061 Chasing My Calling, Interview with Sage B. Hobbs
After a battling cancer, Sage made the decision to move away from her family in Philadelphia, all the way to Colorado, where she has made her life since. While on maternity leave with her second child, Sage realized she no longer loved her path. She talks about the steps she took to identify and pursue her new calling, and create a life she loves.
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Sage: Hi I'm Sage B. Hobbs. I'm an author, a coach, and a speaker on naked communication and how to have powerful relationships, and you are listening to Just Stay Curious.
Gillian: Ok dreamers it's time to get curious, we are about to hear the story of another inspiring woman, I am so excited to introduce my guest today, Sage B. Hobbs. Sage is a coach, author, and speaker who is known for her direct, insightful, and compassionate approach to communication, relationships, and personal growth. She's worked with thousands of individuals and groups for more than 15 years, to both transform their relationships, and increase their personal fulfillment. She's also a mom of two, a cancer survivor, a proud teacher's wife, a retired school counselor, a world traveler, a book lover, and a kitchen dance party aficionado.
Alright Sage, you've got a ton of interests, you have a very full life. Thank you for being on our show. Why don't you take a couple of minutes and fill us in on how these things tie together.
Sage: Ok, thanks Gillian, so much for having me. I love having these conversations. Oh gosh, how do these all tie together? I was born and raised in Philadelphia by very active and engaged parents who really supported that passionate side of myself. Even as a little girl, my dad called me Sage the Rage, so I think I always had fire within and a curiosity within. I love the name of your podcast for that reason.
When I was in my early 20's, and we might talk about this later, I had a huge life changing event that really kind of framed how I wanted to make my future decisions and I ended up moving out to Colorado into a really beautiful, peaceful environment thinking that I was just going to regroup and re ground and practice some self care and some self love, and in fact I stayed 15 years. I went to graduate school here, met my husband here, pursued a career for a decade in school counseling- working with teens and families, I grew enormously through that work. I became a mother to two awesome little, wild humans. And through all of that kept facing decisions and moments of clarity, and zigging and zagging in my own career path and my own personal growth. It's all led me here to you and to this conversation and to this new connection.
Gillian: Awesome, thank for giving us a brief overview. I know I ask a lot- "fit your life into two minutes".
So I want to start out with a question for you, "Why do you think that self-love is important?"
Sage: Awesome question. First of all, I'm so psyched that that is even a conversation that's happening on a bigger scale these days, because I don't even feel that that used to be considered as a value, or as important, and now I really feel that there's a wider conversation around self love happening, particularly for women. And it's so important.
So, there's a lot of reasons I think self love is important. There are the sort of standard reasons, which are super valuable, which is if you can't fully be present to the love for yourself, it's really... if you can't really fuel that and nurture that inside of yourself, it's really hard for you to give of yourself in the biggest way possible to the world. So whatever your gifts are, your passions are, it's super hard to be available to share them when you're not nurturing your own love within. So, a lot of people talk about that. I do think that super valuable.
Another one is, I talk a lot in my work about relationships and human connection and communication, and another really big one is, if you want to really receive love- deep, intimate, lasting connected love- not just romantically, but in all of your interpersonal and professional relationships- you really have to feel worthy of receiving that. So you have to start with loving yourself enough to know that you can be loved that deeply.
So those are super valuable, but there's one that I feel isn't talked about that much that I find... that I talk to women about all the time and I find really valuable, which is about FUN and playfulness and joy and happiness and pleasure. It's just simply... we walk through these lives with ourselves, and it's a lot more pleasant and enjoyable and fun if we like who we are. It's so simple, you know what I mean? I feel like fun and pleasure and joy are underrated values, and I really feel so many women are just yearning to feel joy and happiness and lit up and inspired... and if you can start by doing things that make you feel good just because they make you feel good and you deserve to have things that make you feel good, that to me is the essence of self love. Beyond those other pieces which are really important which I mentioned first, there's just an essence of enjoying your life more when you take the time to give yourself pleasure, joy, and love, if that makes sense.
