Episode 206: Courage & Surrender on the Road – Steph Jagger

INTERVIEW WITH STEPH JAGGER

Steph Jagger and her mom, Sheila, took a camping road trip together in 2016 across the Rocky Mountains. So often, the purpose of a road trip, or spending time in the outdoors, is to get away from it all. But in this instance, Steph was driving towards something many of us might rather avoid: her mom had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. And while Alzheimer’s is something that’s hard to talk about, odds are good that you have personal experience with this degenerative disease or another one that’s similar.

Those places that we are nervous to go are often the ones that call to us the most strongly. Or at a minimum, they tell us something about ourselves and what we need. In this episode, Steph shares about her trip, which she wrote about in her forthcoming memoir, Everything Left to Remember, what her mom continues to teach her, the benefits of sitting with grief, and an invitation to examine the relationships in your life that mirror the best parts of you.

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Featured in this episode: Steph Jagger

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Steph Jagger and her mom, Sheila – on the road

The book Everything Left to Remember

“Steph Jagger lost her mother before she lost her. Her mother, stricken with an incurable disease that slowly erases all sense of self, struggles to remember her favorite drink, her favorite song, and—perhaps most heartbreaking of all—Steph herself. Steph watches as the woman who loved and raised her slips away before getting the chance to tell her story, and so Steph makes a promise: her mother will walk it and she will write it.

Too aware of her mother’s waning memory, Steph proposes that the two take a camping trip out to Montana—which her mother, on the urging of Steph’s father, agrees to embark upon. An adventure full of horseback riding, hiking, and “tenting” out West quickly turns into one woman’s reflection on childhood, motherhood, personhood—and what it means to love someone who doesn’t quite remember the person she spent her lifetime becoming.

A staggeringly beautiful examination of how stories are passed down through generations and from Mother Nature, Everything Left to Remember brings us the wisdom of who our memories make us under the constellations of the vast Montana sky.” (Goodreads)

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale – Narration: I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores.

This is author Steph Jagger. You might remember her from her 2017 snow memoir, Unbound. But I recently talked with her about her up coming book, Everything Left to Remember. It’s the true story of Steph and her mom, Sheila, who took a road trip together in 2016 across the Rocky Mountains. So often, the connotation of a road trip, or spending time in the outdoors, is to get away from it all. But in this instance, Steph was driving towards something many of us might rather avoid. Her mom had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers dementia, a disease that more than 1 in 9 people age 65 and older have. And while Alzheimers is something that’s hard to talk about, odds are good that you have personal experience with this degenerative disease, or another one that’s similar. I know I do.

I’m, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I put off reading your book. Quite a bit. And the reason for that is now because I didn’t want to read it. but this book, being centered around Alzheimer’s, um, and relationship with the mother, it just felt so personal. And, uh, I had an uncle who had Lewy body dementia and he. I think he was diagnosed when he was in his mid sixties and he was, he passed away a few years after that. It was a pretty quick progression. It’s a different type of dementia than Alzheimer’s, but I was nervous about what I was going to bring up for me reading the book. And I’m really glad that I wrote it, but I wanted to share that with you that I was like,

Gale Straub: I was trepidatious. I was nervous. And. something that you wrote in the book really resonated with me. So I’m going to send you a little quote if you could read it out loud. because I think that reading, writing holds a similar place.

Steph Jagger: Uh, this is, uh, it’s interesting. so, so I wrote this and then. I was reflecting upon it. And I thought exactly the same thing. Like writing feels very similar to me So yeah, th the very best part about being in nature is that the truth reaches you. This. Which is also why it’s hardest to go. you know, I’m really, I’m really glad that you said that you were nervous to read it and that there was maybe a bit of hesitance and, and, uh, putting it off for a handful of days or maybe a week or longer.

I can’t tell you how many people have already written me, saying that, like I’m so excited for you and I can’t wait to celebrate the book and I’m not sure if I’m ready. to read it, um, whether that means that they have, their own experiences within dementia of multiple different kinds, degenerative disease of a multitude of different kinds within their family.

