello there. My name is Helen Garcia and you're listening to the Brain Krafty podcast. I'm in a silly mood today, as I am most days. Welcome to the show. This podcast is going to help you share more of your work, become a little bit more vulnerable in how you show up for other people and get true fans.

[00:00:24] But first a question, how comfortable are you showing everything? The shame, the vulnerability, the things that are uncomfortable to talk about? Well, you're in just the right place for that. Today's guest is Zita Christian Zita is in her seventies. She's a writer, ritualist wedding, efficient podcast or YouTube post producer.

[00:00:47] She wear several hats. She has her own podcast called ritual recipes, and my spouse has dementia. She is one of the most inspirational writers and people that I've ever come across in today's podcast episode, she shares a little bit about her journey, her childhood, how she continues to show up and produce work that is vulnerable even when it carries a little bit of shame.

[00:01:16] So the reason why I wanted to have her on as a guest is because there's very few people who are so willing and open to share their stories and how they create from a place of vulnerability. So I hope this provides value for you, but first, a word from our sponsors. This episode is powered by pod decks.

[00:01:35] Pod decks are unique. Interview questions and episodes starting prompts in the Palm of your hand. So whether you're a podcast or an interviewer or existing broadcast, or looking to grow your audience or get more engagement, You're going to want to check out pod Use the code, Helen H E L E N for 10% off.

[00:01:55] Your first order. This episode is sponsored by the amazing Riverside dot F M. It's actually a tool that I love to use every time I'm doing an interview with a guest. In fact, every interview except for the first one was done on It's locally recorded files, which means you'll get the best quality for your podcast.

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[00:02:41] Use Riverside data. We are supported by pod page. Pod page is the website I use to create high quality content on my website in minutes. Use the link below to support this channel pod page is personally the easiest tool to use for podcasters. Now, back to the show.

[00:03:04] Yeah, I have a random question for you. If you had one last meal, what would it be and why? Oh, well, it's a hard question. Isn't it?

[00:03:14] Zita: It is, I think right now, because it's just one of my favorites. I would have chicken pesto because that's a recipe my daughter gave me and we made it several times and I have such fond associations of cooking with her, making that particular dinner.

[00:03:30] And, and then I would have salad and asparagus and something fresh, fresh and green. The associations are with. Like in my cookbooks and all my cookbooks. And every, anytime I make a recipe, I make notes in the margin about the date and what was going on, just like maybe one line or a bullet point or something.

[00:03:52] So when I go through my cookbooks, it's like looking at a diary and I made a new cookbook, a three rings, silvery, glittery, binder of recipes that she gave me. And when she comes over, I pull out it's in the kitchen, I pull it out and it's like, oh, let's make this recipe or that one. And they're all ones that she tried, some of them that she made up herself so she can use any spice.

[00:04:15] It's

[00:04:16] Helen: interesting. What is it about? I have a neighbor pat, who is in her eighties and I'm very close with her. She's one of my favorite people on the planet and she has a binder full of recipes. But if you talk to any one of my friends who are in their mid twenties, we don't do that anymore. You know, what's the magic of having everything in a binder and decorating the binder.

[00:04:38] What's your take on that? It's

[00:04:39] Zita: funny. I, I w I did an episode of ritual recipes about that. It was a, it was an episode about when your child is leaving home, like going away for college or for a long trip or something, have a, you know, establishing their own new home to give them a binder with recipes in it.

[00:04:58] And, and I understand totally, you know, young people today, they're not going to sit and go through a binder to make a recipe. But if the recipes have all those little personal notes that says, you know, I made this for you on this day, you started kindergarten. Or I made this on the day that, you know, you failed an exam and felt terrible.

[00:05:17] That's what people want. They want their stories. And they want to know that their story mattered to somebody else. And it mattered enough to put it down. In some form. And so if you put it in a recipe book, then I always feel someday, I mean maybe 30, 40, 50 years from now, someday. They'll look at that and go, I want to make that cause it's gonna remind me, you know, if my mom or my Nana or, or something like that, I think that's the real appeal.

[00:05:44] And it's like, it's like planting a seed that is isn't going to, well, it might not grow for a long, long time, but you want your child and your grandchild to have that.

[00:05:59] Helen: That's so beautiful to think of it that way. And I, one of the reasons why I wanted to sit down and talk with you today, SITA is because I think that you have a perspective that isn't talked about much like someone who's lived so much life, like you've had books released, you have cookbooks released, you are you're on YouTube.

[00:06:21] You're also podcasting. You learned audio editing yourself. And so to hear from someone who has lived a lot of life, but also is open to learning, like you just carry so much humility and love. How, how did you get that? Have you always been like that? I'm sure not, but I want to know the story behind it.

[00:06:43] Wow.

[00:06:43] Zita: My mother, I know, I learned a love of learning from both my mother and my father. Growing up, you know, I was born in the late forties and growing up and our little subdivision, just, you know, we were not on Naval base housing, but my dad was in the Navy. And so most of our contacts were through the Navy, except in our little, the world war II, world war II and Korea and Vietnam yet all three.

[00:07:10] I think people don't realize that how, how serving our country in the military affects the family. The family serves too. I mean the whole world changes, but in our household, because both my parents had this long love of learning, we had, we had two sets of encyclopedia. We had subscriptions to life magazine look magazine.

[00:07:34] We had medical dictionaries. My dad was a pharmacist and he taught pharmacy in the Navy. We had a huge library and I mean, in our town. Catch a bus and ride for like 40 minutes to get downtown, to go to a library. So kids in our neighborhood, anytime somebody had a project for school, they'd be down at sitting at our dining room table with the encyclopedias and the dictionaries and all the various books, you know, out there because we had, we had the neighborhood library, so that love of learning was always there.

[00:08:11] And then I remember my mom long medical background, but the bottom line was she had five and five [00:08:20] surgeries in one month, major surgeries. And we thought she was going to die. I mean, that's what the doctors told us. And in the process she had she had a kidney stone and it wasn't just a stone.

[00:08:31] It affected her whole kit. Kidney was the size of a football and it was solid rock. It, it wound up in my goodness, but Sonian museum of medical odd oddities. Whoa. But it, yeah. Yeah. Well, it's a fun fact for yeah, but it was a, it was a horribly painful thing because the only drug that she could take, she's definitely allergic to.

[00:08:54] So it was, it was really horrible. Oh my gosh. She wound up at a very young age and in our thirties having to have a surgical hysterectomy and she aged like 30 years in a period of a couple of months. And she was, when I tell you she was stunningly beautiful. I'm not exaggerating. And it's not a prejudice thing because she was my mom.

[00:09:17] She was gorgeous. And she aged so much so fast. People would think she was. My dad's mother, not his wife and they, oh my gosh. When I think about, you know, when I was, I was what, you know, seven, eight years old, if that, and she, you know, seeing her look so different was very shocking. And I remember she said to me one time if you don't like, when you look in the mirror, if you don't like who you see on the inside, it's not going to matter what you see on the outside.

[00:09:58] And I remember even at a very young age thinking, wow, I mean, I couldn't comprehend the depth of it, except I knew that, you know, for all of the. Beauty she had and to have it suddenly gone. And I don't know. I don't know what she thought. I mean, I was, I was such a kid. I never knew her as a woman. She died about six, seven years later.

[00:10:28] So I never knew her as a woman, but I knew that she had a whole philosophy that the external stuff just doesn't count. You have to, you have to be happy with who you are on the inside. And that's one of the things that I've always thought all along the way. It's like, whether it's so good, you know, success in the world, you know, getting into social media.

