There’s a moment. Perhaps it’s a one-off thing, like when you’re at an office party where you feel like no one wants to talk to you. Or possibly it repeats every single day at a certain time, like hearing the gravel underneath the tires as your spouse drives off to work.
Change scratches the ego, and every accompanying partner has experienced that “less than” feeling. Because the one with the assignment gets to transition into a new routine with a pre-built-in purpose, while the so-called-trailing spouse gets ample time to reflect, doubt, regret, and wallow in all they gave up.
This week, it’s my honor to welcome an extraordinary guest to conclude our Expat Untold series. Actress, author, and attorney Juanita Ingram joins us to share her journey from despair to triumph. It begins as an all-too-familiar story, and one that hits home for me and will for so many other accompanying partners.
Juanita is a wife, a mother of two, the creator of the Expats Show, the CEO of Purpose Productions, and the founder of the charity Dress for Success in London and Chattanooga. A repeat expat and self-described trailing spouse, Juanita recounts how she went from four months straight of crying on the couch to winning more awards than I can keep track of and adoring fans all over the world.
What You’ll Learn in this Episode:
- Never cry at work
- Mourning the career you thought you’d have
- Unsolicited feedback & what not to say to an expat
- How one person can change it all
- 99 rejections behind one “yes”
Listen to the Full Episode
Do you need a catalyst to break negative patterns, change your frequency, and pull yourself off the couch? This is it. Join me and others in our global community for the BOOST Challenge right here. The rest of 2021 is yours to win or lose, and your road to victory starts next week.
Featured on the Show:
- Join the BOOST Challenge right here.
- Sundae’s Facebook Business Page – Sundae Schneider-Bean LLC
- Sundae’s Facebook Group – Expats on Purpose
- Purpose Productions Inc.
- Dress for Success Greater London
- Dress for Success Chattanooga
- Juanita Ingram Instagram
- Trailing Spouse Syndrome
- Dr. Martha Beck – Dreaming and Scheming
Catch These Podcasts / Articles:
- Tips, Tricks Reality Checks Expats Trailing Spouses
- EP136: The Sad Tagalong Spouse?
- From Trailing Spouse to Trailblazing Spouse!
- 3 Things That Will Make Your Trailing Spouse’s Blood Boil
We’re delighted by our nomination to the global Top 25 Expat Podcasts!
Full Episode Transcript:
Hello. It is 2:30 am in New York, 8:30 pm in Johannesburg, and 1:30 pm in Bangkok. Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour. This is Sundae Schneider-Bean from www.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-orientated coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations. I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
Prince himself, an American singer-songwriter and record producer says, “Sometimes it takes years for a person to become an overnight success.” The trouble is, we don’t see the years of work that took someone to get there. It leaves us in pools of compare and despair thinking we’re doing something wrong if we aren’t as successful as those we admire. And by success. I’m not talking stardom. I’m even referring to anything that means something to you, whether that be a loving relationship, a stable business or just healthy routines.
This marks our final episode of the Expat Untold Series, where we peel back the curtain on things we just don’t talk about enough and today we’re focusing on what it takes to live on purpose and create success and I can’t think of a better person to join us than Juanita Ingram, to share her journey. Now, Juanita is amazing. She is an actress, author and an attorney. She has a really amazing journey, which you’ll hear more about.
Among her accolades are she’s a creator of the Expats Show. She’s also the CEO of Purpose Productions, her life began as an American license attorney turned author and actress. And she’s now living in Taipei, Taiwan, after paying her dues of really discovering the challenges of life as an accompanying partner in Ascot, England. She is a wife, a mother of two and runs a women-owned production company, which has been awarded more awards than I can even keep track of.
In addition to that, she’s also the founder of Dress for Success in greater London and Dress for Success in Chattanooga. All of that shows a woman on purpose and success but in our conversation, we will hear there’s a backstory to that and this is where her experience is definitely hard earned. So have a listen:
Sundae: Juanita. Thank you so much for being here today on Expat Happy hour. I’m so excited to have you.