Gillian: I think that makes a whole lot of sense. I totally agree with you, and I think that that last thing you said provides a really great basis for the other two. How much more can you give when you're feeling joyful.
Sage: Yes. How much more do you give, and how much more do you understand you deserve to receive.
Gillian: Yeah, it's not even a question, right? When you're full of joy, it's just natural.
Sage: And it's magnetic... you know. The better you're feeling, the more people want to be around you. It's so cheesy sounding, but it's like a love circle, you know what I mean? What goes round comes round. The more you're feeling it the more you're giving it, the more you're receiving it. It's just an energetic exchange. And we are always with ourselves. I think it's Thich Nhat Hanh... somebody says, "wherever you go, there you are", and as somebody who's traveled a lot, searching and questioning in some ways, really wherever you are... you are. Your self travels with you. So the more you can cultivate and learn to love that essence of you, the more pleasure you'll experience in your day to day.
Gillian: Yeah, I agree. So Sage, now I want to talk to you a little more about your own story, your journey. For all heroine's who come on to our show, somewhere in their journey... in all of our journeys is a low point... maybe we weren't practicing self love or maybe it's something totally different. Sage, can you tell us about a low point in your story and how were you feeling at the time?
Sage: Sure. Well in my many decades of living, or my several decades of living, at this point I can think of several. But the one that was really the most formative, or poignant for me, was when I was 23 yo I was diagnosed with cancer and I had just gotten back... I had just graduated from college and gone off on a lifelong dream which was to teach and live in Africa for a period of time. I was in Kenya, and I'd come back home and gotten my first real "professional job" in downtown Philadelphia where I had gone to college and where I was from, a real salary, and I was going to save the world. It was under this Federal grant to help... really I thought I was going to transform inner city public education. I was super impassioned and fired up about that. I had a really cool apartment, and I really felt invincible. Like life was all ahead of me, and I was fired up... and then I had this pea sized lump right above my collarbone, and thank God, and thank intuition that even at 23 with my mind thinking I was totally fine, I still knew something wasn't right. I did get it checked out and it turned out to be a lymphoma. I had chemotherapy, radiation, the whole thing. I lost my hair. I had to go on leave from my first cool new job, and it really was for me, "Holy shit, life is not a guarantee. How do I really want to create my life from this point forward."
In terms of how was I feeling about self care at that time, I was a pretty happy, excited, connected 23 yo. So I felt good and happy in my life, but actually I was not really thinking about how to take care of myself. I was more outward focused, like all the things I wanted to do in the world. There were several profound lessons from that period of my life, but one was about letting the love in. I remember really clearly my mom said to me... my friends threw me a bday part. My bday happened after my third round of chemo and all these people gathered. I hadn't had a bday party since I was a kid.. you know, a party? And I was sitting there with all this love and it was intense. People brought me presents, and people came form all walks of my life, because honestly, I had cancer and they wanted to be with me. I was having a hard time being with it. My mom, in all her wisdom said, "Sage, let the love in. People want to help you, and it's a generous act for you to let them help you. They want to bring you food. They want to help you. They want to spend time with you. They want to be here with you on your bday>'
That was pivotal for me, because I was fiercely independent and I thought I could handle things on my own. I had friends, and family and all of that, but it was hard for me to really give myself the love I needed at that really, really challenging time in my life. That would be probably...
There have been a few junctures in my life, but that was a huge one.
Gillian: I'm thinking back to when I was 23, and that feeling of invincibility and youth. So what were your immediate thoughts when this diagnosis came to you?
Sage: I can actually see it. I was in my really cool apartment down in this hip area of Philadelphia. I had this exposed brick wall... Philly's really old so there's exposed brick wall with a fireplace, and a loft up to my roommates apartment and my dad came down to the city. He came down from work to be there when we knew we'd get the biopsy results. The doctor called and immediately I knew it was bad news. When the doctor called, not the nurse. I remember him saying "you have Hodgkin's Lymphoma" I literally threw the phone down and burst into hysterical tears and my dad picked up the phone and listened to the doctor for awhile.
