Compassionate Conversations with Ailsa Robson

#enjoytheride

Enjoy the gorgeous energy of fellow mental health provider Tammy Roche as she lets us in on her tips for boosting self compassion; including grooving to certain songs, adding gratitude and meditation and carefully curating your social media feed!

Tammy also shares some of her experiences relocating overseas during Covid and the trauma, loss and grief she and many others are trying to integrate into their present lives.

We speak about kindness to self, seeking mental health support, being aware of unrealistic expectations of ourselves, and attracting authentic people into your life.

Enjoy the ride as we explore how to enjoy more comfort within the discomfort of life.

 

Tammy’s new instagram handle is @b2pinescounselling – Between Two Pines Counselling

Click here to read transcript of the interview with Tammy Roche...

Ailsa
Hi, Tammy, how you going? This is so wonderful to have you on here.

Tammy
Excellent. It’s so good to be here. Thanks for asking me.

Ailsa
So, Tammy Roach, you are a mental health professional, and somebody who I have connected with over the last couple of years, and we’ve just had this nice ongoing communication via socials mainly. I’m thrilled that I am in the podcaster seat now, when last time you interviewed me for your podcast.

Tammy
Yes, I did. I actually re listened to that episode not too long ago.

Ailsa
Yeah, well, I was really grateful to have you ask me along to your show and now it’s my turn. And also that we are fellow mental health professionals with similar philosophies and interests and I just always feel like there’s a bit of an intuitive connection with people that come into my life, and you’re one of those people.

Tammy
Oh, I feel exactly the same from word go actually, I felt exactly the same, and then of course, I got your book, so I feel like it’s as if I know you really, really well.

Ailsa
Oh it’s always embarrassing when people have read my book. I’m like, ‘Oh my diary’ yeah, thank you though. So we’re having a conversation today about perfection, imperfection and compassion. And maybe I could start by asking, what roles and intentions generally fill your days?

Tammy
Okay. So do you mean as in like, roles professionally? personally? Or do you mean? (oh my gosh)

Ailsa
I know see, I don’t want to box you in, I don’t want to box you in.

Tammy
No, that’s wonderful. So I’m a mum. I’m a wife. I’m a good friend. Damn good friend. I like to say, I’m a social worker, mental health professional. So I do counseling, my intentions. I start my day, most days with gratitude, that’s really been embedded in me, so that’s probably something, and focus of movement or breath. I go between meditation and movement as well. And also, really good playlist on my Spotify. I’m a dance in a car kind of gal.

Ailsa
I concur. Spotify has like, changed my life in so many ways over the last few years. Yeah.

Tammy
How good, isn’t it right? You need to like pump yourself up, currently, two days a week I drive an hour to get to my place of work. So that time has to be an intentional setup for when I get there, because you know what? It’s like when you’re giving a lot of energy. You want to fill that cup, like to the brim before you’re in that place. Yeah,

Ailsa
Absolutely, I love that. Yes. Well, I think music is very important in my life and important in a lot of my clients and friends lives too so, Have you got a particular song that’s like just on repeat at the moment?

Tammy
No pressure right! Where’s my Spotify app? hahaha. I’m just having a quick look, so I’ve got a playlist which is drive.

Ailsa
Yeah.

Tammy
Shake your ass, Mystikal. Do you want to know the other one? So funny, but it’s Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on.

Ailsa
That’s a good song yeah! Wow, there’s definitely

Tammy
These two randoms right, because you can get like, you know, the songs? They come on the list and then they play over and over and over again, right? You get sick of that. So I’m like, let’s bring out some of the old classics.

Ailsa
I love it. Yes, I’ve been hitting some old 80s 90s classics recently too. We’re getting, this is delicious, I could talk music all day.

Tammy
Yeah.

Ailsa
And particularly those two songs, I noticed also there was like a real pleasure, and not just, pleasure as in intimacy and sex, but the pleasure of indulging in the music and the flow and the lyrics and Yeah.

Tammy
Absolutely, absolutely.