Juanita: I’m so excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Sundae: So, listen, the listeners will have heard in your bio, a long list of impressive accolades, but I know that this isn’t something that comes easy or overnight. You started your life, professional life as an attorney. Now you’re living in Asia and you’re an actress and an author. I know it hasn’t always been this good or this nice.
Juanita: No. No it has not.
Sundae: Let’s dive into the turning point for you, where you went from living your regular life in the U.S. having built what you built to that shift, to be living abroad.
Juanita: Yes. So I’m what people consider a corporate expat, a trailing spouse. So I trailed my husband’s job, it’s what brought us abroad. It was back in 2011, was the first time that we left, we lived in London for almost five years and it was a huge shift and a huge pivot. It was the first time that I’d ever stopped practicing law in the traditional sense and paused on that. And I was probably like most lawyers: A-type personality, overachiever. Went straight through from undergrad to law school, did a JD MBA program and I just knew that this is what I wanted to do. And I don’t think that anybody does all of that: Pass the bar because you don’t want to practice law. So it’s one of those things where when I took a break because I had to and moved to London, it was a surprisingly low point. I say surprisingly because I have such a different reaction now. We are living in Taiwan now. And people often say, “Oh gosh, you’re not only like, owning the trailing spouse, but you’re like, thriving in it. It’s a culmination.”
I guess it’s been ten years now of adjusting to change and it has been a journey. I sat on the couch for four months with what I now know is trailing spouse syndrome or trailing spouse depression. At the time I did not know that. I didn’t know that was a thing or diagnosis or a real situation. I just knew that I sat on the couch for four months straight when we first moved to London and I cried. I was so focused on everything that I was giving up. Even though I made the decision, even though I wanted to be there, I just had never not been a lawyer in the traditional sense and your identity is so caught up in what you do sometimes that I had no idea who or what Juanita was. I did know, I just didn’t know that I knew but I mourned the trajectory of my career that I thought I was going to have. Even though I was supportive of my husband’s promotion and what brought us there and the opportunities for my kids to see the world, I loved all of that. But there was a part of my career where I wanted to be a judge by a certain time frame, that wasn’t going to happen. And so, I had to mourn, I had to give myself permission to mourn. It and I wasn’t giving myself permission to do it, which is why I had this syndrome. I was very, very sad.
Sundae: And I know there are people who are listening who are like, “Oh, that’s a thing?”
I want to know how the heck did you say yes to giving up your role in law to even get across the ocean? Tell me more about that.
Juanita: You know, the things you do for love and not only love it. New love. The things you do for new love because, just saying.
Sundae: I am here nodding!
Juanita: We hadn’t been married long. That’s how it happened. No, but the thing is oddly enough. I did not know how it will play out, but when my husband and I got married, I’m a very prayerful, spiritual person, and I was praying and I just felt this nudge in my spirit for a honeymoon that we needed to start traveling abroad. Because I hadn’t even left the U.S. at all until our honeymoon. And so that was the first time that I even traveled internationally and I had this feeling in my spirit, like, “We’re going to live internationally, you need to get prepared.” I had no reason to think that I had no evidence that that was ever going to come. No one ever talked to him about taking an international role. He was a sales rep at the time for his company and so he hadn’t even gone to the headquarters and gone on the corporate side. He was still in sales. There was no evidence that that was ever happening.
So we went to Rome and Florence for our honeymoon. You know, all of our family was like, why can’t you go to Florida? Why can’t you go to Punta Cana? *laughter*
And then after that, every anniversary, we made the commitment to go abroad. So the second year, we went to Paris with another group of 5 people. The year after that we backpacked across Spain. And the year after that I had started having kids and then lo and behold the call to go to London came and I think had we not traveled abroad, I would not have felt comfortable doing it. In the back of my mind I think I thought, “It’s okay, I’ll find a legal position there, it’s okay.”
Sundae: Yes, yeah, yeah, everyone is always like, “You’re smart. You’re so successful, you’ll have no problem.”
Juanita: Exactly. “You’ll be fine.”
