A former perfectionist who struggled with setting boundaries, Jeanine spent years of her life in a toxic relationship feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, and undervalued.
Amidst a battle with cancer, Jeanine experienced a transformational mindset shift that unlocked her untapped potential. This shift unleashed the start of new thoughts and beliefs that grew into courage and confidence to take massive action and rebuild a new life.
Jeanine’s personal transformation ignited her passion to help others unlock their untapped potential. She offers 1-to-1 Coaching for individuals who want to shed their self-doubt and start taking empowered action toward fulfilling their dreams and goals.
🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶
🎶 Episode Intro: Hi friend, I'm very excited because this is episode number 50. Whether this is your first episode or you've been here for all 50. I know you're going to be inspired by Jeanine Grayson's story. She has been through so much: a toxic relationship, a cancer diagnosis, reinventing her life.
She has done it all and she's here to share her story of how she found the courage to make the big changes she needed. So let's jump in and let me introduce you to Jeanine. 🎶
Jeanine Grayson 0:00
Hello, Jeanine, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast.
Hi, Melissa. I'm so glad to be here. Thank you for having me today.
Melissa Ebken 0:09
Oh, it's my pleasure. How are you doing today? Doing well, I hope.
Jeanine Grayson 0:13
I'm doing very well. And just excited to chat.
Melissa Ebken 0:19
Me too. And there's so much to your story. And I think so much of this is going to be identifiable to the listeners. So do you mind if we just jump right in?
Jeanine Grayson 0:29
Let's do it. Let's do it.
Melissa Ebken 0:30
You have a thriving business right now, where you help people who have experienced the things that you have experienced. Do you want to start out by telling us a little bit about what you do? And then we'll go to the backstory.
Jeanine Grayson 0:43
Absolutely, thank you. So my business Jeanine Grayson Coaching, I am a mindset and confidence coach, and I really help clients who feel stuck in life, and don't have clarity on steps moving forward. And sometimes that is stuck in relationships. Sometimes it's stuck in a professional or job situation, or just general life journey stuck, lack of direction. And I really help my clients identify what is holding them back, and help them open their minds to new thoughts, which, ironically, tends to turn into taking new action. So I love what I do. And I'm super passionate about helping people live their best life.
Melissa Ebken 1:44
I'm so glad there are people like you, I can recall times in my life where I felt like I needed to make changes. But it felt too big. It felt like I would have to completely reinvent myself completely undo and redo everything, and it just seemed too big. And I didn't know where to start. I didn't know if I wanted to undertake that much.
Jeanine Grayson 2:10
You know, that makes so much sense that I think a lot of us do that. Because what we tend to do with making big life change is we take a bird's eye view, right, we get a full picture perspective. And we start not just focusing on maybe what the next step or two is to take, but we start thinking about the entire picture. And that is often very overwhelming. And when we get overwhelmed, we tend to not take action. And so whereas I'm such a believer, and we have to take action to make change, I also firmly believe that action needs to start with very small steps moving forward, and really not focusing so much on the big picture, but just really rather the next step.
Melissa Ebken 3:10
And you have some experience with this.
Jeanine Grayson 3:15
I do. I do. Do you want me to kind of jump into?
Melissa Ebken 3:20
Yeah, we would love to hear your story. The things things that you have overcome are just amazing, and so inspiring. So I'll pick where you want to start.