Ailsa
Fantastic. Well, I have to say that right now, Lorde is coming up a massive one for me and her song, solar power, write it down, Lorde, solar power. I feel like it is. I mean, it was released over our winter, and internationally their summer, but we’re going into our summer now. And it just makes me feel like it’s going to be my anthem for summer with my sunroof open, windows down, driving along the coast, you know, celebrating warmth, and joy and hopefully, zooming away out into some light, as we had a little chat before. But yeah, that one’s definitely a go for that.

Tammy
Oh, it hasn’t been on my list yet. So I’ve written it down and I will get on it, it’ll be car karaoke tomorrow for me.

Ailsa
Yeah, yeah, cool, cool. Fantastic. So we’ve alluded a little bit to our connection, Tammy, but maybe, I’d love to know your take on how we connected.

Tammy
Okay, so we connected through social media, Instagram, wasn’t it?

Ailsa
Yes.

Tammy
It was, look, the last 18 months feels like five years to me. So it seems like a while ago, but we connected through that. And I purchased your book. If I recall correctly, am I correct here? Oh, sorry.

Ailsa
I think you may have and it was well yeah, yeah, I think you

Tammy
Yes. Then I reached out and I asked you to be a guest. Right? Look at it, all coming back to me now. Yes.

Ailsa
And isn’t that so again, the beauty of Instagram. I have been talking about that a little bit with some people, and I know that there’s some firm believers that they don’t need any more wasting of time, like in a social media sense, and I completely agree with that. But, I have found that Instagram has been this opening up of my mind, my heart and connections and the world. So I’ve just I’ve been really clear about how I curate my feed, and it’s been bringing up gold for me. Yeah.

Tammy
Oh, absolutely, because I think that’s what happened when I found you, and I found you through HAES, as well, like as the hashtag, right?

Ailsa
Yeah, Health At Every Size. Yes,

Tammy
Yes, that’s right. And I was at that point in my journey with myself that it just hit me like a ton of bricks, and all these, like, what you’re saying the synchronicity of all these different people that you align with. And I think when you put out that content, you put a part of yourself out, you attract people who recognize that you attract people who guide you. And it’s like, of course, of course, we would be friends, of course, we would connect, you know, and I remember feeling that way. Sorry, it’s bringing it up now, it’s funny COVID’s actually taken away a lot of some memories, I think, in some ways that I’ve forgotten. Yeah, and I remember reading your book, and I was, yeah, I was just awe inspired by your vulnerability, which I deeply feel, I really connect with people who put themselves out there, and in a world where you can show the world anything to choose to look at those parts of you that are the most vulnerable, and that connect you and identify you as being human. And also on the same level as the people around you, no ego, you had a lot of humility, yes, I do remember so.

Ailsa
Thank you. Thanks that’s beautiful and I agree that when you do put it out there, you are gifted in return and then you can build on your knowledge and especially from hearing other people’s lived experience stories, so powerful, and everybody’s story counts. I feel like I’ve learned so much more about a weight neutral health at every size approach, and also the history of where this came from and how political this is and the social justice side. That is, you know, just I’m learning and I’m unlearning, and I’m learning and I’m unlearning the whole way along. I’m so pleased that my scratchy kind of learnings and popping that out to the world has brought you to a place of recognizing some of that and if it’s been helpful, that’s wonderful, wonderful.

Tammy
Absolutely. Oh, yeah, you don’t feel alone in that, because that’s a funny thing, right? Like we all, not all of us, let’s not generalize too much here. But a lot of us feel those things that you wrote, but until you actually, someone says it out loud, sometimes it’s that point where you cross over, and it’s like, Ah that’s it, someone articulated my emotions, you know? What I mean? Yeah,

Ailsa
Yes, yes, that’s beautiful, that’s beautiful. Well, the title Perfectly Imperfect, it’s been a bit of a blessing and a curse, it feels like a bit simple that saying, but it’s huge. And I know that perfectionism is rife amongst us, and I wonder, it’s a big question, but how has perfectionism shown up in your life?