Sundae: I’ve done a podcast about this but never believe people know who are not already expats, who have done the thing you want to do. Don’t believe locals.
Juanita: And don’t believe people who are in your profession, who are pontificating about what they think this should be for you. So I got I got a mentor because I had another lawyer friend, I was like, “Oh I have a friend who’s a lawyer in the UK that’ll be a good mentor for you and surely something will work out.” It’ll work out, it’ll pan out. And so I think in the back of my mind, I really thought, maybe I’ll get a legal job here. Because I was in-house counsel at Rolls-Royce at the time and I quit in order to do this and I think in the back of my mind, I thought because this was not the first time that I’ve been a trailing spouse because you can be a trailing spouse domestically. So the first time was when I moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee, as my hometown to Indianapolis when my husband went to the corporate side.
And that experience of uprooting my network and having to reinvent and reconnect, I thought, “I’ll just do it on a global scale. Surely it’ll be okay, surely it’ll be alright.” And when I landed there, something very quickly sank in that this wasn’t going to be okay, it wasn’t going to be the same. And then you have the narrative from colleagues and meaning family and friends that are like, “Are you sure about this?”
And in the beginning when you settle as an expat, especially your first assignment, there’s a lot of frustration. There is a lot of things that you have to overcome, everything is complicated and if you start complaining to your family and friends, their response is going to be, “Well, just come home.” And that’s not the answer and that’s not an option. It’s not even an option.
Well, I know some people who did that, that’s not good. It’s not good for your marriage, it’s not good for you, but that’s not always even an option. And so, I went over naively, thinking that I would have this opportunity to continue. In fact, I interviewed with Rolls. This is all bringing back so many memories. I had set up an interview with Rolls-Royce in the UK and there because I was a real estate and contract procurement lawyer and I was thinking about, “Well, maybe I’ll do a position with this company that I’ve been with.” And they interviewed me and they went on a hiring freeze, or at least that’s what I was told. So it didn’t, it didn’t work out. And I took a picture in front of Buckingham Palace the day I interviewed, I still have that picture and when I look at it I think of how blind I was and how naive.
But also so focused on hanging onto the old and not really embracing what was in front of me. So I spent four months thinking about everything that I gave up. And what does this mean and colleagues that were like, “Oh so what are you going to do?” So when they ask that they really mean what are you going to do as a lawyer, they’re not asking you, what are you going to do? What are you going to do as a lawyer? And yeah I think love is blind and ignorance is bliss.
I wish there were podcasts like yours that I could have tapped into and not only understood the gravity of what I was saying in the undertaking. But then also how to maintain, regain and maybe even discover the identity and the fullness of who you are, because that timeframe was probably one of the lowest points in my life emotionally. But it was the best point in my life long term because when I got up off the couch, I got up. And I literally did it broken.
I got up off the couch sad. I got up off the couch confused. I got up off the couch without an identity without a purpose, because my husband, you know, the spouse that brings you, they have purpose immediately. They’re going to work. I remember my husband pulled out of the driveway. I can still hear the gravel underneath the car wheels as he was pulling out of the driveway, and I’m waving at him and he’s waving bye. And I’ve got a 15 -month-old on one hip who I was still breastfeeding and a three-year-old standing to my side. We had no internet yet.
I had no Peppa Pig to watch, you know, this was before any of that. I didn’t have a cell phone. without Peppa Pig. I don’t know, you know, peppa changed everything in our lives. And I didn’t have a cell phone yet because I didn’t qualify to have one there. We didn’t have international plans but then so the world was a lot different. We didn’t have a lot that we have now in terms of Facebook and messenger and all these other Instagram and all these other things that we have now that are so prolific, it wasn’t as much 10 years ago.
Sundae: But it’s isolating. People are still feeling isolated-
Sundae: So I want to pause here for a second. Both you and I think have had like fetal position moments of hard and maybe because we did it before all of this. I also have to say my clients have all of this and they still have fetal position moments. So if you were to stop listening to this podcast right now, you’d be like, “I’m out. That sucks. Not gonna do it.” But I know, both you and I would say, “Do it.”