Jeanine Grayson 3:30
Sure, sure. So you know, it's so interesting, because I think a lot of the things that have happened in my life, would I have asked for those things? Probably not. Did I learn so much about myself and grow incredibly, because of those things? Yes, I did. So I'm super thankful for them. Perhaps I'll just start in the place of I was in a toxic relationship for 12 years. And that without focusing too much on the relationship. There was I was with a partner who had a substance addiction. And, you know, when you're dealing with a relationship when you're in a relationship where there's substance addiction, there's of course, other issues that results because of the addiction, right? Lack of trust, lack of belief, lack of happiness, lack of hope, just all sorts of things evolved due to that. And
Melissa Ebken 4:41
I'm going to interrupt you briefly, you know, and sometimes physical and emotional abuse can come from that
Jeanine Grayson 4:49
Sure, sure. And I was very much the kind of person back then, who was a people pleaser. You know, made excuses for others bad behavior, swept a lot of things under the carpet, wanted to believe that things would change. I really didn't know what it meant to have healthy boundaries, that was kind of the Yes, person constantly overcompensating. And, you know, of course, none of this happens overnight, it happens gradually, as we find ourselves falling deeper and deeper into an unhealthy relationship, we lose more and more of ourself. And we also lose the sense and the focus that we matter. And our happiness matters, our focus becomes so much about waiting for the other person to change. Well, maybe if this happens, things will get better. Well, maybe next year, things will improve. Well, maybe if I do this, he'll change so. So I was in that relationship for 12 years. And as a result of what I just communicated to you, as far as just, you know, acquiescing and making excuses for the bad behavior. You know, our bodies are not designed to live in a state of chronic ongoing stress. And that is how I was living. And so of course, that evolved into me, starting to get physically ill, I had started with very minor chronic illnesses, and then eventually led to a cancer diagnosis. And as someone who had always been kind of a fitness person, it really threw me for a loop. And I remember, I remember getting my diagnosis. And the first question I asked myself was, what did I do to deserve this? You know, I just kind of somehow put the blame on myself. And I guess that's very indicative of kind of the mindset I was, you know, it's kind of my fault. How did I let this happen? I think that's common, right? And, you know, boy, that moment, you know, life just stopped, all the busyness, everything I was involved in all the commitments, work, everything seemed to kind of pause and things got really quiet. And it was a very pivotal time for me, because I was scared. I didn't have clarity on what this cancer journey was going to look like. how it would impact the quality of my life, how my life in general would change? Would I get through it? What would that look like? So you know, a lot of a lot of uncertainty. And I was, let's see, it was two days after my diagnosis. And I was at home, and had just been on the receiving end of some pretty, pretty bad behavior from my partner. And so I was sitting in my backyard alone with my dogs. And I was super frustrated. And you know, I just had a moment of clarity. Because I think up until that point, Melissa, I had just been thinking so much things, things will change, things will get better. Let me just wait. Well, I had kind of hit a bit of a rock bottom at that, at that moment. And when I say I had a moment of clarity, I mean that I had a moment where I actually got super real and honest with myself. And I was so frustrated. And I felt so defeated. And I just sat there and I said things aren't going to change, this relationship isn't going to change. He's not going to change. And I'm really unhappy. And if I continue in this same place, I'm gonna continue to feel this same way. So that's, that was really my moment of clarity and I didn't attach self guilt or judgment of how long I had sat in that place of being in an unhappy unfulfilled relationship. I didn't I didn't enter any of those mindset thoughts about like, gosh, I've really wasted this time, it was just a very simple conversation that I had with myself where I was very real and just acknowledged, wow, things aren't going to change. You know, and if I continue to just stay here, doing the same thing, I'm going to continue to feel this way. And the next step to that thought process was, this isn't the kind of life I want. So that was my moment of clarity at that time. And, you know, when we were earlier, speaking about change, and how sometimes change can seem overwhelming. What was really interesting about that moment is, I didn't think about all the things that were going to need to happen. I just made a little quiet promise to myself, that I was going to first focus on healing my body, getting through the cancer treatments, whatever that was going to look like the surgeries and the radiations. And, you know, everything that was yet to come. And, and just the commitment to myself that this would not be the place that I would stay. So and that's all it started with just that simple conversation. That was a first step, if you will, to massive, massive change and transforming my life. But it just started with that little moment of honesty with myself.
Melissa Ebken 11:39
Those moments are so powerful. I'm, I'm a pastor, I don't know if I shared that with you. But I was serving churches for 25 years now. And throughout those years, people have come to me, and things just aren't how they want them in their lives. Sure. And I have found just asking that one question. What do you want? That people haven't considered that? And same for me? I had to have that moment where I asked myself that question, too. But that's such a powerful question. What do you want?