Tammy
Oh, wow. Yeah, how has it not? How has it not? Um, I seek, you know, I started getting into personal development in 2009, after my dad died, and I really had to come to a point where I needed to look at some things within myself. I didn’t even know what character meant, or how to develop myself. I suppose now where I’m, what is it 2021? So that’s 12 years, or whatever it is later. I’ve evolved to deal with that, and even recognize it, but how do I deal with it in my life? I would say where it shows up now would have to be within relationships, because they’re my highest value. So relationships, for me, is a big one, in terms of stepping back and peeling back my expectations. It usually just goes right back to me, and it’s like, it’s not that, it’s actually me, which is most of what I find, right? So how I deal with it is I’m kind to myself, that human, that simple, just like you said, the title of your book, so simple, but so effective, right? And I think kindness to self, helps me deal with it when it pops up, you know, acceptance and recognizing, that it always comes back to being kind to myself, because you know, what, there’s going to be something down the road that I’m going to have to deal with again, and I just, I think, I don’t know if you’ve gone through this, but through my journey of personal and professional development, you learn so much, and there’s so much that you could you could beat yourself up about, there’s so much that you can take personally. And from that, and I’ve learned luckily from other people, as well as myself, but other people that have not, like dealt with it, and let it go to bitterness and resentment. And I’m very grateful those people are always teachers to me, you know, and kind of pulls me back and I’m like, You know what, you’re starting and you’re stopping and you’re starting and you’re stopping and maybe you’re like, going the whole time, but you’re just going at different paces, right?

Ailsa
Yes, that’s right. I love I really love that. And yes, and when you can understand that it’s simply your your perception and they’re your lessons that you’ve learned over your years, and then they play out in your expectations of others. Yes, love all of that. Also love the opposite side of it when you can see other people not being able to sit in that discomfort because it is a discomfort that you have to sit in where you have to take on board some of the responsibility of what this emotion is coming up for you and where the emotion… what assumption it came from.

Tammy
So true, it’s like layers, right?

Ailsa
It’s the onion you know, keep going, keep going. Yes.

Tammy
Exactly, exactly.

Ailsa
And the antidote to perfectionism is that kindness, that compassion, self compassion and compassion for others. You’re right. It’s the only thing that we’ve got. And, yet we undervalue it, and we often think that it’s some who lost the word now…

Tammy
Selfish.

Ailsa
Yes. selfish and yeah, yes. And it’s also indulgent, it’s indulgent, you know? All that comes back to pleasure as well, because, you know, surely we should always be trying to find a pleasure or happiness, joyfulness and a hopefulness in our lives instead of this punitive kind of shameful side where we think that that’s actually going to turn us toward what we want, when, in fact, it’s just leaning into this comfort… work that takes us much further.

Tammy
Absolutely.

Ailsa
So, when did you notice, like you said that, obviously, when your father passed away, there was a connection there where you were seeking a bit more development of character or self awareness? Is that where you notice that you wanted things to change? Or? Yes, did you was there? Was there anything particular that came up for you then that you realize that perfection wasn’t helping?

Tammy
Yes, I’ve got a story. So, as I was going towards the things that made me feel good, I created a vision board. And for years, I still teach it. I’ll probably do one this year now that we can actually see people in person. But I did a vision board. And it wasn’t until I had it was like, probably my third or fourth. That wasn’t my first one. My first one was only words, it took me a little bit before I could put like actual pictures on it. Yeah. And I stood I got the biggest frickin board you’ve ever seen. Like the biggest, like, it was massive.

Ailsa
You wanted everything. Everything.

Tammy
It was absolutely massive. And not only was it massive, but I painted it bright yellow. I have no idea what I was thinking. I was just like, I obviously had a bit of power behind this. Okay. Anyways, as I started, I was walking. And then I started running, I started biking, and I started moving my body a bit more. And I feel like my body and mind was starting to connect. And I walked in, and I had it in my frickin lounger. Which is funny that my husband, he has probably more understanding than I ever give him credit for.

Ailsa
But I had a couple of those boards floating around in weird places as well, I get it.

Tammy
I know, right? And it was huge, like big and I was walking in one day and at that time, I still get up at 3:30/4am. Just my body clock, I just get up at that time and I’d gone at four and I’d come back and watched the sunrise, it must have been summer. And I seen this board and I looked at it. And I was like what parts of this is attainable? Because I had all these pictures of like these really buff women with you know, like perfect, which I don’t even think that like I’d ever even want if I’m honest. I think it was the idea of it.