But then being me, fiercely independent, strong person... I got it together, took some deep breaths, and then got back on the phone because I wanted to hear it myself. I wanted to hear myself.
From there it was literally a whirlwind of emotions. I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. Ultimately, the prognosis was good, but before we got to that place there was a lot of testing to see how far along the cancer had progressed. Every stage of that was surreal, like what is freaking happening hear? I just went dancing two weeks ago, what?
I remember clearly being in the car driving back to my... my parents were divorced, but they lived both out about half an hour from where I was living in the city, and we all came together to tell my younger brother and sister. We waited for them to come home from school, we were sitting together, my mom, dad, and myself. My brother was a teenager at the time, he was just like, "what?" There was a lot of shock. There was a lot of shock, and there was a lot of fear, and there was a lot of doing what I had to do.
To be honest with you, the hardest part was afterwards. This is more vulnerable for me to share. The hardest part was afterwards, when i was pronounced well. That sounds crazy, you would think that the chemo, and the radiation, and everything was the hardest part, but afterwards my whole identity was changed. I didn't know how to find my footing again as a cancer survivor. I felt really afraid of dying. I had panic attacks.
I went from feeling... you know, I had been in Africa, and living independently, and feeling really free, to panic attacks. That was very humbling for me, feeling out of control. that was really residual, to my healthy sense of denial that I had pre cancer, that you were just going to live, because most 20 somethings feel that way, was never going to be that way again. I know knew that I could be in that 1-3% that has a bad thing happen.
That's how that went for me. I worked through that, so part of the work I do now in the world is about courage and not waiting, and really knowing how to take courageous action towards what you really want because it's not... the only certainty is that we're all going to die. That's the irony. Everything else is pretty much interpretation, but the only certainty... you might believe in the afterlife that's fine, but in this form, this body, this earth plane, the only thing we share, no matter where you're from, what your socio-economic status, you're race, you're background... we share that as human beings. There will be a finite existence to this form. That fueled my passion for how I wanted to spend my time and how I wanted to serve others in the time I had.
Gillian: Sage, let's transition to another time in your life. An "aha" moment, or a moment of clarity. Something that happened to you that mad you realize your life's path. What you needed to do. Can you share with us a time like that?
Sage: So what I shared was the beginning of that. That was the precipitating incidence that had me move to Colorado. Moving to Colorado changed my life forever. It grounded me in a more soulful way. I met my husband and made my life here.
I would say that another huge moment of clarity that pushed me the next step in my path was after I had my second child. We had a hard time having kids and had to get support to make our babies. I really wanted to be a mom. I always knew in my core/soul self that I wanted to be a mom. I also knew I wanted to make a difference in the world. So I had chosen this path as a school counselor and it was in many ways ideal. I worked 9 months of the year, my husband's a high school teacher where we live. We had huge chunks of time of together as a family in the summer. I was making an impact on children's and families lives. It was good work. I was good at it, I was good in a crisis.
I had my second baby that I had worked hard to make- spent time and money making. I'm holding her on maternity leave and I'm going, "crap, I don't want to go back to that work. I do not want to go back to that job". It was scary. If you get a job in a good school district, 7 minutes from your house at a great school... you don't usually walk away from that. People have pension plans and you know... it's security. For most people, they're going "you already landed an ideal job", an I'm going, "it's not my ultimate thing. There's something else I'm called to do. I've always know that. I'm not going to stay in it 20 more years because that's what people do". But it was scary to say, ok what else is there. What else do I feel like I need and want to do? How do I get my husband on board? He's a teacher and he's amazing and super supportive and passionate about his work... and public education isn't making people rich. Though you should, in my opinion. So I really needed to figure out what was next for me that would work for us as a family. We now had two kids and he's a teacher. I'm talking about leaving all of that security. A great salary and benefits, etc. It was clear though, the longer I sat there on maternity leave, and I had all this time. It was my second kid so I knew I wasn't going to kill this one, and I had a lot more freedom of thought in my second maternity leave. I was a lot less stressed out.