Jeanine Grayson 12:15
It is a powerful question. And, you know, especially with dealing with the kind of person I mean, ironically, I was the kind of person very similar to the population I serve. Now, I was a people pleaser, and wanted everyone else to be happy.
Melissa Ebken 12:38
I'm sorry, I have no idea what that is. No experience with that.
Jeanine Grayson 12:41
Right. So I, you know, so, so, so often, we put everyone's happiness before ourselves. So we don't ask that question. What's gonna make me happy, you know, and it's, it's a process over time, of, of engaging in that kind of behavior, and always putting others first, what happens is we gradually lose sight of our goals, we lose sight of ourself, we lose sight of our happiness. And suddenly, one day, we're just looking around, and just, where am I? How did he get here? I'm so not happy. Well, you know, it's it's a gradual process. But absolutely. And that, and that's what happens when we put everyone before ourself.
Melissa Ebken 13:33
Yes. And I want to stress what you said, it doesn't come up with a big sign and say, okay, despair ahead, make this one choice and get there. It happens so subtly. And so gradually, with little choices, little things, we let slide over time, that there's no point and no value in shaming yourself, are feeling guilty about it. It's just a realization, hey, thank you, universe for letting me realize this at this point. And I contended.
Jeanine Grayson 14:05
Absolutely, absolutely. That that couldn't be more true. And I always say, self guilting. And shaming ourselves is, although it is a behavior that sometimes we can engage in, it's really not a productive behavior. It doesn't do anything to move us forward. In order to move forward, we have to have a little bit of glimmer of belief in ourself that we can take that step forward. And so when we engage in self shaming, and self blaming self guilting we're sort of taking that little bit of power away. And, and it what it does is it just kind of delays the ability to move forward. So I always like to say when you know, especially when I talk to my clients, a lot of my clients have heard me say, you know, just just kind of get real with yourself, but don't self guilt. Just get real, just kind of call out like, a behavior like I did in that really low moment, you know, when I was just recognizing I wasn't happy, my moment of realness is Jeanine, this isn't going to change, the situation isn't going to change, you know. So just, you know, get real, but don't self guilt.
Melissa Ebken 15:28
And in your story, you had some prioritizing of what had to happen first, you needed to heal your body.
Jeanine Grayson 15:37
Melissa Ebken 15:38
Before you could do anything else you needed to heal, heal your body. And then you could take steps in other areas of your life, can you expand on that a little bit?
Jeanine Grayson 15:48
Yes, definitely. So, it was so interesting, because I think my focus to heal my body, if I'm being really honest, was that came from a place of being terrified about what this journey was going to look like, right? I didn't have clarity on what my cancer journey was going to look like. And so,
Melissa Ebken 16:11
and let's be honest, when you hear that word and get that diagnosis, it freezes everything.
Jeanine Grayson 16:16
100%? Yes, you start taking inventory of everything in your life, and you get clarity real quick, on what matters and what doesn't matter. And so that, even though I could say that, yes, focusing on my health was me integrating self care and putting myself before others. Sure. But if I'm being honest, I think it kind of came from a place of survival. Oh, my gosh, let me let make sure I'm ok, correct, correct. So, so it kind of came from that place. And then I knew, Okay, if I, if I have my health, and, you know, God grants me this grace, I need to do my part. And I and I really need to go after my dreams and passions and really give life you know, live it, live it to the fullest and not make any excuses. So, so it started with focusing on my health. But I can tell you, the thing about change is that when you take a step forward, the second step forward is a little bit easier. And the third step forward is even easier. And soon, we turn around and we look at that path that we came from. And we say, oh my gosh, wow. Like, I didn't think I could do it. Because we're just focusing on the next step. And so, so my transformation, whereas started with the promise to focus on my health, and get well first ended up transforming into me leaving a relationship, which was a pretty big step, and not feeling the need to justify or explain that to anyone. I was good with myself, and I knew where I stood and I kind of made that promise to myself. So leaving an unhealthy relationship and, and, again, you know, once I hur, took that big hurdle, and jumped over that then, I really started reevaluating, you know, what do I want in my next relationship? What are my non negotiables moving forward, the next time I get in a relationship? What will I put up with? And what will I not put up with? What are what are qualities in my next partner that I must have? And so I got complete clarity on that. And, and as I, as I got clarity, and as I saw that I was able to leave a pretty long term relationship and feel good about it. Now, was the process easy, no ending chapters