Ailsa
Yeah.

Tammy
I grabbed that board. And I started taking little (what do you guys call them here?) Pushpin’s? pushpins. I just started taking them all off. Because at that point in time, I was so deep into like, a lot of personal development books. And I’m like, if I’m putting these unattainable images, and I’m never gonna reach it, or I’m not being kind to myself, I’m not having any sort of like, where’s the compassion for myself? Where’s that kindness like? How is this you know, going to keep me going? And yeah, so I took down every single picture. And I left that bloody big massive board empty for like a little while. I think I put it in a closet. But yeah, that was probably the greatest explanation I could have of that where I think that was the first time that I went. I actually probably… it was actually self aware that I was like it was unattainable.

Ailsa
Yeah, yeah, and I have the same similar boards like that. I think they’re, I’ve kept mine are stuck down on cardboard, like glued. So, yeah, but I hear you on that. And I’ve had an opportunity to look back on them and delve a little bit further about what I was trying to, you know, what I was trying to obtain in those I had similar pictures of women that were very slender and had like, perky breasts and other other bits and bobs, you know, and I, I just had babies and yeah, things things weren’t all as fantastic as that by any means. So I look back with compassion to those times. And remember that person that was thinking that this is what you do – you pull things out of magazines, and you aspire to them. Because that’s what we’re all aspiring to. Aren’t we? That’s in the magazines, that’s in the media, that’s, you know, we’ve been sold this. So, I hear you. And what a really clear line in the sand. That’s amazing for you.

Tammy
Yeah, yeah, it was absolutely. When you look back at it, it was a pivotal moment for me. Because I think at that moment, if I’m correct, it was my timing back then. I feel as if I had come to a point where I was at the point where I was pushing too hard. You know what I mean? And you know, that point when you’re pushing too hard?. And it’s like, from that moment on, and when that bloody vision board went down. And I mean, I love it, because it got out the door, it had its time and purpose to begin with. But it was from that time and moment, it was very different with how I look at vision boards even now, like all my vision boards that I do are all about experiences and feelings and emotions. And I never would have gotten to that maybe if I wouldn’t have grabbed that yellow page and big massive board.

Ailsa
Yes, yes. I also imagine when you took all the pictures have, that you left that blank expanse. And that in itself is kind of brave, isn’t it? Because often we just try to fill it all up. Try to fill it all up with you know, what’s the next thing, what’s the next thing but having a bit of space can sometimes give you so many more answers.

Tammy
So true. So true.

Ailsa
Now, tell me we haven’t actually spoken about your beautiful accent. And we had a little chat before we started our conversation because Tammy and I haven’t spoken one on one for for a couple of years. But what’s been going on? So these last 18 months? Do you want to give a really quick rundown.

Tammy
Really? Okay. So, in 2020, March 2020, I’m sure everybody remembers where they were that month was around. We had prepared… 18 months to after 19 years in Australia have an Australian citizen, we had decided to move home to Canada. So we have prepped for the 18 months March 20 came along, and our house was rented or things were sold or given away. We didn’t leave anything here really I think there was two boxes of personal documents. And we had to leave actually a couple of weeks earlier because of this thing called COVID. Corona. We didn’t really know and we were advised by the Prime Minister at the time of Canada was calling all Canadians to come home and Mark had just gotten his my husband had just gotten his permanent residency. So he’s Australian and as Australian as they come and was bit worried about that we moved to Canada. We got on the plane we actually almost didn’t get on the plane which is crazy. If I wasn’t at the airport, they wouldn’t but I think it’s because everything was all up in the air. But anyways, we got to Canada and we arrived. It was so sad. Everything was shut down. Everything we couldn’t see family and friends, we had to pick up some things from like, you know, my aunt’s driveway. It was. It even makes me emotional thinking about it. You know now it was just not the way we plan to arrive in Canada. But you know what we got on with it. We got to this beautiful mountain. We are in the Canadian Rockies and British Columbia, beautiful town. We got into it. I finished my master’s. Colton, my son, he didn’t see a kid from the first two months. But we eventually got him integrated during the summer when some restrictions lifted. I opened my therapy practice site of therapy practice in Brisbane, Australia, I opened it a brick and mortar and downtown Ferny. But fast forward to a year later, our lease on our house was almost coming to an end, we were planning on buying. But the Australian government wouldn’t let Zoey which is my daughter who was left here in Australia because she was going to university her choice. She wanted to stay, but they wouldn’t let her come. And then we were being told, like come to us in Canada for a few months. So we were being told basically that this COVID thing might be going on for a while. So we had to make the hard call that if we didn’t leave in March this year that we don’t know when we would see our daughter it might be two years. Yeah. And we had her house here. So Anyways, long story short, we have now come back to Australia. And we’ve been back now, which is really, really hard for me to believe. But we’ve been back six months now.