I asked myself, "what is it I'm called to do? What is practical and heart centered/" That's when I started looking into writing and coaching and what that would entail as a business. That was a huge leap of faith for me and for my husband. It became increasingly obvious that that's what I had always done anyway. I'd been doing personal development work since I was 11. My parents were personally and professionally in transformational consulting and coaching fields. It's what I did with my 12 and 13 and 14 year olds and their parents. I was always getting in there and looking at what else was possible for them and how they could communicate in a way that fostered their own confidence, courage, and connections with their peers. I transferred my skills in a way... that's what I decided to do. To see if I could transfer my skills in a way that would have more... less trauma, because being a school counselor is really intense. You're dealing with suicidal ideation, self mutilation, family and loss, and poverty. It's a lot. you're the first responder to hundreds of kids and their families. It was awesome, and it it taught me so much. But it was really hard to give in that way, and then to come home and give more to others.
Where self care at that time... it was not. It was much further down, because I had two small children, a marriage that was really important to me, a career that was very demanding of my service, and I didn't take as much time to do the things that I needed. That would probably be the next big crossroads in my life where there was a moment of clarity where I said, as the time was approaching for me to go back to work... I did go back to work. I finished out the school year, and I went and got in that time frame a coaching certification and started getting clients before I left the security. That was the moment... holding the baby, sitting at home, knowing this wasn't going to work for me... to sustain this path and ask what else will. That was the juncture for me.
Gillian: If you can imagine, if your husband said no, you can't leave this security. How would you still have pursued this calling?
Sage: Great question. Well, I don't take no very easily. I come from a very big possibility mindset, so I'm always figuring out how to make things happen. I'm a big dreamer. I think of myself as a pragmatic dreamer. I would have probably figured it out. I would have maybe stayed in my job longer, but built this at the same time. I wasn't going to stay. We did make practical plans. I got paid for at least 8 more months. We set aside money. We did Airbnb on our house. We live in a desirable location. We started stocking away what we could so he would feel safer. So I was honoring and respecting our partnership, too. It's not like I just believe one can just quit and walk away. Everyone's finances are different. I really don't believe in this whole idea of "leap and the net shall appear". People love that... yeah, that's awesome, AND it does not feel good to live in a high stress, cortisol flying state of fear if you don't have any safety net. That's my belief.
So how can you really go for what you deeply want, and do it... which require stretching, and courage, and pushing outside your comfort zone- but how can you be held enough that you're not paralyzed by the fear. Had he said no, i probably would have figured out how to make him feel safer and more secure. Maybe I would have had to stretch my timeline some. My deal is that I'm a communication and relationships junkie, so really he and I have the kind of relationship... we're really into supporting each other's greatness. we have great and open discussions about what that looks like. We continue to. It wasn't like I left and it was all roses, there was hard work involved. So I think it's just about getting the people who love you aligned with you and your vision. And honoring that their concern is maybe valid, and how can you bring them together so you can not feel suppressed and not shut down your own's souls calling, to be woo woo about it, or your own dreams and wishes, but now have the other person feel like it's your way or the highway. How can you partner to make it feel like a safe enough, and exciting risk that'll really bring both of you happiness in the long run. I don't know if that exactly answers it, but I would have found a way. I would have brought him into the fold and honored his requests along the path.
Gillian: Alright Sage it's time for our Daily Insights. What was the one thing holding you back from accepting self love?
Sage: It's still the same thing that holds me back, which is I get blocked around "I should just be happy already, and I shouldn't want more". I'm already so blessed compared to the world population, I'm so privileged and I get that conversation in my head around "just be satisfied already, enough is enough" and the I will step back from giving myself what I craving, yearning, and needing for happiness and fulfillment. It's like I get myself thinking I have to punish myself because I've had it so good. I know that's crap, so I don't stay in that space, but that's my biggest thing that holds me back.
Gillian: Who is one person who has changed your life for the better?
Sage: Lots of people throughout this time. My dad, I would say. My dad died 5 years ago. That's another huge shifting point in my life. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders, but he was also incredibly evolved, gentle, strong, giving, generous, human, who taught me so much around pressing pause on my own judgement as often as possible in order to connect with other people and make a difference. My dad, for sure.