[00:10:52] I mean, and that's just like a jungle for me, all, you know, all of that world, I look at it and go, yeah, I want to learn about it. I want to try it. I want to, you know, see what I can do, but when it comes right down to it, I don't care what all. The numbers are I w I want to know that I like who I see in the mirror on the inside.

[00:11:17] And I want to be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience. And those are the things that matter. And I always find if I hold on to that, the other stuff just, I dunno, it, part of it is perspective. You know, when you have a lot of bad things happen to you and you go through traumas in life, and I know you, even at such a young age, you've been through your share and a friend of mine has Caroline Casey.

[00:11:37] She would always say that when things happen, when traumatic things happen to people, it's like having your visa, your passport to life stamped with a visa to the underworld and other people who have gone through. Other kinds of trusts, similar traumas are different, but still with a, you know, a big emotional effects, they recognize that in other people.

[00:11:57] And there's a lot that just doesn't have to be explained is a, there's a sensing of, I know, you know, what it is to suffer. I know, you know, what it is to lose or what it is to be shamed or something like that. And I got a lot of that early on in life. And I I think I'm lucky enough to say lucky enough to be reminded of it at different times in life.

[00:12:16] They've been painful times, but I think it served me.

[00:12:19] Helen: I'm just sitting with that story because it's just so beautiful. The way that you tell it. No wonder why your writer's Zita. I want to circle back to one prominent question I have of what was it like to have such a gorgeous mom in such your early years to grow up in a nail?

[00:12:35] I mean, not alone, like growing up in a Naval base with a father who served in the Korean war and world war two that already puts you apart. But to also go through the trauma of seeing your mom go through five years of pain and then to have her die, six, seven years later, what was that like for you as a child?

[00:12:54] You know, I'm sure that you were filled with curiosity and joy and you know, what was that transformation like? I

[00:13:01] Zita: understand. I didn't understand why she was so sickly. Yeah. My dad was a very healthy man up until the very end, you know, at his life, he was, he was very healthy and strong. I was always that way too.

[00:13:18] And I, I just had that feeling. Well, people are healthy and my mother was not, and I would come home from school. I remember coming home from school in the first grade, I would come up to the front door and I would go to open the door and I would stand there first and go, I hope my mother's not sleeping because if she was sleeping, then I knew that she didn't feel good.

[00:13:43] You know, that, that she was sick. And there were a lot of times when she would be in bed and I would, oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh, Helen, you just, you just made me think of something. I would bring, she had a couple of cookbooks and I would bring cookbook into the bedroom. Now she wants to sleep and I would show her a recipe and I would say, can I make this.

[00:14:06] Helen: How old are you when, when you ask

[00:14:08] Zita: that question, I don't know, maybe eight or nine, 10. So we did like real simple things, you know, when we were little, but I remember, I remember getting a bar of Germans chocolate and there was a recipe inside the bar of the baking chocolate about how to make a German chocolate cake.

[00:14:25] Yeah. If you've ever made one before, it was three layers and, and, and it's complicated and it's got this filling that you crushed pecans and coconut and I mean, it's, it's very, very rich and it's a complicated. Yeah. I don't remember taking the recipe into her and I said, I want to make this. No, can I make this?

[00:14:45] And I remember she looked at it and she said, can you read? And I said, yes. She said, okay, go slowly. And you can do this. And I thought, oh, okay. I mean, I figured if I could read, I could figure it out. Yeah. Because the thing was back then, I understood the language. You know, there was no language barrier barrier.

[00:15:03] If you take, take that concept and look at things now, like with technology, it's like, I don't know that language. So the fact that I can read. I mean, it obviously helps, but it's like reading a foreign language and everything is so much slower. But going back to your question, my dad being in the Navy, there was a group called the Navy wives club.

[00:15:26] Yeah. And the Navy wives met every month. It was a social gathering and they met on the base. And the whole idea was it really was a social support because know the husbands would be gone, you know, eight months, a year, two years at a time to be out at sea. And it was, it could be really, really hard. It could be really lonely.

[00:15:48] My mom didn't drive. So one of the other Navy wives who did drive, cause that was a big deal back then for a woman driving a car that was a big deal. Wow. This other woman would come and she'd pick up my mother and they would go to the, the Navy wives club and one of our either Gosh, I'm trying to remember.

[00:16:06] Now we went with her a couple of times because we didn't have anybody who came over to stay with us. We would go. And one of the things that the, the women in the club had, they had like a phone tree and whoever started the phone tree for that meeting would call the other women that was before they couldn't call before seven o'clock.

[00:16:27] That was the thing they couldn't call before seven. And they tried to get all the calls in by seven 30. But when they called, you had to tell the person who was calling and it was all on an honor system. What makeup you had on [00:16:40] had you put on lips? Had you put on foundation and it's usually is powder and had you put on mascara and if you and you answer, honestly, because that's just the way things were you honest, but when you got to the meeting, if you had added anything, you had to pay a quarter for each.

[00:17:01] If you added lipstick, you had to put a quarter in the jar. If you put on mascara, you had to put a quarter in the jar. That's how the group made money because the vanity was so big interest. You just didn't go out of the house unless you were made up. Interesting. So my mother would get up at the crack of Dawn and oh my gosh, she never, she never wore a lot of makeup ever to begin with, but she did have an eyebrow pencil and red, red lipstick, and that's, that's what she would wear.

[00:17:33] So she would make sure that she had that on. So she was ready for when the phone calls came. And so I know to some degree it meant something. To her. Like I remember, I remember hearing you in one of your podcasts. I remember hearing your grandmother talking about her, her beauty. It was a, it was a recognition that, you know, that she's a beautiful woman.

[00:17:59] I think that's something that we all have to remember. And I don't think it's a matter of judging or comparing like a magazine stuff or whatever. It's a matter of we, we are just because we exist, right? We are, we are beautiful people. We are beautiful souls and the, the external application of thing, does it matter if the inside isn't beautiful coming out?

[00:18:28] And my mother had, my mother had a lot of that going on for her. So when, when she went through that surgical has directly. And she lost so much hair and it turned white. She had this big flowy, flowy, Auburn, naturally wavy, thick, thick hair. And she lost her hair and she asked my dad to cut it and he put a bowl on her head and cut it around and he did what she asked, but it below it looked awful and she went down to the hairdresser.

[00:19:06] It wasn't far from us.

[00:19:09] Helen: Did he? Oh, it was bad. It was,

[00:19:12] Zita: well, he didn't mean to, but I mean, he. The only thing he knew was do a buzz cut with electric razor, and you know, that wasn't going to work. But my mother went down to the beauty salon and, and she had them cut her hair and it was real short, real like like what we would think of now is like a pixie cut

[00:19:33] Helen: real short.

[00:19:34] Okay.

[00:19:34] Zita: Yes, yes. Yeah. Very kind of short like that. Well, back then, I mean, oh yeah. Judgments, crowning glory was, was her hair and then the south, because we're talking Virginia, like right by North Carolina, the bottom part of Virginia, it was all that, you know, the higher the hair, the closer to God. And so now here was my mother with no hair.

[00:19:56] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. The big beehives everything. And so she. It was like, she looked, her hair, made her look Manish. I mean, her face wasn't like that at all. Her face was very beautiful, very feminine, but she, but that had changed so much too. And I remember, I remember one night my then boyfriend came over.

[00:20:21] And how old were you and when you had this boyfriend 15 and your mom died at 1450.

[00:20:28] How old were you in your mind was 15. She was, I was 15. She was, she had just turned 41. I see. Okay. So it was right in that, in that time period. And I had, I was practicing with setting hair. I'd gotten his plastic rollers and I asked if I could practice on her.