Ailsa
Yeah, okay. Yeah. Wow. Yes.

Tammy
It’s hard to, it’s hard to wrap that one up and make it a small story. Sorry.

Ailsa
Yeah. And as we were just started talking before, I have I’ve heard some stories from clients and friends about coming back to Australia, during you know, and coming back and doing, you know, lockdown in hotels and lockdown at home. And what that’s meant for a lot of people and the grief and loss that they’ve experienced that possibly not even understood that they’ve experienced because of that toxic positivity, that were so inclined to kind of steer toward like, we’re so fortunate. We were so lucky, where we’re all together, we’re healthy, we’re happy. And it could be a lot worse, which of course, it could be. But that doesn’t take away the trauma that you’ve experienced along the way. And you know, I wonder I’m sure, I know that we also spoke to me that you’ve had you’ve been working with clients, who were also talking about some of their stories and their grief and loss and fear. But how, how have you managed to get through that and look after yourself through that?

Tammy
Yeah, well, I think I was really isolated when I came back. So you know, it’s funny when we talk about, you know, my sense of timings, even off sometimes, like, you know, when we’re talking about how we met before, because it’s just I feel like it’s, it’s been so quick, but yet so slow. So I’m fortunate that I’m really connected to a lot of other mental health professionals. So some of my closest friends are mental health professionals, not to say that I always accept the help and offers the help that they give me. Because sometimes I feel with myself, how I process is I need to go on it on my own for a little bit. And usually, you know, I get angry, I got angry. I got angry, but then I got to a point where once you’re back in that, you know, I picked up work twice a week in health and as a counselor and you feel responsibility as a mental health professional to make sure you’re right, I could feel like I was getting better. And things were the thoughts were coming fast and strong and good. Like, you know, everything was kind of going together. But I met with a counselor, I contacted a counselor and I said, you know, this is what I’m experiencing and I just need to just talk to you about it and have a non emotionally invested view. And like literally that counselor was like, holy shit. She goes, How are you even like coping? And it’s funny because you just go through the motions, like, you know, you just sometimes go through the motions. And if you’re carrying other people too, it’s funny, right? But that space that she gave me as well as I went back to my own toolkit, I’m sure you have them as well – the things that sustain you, you know, I’m sure you’re like myself, you want a sustainable career as a mental health professional. Happy space. So I went to those. And got back into my podcast as well, which helped because then it was about other people, you know, giving like little things like that, right. So that’s how, but there’s always those other things in the background that you know, what, as much as we want to, we’re never going to make sense of. And I think sometimes we have to be okay with sitting in that place. Of okay, this is how it is right this minute. And what’s in my control? And what’s out of my control are two completely different things. So let’s just be kind to yourself, have compassion, you know, I go back to those my virtues. They ground me. Yeah.

Ailsa
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. The acknowledgement of what individually that you’re going through as well. Where, you know, we’re such a stoic bunch aren’t we.

Tammy
As human beings.

Ailsa
We are. But I think that in a way, we have, like so many Australians we’re in such a bubble here. We’re in a real bubble. So I appreciate you sharing your story. Because it helps me to understand a little bit more about about what’s happening off our island, you know, and on our island, for people returning and feeling like they’re a little bit of a square peg in a round hole. Yes, compassion, and reaching out to people or reaching out to mental health professionals. I liked how you said then they, what was your description of seeing somebody? Like a neutral, professional uninvested… Emotionally, they’re not invested in your life.