And, or, and I think this is where, sometimes even more of the hesitancy lies is, you know, certainly grief in general. And we’ve been confronted by that in a way that. haven’t been prior to our lives, you know, in the last couple of years, but also the mother daughter relationship.

you know, I think there is much to be examined, whether you’ve been inside of a mother daughter relationship, that is, you know, very similar to a friendship, whether you’ve been inside a mother daughter relationship, that feels the polar opposite of that. Whether you’re a strange with it, you know, there’s so many different ways that a mother daughter relationship can show up.

Steph Jagger: but I think that’s also a place that many. Are maybe a bit nervous to go.

Gale – Narration: Those places that we are nervous to go are often the ones that call to us the most strongly. Or at a minimum, they tell us something about ourselves and what we need. I do agree with you like the mother daughter relationship, And you kind of, you talk about this in the book that you kind of, you want to push it off at times, like want to push off that examination, or push your mother away. but after reading the book, I felt like I got to know your mother, so well, it got to.

Gale Straub: I loved that there were moments of both like levity within it and also, frankness and honesty. so, so why did you choose to write a book about, about this, about your relationship with your mom and this trip that you took with her?

I don’t want to say that I, that I don’t make choices. I certainly do, but, I tend to operate from a place that feels a little bit less like choice and more, um, like calling and, when I, when I had the idea to do the trip her, I certainly didn’t know that that was going to turn into, into a book, but I was basically, I think on the airplane home.

Steph Jagger: I already found myself typing notes into my iPhone and, and it hit me right on that airplane home. I think this might turn into a book and, and for me, the way kind of calling works is it’s just ideas or things that just won’t leave me alone. And so I’ve made a, a pretty big commitment. To myself, just to just in the last, five, 10 years as, as I move through my own learning and growth that if I feel as though something is, is calling to me in a particular way than, than I do my best to say yes.

I think the other thing is that for me, In less, I write something and kind of fully examine it through that medium. I don’t know that I really have a full understanding or grasp of it in my life.

Steph Jagger: And I think there was a lot that was going on within the relationship with my mother within the ongoing loss of. the landscape of grief that, that, loss, kind of threw me into the, collateral grief inside of a family. And so I think at this point, I know myself well enough that if something is starting to feel like I can’t articulate it or that it’s overwhelming or confusing, then usually I’m going to find. Clarity or at least some comfort in the written word. And so that was part of the process as well, as you know, I want to understand myself, I want to understand what, grief is doing in my life.

and I want to understand, you know, what my relationship to my mother and also to myself is going to be, as we continue down this path, I think it just felt really important for me to begin writing about it. And then, you know, once I started writing it, it was pretty quickly. that there was a book there

Gale Straub: Hmm.

Steph Jagger: Yeah.

Gale Straub: Interesting to be talking to you on international women’s day. When so much of this book I would not have expected is, is about your exploration of womanhood, you know, through your mom’s lens, through your own lens.

Did you expect that, you know, did that kind of come out through writing? Like, was that something that you were actively experiencing on the trip or did that kind of come out in the reflection, as you were writing.

At the time of the trip, I think there was an ongoing exploration or question for me in regards to, well, I will back that up. Actually. I was going to say an exploration in regards to, motherhood. , did I want, did I want to become a, a mother myself in, in the traditional, sense?

Steph Jagger: And so that. I had pretty much reached a decision that that was going to be a no for me, but that was a w I was still not, you know, the door wasn’t closed, so there was a little bit of exploration there. but no, this, this landscape of. Womanhood of what it means to be a woman in the world of moving through, from an archetypal lens, you know, maiden mother magician, autumn queen kind of crone.

that was not new language for me. And that really was an exploration that started with my first book, and really around kind of when I was 29 or 30, really realizing. How much I was operating and I want to be cognizant of how I say this, like how much I was operating from masculine energy or what would be predominantly described, as, as masculine energy.

Steph Jagger: And that’s not a bad thing. but my examination of basically am I operating from my own authentic energy, whether that’s masculine, feminine, or neither, The examination of what am I operating from authentic energy. And that, that first exploration was the answer was no. And, my answer to that was, I really, really have been devaluing, FA feminine energy and the role of women, from my own kind of internalized, patriarchal views.

And so th that examination happened around when I was 29 or 30. that was maybe when the question occurred. And this is when I think I was really swimming in the water of it and, and really asking, how do I, I think I’ve got a grasp of what that energy is. How do I want to begin to express it in the world?