Juanita: Do it.
Sundae: What was the gift on the other side for you.
Juanita: Do it afraid. The gift on the other side for me was life. Everything. People read my bio and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, she’s doing all these things. How?” Because I just stepped into a new season and I’m really big on seasons and seasons are scary sometimes. There’s a stormy season, there’s rain that comes with it but there’s growth that comes after that. So I decided, “You know what? I’m going to get up off the couch and I’m going to explore every aspect of me that I have been too busy adulting to indulge in. Why not?” My mother started me in theater when I was nine years old. I loved acting. I was just too busy adulting so I decided, let me go out and see if I audition, get agent and I did. You never know what can happen until you actually try all the sides of you. And you don’t have to have five different sides. Like I have many, many sides, maybe it’s just one, but on the other side of that was fulfillment, happiness, purpose, identity, friendships and relationships.
I’ve such good friendships with some. My very first director, that gave me my big break in London. My first feature film, Indie feature film that I was in and I had a nomination for Best Actress from the British Urban Film Festival. He and I are working on projects together now, and he was the first person who was like, “Who is this southern accent speaking lady?” In this audition. And his wife and I are great friends. Like we’re just such great friends, deep relationships that you will build, if you just step outside of the box that you– either society put you in or you put yourself in and put a lid on yourself. I took the lid off and that flourished. Books that I’ve had a 17 city book tour with Barnes & Noble. But the first book came out when I was in London, they were already in me. I never had time to write them. I had never taken the time to write them because I was too busy being full-time, lawyer, full-time mom, and that was all that I could do at the time.
But having that break, I talked to a lot of expats and they talked about, especially as African-American people sometimes when you’re living in the U.S. it can be such a stressful, survival type of existence that you don’t have time. Seriously, like you don’t have time to explore so much because you’re so stressed. And everybody deals with different stresses, but this is a time to take exploration of self so freely and seriously, it is a gift. And I didn’t see the gift in the beginning and I feel I still the only thing I’m mad about is the four months that I wasted because I could have done more in London during that four months that I was so focused on looking back and not looking forward.
Sundae: But you had to feel that pain like you did to get that low. I think for me, when I look at my fetal position moment, it was really about the ego. It was about like I had created and worked so hard to create a life that had validity, right? That had external cachet, that it was like, “If I let go of that, then who am I? What am I? Do I have social value from the outside? What value do I have?” And that was a really raw painful moment.
Juanita: Yes, it is. It is and it is the ego, it is the thing that wants to protect you from feeling anything other than, “You are grand and you are great.” And whatever source that that ego can get it from being healthy or not so healthy. Because there’s a healthy level of ego that keeps us from being a doormat. And then there is the ego that Is unhealthy that keeps us paralyzed. Really? That is our own enemy. For me, what was feeding that, colleagues were like, “Are you sure about this?” Even when I started writing books. “Oh, why would you do that? You seem a little fragmented.”
I decided to go and do, back to pageantry because there’s different levels of pageantry. So there’s Miss and Teen, and then Mrs. So, there’s a whole Mrs. Sector. I got invited to be Mrs. World UK, Mrs. Universe, UK. And people were like, “Why would you do that? Why would?” And I was focused more on what is a part of my purpose, also empowering women. I got a life coach that really helped bring everything together because I was getting so much feedback from, unsolicited by the way, “nobody asked you,” okay. But they gave it anyway.
It was, “Oh you seem flighty. You seem so scattered. You seem fragmented.” That you start wondering like, “Am I flighty? It feels, it feels normal. It’s better than sitting on the couch. But maybe.” Because you’re still struggling about who are you? This new reinvent. People always say, “Oh, you reinvent yourself, how? Into what?” And there is a process to get there. My life coach helped me a great deal.
Sundae: Because when you’re saying that I know exactly where you are where you were then and that’s from Dr. Martha Beck, the method that I use is dreaming and scheming, where you’re actually learning who you are and what you want by actually doing. It’s not in your head, it’s not writing a list, it’s about embodying these layers of yourself and seeing which one feels like the most delicious one to move forward with.