of our life. It's never easy. However, what overshadowed the difficult aspects of that is the gut feeling that I was doing the right thing that I and I knew I was, so that made it a lot easier. And it helped me focus on just moving forward. So I simultaneously started thinking about you know, kind of the next relationship. What what I wanted what I deserved, what I would and would not settle for. And then when I was in that mindset, I even started kind of calling myself out a little bit for spending many years in a really comfortable job, where I kind of felt like I had plateaued. I had kind of gone as high as I could with this company, and I enjoyed my job. But I sort of recognized that I wasn't really challenging myself anymore. And so, you know, it's really interesting, because that day when I sat in my backyard and, and recognized that I wasn't happy with where I was, wasn't thinking about my job. But as I started taking steps, to rebuild a new life, I started getting more clarity on other aspects of my life that maybe I wasn't living to my full potential, they weren't bad aspects of my life, I just wasn't living to my full potential, I was very much comfortable, not not really challenged, also not really growing. So I really started kind of getting clarity on different areas of my life. So not just leaving a relationship, but what I would want my next relationship, what I would maybe want to pursue career wise. So really started having, you know, those thoughts. And I remember having, again, another little quiet conversation with myself, where I sort of whispered to myself, I was almost afraid to say it out loud. But I thought, what if I, what if I became an entrepreneur? What if I worked for myself, I knew, if I worked for myself, I had such kind of like a high standard, that I was quite confident that I would always be challenged, that I was always be trying to grow and evolve. So I knew that, but it was yes, a scary thought to leave a comfortable job. And to enter the entrepreneur, space, and, and all the uncertainty of that. But that's what I did. And I decided to enter the entrepreneurial space in the health and fitness world, because that was just a passion of mine. With the burning desire to help people, I just kind of thought, you know, if someone like myself, can get cancer, and I've been an active person my whole life, it can kind of happen to anyone, and I want to help people live healthier lives. So I began my entrepreneurial journey there. And I very quickly learned with that that what really held people back to the health and fitness piece was really their mindset, the conversations they had with themselves, the things that they told themselves, they couldn't do. Lack of self belief, lack of self care. So it was interesting, I immediately kind of honed into what the root problem was with the health and fitness and then I became hyper focused on that. So I continued my fitness business. But I really started increasing my education and my training, on behavior change in mindset work, and life coaching, because that part fascinated me, because I felt like that was really kind of at the core and the crux of why people were having a hard time in their health and fitness. And that sort of led to where I am today.
Melissa Ebken 23:52
You know, that's a common denominator in almost every person I talk to you that at some point in the story there has to be a mindset change. There has to be belief in oneself. And if you're a fan of great literature, and storytelling, the hero's journey, is a popular trope because it rings so true with each one of us on this journey through life. And we have that moment, that lowest point and then as we start to come out of that we have another moment where we have to make a decision of whether we're worth it. Whether we believe in ourselves whether we have the courage when it's difficult. And your story really personifies all of those things.
Jeanine Grayson 24:37
Well you know what he the interesting thing about courage is I think, courage, the courage and the confidence to make change in our life. sort of comes as the result of taking some steps forward. So we don't like, wait for the courage and the confidence to just kind of arrive and then we're like, Okay, now that we've got these tools in our toolbox now, now moving forward, it's going to be easy. No, it's almost like we have to, you know, take that, take that step forward and see that we don't fall off the staircase. And we're like, okay, I took a step forward, I'm still standing that that felt okay. All right, and then slowly, you know, just a little bit of confidence boost a little bit of courage. So I think it's something that's built along the way. Because, you know, I think what I was at my lowest, and certainly people in general, when they're at their lowest if you ask them, so how's your confidence? And, you know, and do you have courage to make change? I mean, most of us would say, huh, I'm just in survival mode right now. And that's okay. And that's okay. But that's why that's why taking that first step, no matter how little it is, is so important, because it just gives us a little, a little deposit in our bank of self belief. And it allows us to take maybe one more step forward, and then, you know, continue the habit with on to bigger things. But yeah, I think it's really built along the way.