And who am I going to use? Or what am I going to use as an example for that moving forward, if I’m, I’m losing my mother at the same time as me, just, just coming into a sense of how I’m going to express that into the world. And I think that was a really key question on the journey, as well as more so, when I was writing the book, you know, what kind of person am I going to be?

what kind of energy will I be predominantly expressing myself with the world as I lose one of the key models of how to do that?

Gale Straub: I must have been really hard to have her asking the question of whether you, where your children were. Are you going to become a mother? Are you a mother? Why aren’t you a mother? Cause that?

is the, the kind of thing. Often mothers don’t express, even if they would like to, or at least that’s something my mom has bound is pretty good at having boundaries around.

Um, but as you were just kind of working through all that yourself, it must’ve been wild to have that, to be kind of confronted with those questions, over and over again.

Steph Jagger: Absolutely. This is, you know, part of her progression in Alzheimer’s was for forgetting that she’d asked that question, that particular question. And part of it was her own reflection of, um, one of, one of the questions she asked a lot was where are the kids as

in, oh my gosh, I’m not in my house and where are the kids?

And then she would ask it again and again, and then simultaneously would ask. And where are your kids? or do you have kids or are you going to have kids that, that happened a lot? And part of that. is I think, related to her own love of being a mother and her own love of, of her children. For sure.

And I think for me, the difficulty in that was, certainly me making my own decisions about whether I would become a mother, but, but also, and more so. The confrontation of how deeply ingrained it was an is in my family of a value of the primary source of value for women coming from motherhood. there is and should be value of motherhood.

but that being the primary source, like what kind of value. Do you have to offer the world without motherhood now that was never spoken out. Right. But that was stitched into the culture and certainly stitched into, family dynamics.

Gale Straub: Yeah.

Gale – Narration: Steph had recently spent some time in Yellowstone, so when she decided to pitch a road trip to her mom, she wanted to go back there. Their plan was to start in Yellowstone, head up to Glacier and then move over to Idaho and spend some time in Grand Teton National Park. Cognizant of her mom’s limited memory, she planned guided beginner level day trips like river rafting, horse back riding, and hiking. The two were together the whole entire trip, mother and daughter, rising and sleeping with the sun, settling into a rhythm not unlike an ocean tide.

Gale Straub: What was it like seeing all of the, you know, the beautiful places that you saw through her eyes, and especially with someone who so much of what she’s experiencing is in the moment, you know, it’s moment by moment.

Steph Jagger: I think probably in some ways it’s not unlike experiencing different parts of nature with.

Gale Straub: Mm.

Steph Jagger: there is an awe when, when someone is interacting with a certain, a certain thing and it can be different for everybody, but certainly for my mother, you know, that expands certain expanses of nature and, and what I, what I’d maybe call big nature, to see that kind of awe.

and also you experience it with them and through them and it’ll, and then, you know, my own awe of what we’re, you know, sitting in front of and taking in you’re seeing something and experiencing something that’s physically or energetically so much bigger than you.

And yet you also feel connected to it. that’s an astounding emotion and sensation to feel, how is it that, that thing or that energy is so huge. And yet I feel like I’m part of it. And I’m just this little thing. And I think to experience that with her, and through her eyes, but also with her side-by-side, I just, I don’t think it’s anything that I’ll ever lose.

And it was one of the reasons that I, that I wanted to go with her. That’s something I always remember from when I was little, that, that nature did that to her in a different way than it did my father. I mean, he certainly, you know, appreciates being outside and the view of the mountains and all that, but it seemed to impact my mother in a different way.

so it was, it was highly meaningful to be in the. Situations with her and feel, and this really kind of goes back right into the story to feel like, oh, I’m, I’m connected to this thing, this energy that’s, that’s bigger and she’s here. And so, so we are also connected through this and we don’t even need to say how beautiful it is or use words, which was becoming harder and harder for her.

And, and yet we can still feel and maintain that connection. So that was a, that was a real. Gift because that’s something I think, specific to a lot of degenerative diseases, but, but really specific to various different types of Alzheimer’s and dementia is how am I going to connect with this person?

And to be able to utilize nature to both gasp at something at the same time, you don’t have to say anything more. You’ve both just taken something in that is full of wonder and awe. And there’s a connection there, which. Kind of priceless.