I don’t know about you but for me, when I talked about the fetal position was when I first moved to Switzerland. But I had another sort of transformational moment when I gave up my corporate role and moved to West Africa and started my company. And I had actually built — I had got a job I didn’t even dream of. It was even better than I dreamed of. I was working at a level that it was beyond what I expected for myself. And I gave that up to start my company and, and that everybody said I was crazy to do, right?
And eight years later into my business, I would never do it any other way. So grateful for the fact that I left the security of that and and I’m doing what I’m doing now.
So, tell me what else happened. So after that moment you started experimenting, but I’m guessing there are other moments of transformation for you that happened from the UK, to where you are now.
Juanita: Yeah, absolutely. So I got a call from one of my colleagues’ friends. She’s the CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide. And I was in London and I was, I quit — So when I was in London I got a job shared on the business side. So I decided, okay, listening to my mentor, “Go to a business role. Lawyers are never allowed to do that but only do it for 18 months because then people are going to start questioning what you really want to do.” So I’m like, “Fine, I’ll go do a business role,” and actually did that. I appreciate the experience professionally but personally I just could have done so much more with my time than that. And then when I realized that and I was acting I quit and I was like, “You know what, I’m going to fully embrace it. I’m gonna be a kept woman. I’m just gonna embrace this, I’m going to explore all these different sides. I’ve got auditions coming now, things are going great.” I had my own talk show in London, at the time at Pinewood Studios, things were going really well. And I get this call from a friend, the Dress for Success affiliate at that time, that stopped functioning and she asked me to restart the entire affiliate and to start that business again.
And previously I had been a volunteer for Dress for Success. My life coach helped me to see that everything that I did there was an undergirding theme of empowering women and helping women. So that was my first stab at starting a non-profit internationally and we’re still going strong. Today, five six years later. I’m still, I’m still chairing the board. But that was the turning point of I’d helped a lot of other clients start their own business. I’d helped a lot of clients start their own nonprofits. I had never done it myself. And so that helped me.
There was a point where I wanted to continue acting. We moved back to the United States. We were in Indianapolis. Indianapolis does not have film tax credit. So not a lot of professional activity happening there. So I had to start making my own opportunities. I got cast into a television show there but that was about all that was happening at the time. So I got behind the camera instead of in front of. And from that experience of starting Dress for Success. I knew, “Okay, if I want to do a production company, I want it to be focused on empowering women, narratives that you haven’t heard marginalized people, these stories that you otherwise would not hear,” and that’s how I birthed out: Purpose Production.
Sundae: That’s amazing.
Juanita: And part of it, my life has always been in sort of riddle, if you will, with low points, high points, low point. So, even getting through law school, I had a very rough first semester, I had an advisor, a man, that told me I should drop out of law school, walk across the street to the business school because he was like, I made like three C’s. I did, because my undergrad is accounting. And one plus one is always two in the discipline that I had before.
Now after law school, I can argue with you and tell you that maybe it shouldn’t be two. Have you thought about that? Let’s look at the factors. That was a totally different discipline, I had to learn how to be a lawyer for real. So my first semester was really rough. I made a couple of scenes and he was like, “No law firm is going to take you. No judge is going to want you. Drop out. Go across the street to the business school. Get an MBA and don’t look back. You’re not going to make it.”
I was interning that summer after my first year in New Jersey at Chubb Insurance. Her name was Joanne Bober. I will never forget. She was General Counsel. She pulled me in her office. I didn’t know this woman and she looked at me, maybe she saw something on my face like, “She’s getting ready to drop out of law school.” I don’t know because I was and she pulled me in her office and she said, “You’re going to be great. You are phenomenal, I think you’re wonderful.” And at that time, Oprah was still on. Oprah said “Never cry at work.” So I had to stifle my tears as she was talking to me because I realized that I did not feel the way she felt about me about myself. I did not see myself that way. And I thought in the moment, “Well, she feels that I’m special and she thinks I can do it. Maybe I can, and maybe I should feel that way about myself.”