Melissa Ebken 26:22
As a child of the 80s, I loved the Indiana Jones franchise, and in the third installment of that when they're in the place with all of the traps and the puzzles to figure out on their way to the grail, there's a point where Indy realizes that to cross this chasm, he just has to trust that he can and he takes a step and the ground beneath him appears. And that always comes to mind when I have these conversations that it comes as you move.
Jeanine Grayson 26:52
Absolutely. Absolutely. I couldn't. Yeah, I couldn't agree with that more the, it starts with the decision to make a move. So that's really where it starts. And then it's followed by just a very small, actionable step. You know, so often times and that movie is such a great example, because there's so much going on in that movie, right? And it's like, hurdle after hurdle after hurdle that he has to go through for survival. And he almost falls off the side of this bridge into a fiery pit. And there's just so much going on,
Melissa Ebken 27:34
It's always fun until you fall off into the fiery pit. Right?
Jeanine Grayson 27:39
Exactly, exactly. However, you know, I, I am a big believer in, we make mistakes, and we do experience failures. But I think mistakes, and failures are such an opportunity to grow. I just think whenever we make a mistake, or we fail at something, it just means that we're on our way to success. Because that's, that's part of the path to getting where we want to go. You know, and that was something I had to learn about myself along the way. I, one of one of my limiting beliefs in life that I learned years ago was that I actually believed that when I tried something new or different, if I didn't ace it right away, I wouldn't be any good at it. And like, I actually believed that and you know, it sounds ridiculous, right?
Melissa Ebken 28:48
When you say it out loud, it really does.
Jeanine Grayson 28:50
Right? But so So I lived my life, like, actually with one of those limiting beliefs that was so incredibly limiting. I mean, talk about discouraging myself of ever branching out and trying new things, because I just assumed, if I wasn't fantastic at it first shot, I wouldn't be any good at it. And, you know, the truth is, is that we often go through life, really controlled by our beliefs, and if many of those beliefs are limiting beliefs, untruths, then we act accordingly to that. And how unfortunate to limit ourselves so much to hold ourselves back to diminish our potential by by buying in to that limiting belief, that is actually identifying limiting beliefs. That is kind of the first step of change when I actually start working with the client is let's let's kind of take inventory of what it is that we believe in about ourself, and really kind of identifying what beliefs are totally holding us back and causing us to not make those steps forword because somewhere along the way, we actually bought into thinking that those things are true. And they're not. That's a big part of it.
Melissa Ebken 30:23
You know, one question I do have for you, that moment in your backyard, the moment of clarity when you had your cancer diagnosis two days prior, and you realized you wanted different to the day, when you started to question whether or not you should stay in your job, how much time passed in there?
Jeanine Grayson 30:47
Ah, yes, that's a great question. That was about 10 months. 10 months? Yep. Yep.
Melissa Ebken 31:02
So for 10 months, you went from sitting in your backyard with a cancer diagnosis that you didn't know if and how you would survive, right? To healing your body, leaving a relationship and having health in your body and in your life in less than a year?
Jeanine Grayson 31:24
And you know, that's true. So it's interesting, because you can look at that in two ways. So I'm assuming you're suggesting that was quick, Melissa, are you?
Melissa Ebken 31:38
I'm just suggesting that we think that something feels impossible. How can we get here how it's too late to turn and pivot? Sure. But in less than two years time, you totally reinvented your life? Yeah. And even if it takes three to five years, three to five years, you can totally have a new life.