Gale – Narration: We’ll hear more from Steph, after this.

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We’re back, with Steph.

Gale Straub: it is, uh, I appreciated how honest you were at times about how frustrated you got, you know, like answering the same question or feeling like you wanted to cut off something before it even got started. You know, the fact that. You know, you shared with her how you set up the, the, yes, I am going to break down the tent.

I can do this. I can, you know, do all of these things You don’t want to feel that way, but you do like, doesn’t matter how much you love that person, but you are going to get frustrated, which is part of love to, you know, being, feeling that way and being able to express that. But, Yeah.

just appreciate the honesty in the book there, because if you, I think if you haven’t experienced that with someone. Yeah, I think it would be easy to gloss it over, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do with, this memoir. Cause that’s a lot of what you’re confronting is some of the glossing that’s happened over time.

Steph Jagger: Yeah, that’s right. And I think actually one of the reasons that. I, I felt really okay about expressing that, was it my, you know, my mother’s mother had dementia and I watched my mother get extraordinarily frustrated with her much more so than, than the ways in which I got frustrated, uh, with, with my own mother.

And so And that, that just felt like such a big part of, the lineage based mother-daughter story. This, frustration with an ongoing loss or a lack of control, and I was very curious to kind of dig into like, what’s underneath that, this frustration or irritation, there’s, there’s usually a source of sadness or anger or grief or rage or something that’s deeper underneath that.

And, and watching that kind of move through a lineage and kind of really kind of realizing for, for my own self and for the setting setting free of my own self. I want to express the frustration in an act of trying to discover what might be underneath that.

Gale Straub: Yeah. Expression seems like a common theme or something that’s really important to you.

Steph Jagger: Yes. Yes. Yeah.

Gale Straub: What are some of the, maybe I know on the whole, uh, dementia Alzheimer’s is, uh, it’s. It is like you described like an ongoing grieving process. It’s it’s like a slow. In a lot of ways we are confronted with death, as Americans. So, you know, the way that our culture is, we are very separate from, from that.

I was just thinking about the fact that, like you describe some aspects of the stage of the disease that she was in there are these like small glimmers of positive aspects, you know, in terms of.

you mentioned multiple times her in moments where she doesn’t have maybe some of the manifestations of anxiety that she would normally have or be experiencing. do you think that like, in, in any ways there’s like some small gifts that can be found through, a disease that’s as terrible as, or as tragic is Alzheimer’s.

Steph Jagger: I mean, absolutely. I think there are, it’s all of it. And I think if you’re willing to. Sit with the, the grief and sorrow and rage and loss that comes with, not only Alzheimer’s, but, but any of these degenerative diseases or disease in

general, if you’re willing to let the discomfort of that, and then, then I think you also open the door to some of the gifts available for me.

Some of that would maybe include things like there’s a stage and alternatives. There’s a little bit of a lack of filter. And so anything in our own personalities that we might think is socially taboo or that we might lean into a little bit more of a performative nature or masking as opposed to our own authenticity, which we all do, that in, not in everybody, but certainly with my mom, like that was kind of stripped away.

And so I knew there was going to be a point in time where I might, I might get more honesty from her than I. Kind of ever had. And I had to be okay with the fact that that honesty might come out maybe as bluntness or something I might disagree with, but all those times that, you know, as a teenager, you grew up and you think, you think, why are the adults being honest with me?

You know, why can’t they, you know, he’d go, well, you want her to be honest, you’re going to get to what I’m saying. So, so I think there’s there’s gifts in that. I, I also think. You know, Alzheimer’s is, is such a interesting disease and that the landscape of reality. Really begins to shift and, and very specifically the landscape of time.

So am I her daughter or her mother? Is it, is it 1963 or is it 2017? Um, has, has X, Y, Z happened in history yet or not? You know, there’s this very kaleidoscopic gathering of time, the way time functions as well as the way. Reality functions in regards to conscious and subconscious. And so.

Gale Straub: Um,

Steph Jagger: and perhaps this is just, the person, that’s fascinated with archetypes person.