[00:20:44] So I'm practicing, rolling up her hair. I used to roll my hair on soup cans. Big big, long hair. And so I would roll it on suitcase, but I got these small rollers and I practiced on her hair and they took all the rollers out and I fussed with her hair and it looked pretty. My boyfriend who came over that night, I remember he complimented my mother and he said, her hair looked really pretty.

[00:21:08] And I saw the look on her face and it was, it was like somebody had, it was like somebody had finally poured water on a plant that was just about to die. Just, just, just dry and just died from thirst. And I saw, I saw this bloom come up in her and then I don't know, a week or so later she asked me if I would set her hair again.

[00:21:39] And I felt so happy that she wanted me to do it. Years later after she died. I thought about that and I thought. That was that part of her that told me she did miss it. Wasn't like an easy thing to just dismiss and go, oh, well I don't look like that anymore. It did bother her. I'm sure it did. Oh yeah.

[00:22:02] And she never, she just never, she never let on. Yeah. It's and I don't know how has she must have suffered from that in ways out I'll never know. Yeah.

[00:22:17] Helen: It's so interesting that the, the things that, you know, beauty and, and how it's being perceived now, what you brought up earlier in our conversation. I think social media has glorified capitalism and purchases and looking like somebody else.

[00:22:34] But I think that. With talking to people who are much wiser than me and older than me. I'm realizing that those things don't really matter later on. It's the memories that you carry about the people that you love that really matter. And I think even hearing you talk about your mom and your dad, you talk about your mom's beauty, but that's not all that you remember about her.

[00:22:57] And I, and I think that we can't really downplay our own perceptions about ourselves because how we see ourselves play a pivotal role in how we interact with other people. So it it's just so beautiful the way that you depicted

[00:23:11] Zita: that. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. How do you even hear him? No, just at my desk, at my desk right now, I'm looking straight, straight out and I have a oval framed picture of my mother next to an oval framed picture of her mother.

[00:23:27] The woman I'm named for my grandmother was named Zita and I I'm looking right at them. I see both of them every day and yeah. And she was about 31. And when that photo was taken before or all of these stones and the hysterectomies and things like

[00:23:42] that. Okay. Yeah, yeah. A couple of years.

[00:23:45] Helen: Yeah. How did he take her death?

[00:23:47] What was it like when she died for you? Were you the only child? No, I have

[00:23:51] Zita: two younger sisters. One was 12. One was 10. I would say we were, we were in shock. I say we, because at that point, my sisters and I became like one, we, we were in shock. Yeah. Our dad had been stationed on a special assignment with the Marines down in camp.

[00:24:15] Lazoon this was just before this was before the Cuban missile crisis. And he, he was pulled from the Navy for us, this special assignment. He came home most weekends for like a day and a half, and then he would go back. And when he finally, after the Cuban missile crisis, everything's settled down. He was stationed back in Portsmouth, where we lived at the Naval hospital and he came back on a Friday night.

[00:24:46] He was due to report to the base Monday, but Saturday morning, my mother had a heart attack and she went to the hospital. It was July 13th, and she died about two weeks later. [00:25:00] So we were with this man we hardly knew, or we knew he was our father. We saw him on weekends, but it was always, you know, don't bother your father.

[00:25:09] He needs to rest, you

[00:25:10] Helen: know? Cause

[00:25:13] Zita: yeah. So we were in shock that suddenly our mother was gone. I mean, I think about my sister, my little sister, Eileen, she had gone out to play that morning with kids in the neighborhood. And that was it. I mean she came home and that everything changed. I mean it changed for all of us, but at least my other sister and I, we were there, we were at the house when it happened and but I, Lee was just like totally oblivious.

[00:25:41] I'm like 10 years old. She had no clue. And because my dad was in the Navy, there was talk.

[00:25:50] There was talk about whether or not he would be a fit father. And there was talk about having my sisters and I split up and sent into foster homes. And I only, I was not supposed to know this talk with

[00:26:09] Helen: the Navy Naval base or who were, who was my mother's

[00:26:13] Zita: sister. My mother's sister talked with my mother's best friend who lived down the street.

[00:26:19] Wow. And the best friend's daughter was a friend of mine and she overheard the conversations and she told me, she said, your aunt and my mother are talking about contacting the authorities and then, oh my gosh, your father is not because of the Navy because of the schedule. And, and there were other things too, but that.

[00:26:39] He would not be a good father. And so I got my sisters together and I said, we have to be perfect. If we do anything wrong, anything we're going to get split up. We have to make it look like, like he's doing everything right. And we can't make mistakes. Cause if we, if we make a mistake and the authorities are called or anything is questioned we, we will get split up.

[00:27:04] And I know, and I, and I could tell them, I know it was for a fact because Mrs. Carr talked to, you know, and germane, and this is what they're talking about. So we didn't, I, I don't know about my sisters and I, we, we grieved and we grieve in different ways. I think all people do, but it was years now, I'm saying I was 15 and it wasn't until my daughter.

[00:27:35] Was preparing to get married and I was helping to plan the wedding. And I was standing in one of the rooms here in my home and it's suddenly, and I mean, suddenly like out of the blue hit me, my mother, wasn't going to be here. She was not going to be here to see my daughter get married and I collapsed.

[00:27:57] Helen, it was like, somebody came behind me. Pushed my knees. I just, they buckled. I went right down on the floor that goodness, that was a chair there. I caught myself on the chair and I started sobbing in ways that I, that I started gagging and I, and it was, it was painful, physically painful and just mentally like a tsunami and emotional tsunami hit.

[00:28:23] But it took all that time, all those years for me to come to grips with the extent of the grief that I had, not let myself feel.

[00:28:34] Helen: Yeah. Because I think that, you know, moments, literal moments after your mother dies, you overhear this conversation and you couldn't really give yourself space to feel those emotions because you need to be in a space of safety to feel the trauma, like in a lot of therapeutic models, you need to establish a foundation of safety before you even address the trauma.

[00:28:58] And I think that. I find it very interesting that it took your daughter being married or, or going through that ceremony for you to feel that not even at your own wedding, it was someone else's wedding. What, why do

[00:29:13] Zita: you think that is? I think because the, the pain was so horrific and I buried it so deeply.

[00:29:25] I can tell you that was there was a newscast local newscast. I don't know. This goes way back 20 years or so ago when women were first serving in the military in combat in a big way. And it made the news at night and there was a broadcast where there was a woman who was in the army and she was coming home and they had cameras out at her house and the garage door was open.

[00:29:57] And her daughter who was a little girl, like maybe six, six or seven was standing in the garage and this car pulls up and the woman, she's the mom, she's in a full uniform. She gets out of the car and she's walking towards the garage. The daughter sees her and the, the look on the daughter's face. It was it was shock. And then it was a read, I think, this registering of pain. Oh, just overwhelming pain. And this little girl's screamed and it wasn't like, oh, mommy are excited. It was a scream of guttural pain. And I thought I recognized it. I immediately recognized it. I was so angry at the television station.

[00:30:55] She, because she finally allowed herself to feel the pain that her mother had been gone all this time. It's serving in the army. And of course, then it was immediately, you know, the mother comes up and the daughter's rushing into her arms. It was this beautiful reunion. But in that one little moment where there's that guttural reaction from that little girl, I was so angry at that television station for, for the sake of, you know, they did the surprise for the sake of the people watching the news.

[00:31:26] And I thought that, I thought that was frankly unconscionable to do that, to that. Yeah, but I recognize that I totally recognize that we bury things so deeply when they are so very, very painful shows up in other ways, like my sisters and I have always talked when we had our own children, it was like, you want to talk about a hovering mother?