And literally that woman changed my life. So from that moment, I wanted to be Joanne Bober for as many women as I possibly could. Because the power of one person and my life coach to help me to see, it doesn’t matter if you were a lawyer and helping people because that’s the only reason why I went to law school was to help people or if you are making films, if you are writing books, if you are winning a pageant and raising funds. If you are doing Dress for Success. She was like, “Juanita everything that you do has a theme to a we all have a purpose and what drives you in life is empowering other women.” And so it is a theme that played through If I let it. In the beginning, I wasn’t allowing it to do that and I was so focused on how I had to find myself. And if I just let it go I started making films. I am probably 33 Film Festival Awards in, two short films. We’ve got the series now, the Expats. Just found out last night we won another Telly Award for that.
Sundae: Yay! Wonderful.
Juanita: Thank you.
Sundae: You’re always getting awards.
Juanita: When you are in the place where you’re supposed to be, that type of stuff happens, when you are honestly. And I know it sounds like a cliche but it’s true when you really are walking out your purpose and you found your purpose and it will evolve. Everything is not for every season. You know, people look at me and it’s cumulative. What you’re seeing right now is like 10 years later.
Sundae: All of those things built up to what you’re doing now. And in retrospect, it’s like perfect how all of them led to it, but you couldn’t get to where you are now without doing that.
Juanita: Absolutely, there are no mistakes.
Sundae: What I love, my favorite thing about watching when you post an award or you post an episode, I love watching the comments because we talked about this before we went live about the importance of visibility. What is that expression? “You can’t be it if you can’t see it.”
Juanita: Yeah, “You cannot be what you cannot see.”
Sundae: What I love is I why I love watching how you inspire women maybe even if they don’t move abroad, maybe they just want to add a little bit more luxury in their life or maybe they want to find their voice or maybe they want to like take a sexy selfie or whatever it is, whatever. Whatever it is, that woman needs to do to express yourself, that’s what I find so powerful about what you’re doing.
Juanita: Oh thanks! Yeah, I just think it is from that moment was born my desire to just pay it forward. I know the power. That’s why I love Dress for Success. Because we are women supporting women. And that one moment of encouragement that somebody may need to just be encouraged, you never know where you find somebody in the walk of life. You never know where you meet them, you have no idea if they just got up off the couch, if they’re just taking one step at a time and they’re barely there or if they’re thriving, you really don’t know. But if you really speak life into somebody and encourage them, you never know how– I mean Joanne Bober changed the trajectory of my life for that moment.
And then also doing the work with life coaching and therapy and everything and please normalize therapy, please go and work feelings out, especially as an expat because I think the word you said earlier, at the beginning, it’s the key word is isolation. Not just feeling lonely, not being by yourself, but isolation is hard. And I think if you really embrace and look forward and really focus on forward looking and trying to find that purpose and making sure that you are being authentic to what it is and whatever authentic is in that moment.
I personally, feel like when people look at stability, and that’s a cultural generational thing to staying in the same place for 20 years means something. My grandfather, God bless him before he passed, he was like, “Are you ever going to let grass grow underneath your feet?” I’m like, “I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m allergic to grass. I don’t really even like grass. It gives me eczema. Okay, so I do not know.”
But I think I wanted to encourage women in particular, because people always ask me, “What about guys?” I don’t have a Ministry for men and I don’t– talk to my husband. I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you men, and I’m for women. But to encourage and to just help someone to be equipped to take the lid off of themselves. That is the thing. It’s your own lid. Society has boxes, they have categories. You don’t have to be in that box and you don’t have to be in that category and then to give a narrative and an image, especially for, and I’ll be honest and transparent, especially for women of color in particular. Because that’s the reason why I started doing pageants was because little girls at schools cared about me standing before them and, you know, if it takes rhinestones and a sash, whatever to get the idea that Claire Huxtable is not just a figment of the imagination, that she exists and you can exist and it’s not far-fetched. And believe it or not, a lot of our young African-American youth still don’t see enough of that.