That’s fascinated with mythology, um, person that’s fascinated with, with creativity and, and the way time chronologically, like Kronos time, avionic time, Kairos time, spiritual time, I’m fascinated by all of those things. And so, one of the biggest gifts for me, was to see somebody operating in a different kind of time-based reality.

And what does that look like? What does that feel like? I’ve said this to multiple people. the only way that I can say it is like, this is like watching a shapeshift happened in slow-mo. You know, there’s a lot of mythology around shape-shifting and I think there’s pain in that obviously in grief in that that I’ve had to work through.

But then there’s also a bit of, a bit of mysticism. Th this is I’m going to, I’m going to get the quote wrong, but there’s a, uh, Brandi Carlile, the singer. I heard her speak once and she had a quote that really stuck with me, which is mysticism is the most practical thing in the world. The only thing about it is that you usually find it smack in the middle of grief.

And I think if we allow ourselves to feel, as I said before, kind of the pain or the rage of the sorrow of grief, we also allow ourselves to feel kind of the, all and the wonder of, of what might be there or what I might see in this person that given their time-space reality and how it’s shifting. I might never have been able to see, like, I think there’s a lot of times I remember ages ago saying to my dad like, oh, you know, they met in high school, like, oh, I wish I could have seen her.

As a 16 year old, you know, like I just, you think, you know, a person and then you realize, oh, I only knew her, you know, really, or have memories from her from 40 onwards. And what, what was she like in her twenties or thirties? And certainly there’s pictures. There may on occasion be a little bit of video.

But the other day, when I went in to visit her. in her care facility, I played a beach boys song, you know, something that would have been popular when she was 16 or

Gale Straub: Mm.

Steph Jagger: and she’s fairly non-verbal, but, but my dad was able to kind of coax her to, to stand up. And so they were dancing a little bit and she didn’t say anything, but she, she looked at me and she just flicked her eyebrows up and down a couple of times, like kind of like Hubba Hubba, you know?

And, and I thought. There it is. I just want a gift. I just got this glimpse of this cheeky 16 year

Gale Straub: Hm.

Steph Jagger: you know, dancing with the guy that she’s got a crush on. And I think that’s a really rare thing. So, so this a really, I could go on and on about this, but I, I think there are gifts in all of it. And I think that’s really, our job is, you know, that the further we push away from.

Anything that we deem is painful. death, grief, any and anything that’s uncomfortable and excruciating. we close ourselves off to the other side, the other flex of, of emotions, of, of joy, of connection of, astound, mint, you know, all of these different things so that the, I think there’s.

A multitude of different things. I feel like I’ve gotten to see more of my mother that she’s revealed more of who she is

Gale Straub: Hmm.

Steph Jagger: over the last seven years than I did in our traditional time-space reality as mother and daughter.

Gale Straub: Wow. Wow.

Steph Jagger: But only, only if I was willing to allow her. To exist within that flexing time-space reality. The more that I tried to say, no, mom, it’s actually in 2017 and I’m your daughter, then I couldn’t witness that. But if I allowed her or agreed with her reality, whatever was presenting at the time, then I, then I could witness more.

Gale Straub: Hmm. I read this article about Do you remember Stephen Glass? he was a journalist for the Atlantic and There’s even a movie made about him. He fabricated stories and I think it was like the late nineties, early aughts, uh, and he got caught.

And you know, he got fired. He’s never really been able to work again as a journalist cause that’s like the core part of journalism. And from that point on, he He committed himself to never telling a lie after that point in time, just didn’t just want it to always live in this like kind of black and white, never tell a lie.

And he fell in love with a woman who later got Alzheimer’s and he found that this was the one instance where he, he realized that the only thing he could do was lie to her. two. her as happy as possible to not have her as distressed, you know, to get to experience and still still be with her, you know, still love her.

And that way, um, it was just this, the story was like, you know, so ironic, but also, you know, really beautiful that he also kind of let go of that constraint that he put on

Steph Jagger: That, that rule. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That’s astounding. And, and I, I remember examining that, you know, there’s, there’s a, there’s a chapter in the book called little, little white lies, fit that talks exactly about that. You know, what are the, what are the things that I felt fine about, about kind of confirming her reality, right.

Of what’s going on and what are the things. That became ultimately very confronting for me when I, when I opted to confirm her reality. So for example, it would be very confronting, especially at the first couple of times it happened. if her reality was that she didn’t know who I was. And so to confirm that as reality I have to then also ask myself, well, who, who am I?