[00:31:50] Oh yeah. So you know, it, it affects us in different ways. Yeah.

[00:31:54] Helen: Yes it does. And I think I can relate to that very much because when I was, I think when I was around five, my parent, my, and I I've talked about this before, but I think not in, yeah. When I was five, my parents left. My dad was gone for three months.

[00:32:10] My mom was gone for six. I didn't seen my mom and half a year. And I remember I was riding my bike and my friend had fallen off of, it was like a, a bike with a wagon. And my friend had fallen off of the wagon and had cut his lip. And I was so overwhelmed with this stress that I remember running to my parents' room, knowing that my mom wasn't home, but that I wanted to feel her presence somehow.

[00:32:35] And I remember seeing this photo family photo of all of us and just like talking to that photo of like, mom, why aren't you here? And I was saying it in my native language to call Logan. I was like, mama, where are you? And I remember, you know, when my family immigrated here, I was around five close to turning six.

[00:32:57] We immigrated here a month before my sixth birthday. And I saw her for the first time. In half a year and she was standing there, she had tears on her eyes. She was so excited to see us. And I remember just like standing there, you know how they say that when we experience trauma, it's either a fight flight or freeze.

[00:33:17] I just froze. And [00:33:20] she and I have talked about it. It's like, it's a big trauma to be separated from your child. And it's also an even bigger trauma to, to have it not be there and then to be there. And I know that it's affected me because. I, I like it has affected like the way that I functioned with people.

[00:33:44] And I'm still continuing to discover what that means for me, because it's such a vulnerable process to go through the relationship we have with our parents and what that's like, like you had to have it all together from the very beginning, you know? And you're the oldest, I'm the oldest. And we're both from very different generations, but how true that thread is woven throughout our entire lives, or I didn't give myself permission to feel until I was in college.

[00:34:14] I don't know. It's just like, it comes in waves where if someone is disappointed in me, I feel like something is wrong with me. I engage in a pattern of self blame. How did you heal from that? Just out of curiosity, like how do you continue to heal.

[00:34:30] Zita: You're assuming I healed from that. Oh no, that's that, that's an ongoing thing.

[00:34:34] How, and I wish I can tell you that that's behind me, but I, I, I can't. I mean, I, I did come to, I came to a point finally it was in my late forties or I came, I, I found myself at peace with the fact that on some level I was never going to, I was never going to please my father. I mean, that was just, how did you, after a while it just didn't matter.

[00:35:02] What was it,

[00:35:03] Helen: what do you think in your mind? I think a child tries to create a story in their heads of like, if I'm just good enough or if I just get straight A's or if I just, if I just try and try and try to be the best maybe then, or what if I come home, what was the narrative that you were playing in your mind?

[00:35:20] Like maybe my dad doesn't love me before. X, Y and

[00:35:23] Zita: Z, because I'm not a boy. I mean, all that, that was the, you know, that was like three girls I was supposed to be. Yeah. I wanted a boy and I wasn't, and, and I remember hearing growing up, oh, your father loves you, even though you're, even though you're a girl and it was said funny, you know, it was said, like, it was a joke, but I mean, I know my dad loved me.

[00:35:48] I mean, that's, he had his own, he had his own issues and problems that the way everybody does, everybody carries some kind of baggage, you know, from their own childhood. So I always know that, that he did, but I always knew that, or I always felt that I was a disappointment. And then, and then I thought, well, I am who I am.

[00:36:07] And if he, if he doesn't see that, if he doesn't value me for, for who I am, that's his loss because I came to realize I'm a pretty good package. I'm a good. I'm a hard worker. I got a lot of, I mean, I got the other things I'll be working on, you know, till the day I die, but the older I get, the more permission I give myself to look and go, I'm good at that.

[00:36:37] I'm good at that. And I can see the things cause it, cause then it, if I don't, it feels like I'm in some way being disloyal to my ancestors, like I inherited these things from my ancestors. And if I don't honor those things and accept them with grace and gratitude that then this whole, this whole false humility thing is garbage.

[00:37:04] And so it's like, no, you know, I'm oh yeah, yeah. And I'm here to shine.

[00:37:10] Helen: I love what you said at the end. It's like you have to walk with grace and gratitude that this is just what you were given and, you know, it's and I think that so many people get stuck in this narrative of I can accomplish X, Y, and Z because I've, I've gone through this, but I, I don't, I don't think that you're an example of that.

[00:37:31] I think that you're somebody who has persevered despite and mystical, but I want to say,

[00:37:40] Zita: go ahead, go ahead, dear. Dear friend of mine, who? She said two things that always, I kind of live by them. One, she said, destiny is a white. And I think about that all the time that whatever these things are that happen and they're uncomfortable or painful, or their losses are something that they, they move life in a certain direction.

[00:38:03] And all of these things eventually lead to or the, the lessons learned the skills, developed the understanding, the empathy, all the lessons learned. They lead to something where I can be of service to beyond a world beyond me. And I think that so all of these things have a purpose. And the other thing she says, she says, just remember wherever there's manure, there's a pony,

[00:38:33] Helen: wherever there's one nurse, there's a pony.

[00:38:36] I'm going to use that now and use that more often. I'm curious. Did the creativity come from your mother? Cause you're, you're so creative. You have this huge capacity to, I mean, you've had a show. You continue to have a show. You are somebody who is a prolific writer and an amazing speaker. Both

[00:38:59] Zita: my dad.

[00:39:00] Oh my, my mom was a, my mom was a poet, but it was, well, my mom didn't expect that. Funny. The funny limericks, she had a wicked sense of humor and she loved classical music and she loved to read. And my dad. Was a storyteller and, and he was a see stories. My dad used to say, say Z to do, you know, the difference between a fairytale and a C story.

[00:39:28] And I go, no, I don't know the difference. And he said, well, your fairytales always start out once upon a time. But your sea stories, now I'm going to clean this up for your podcast. See stories start out. Now this ain't no sh TT. But, but it was, it was that idea. He had that, he just had that natural story teller bone.

[00:39:55] And my mother had the literary bone as hers was a more sophisticated creativity. His was more earthy, but they were both equally creative and my mother could, so, oh, she just sewed up a storm at my dad. My dad was a gardener. He grasped. We had a, we had a tree that had five different kinds of apples and he made hedges long, long hedges, all of them from little clips of things that he grew.

[00:40:26] And he gave them away to the neighbors and he had a real, real green thumb. So they both, they both had a lot of creativity. I have lots of house plants. Now. I know I got that from my dad. And you know, his, his parents were homesteaders farmers out on the Dakota territory and I, and my mother, I mean, I, so my sewing machine is set up in the dining room right now.

[00:40:49] And I got all that from my mother. So it, it comes down thing. All those gifts come down to us and we reshape them. We, we modify the recipe a little,

[00:41:00] Helen: I want to go to, I eventually want to get to, my husband has dementia. How you created the show when the story behind it. But I want to go to the in-between like the Patty meat that made the end of the burger.

[00:41:15] If that makes sense. I, I want to know more about, it's interesting that your parents grew up in this like age, where they had to think of other people they had to go to war. Your dad had to serve in the military. Your mom didn't had restrictions as a woman. She couldn't drive. She couldn't do certain things, even though she had the capacity to do more.

[00:41:38] And then you grew up in the age of [00:41:40] television, like one of the golden ages of television. And I think that, you know, all of those things combined is like the perfect storm to do what you did and you're continuing to do. And so how did you end up in like the business, the creative business?

[00:41:58] Zita: Well, I, I can tell you with the television on the podcast, I can point to the day it happened.