That’s part of the reason why I created Purpose Productions was because of marginalized narratives and stories that you otherwise wouldn’t see. You will not see a real reality show about being Black and abroad. You’re just not going to see it. And if I didn’t create it, I think it’s storytellers to want to create something that’s new, that’s never been done. And if somebody else can do it, you shouldn’t do it. I felt like I was the only person that was going to be able to tell this story. I’m sure others will come and do it. But I just felt like this was the moment that I was called to do and equip that. And black people can’t see themselves abroad, if they don’t have a vision of that.
I want young African-American boys and girls to think about studying abroad, traveling abroad and to know coming from Chattanooga, Tennessee a very small environment to know that the world is bigger than where you are right now, your opportunities are bigger. But if you don’t see that, if that doesn’t become normalized, then you won’t know it. I want to normalize us in every space.
Sundae: That is such a huge contribution. I can’t even put words to that. That in addition to what you’re doing on the individual and larger scale level for women. And that is why It is important to get through the four months.
Sundae: Because you are exceptional, and you’re just like every other woman.
Juanita: Every other woman. Yes, I am. I tell people all the time, “I have extraordinary opportunities. I’m an ordinary person.” I just have opportunities that are extraordinary but I don’t think I have them for no reason. That’s just me. I don’t think I’m here by accident for no reason and I just want to encourage other people to not be afraid of change. The only things that aren’t growing are things that are dead. So seriously plants grow, the only time they stop growing is when you cut them and they die. So if you wake up with breath, grow. And embrace change. And change is hard. Change is hard for children. Change is hard for adults because change scratches the ego because the ego screens for stability and for acceptance. People will get it and even if they don’t, who cares?
My life coach helped me to have the three A alliterations, Attorney, Author, Actress when everybody was telling me, “Oh you’re so scatter. Oh you seem all over the place?” And then she brought that together with a mission statement of everything and it all made sense and it all came together. And now when I tell people who I am, that’s just who I am. That’s just what I do and. But you have to get it first. It starts with you and do it afraid. I think if it hadn’t been for us living internationally, it is a huge part of who I was called to be. A huge part of what made me who I am and got me to the place where I’m at and shaped me to be able to handle anything. If I can go buy underwear and socks in Mandarin, you can do anything. *laughter* If I could be this little Black woman from Tennessee over here in Taiwan honey, do you want to talk about a homogeneous environment? Taiwan is beautiful. But one of these kids is doing its own thing, okay? It’s very obvious, very obvious.
But it’s a beautiful experience. My children are having a beautiful experience and I would encourage everyone, especially in the world that we’re living in today to broaden their horizons.
Sundae: Yeah, what I’ve come to learn is that being alive is something you really feel.
Juanita: Yes. Yes.
Sundae: And if you’re not feeling, you’re not living. And let me just be honest, I’d like to avoid half of the feelings *laughter* but I’ve come to learn that they come together.
Juanita: Yeah, they do. They come as a package, don’t they? It’s a yin and yang at all times, at all times people see. And somebody asked me one time, like “Why do you post so many positive things? Why do you post so many awards?” For every award, there were 20 nos. I just can’t post all the nos, what’s the point you want to depress everybody. That’s not helpful. Nobody wants to see all that but trust me for every yes, for every award, there has been 20 other things that we apply for and there was a no.
Just because you can’t catch the vision, doesn’t mean the vision is wrong. But that’s 10 years that it took me to get to the place where I can stand firm because the no’s the naysayers and all of those types of narratives, the negative narratives will always be there whether they’re in your own head, because there are some days I fight many fetal positions like it’s not a full-on fetal but I just want to be a little humped over me, you know I might have poor posture. *laughter* And paralyzed some days trying to tell myself “It’s going to be okay,” because the bigger you accomplish the bigger conversations you have to have with yourself that you can do this.