Who am I. If, if I’m no one in that reality, then who, who shall I be? And that’s a really confronting inside of a especially parent child, but, but certainly within sight of a marital or partnership, or best friend or, uncle at the same kind of thing. Like that’s a, it’s a really confronting thing to have to do to go, oh, okay.

It’s now my responsibility entirely to. Confirm my own identity, cause that’s, that’s not going to happen in their reality. And so how do I go with that and also maintain some sort of sense of self and those became more confronting, but, but ultimately I think that was one of the biggest lessons for me for me, at least, you know, my parents have been the primary mirrors of me and my own identity back to me since I was little. Now that’s expanded out from there. to friends, to partnerships, to business folks, you know, a whole bunch of different things, but still, you know, my mother, was the primary holder of that mirror.

Now, if she drops. And I am no longer reflected back to me by way of her. Then there’s a lot to confront there. And I think the examination of the book was, you know, will I have the courage to pick that mirror up and reflect my own identity back to me? and, or will I have the courage to seek that reflection back in other forms?

And that’s where nature came in, in such a big way. Yeah. You know, there’s no other mother that I think is bigger than mine, than, than mother nature and such to go into nature and say, ah, this is something that can kind of mirror my own heartbeat back to me, tell me the things that are important in my life, et cetera.

You know, my aunts, my mother’s sisters have become an extraordinarily important part of that mirroring, but there had to be some vulnerability and almost some asks in some ways, for that mirroring. So I think that. One of the things that we just, we really resist. And it’s very, I think it’s very difficult to talk about, you know, to be adults and to say openly to other people.

I need help with this. I need help kind of still understanding who I am in the world. That’s something I think as adults we’re supposed to have. Nailed or supposed to have mastered by a certain point. But the truth is, is that once we hit 30 and once we hit 40 and 50 and 60 and beyond, we’re still evolving.

And as we evolve that image and that identity shifts over time and we’re going to constantly be needing a mirroring back. Um, I just was in Vancouver for dinner and you know, my aunt is going to be 77 short. I’m 41. And she looked at me and she was leaving dinner and she said, you know, phone me if you need anything.

And then he, she got quite teary-eyed and she said, I’ll take care of you. And I, I can’t tell you what, you know, that sounds like something that a ten-year-old needs to hear, but there was such solace inside of me. Like I really, as a 41 year old woman needed to hear that. And so I think that’s part of it as well.

Is, is that, that really deep question? If the person that you’re with specifically using Alzheimer’s and dementia, as an example, is no longer able to reflect your identity back to you. I think one of the first things that has to happen is that reality needs to be accepted so that they can be, you can surrender them to their.

Journey. And then I think there’s gotta be deep radical responsibility taken in our own adulting in regards to, okay. So they’re not going to be able to hold that for me anymore. Where shall I now find

that.

Gale Straub: And would you say the books that.

an invitation for others to figure out where their mirror is, how to find it, or, or is it in a meditation to examine some of the relationships and.

Steph Jagger: I think it could be an invitation for both of those things. who am I with mother? Who am I without mother? what is mother like? Like how do I mother myself? I think that that’s all in there. I think the biggest thing with the book and I give credit to my mom for this, like, as you said, like I read it and I feel like I know your mom’s so, and I really do give credits.

I think she really comes through. There’s a, nurturing that my mother provided for me. That I think is stitched into this book. and I think the invitation for all of us is, you know, in a world that seems pretty hell bent on telling us that nothing’s going to be okay. Like we’re not okay.

Nothing’s going to be okay. The pandemic, we’re not okay. The wars, we’re not okay. The climate, we’re not nothing’s okay. That I don’t want to be lied to. I want to be told the truth. But I also, and I, and I think this is where our own kind of vulnerability comes into play. Like I also want to be held and comforted a bit, and I want to be told that even if those things are true, even if the climate is in crisis and we will have to take some action.

I also want to be told. It’s going to be okay. Even if this dies or if I die or if this collapses or if this happens inside of a family or if, you know, we’re all going to be okay. And I think, even if we’re not, does that make sense? And I think the invitation is probably more so along the lines of am I open to.