[00:42:04] It was. Still vivid in my mind. Week prior, I, I had been asked to be a guest on a public access television show in 1993. My first book had come out and a man in a town, I don't know, maybe 45 minutes away. He had a show about writers and he contacted me because it was an article in the newspaper. And he asked if I would come out to this town and be a guest on his show to talk about my new book.

[00:42:39] Well, I was thrilled. So I went and it was a lackluster experience, but I was still very excited that. I say lackluster because he had forgotten until the last minute his cameraman didn't show up. It was, it was very much like I was an afterthought and I thought, oh gosh. So, you know, I had built it all up in my mind that this was going to be some big, wonderful thing and it wasn't, but it was still a good experience.

[00:43:11] And he and I had a good conversation. And I remember leaving thinking, I would do that again. If, if somebody asked me that, that it was still fun, that a week later I'm in my dining room and a friend of mine, her name is B BIA and I were having lunch and we were talking about some writing projects. We were both members of the same writing organization.

[00:43:38] And she had always wanted to do a public access television show of her own. And her son was the, was in charge of the public access to part his community television of, of our local Cox communications franchise. And she had been talking about it for a long time, but nothing ever came of it. And this particular day she said, see that my son told me that, you know, I have to do all the paperwork and everything just, and all the training, just like everybody else.

[00:44:06] She said, well, I've done it. She said that I'm going to do a show and I'm going to call it author chat, and I want you to be on it. I thought she was asking me to be a guest on her show. Just like I had just been a guest on this other show. I said, yes, I would love to. The more she talked, the more I realized she's not asking me to be a guest, she's asking me to host the show.

[00:44:39] And I remember sitting there thinking, I don't know how to do this. I don't know anything about television. I certainly don't. I don't know anything about hosting. And I thought she doesn't either. And I can either say no. So I don't embarrass myself, make a fool of myself and be safe, or I can say yes, and we'll learn together and we'll have an experience.

[00:45:12] And I remember the, I remember the back and forth going on in my head. And in the end I said, yes, I'll do it. So we did the show. We filmed in my living room. I live in a condominium, there's a window at the front and a window at the back, but nothing on the sides. So we had to wait till the light came in and we couldn't use the studio yet.

[00:45:34] That wasn't an option for us. The television studio, we were filming it in, in, in my living room. So we had to wait until the sun got right to a certain spot in that living room window. And that was like two o'clock. So all the guests had to come at two o'clock and I said, we have, you can't be late. Cause we've only got this little window of time when the light is good.

[00:45:53] Yes. So she came with her camcorder, they all met at, it was, it was the best experience. So I just set up the couch and I was like, you know, move some things out of the way. So they wouldn't show, she came with her camp. And she'd sit on a little chair in front of the couch and and she would film and we, I would sit on the couch with my guest and we would talk, and I remember this this one night.

[00:46:23] Well, I won't get into all those stories, but anyway, that then led to down the line. We came to a point where we had some, some pretty serious creative differences and we were able to move into the studio and we could use their cameras and their microphones and their lighting. And it was really pretty cool.

[00:46:42] And we had to assemble a volunteer crew, you know, which we did. And but, but then things reached a point where unfortunately, we had some, we had some serious differences about where we wanted to go with things and we parted company with the show. We still remained friends. And and then I started, okay.

[00:47:03] I started my first show. I've I've done three. And I, so I started the first one and it was great. And then after that, you're then doing the, the first one was just, it was called full bloom and it was just like anything and every, it was a popery of whatever interested me. And then I did page one, which is a show about writing and for writers, I still do that.

[00:47:28] And then I started a show called weddings with SITA because I was doing weddings. I was officiating and I wanted to talk with these other vendors. And then when the pandemic hit, I don't remember the last show I taped was in March of 2020 at the studio. And then everything shut down. And I, I thought, well, I keep hearing about this thing called a podcast.

[00:47:49] And I, you know, did some research and, you know, one thing led to another and I wound up finding out about Dave Jackson and school of podcast. So I joined there and taking the classes and learning and, and I thought, well, I'm going to do a podcast about something I know, and I know ritual, and I know I'm good at creating rituals, like a wedding rituals and funeral rituals and baby blessing rituals and all kinds of things.

[00:48:16] So that's the first podcast and that's still going. But I mean, if I get one show a month, that's, that's good. That just the way things are. And a couple months ago, in fact, it was only just February. I had, I don't know. It's what I call midnight in the mirror. And it's when you, it's that whole thing of looking really deeply into who you are when there's nobody around and it's dark and you're just looking at the inside and it's like, I felt this.

[00:48:57] Calling as cheesy as that might sound to somebody, but that's how it felt I had to do something that would help. Yeah. It had to help other people who are going through this caregiving journey because my husband had been diagnosed with dementia in 2014 and Alzheimer's in 2016, you know, and here we are now in 2022, and he's now in the late stage, not last but late stage.

[00:49:29] And I thought 40% of us die from. 40% of family dementia caregivers, which is better than what it used to be. It used to be 63%, so it's better. But I thought, what can I do that will help other people in my situation survive? And at the same time, help me survive. And I thought two things, I'm a storyteller.

[00:49:57] I can tell stories. [00:50:00] Wow. And I know that that you are. I know now how to do a podcast. I can't go into the television studio. That's closed. It's still closed. But I can with Dave, Jackson's help. I know that I can create a podcast and I know how to tell a story. So I thought if I feel this calling, it's like, you got to use the skills you're given and do something good with them.

[00:50:27] And that was the impetus behind launching the podcast. But it goes back to like what I said earlier about destiny being a wide road, if all those years before, if I, if I had said to my friend beat, no, I don't know how to do that. I don't know that I would ever be in this position now, but I wanted to, I wanted to try it.

[00:50:47] And that goes back to my mom and the recipes. And it, can you read it? Can you read it, break it down, do it step-by-step and I thought, well, if I find somebody who can teach me step by step, go slowly, which Dave Jackson did. And then I thought now, now with storytelling, which I got from my dad, I thought, okay, I will use my story because it's not, I don't think anyway, it's not threatening.

[00:51:14] It's not like watching somebody just rattle off a bunch of statistics. If I go, this is bad and this is bad and this is worse and this is terrible. And this is. Yeah, there's, there's plenty of that in on this journey, but if I can show people, there's, there's a little humor and there's still humanity and compassion is priceless.

[00:51:34] I used to close on the weddings with, see the show. I would close the show all the time by saying, just remember that in a strong marriage, happiness is co-created. And remember to do your part. And I think about that now. It's like my, my husband can't do his part in the, in the way that he always did before, but his essence is still there and I'm learning too.

[00:51:54] I'm learning to relate to part of him that doesn't have anything to do with the person on the surface. I married. And I recognize now that if the inequality. When I fell in love with him, but I see it's like all the trappings get all ripped away. They, they fade, they melt, they get bleached and the stuff that's left is like, here's the essence.

[00:52:16] And it's frightening. And, and people do people have, can have real problems when they're frightened. So I understand from a caregiver perspective, being a caregiver to a spouse, I'm sure there are, there are other things about if there are similar in any caregiving situation, but the one I know about is being the caregiver to a spouse there are just certain, certain parts of that journey that aren't the same for other people.

[00:52:43] And I think where's the guide. Where's somebody who, you know, is going to say, be prepared for this, or don't be surprised by that. Or when the emotions come up, especially like the emotion of guilt I'm alive and I'm healthy. And he's not healthy and he's dying and Alzheimer's is fatal and there's no cure.

[00:53:09] And how do I deal with, I mean, I, I understand now that whole concept of survival, survival, survivor guilt, I get it. And at the same time I get back to looking at that thing. Like I got this really strong constitution and this good health from my ancestors and I owe it to them and I owe it to me to do something with it.