Gillian: What is the best advice you ever received?
Sage: I think that, this one I'll credit to my mom, around letting things be fun. I mentioned fun earlier when we talked about self love, but I feel like that was a great piece of advice that I've gotten throughout my life. My mom is super fun. I watch her be the grandparent now to my kids. She's hilarious, she's with a 7 year old boy making fart jokes. I'm like, "you're 66 mom!". This whole idea that it doesn't have to be suffering. I think there's a conversation in the world, that all good work is hard work and you have to earn things. And yes, of course, you shouldn't just expect blessings without putting in any effort, but I feel like this idea of "let's let life be fun". We're so quick to be serious. you can make a huge difference in the world, but also have fun. With the fun is the possibility. If you're not being present to fun, you can't see what else is possible. So that was my mom, passion about possibility in the world. I think that's my best advice that I've received.
Gillian: What is a self care habit that you practice regularly?
Sage: My Danielle Laporte Desire Map Planner. I love that thing. I try and write, I don't do it every morning, I know I don't. Things happen with kids and school, but probably 5 mornings of the week I spend a few minutes getting present to how I really want to feel in my life and what actions I can take that would support those feelings, and what I'm grateful for. I think a gratitude practice is huge, so all of that is within this one planner and it's my special time. I usually make a hot cup of tea, and sit with my planner and that's my 10 minutes to get me off on the right foot.
Gillian: Do you have a favorite quote?
Sage: Yes, it is by a very badass activist and leader who's past now, but Audre Lorde, and it is "When I dare to be powerful and use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." And I've struggles with fear as I mentioned before, but most people don't believe that about me because I'm committed to being more courageous than I am scared. But her quote, I've had that posted all over my life for a long time.
Gillian: Can you share with us an app or resource that we can use in our own self care practice?
Sage: I just mentioned Danielle Laporte's work and The Desire Map, that's probably one of my favorites. Just getting clear on what we want to feel and deserving to feel that way. I don't really use a lot of apps on my phone in that way, but her Truth Bomb decks are one of my absolute favorites. Actually I was just doing those with my kids yesterday, letting them pull a card from the deck and thought "oh how cool", they're already getting messages like pleasure is power, because that's what my 3 yo pulled. I would say those Truth Bomb cards are one of my favorites.
Gillian: What book are you reading right now?
Sage: I just last night finished the novel Man Called Oath. I'm a junkie for great storytelling. I do read personal development books and such, but I would say fabulous novels take my breath away and take me away. So Man Called Oath is my most recent. It was great.
Gillian: I have one last question for you, what is the one thing you are most passionate about?
Sage: Oh my gosh! One passion come on! Helping people be more courageous. Helping them be courageous enough to create the relationships and lives that they really want and really love that is what lights me up more than anything. People light me up more than anything. Human potential and how to leverage it for the greatest good in the world. That's what I'm most passionate about.
What was the number one thing that was holding you back from accepting self love? I get blocked around, “I should just be happy already and I shouldn’t want more.”
Who is one person who has changed your life for the better? My dad.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Let things be fun.”
What is a self care habit that you practice regularly?
My Danielle LaPorte Desire Map Planner. I spend a few minutes in the morning getting present to how I want to feel and what actions I can take to support those feelings.
Self care basics: Know how you want to feel.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“When I dare to be powerful and use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” By Audre Lorde.
Can you share with us a resource or an app that we can use to help our own self care practice grow?The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte
What book are you reading right now? A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
What is the one thing that you are most passionate about? Helping people be courageous.
About This Guest:
Sage B. Hobbs is a coach, author, and speaker who is known for her direct, insightful, and compassionate approach to communication, relationships, and personal growth. She has worked with thousands of individuals and groups for more than 15 years to both transform their relationships and increase their personal fulfillment. She’s also a mom of two, a cancer survivor, a proud teachers wife, a retired school counselor, a world traveler, a book lover, and a kitchen dance party aficionado.