The reflection, mirroring, nurturing, holding quote unquote, feminine energy that is available to me within chaos. I mean, I think that’s the gift. If you think about the gift of. again, it’s really tough to assign kind of gender to these things, but you know, that feminine energy is there is a darkness and a chaos that is happening.

And at the same time it is being held safely. So that, that darkness in chaos can come, can shift into the formation of something. Now, we’ve got a lot of people pointing out that is darkness. That is chaos, and that’s true, but who are the people that are holding and going? Let’s hold this, let’s hold things safe here.

Let’s hold things as best. We know how, so that there’s an opportunity for the new thing to be born. And will we accept and receive some of that whole. I think is a big lesson for us. It certainly certainly was certainly was a big lesson for me. It was such a huge lesson for me still is. Yeah,

Gale Straub: So, um, that brings me to, I guess we started with a quote and I’m going to end with, An excerpt, I should say an excerpt from, from your book. Um, so I’m going to send this other one through on the chat.

Steph Jagger: Okay, beautiful. My mother is made of unfettered. It is the single thread that runs through her and beyond she has numinosity incarnate. Motherhood has been divinely imprinted over top of her soul. And it makes me wonder what, if anything has been in printed online.

Gale Straub: So, so I was curious in the time from, experiencing the road trip, writing this memoir seven years. Past, you know, in total, have you started to get a sense of kind of answering that for yourself? what your essence is, what’s been imprinted on you? What you’re kind of carrying into this continuum that you speak about through the book?

Steph Jagger: you know, in some ways I hope it’s the same. I think there is a single thread of similarity there. the difference is the literal translation of motherhood. In the F in the phase of life that I am in, archetypally not literally, but archetypally, I would say that’s a mother.

And I would say that for her, what that meant was the unfettered love. She was going to pour over the creation of four or five human beings. Right. That’s a pretty big, a lot of

Gale Straub: Yeah.

Steph Jagger: Right. And I think for me, the question is very similar. Less literal, but what is the unfettered love? I will pour over the things that I will allow to be created through me.

That’s essentially the question of archetypal mother. What will I allow to be created through me? What will I dance with in co-creation that will then allow something to come through me and be created. And then how do I kind of pull out? I’m not creating human beings, but, I hope, and I think that that’s what comes through in, in some of the work that I do, whether that work is, is the writing that I do, whether that’s the way that I get to work with people one-on-one or, or in gathering, That question is often top of mind for me, whether that’s kind of daily, whether that’s in a conversation like this, whether that’s in a piece of work writing wise that I’m working on is, you know, what will I allow to be created through

me? And there’s a lot of lessons from my mother in regards to the amount of love and the amount of surrender and the amount of comfort I have to search for within. The discomfort of the chaos of that. And I think those are direct lessons from her.

Gale Straub: I love that she continues to teach you, you know?

Steph Jagger: Yeah.

Gale – Narration: Before we go. When I reached out to Steph, I let her know that this episode would be the last of our regularly scheduled episodes this year. We’ll be back in April, but this episode marks the shifting of gears for us, and for me. Steph’s response was that, if her mom’s journey taught her anything it’s that these shifts, these changes – are often bittersweet doorways into the expanses of what have been waiting for us. Which inspires two questions, from me to you – what’s waiting for you? And is there a door that you’ve been meaning to open?

Thanks so much to Steph for taking the time to talk. You can preorder “Everything Left to Remember” linked in our profile and wherever books are found. You can find Steph on Instagram @stephjagger. I’ll link that and her website and other resources discussed int eh show notes.

I’m dedicating this episode to my Uncle Jim. Who took me on walking tours around New York, showed up at my boring childhood soccer games, wanted me to become an actuary but would’ve been proud of this, and however I chose to navigate my own life. Steph donated her speaker fee to HFC, an organization that is raising awareness about Alzheimers and investing in research.

Thanks to our sponsors Uncruise Adventures for making this episode possible. Discount codes are linked in the show notes.

You can find She Explores on social media, our website, and wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe to our biweekly newsletter to stay up to date! You can find me on Instagram @galestraub.

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Music in this episode is licensed through MusicBed. This episode was produced and hosted by me, Gale Straub.

She Explores is a production of Ravel Media. Until next time, stay

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