[00:53:31] Don't just fritter it away.

[00:53:34] Helen: You told such a beautiful, well thought out narrative of how you got to where you are. And one thing stood out to me. You said that you're learning not to see the surface of his personality, but the essence of his personality and who you fell in love with. How do you continue to find the essence of someone who has dementia and being

[00:53:55] married?

[00:53:56] Zita: Because I'm married to him that I can do it because I remember I constantly go back to the memories. Who was he? When I first met him, what are those memories? Why did I fall in love? Him, you know, what, what were the qualities? What were the circumstances? What were those instances where I saw qualities of him come out, that, you know, when you're, we didn't have dating apps or anything back then when, you know, when we met, but nowadays and I know this only because a lot of the couples I've married they'd tell me, so I can write, they tell me how they met so I can write their love story.

[00:54:26] And it becomes part of their ceremony. And a lot of couples now meet online. It's a safer way. It takes advantage of technology. So I understand better how that works. And when people get on those apps, obviously they're going to show the best part of themselves. It's like the, the, the criticism of Facebook.

[00:54:43] It's like you go on Facebook and look at somebody's was like, oh, Everything is wonderful. Everything is perfect. Everything is successful. And then you sit back and go, my life's not like that. And then after, when you're older, you know, with, with the advantage of years, you know, you know, no, that's not your whole story.

[00:54:59] That's the part you're putting out there so we can all see it. And then, you know, then I can look at that and go, I understand you have a need to present an image. That is a certain way. But for us, I mean, we've been married 40 years and when we were dating, it's like it, there is no, there's no application, you know, where you list your qualities.

[00:55:20] And I like to walk on the beach and I like candlelight dinners. I'm like, no, please give me a break. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Like what do you do when you get. And, you know, what, you know, how, how are you like your parent in a way that makes you happy and how are you like your parents in the way that you can't stand that?

[00:55:37] So, you know, get into some of the real stuff. And what, what are you like when you're with your siblings and want to see

[00:55:44] Helen: you have no, you had no time to waste when you were dating. You had, you asked those intentional

[00:55:49] Zita: and I, and I, I observed I'm a good observer. I watched how he treated other people, especially like when we were on a date, how did he treat, you know, a wait staff?

[00:56:01] Or how did you know just what w when he was in a a better position than somebody else? What, what was that relationship like? And he was always kind always respectful, always. Always aware of and supportive, recognizing another person's dignity, always. And, and he did not get angry as my first husband did, and that was a bad situation.

[00:56:37] And so when I was dating Dick, I provoked him, I intentionally provoked him. I said, I got to know what this man is like when he's angry. And I passed all the tests kept coming back. Okay. But it, it is that it is that thing that I think back, I think, well, what, what was it in the beginning? Cause that essence of who he was as a sibling, as a son, as, you know, a coworker as a stranger to somebody who needed help, who was he?

[00:57:12] And when I knew him early on, because he's still that same person. It's just his, the package now doesn't let him, doesn't let him express that part of himself, but it's still there. And I learned a lot about his family. I learned a lot about his childhood from his siblings. He had a horrible childhood. I just, he had a horrible, horrible childhood.

[00:57:38] And I think about that. And I think about what he learned and how kind and honest, generous, and compassionate he is because of how he grew up, because it could have been very different, could have been very, very different. So I keep remembering those things. I look at him and, and I remember the little boy who did this, the little boy who, you know, I think of the stories of the, the neglect.

[00:58:09] The deprivation, the poverty, I think about those things. And I think on this is going to sound like, okay, we're getting into the woo territory where I am very, very comfortable, but I know not [00:58:20] everybody is. I went to a psychic and many of them, but this one particular one she had been recommended by a friend and I thought okay.

[00:58:33] So I went to her and

[00:58:36] I didn't know the friend very, very well. So she certainly didn't know a lot of intimate details about my life. And I hadn't been married to Dick that long, maybe a couple years I went to the psychic and she said she was also a psychic medium. She said to me, there's someone wants to get a message to you.

[00:59:01] And I'm thinking it was going to be from my mother. No cause that's what I wanted. And she said, right. She said, and I get the name, the initial M and I'm thinking, yep, it's going to be my mother. She said, who is Molo? And I said, what Milo, who is Molo? He wants, he wants to send you a message. I said, what's the message.

[00:59:31] And she said, take care of him. Mullah was the nickname who was all my husband's father. His parents got divorced when he was very young and he came home one day and his father was gone and his father said your father is gone. And this other person who was the father's best friend is now living with us.

[00:59:55] And. So I, I knew who Molo was. Obviously I had never met him. He died before Dick and I were married and I went up maybe three, four years ago, four or five years ago, went up to New Hampshire to the cemetery. This was another relative up there. We went up to visit the last time, the last trip that we ever made, we went to the cemetery and while Dick and the other relative were walking around, I went over to Marlo's grave back then, you know, you had one headstone and all the names are engraved on it.

[01:00:37] And everybody's buried in the same place because it was people were poor. And I remember standing there. Having that feeling that I was connecting with him, it wasn't as a real psychic experience. I've had those, this was not that, but it was a warm, comforting feeling. And I remember just standing there and saying, damn, don't worry.

[01:01:05] I'll take care of your little boy. And I think about that when I think about my husband, because know he's a grown man, you know, he's 81 years old, but there's a part of him that is still a little boy at that part of him that a little boy whose father was taken away. So it's things like that. I just remember it's part of remembering the whole package and that's what helps me.

[01:01:33] That's what helps me remember his essence because like with all of us, it was formed so long ago and yeah, we, we grow and change and we develop and all that stuff, but there's a certain core that childhood shapes. Yeah, you know, for better for worse. Hmm. That's

[01:01:55] Helen: so beautiful. Zita. I have one more question for you.

[01:02:01] Are you good on time? Cause we're like an hour and six minutes in.

[01:02:04] Zita: I find so far there's been no sound downstairs, so we're good.

[01:02:08] Helen: Okay, good. Good. Okay. How do you create from a place of such vulnerability? Because I think, you know, a lot of the people that listen are 18 to 24 years old very, a couple of young 30 year olds, late thirties.

[01:02:26] And so not many people in the eighties listening. So, you know, it's very rare to come across a creative individual who is so open about. The love she has for her husband and her journey and taking care of him and loving him in every circumstance. And so how do you continue to show up what habits or what mindset is necessary to create

[01:02:56] Zita: from vulnerable, whatever it is that I'm creating.

[01:02:59] There is a novel, a play, a magazine article, a television show, a podcast, whatever it is, the one of the initial filters. Well, first was like, I have to get excited about it has to be something that I can live with for a long time. But one of the first filters is, will this be helpful if it's not going to be helpful to somebody else, it's just have to be the great big masses of people, but is it going to be helpful?

[01:03:26] That's a, that's an important threshold. So that's, that's kind of like a clearing gate and. The other, especially for this particular, this podcast about my husband, because I feel so exposed and I am not, I don't, I, I'm not comfortable with being exposed at all. I can be like in front of cameras and stuff, but it's always, it's always been talking to somebody else talking about their story, talking about their book, talking about there's something this is different than it's not just that it's personal, it's personal.

[01:04:06] And it's, it's an area where I feel vulnerable and fragile. So it's not a comfortable thing. It is feels, it feels like it's a constant challenge. They keep coming back. And this goes to what you said about the fact that, yeah, you don't have a lot of listeners who are in their seventies and eighties.