Tammy
Yes, emotionally uninvested. This is one that I’m sure that you get a lot people. I don’t know about you. But maybe because we were locked down in Canada. When I opened my practice in Canada, what I seen was a large proportion, and I was full within five weeks of opening. It was incredibly… because there wasn’t many mental health professionals as well in our tiny town. But I was attracting a lot of people. Not that it was me, but because of what had happened with COVID that had never gone to therapy before. Ever.

Ailsa
Yes, yes.

Tammy
And still, even in the case of my private practice now that I’ve never engaged, because I think what one of the great things that has come from the emerging COVID stuff has been the stigma that’s been taken away from mental health and the acceptance that you know, what, if you can’t control it, you got to try and figure out how you can make your world okay, in your mind, right? Like how you can focus on that little bit, right. And so many people, the bravery, the bravery of people who have never been and it’s uncomfortable, it’s uncomfortable. I know myself, I’ve sat before a few therapists. And I know the first session you’re just like, and it’s usually the uncomfortable comes from before – the ideas, the thoughts, the expectations, right?

Ailsa
Yes. Yes.

Tammy
But it’s like, I can tell you it is worth its weight in gold. Yeah, that space.

Ailsa
I completely agree. More often than not, my clients have never seen a mental health professional before. And they’re, and they’ve been hesitating for such a long while because they either feel that maybe they’re too messed up, or they’re not messed up enough. And somebody else has got it so much worse. So what am I sooking for, you know, why? yes, yes. And, again, everybody’s story counts and everybody is worthy of being heard, and having their concerns just given a little bit of space. There’s a beautiful quote that In a Helen Gardner book that I read recently, and it’s about a friend of hers, and she said, I don’t know how she does it, but every time I see her, it’s like, I walk in with this kind of sack of troubles on my shoulder. And she just says, Hey, do you want to just come in, pop down your sack of burdens for a moment? Let’s just have a look. Let’s just have a look in here. You know? And, beautiful, beautiful, because it’s not even like, let’s fix it. Like, certainly not fix it. Just let’s have a look. You know, let’s just see what this is. And yeah, so making peace with that, I just think is good. Yeah.

Ailsa
Fantastic, so Tammy, if anybody is interested in following a little bit more, your helpers podcast and find you on Instagram, and shoot around there, then what’s your, what’s your handle?

Tammy
So at Instagram, it’s between two pints, which is the name of my business between two pints underscore.

Ailsa
Okay, fantastic. All the links will be below anyway. But yeah, thanks for sharing this conversation with me. I I know that we could go into so many more details, we could go down the Health at Every Size path, which I would love to do with you another time again. And certainly I appreciate hearing a little bit more about your experience in the last 18 months because as mental health professionals, we have to bring our own experiences into our work as well, like they are our lived experiences. So I don’t I mean, if there’s people that also feel that they could reach out to you do you do private sessions with people, you know, as well? Or is it more more just your work at the moment in?

Tammy
No, no, I have my practice in Canada as well as Australia. So I’m in southeast Queensland. I’m not far from Brisbane. And at this point in time I did telehealth as well as in person sessions in Canada. But at this point in Australia, I’m only doing telehealth so I do video, or phone. So I do offer one on one sessions a few times a week. Yeah.

Ailsa
Great. Excellent. Well, as always good to know. And thanks, I look forward to having further compassionate conversations with you through the years because as you said, this is you know, this is I’m sure you’re feeling the same this is kind of your life calling. And it will evolve, as we do. And I’m really pleased to be sort of at the beginning of my journey really, and having a peer like you in my life, so thank you.

Tammy
Ah, also a treasure to know you and I can’t wait to have you back on The Helpers podcast. So I will be hassling you about that one soon.

Ailsa
Sounds great. All right. Well, take care Tammy. See ya.

Ailsa
Thanks very much. Bye

Tammy
Gratitude.

 

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Ailsa Robson has a private counselling and psychotherapy practice in Adelaide and consults with clients in Stirling and Glenelg, SA as well as online. She has a Masters Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and is the author of Perfectly Imperfect.