Jeanine Grayson 32:04
Absolutely. I, I will tell you that when you believe in yourself, and you are focused and determined, anything's possible, anything's possible. And I really want to reiterate that it doesn't mean that the journey is easy. You know, I lacked clarity, if I wanted to stay in the same town where I was currently, you know, living in that relationship where my next place of landing would be, but I just thought, Okay, I'm gonna make a conservative move. And I, and I, I'll never forget, you know, that I moved into an apartment, I got my keys to my apartment, and I walked into an empty apartment, and I started bawling. However, I had full confidence that I was making the right decision, it doesn't mean that I didn't have difficult days. Or I didn't kind of question myself a little bit. But I just knew, Gosh, darn it, you know, I owe this to myself. And yeah, I'm starting over, I'm starting over. And this wasn't part of the original plan. But, you know, it was such a process. And I really had a moment of really cool clarity. So I remember that, that day, moving into my apartment and just kind of crying, and then having to get myself together. Because I remember, we were having a surprise party for my father. So I had to kind of, you know, pull myself together and go to a birthday party. And I did that. I will tell you, I, I also made the commitment to myself, I did a year of therapy. I committed to it. I wanted full clarity on why I stayed in a relationship like that so long, why I waited, and I wanted to get full clarity, so I could really unpack those bags, leave them at the door and move on with my life. And that's exactly what I did. I ended up meeting an incredible man. I met him on on Match, I will say and I had no experience whatsoever with online dating. I knew nothing about it. The whole idea of it created a little anxiety for me, but I got on there and I wasn't sure how it worked. And within three days, I met him and it was really powerful. And he met all of the things on my criteria list all of my non negotiables, and a lot more. And when I tell the story of, you know how I met my, my now husband, but my, my new partner at the time, my friends will make fun of me, they'll say, Jeanine, you, you did online, what do you mean, you did online dating, and you were online for three days, and you met the guy. That doesn't happen. And, and, you know, of course, I feel like God in the universe, absolutely had a hand in it. But I also think it says something about when you get to that place of clarity of what you deserve, and want. And you also have clarity on what you will not negotiate on. I had absolute clarity, you know, living in a in an unhappy relationship, and just being so miserable for so many years, was the best teacher of what I will and will not deal with moving forward. And so I had such absolute clarity of, of what I felt like I deserved and wanted. And the decision was made that I simply would not settle for a relationship that didn't fall in line in alignment with what I said that I wanted. And that's exactly what I did. So that part of it kind of was easy. I had the clarity first. And then I found the guy right after, but I you know, I think it started with the self clarity and the self love and the self care I, I started really acknowledging that I was worth it. And, and once I had that foundation, then, you know, finding my husband, it was, it was kind of easy. So,
Melissa Ebken 37:09
you know, I firmly believe with all that I am and all that I do that whatever you prefer to call this power in the universe, whether you like to think of it as spirit, call it God, higher power. Or if you don't like to name it, just acknowledging that energy beyond all of us, whatever, however you view and hold that entity, it wants great things for us. It wants us to thrive, to have joy to be fulfilled. And when we make those choices toward that, we're going to get a little help along the way. Sometimes help will look like a challenge and a step back at in the short term. It may be but it will ultimately get us to that place. And I think like you said, when we start taking action, take a small step, we're going to have resources and energy added to our journey that we didn't know were there.
Jeanine Grayson 38:12
Absolutely. I absolutely.
Melissa Ebken 38:16
And Jeanine, you're such a perfect example of this. And your story is so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
Jeanine Grayson 38:25
My pleasure. And thank you so much for for letting me share my story. Like I mentioned, I I'm in this to help people. I believe that we all are capable of change, and happiness and joy and fulfillment. It's a process. Sometimes we need some guidance, but you know, it's possible. It's possible.
Melissa Ebken 38:55
And I will have all of your information in the show notes. Folks, if you want to know more about Jeanine, if you want to follow her if you want to reach out and meet her and talk with her. All of those links will be available in the show notes. So make sure you check that out. And again, Jeanine, thanks for joining us, and I look forward to talking to you again someday.
Jeanine Grayson 39:15
My pleasure. Thank you so much, Melissa.
🎶 Episode Outro: Thank you so much for tuning into today's episode. If this encouraged you, please consider subscribing to our show and leaving a rating and review so we can encourage even more people just like yourself. We drop a new episode every Wednesday so I hope you continue to drop in and be encouraged to lean into and overcome all the uncomfortable stuff life brings your way. 🎶