[01:04:29] You got the 20 somethings and the 30 somethings. And I look at this because of all the weddings, I've officiated more than 150 of them in the last few years. I think that maybe there's a few exceptions, but for the most part 99.9% of people want a relationship, whether it's marriage or not is not a technical thing, but they want a relationship where they feel loved and they know that their love will be accepted and appreciated.

[01:05:07] So they want that relationship. And so often. So often people see the things on the surface, a couple sees what's on the surface and then make the assumption like, oh, isn't that my soulmate. And I, I look at that and I think your soulmate is the one who's going to test you. Who's going to push all your vulnerable buttons so that you will experience true personal growth.

[01:05:36] And so that your soul can mature. That is a soulmate. And that is not always comfortable. Marriage is not one big, long date. It is you. These, you get with somebody and that's designed a really good relationship where it's, somebody will push you to really be your best and when you're not your best. And when you fail and your fall, that person is there to lift you up and hold you and comfort you and encourage you.

[01:06:04] And you want to do the same for that person. Not, you have to do the same. You want to do the same and you want to. Yeah. It's like you to do the same, not in a good relationship, you know that the other person, like, maybe they'll go, no, don't tell me that I, you don't know about my blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[01:06:24] And I was like, yeah, well, they see you in a different way. They see something you don't see. And in a way they reflect back to you what you're not willing to see so that you can work through it. And when people really, really, really get to that hard, hard part, if they're not willing to work through it, [01:06:40] well, then you got a divorce and you know, or, or an emotional separation.

[01:06:44] And that happens all too often because it's, you gotta get, you've gotta work through it. And sometimes there are other circumstances, like dangerous circumstances that, you know, like you don't, can't stay in a relationship. And I think sometimes that's, that's part of a, a process of personal growth to know where your boundaries are and and what's good for you and what's not good for you, but that whole thing about.

[01:07:10] We want to be loved people, get that, but we also want our love that we have to give, to be accepted and appreciated. And when we don't know how to do that, that's, that's when we get into those what I call, we want to save the whale and that's what a lot of nonprofits do. They'll, they'll put a thing up to set here.

[01:07:37] Give money to these puppies, give money to this beached whale, give money to whatever the thing is that is in danger because it pulls something on our hearts. And we know that if we give our time, our effort, time to volunteer or our money, a contribution of whatever we have, we know that it will be appreciated.

[01:07:58] It will be received and appreciated and, and we can feel that we've done some good. We also want that with another person. And that's hard. It's just hard. And you really see how hard it is when you get to the point where I am, where it on the surface feels like it's all the giving is all going one way, but it's not, it's not really because he's reflecting back something to me just as it always has been.

[01:08:28] It's just, we we've made our, our relationship is made up of all these pieces in a kaleidoscope and you turn it to a shape where, oh, that that looks pretty. I want it. I want it to stay that way forever, but it doesn't, it's going to. Shift and jingle and, and you got to like whatever the other picture is, even though one of the colors, that's not your favorite.

[01:08:49] Now that's the color that's showing up the most. You still have to be able to like that picture because it's part of who you are. And I think young people don't realize that there's a misconception all too often. That, that if your, if your relationship isn't like one big date, that there's something wrong with it.

[01:09:06] And it's not all these obstacles are thresholds for you to negotiate so that you can get to a deeper level of your relationship so that when you get to a point like where I am, I say it sometimes in, in wedding ceremonies, when a prelude to the vows, that caring for one another is not an obligation. It is an honor.

[01:09:32] That's what you get when you, when you see the humanity of another person and when you risk being rejected by sharing who you really are, and yeah, you're gonna get, you're gonna get, oh, you go through a whole bunch of relationships that just don't work. And every time they don't work, you say to yourself, okay, now I know I don't want that in a relationship.

[01:09:55] I want this. And that's where ritual comes in. It's so helpful to be able to write down, what do I want in a mate? What do I want in a partner? What, what can I give, you know, what do I want to share with somebody it's not, I want somebody to complete me. That's garbage. You need to come hold and say, I am whole.

[01:10:14] And I have this. And I value what I am and who I am. And I want to share it with somebody who appreciates it. And somebody who understands when I fall flat on my face and I don't achieve my teams. And I look like a fool to myself. That's, that's what young people want. And I think that maybe just maybe knowing that you can reach your seventies, your eighties and life isn't over and it's not like, oh, it's, you know, bereft of fun.

[01:10:47] No, it's not. There's still a lot of great things you can do. And a lot of fun you can still have in stories and adventures. They're just different, but you can still have them. And it's so great when you can have it with somebody. You love God. How, and thank you for asking. Thank you for asking. I thought about those things in a long time.

[01:11:08] You know, I

[01:11:08] Helen: want to,

[01:11:09] Zita: some of the things about my husband, you know, it's just some of the things I thought about what about, and why I love doing weddings. I mean, that was good for me too. Yeah.

[01:11:22] Helen: Yeah, I think that, you know, as someone who's not married and who's dated. It's it's so easy for me to, to ask those questions, because I think that, you know, from a very young age, I think as humans, we want to be accepted for all that we are, but we just don't know how yet.

[01:11:40] And so, you know, one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on this show is because so many people are looking at others who are our age or her in their early thirties, who are just figuring out life. And there's nothing wrong with that. I think that there's a beauty that you can learn from every other human being.

[01:11:56] But I think I also think that there's a huge gold mine of information to be learned from people who have been married for 40 plus years, who have been in the creative industry for decades who continue to fail and to learn and to grow. And people like you who continue to show up every day. You know, I w one of, one of the things that I, I feel really blessed and advantageous about is when I was 15, my grandma immigrated to the United States.

[01:12:24] She could take care of me and my sister and I was not an easy teenager to take care of. I think when puberty hit, it hit me hard. I was rebellious. I didn't listen. And every time I would get in trouble, all I wanted to do was stay angry. And my mom, my mom would give me space. She was very good at giving me space, but my grandma would never give me space.

[01:12:44] She would go into she and I shared a room growing up in high school, which is such an interesting narrative to grow up in that, you know, my grandma was my roommate from, you know, my first second year of high school to graduating. And then in grad school as well, she was my roommate. And I remember too, would tell me, you know, when you're married, And you treat your husband like that.

[01:13:11] You're going to have wrinkles all over your face and your it's not going to be easy. She said, how you model things now affect the person you're going to be tomorrow. And I don't know, hearing you talk about, you know, don't waste your time, observe how that person isn't treating other people be very intentional.

[01:13:33] It's not just that you like the same things or that you're in one big date. It's not enough to like the person. You also want to want the person and to want to serve them and you get to serve them. It just, you know, I've, I've gotten criticized by certain friends about being too quick about the dating, because I, I am, I consider myself someone who is very observant and who watches out for that.

[01:14:01] And it just brings me so much freedom to hear you talk about. How you dated and how you've been in a horrible marriage prior and how you didn't want to make those mistakes again. And, and you were intentional about the dating process, you know, and I think that's a story we don't hear often that you, you want to see the essence of a human, not just what they can provide for you in that moment, because a marriage is a partnership of growth and it's just so beautiful.

[01:14:32] I'm honored that I get to hear,

[01:14:35] Zita: I feel honored to be able to tell it a full Zita, because one of the things that happens as we age, we become invisible. It's just, it's just the way society is right now. And on a metaphysical level, there's a huge energy of the grandmother rising throughout the world right now, huge energy of the grandmother.[01:15:00]

[01:15:00] Yes. And I, the time has come all over all over some recognition that there is, there is wisdom in life experience. It doesn't mean that everybody who's old gets it right now. Not at all. Maybe you can learn from the mistakes that somebody made and now they're paying for them in, you know, in their old age.