Sundae: Thank you for normalizing that because that’s something I try to tell my clients all the time that they see the surface, they see what you post, they see the successful programs. But what they don’t see is the hard stuff that happens behind the scenes. And that’s what we said before, we got on the call, I know you’ve had the hard things because I know that your success is real and that comes from a hundred nos to get the one.
Juanita: Yes. Absolutely. Right. Absolutely. And that’s I think important to normalize for people who are starting their journey, who don’t yet feel like they’re in that place where they’re bearing the fruit of their labor. That the nos– like one of my business partners and friends, Amel Derragui, she’s a sales and marketing specialist. And she said, “You have to celebrate every no, because after 99 nos, you’re going to get a yes.” So every no is closer to that yes. And that is what it really takes. There’s no overnight success.
Juanita: None. That doesn’t exist. I could say or I made it sound like I got signed in London when I went on my first audition and got my first Indie feature but no, that was 42. I count 42 auditions later. I got my first break, but if I had stopped at audition, number 10, and those 42 were all nos. I got callbacks, but they were all ultimately all nos. Had I stopped there, I never would have gotten to yes. I post a lot about being nominated Best Actress every time because I probably had 99 nos before that one yes in that opportunity. And for me, it makes it all the more sweeter. I appreciate it more and I probably do celebrate it more because of the nos that just continued to shape you. The nos were there for a reason. Be it, whatever. There could be multiple reasons, I needed to learn how to audition. I went and got back in class. There are many reasons for delay for redirection in the no.
Sundae: Yeah, I’m just mindful of the time here. There’s so much that you shared that I’m so grateful for because it really does pull the curtain back behind their experience of an accompanying partner and what it takes to find your own purpose and create a life that is parallel and possible with this globally mobile life that we’re living. You’re one of those people that everything you say needs to be like, on Canva and put as a meme because you’ve got wisdom. If people want to learn more about you and follow you, where should they go?
Juanita: I am Juanita Ingram on all social media platforms, IamJuanitaIngram.com is my website. For the show they can go to expatsshow.com and on all social media, we are re-airing in the next two days. I’m so excited about that and so they can follow us there. But yeah, I’m just really excited about the time in life that we’re in and life that I’m in and it’s ebbs and flows. I’ll probably fight a mini fetal position moment tonight and I’ll get over it. *laughter*
Sundae: That’s right. That’s right.
Juanita: Absolutely. Absolutely. I just went through the process of getting qualified to be on the ballot for them to vote for the Emmy nominations. I cannot tell you — and we made the ballot, which is unheard of a self-published, self-funded, Indie series for the Television Academy to say, this is a quality that we even qualify to be on the ballot to be voted for. So I’m celebrating that. I pray we get the nomination but the fact that we’re even on the ballot, I wish they could send me a copy of the ballot and that I would frame it. But the number of fetal moments that I fought through, only my husband and maybe you didn’t even bear witness to all of them because sometimes I just go out on my balcony and it’s a paralyzing feeling and you have to fight through every single one. And yeah, I just I’m grateful for those moments because it’s a muscle and I get stronger and they get shorter and I get stronger every single time.
Sundae: Totally and you’re alive. You’re alive.
Juanita: Absolutely, and I’m living my best life.
Sundae: So thank you so much. I will make sure that I put where they can find you in the show notes so they can continue to enjoy your wisdom.
Juanita: Thank you so much.
Juanita: Thank you, thank you, thank you for having me.
What I love about my conversation with Juanita is how she shares the hard part behind what it takes to live a life on purpose that it’s in the heart that we get to the good. I know I’ve said it now, you’ve heard her say it. So when you’re living it I want you to celebrate that because if you are really living leaning into what is coming next that season, you know, you’re doing it, right?
So I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Expat Untold as much as I have. If this has inspired you to keep going on your own journey to find purpose and create what is on your heart and mind, then don’t miss my upcoming 5-day challenge THE BOOST. think of it as your mid-year energy shot – something I know we all need RIGHT NOW.
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You have been listening to Expat happy hour with Sundae Schneider-Bean. Thank you for listening. I will leave you with the words of Fabienne Fredrickson: “The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Be patient and stay the course.”
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