[01:15:23] I just think that younger people are often afraid of aging. So they avoid older people. And, and the ones, the older people who are accepted are like Betty White, who I just love. And I thought, yeah, I mean, it's just, she was just phenomenal. And there are a lot of people like her, if you just take the time.

[01:15:49] Helen: I don't know what it is, but I think it's like the, I love being in community with older people. I think that there's my, one of my friends had a bridal shower the other day, and moms were there on teas. Were there. I remember my friend's mom was there. I just asked him so many questions. You know, how do you stay in a practice for 40 years?

[01:16:15] How do you like do that? And I don't know. It's just like, there's not a lot of fear in their eyes, you know, there's a quote, oh no, you're good Zita. There's a quote that I heard from somebody that said how sad that there are young people with happy faces. I think

[01:16:34] Zita: also because of the experience that you had, having your grandmother as a roommate yeah, I'm going to make the assumption here that you don't have any fear of being around old people.

[01:16:46] I mean, it's just, I think you're, you're comfortable. Yeah. I can tell you, my, my daughter years ago, my daughter has, I'm not even afraid of aging, own skincare practice. And yeah, when she was in school, one of the, one of the things she had to do was to have somebody volunteer and she had to age them using makeup to age them.

[01:17:07] So that then it was like a reverse engineering thing, so that you could see what happens in the skin as it ages to, you know, create it using makeup. So then you back it out to look at what can you do to help the skin while the skin is still young, nobody would volunteer it. So I said, I'll do it. I'll do it.

[01:17:25] So I went, I was probably, I don't know, mid thirties, late, late thirties, early forties. Maybe she aged me to look like I was about nine. And as she was doing it, I had to have my face turned away from the mirror because I had to, you had to do it in the studio. It had to be observed by the instructors stuff.

[01:17:45] So I had to turn away from the mirror until it was all finished and they had a photographer. Then I turned around and then she took the thing off. So I could see the mirror and I'm looking at myself the way that I might look at 90. And the first thing I saw was my eyes still look happy. I mean, the rest of me.

[01:18:10] Oh my gosh. I mean, oh, like, you know, like the turtle, I mean, just all like, like what are those sharp dogs? Just, you know, just all wrinkly and scrunchy and everything else. But I thought, but I still, I still look like I could be happy and I remember thinking, okay, get this off of me now. But at the same time, I was thinking it's not going to be so bad.

[01:18:34] I can still be here. I can still like see something in life that I'm still going to enjoy. And I think that that was just this little experiment or that she had to do for a class lesson, but it was a real lesson for me. It kind of goes back now that I think of it to my mom, you know, in six months she aged 20, 30 years, same kind of thing.

[01:18:56] So you've got to like, what's on the inside.

[01:18:58] Helen: Yeah. You gotta like what's on the inside because it's, it's true. Isn't it that like from, if we're holding on to resentment, anchor trauma, if we allow that to be our identity or the energy of which we carry on our actions, it kind of comes out, you know, in your facial expressions, in your eyes. I think that one of the things I've learned is that your eyes are a window to the soul.

[01:19:24] I grew up in church and I, you know, I believe in God and there verses in the Bible that talk about how your eyes are. Part of the window to your heart, where your eyes are looking at the globe of the eye, even the way that you love another human being, it shows in your eyes, it never talks about the skin.

[01:19:45] Obviously that's the beauty of youth that you have the energy to look a certain way, you know, but I think it's, it's those things that you don't necessarily think about. It's it's how do you treat other people? How do you look at another human being?

[01:20:02] Zita: Oh my gosh. Helen, same social

[01:20:04] Helen: status as you. Yeah, Zaida, I'm looking at the time we've been talking for about an hour and a half, but I know at time flow time flew by.

[01:20:15] I can't wait to share your story. No question that you wish I had.

[01:20:20] Zita: I can't think of anything. I'm just so grateful that you did it. It allowed me to yeah. To look back at some things I haven't thought about in awhile. Like the cooking, my mom. Yeah.

[01:20:36] Yeah. Well, it's how we nourish

[01:20:38] Helen: food is such a beautiful gathering of people. You know, it's how we nourish. It's how we relate to one another grabbing a meal with someone means so much to me because, you know, have you, have you heard of the love languages? Yeah. Mine is quality time because growing up food was big in my household. It

[01:21:00] Zita: wasn't.

[01:21:02] No, food's a whole nother, a whole nother story. Yeah. It's a whole thing about, about food, but I can say that for me, it's is somebody willing to work? I have to have you on then

[01:21:13] Helen: for a second apart,

[01:21:16] Zita: help me, chop wood, help me, you know, rake the leaves helped me, you know, it's, if you can work alongside of me, put your work gloves on, put your boots on, get dirty.

[01:21:29] If you can work with me, then that's my love language. Yeah. Mm

[01:21:36] Helen: Hmm. Acts of service. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's so good. That goes into cool. You think about like, because you're doing

[01:21:43] Zita: shirts with someone, the atomology comes from, what do we cultivate? What do we grow? And the most common thing we grow is food. I mean, you know, years ago we grow your own food, but we always did growing up with a huge garden.

[01:21:57] We go pick vegetables from the garden every night. But it really does get into our culture is what we cultivate. And so much of that is shown by what we eat and how we share food, how we prepare with each other. And do we put, do we put thought into it or we just, you know, throw something together? Or is there, you know, is there a character, like I think about in a metaphysical world, when you, when you stir clockwise, you're building energy.

[01:22:24] So like I stir something and I think I'm building energy of I'm imbuing, this effect I made soup the other day and I thought I'm putting, I'm putting good wishes. I'm putting wishes for good health and, and and the energy into the soup. I'm stirring it into here so that when somebody eats it, they're going to receive that benefit of, of what I stirred in there from my hand, from my brain, from my house.

[01:22:54] Hmm. Wow.

[01:23:01] Helen: That's so good. Zido I want to be respectful of your time and just acknowledge you for showing up as you are for being somebody who just walks in her authenticity and humility for being so vulnerable and open and talking about the shame that [01:23:20] you experienced growing up. And it's such a refreshing story to hear, because it gave me permission to share my story as well.

[01:23:29] And I just wanted to thank you for your time and for your story, because I I'll never forget it and I want to have you on again, because it

[01:23:37] Zita: was so good. Okay. Thank you. And thank you for the safe space that made it all possible. I greatly appreciate that.

[01:23:45] Helen: Thanks.

[01:23:46] Thank you for listening to the Brain Krafty podcast. This podcast was executive produced by me, Helen and the theme song was written by my sister, Nina Garcia. Usually I like to keep my episodes at 50 minutes or less, but this time I just felt like the vulnerability was so essential in this podcast to discuss how vulnerability can actually be one of the biggest assets to you.

[01:24:15] Unlocking your storytelling ability. It's so easy to get caught up in what you should or should not do based on what other people are doing, but take your story into your own account. How can you contribute into a greater narrative that can really help people like, cause he does doing with her podcast, my spouse.

[01:24:36] Spouse, my spouse has dementia. So thank you so much for listening. If you have any feedback or anything you'd like to share, please send me a DM @thehelengarcia on Instagram. Again, send me a DM @thehelengarcia. thank you again for your time. This is the Brain Krafty podcast tune in every Tuesday for a new episode tomorrow on Wednesday, I will be releasing a five-minute book review on Russ's new book.

[01:25:09] It's all in your head.

Zita ChristianProfile Photo

Zita Christian

Writer, Podcaster, Producer, Life-Cycle Celebrant

Zita Christian is a 70-something- Writer, Podcaster, Producer, and Life-Cycle Celebrant. She is passionate about sharing her story as a caregiver for her husband with Dementia and Alzheimer's & the importance of celebrating life's small moments.