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  • Writer's pictureMegan Belden

Ep 1. I Chose My Beyoncé (Clear)Life: Jennifer Pattee's Alcohol-Free Journey

Welcome to the first episode of Undimmed, A ClearLife Podcast. We’re kicking it off with someone near and dear to Cecily’s ClearLife journey, Jennifer Pattee. Join Cecily and Jennifer as they dive into the choice to live alcohol-free, self-actualization (is anyone else living their Beyonce life?), and how connection and community are medicine. 


Jennifer is an endurance athlete, Apple-trained designer, and Y Combinator founder who's democratizing access to executive coaching through her new startup, Coach. Featured in Oprah magazine, San Francisco magazine, and at SXSW for her unique approach to revitalizing cities and building community through fitness, she's on a mission to normalize women pushing boundaries so no one calls the next generation of girls’ dreams crazy. Follow her here @jenniferpattee as she bikes from Canada to Mexico this summer.


More from Jennifer Pattee

Learn more about Coach

Follow Jennifer @jenniferpattee 




Key Points

00:00 Welcome to Undimmed: Embracing a Life Without Dimmers

05:30The Inspiration for ClearLife: A Universal Fortuitous Crossing of our Paths

07:50 A Frightful Early Morning Drive on a Mountain Road

11:16 Self-Worth is a Muscle

13:16 The Experiment with Moderation: Insights and Conclusions

19:27 Navigating Life's Challenges Without Dimming

22:23 Discovering Joy and Aliveness on a Life-Changing Bike Ride 

23:40 The Power of Gratitude and the Joy of Being Alive

24:09 Dimming Life's Radiance: The Impact of Suppressing Emotions

25:32 Embracing Radiance and Potential: A Journey of Self-Discovery

28:37 Challenging the Status Quo: Women's Power and Potential

34:57 Empowering Female Leaders Through Sports Psychology

35:54 A Vision for Women's Rising Influence in Society

38:55 Adventures and Aspirations: A Cross-Country Expedition

40:03 Reflecting on Personal Growth and Future Endeavors


Transcript

This transcript is autogenerated.


Cecily Mak: Okay, great. I'm on the mic. I got the ears.

Jennifer Pattee: Excellent.

Cecily Mak: We're set.

Jennifer Pattee: Okay. 

Cecily Mak: before we jump in,  anything that's like super alive that you do want to talk about or anything that's off limits?

Jennifer Pattee: Ooh., okay. Super alive. I do want to talk about is I'm really excited to talk about dimming. And then anything off-limits? No

CECILY NARRATION: You're listening to Undimmed. And I'm your host, Cecily Mak. This is a podcast about living a clear life without dimmers – things we consume or do to ease discomfort, silence intuition, or simply soften the edges of the day to day experience of being human. In my case, I used alcohol for years just to turn the volume down on my inner voices and get through a difficult time in life. But dimmers can include unhealthy or escapist relationships with all kinds of things, including work, perfectionism, spending, sex, food, even generosity.

Undimmed is about tuning into our truest selves. Making choices for positive change and reclaiming power, agency, and freedom from our unwanted habits. I'll be joined in conversation with known and lesser known people all here to share their journeys to a more clear life. My hope is that within these conversations, some of you might find inspiration, courage, or maybe even a stepping stone that supports you on your own journey to living a life undimmed. 

Cecily Mak: Jennifer. I'm so excited to welcome you to this podcast, this conversation. I wouldn't be sitting here and this podcast actually probably wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for that just universally. fortuitous crossing of our paths years ago. So this feels like a magic moment for me, and I'm so grateful that we can connect. But before we jump in, please tell us who you are. Where are you? How do we, how do we orient with you as a guest?

Jennifer Pattee: Well, let's see. I physically am in Minneapolis, Minnesota right now, the birthplace of the best Rock and roll musician of all time. They're playing Prince, at the coffee shop this morning. My favorite album, my favorite songs. I'm like, ah, so that's where I am physically. and In terms of like work, I'm a founder working on a startup. I'm a UX designer getting ready to go back to big tech and work as a designer. And I'm an endurance athlete. I'm getting ready to do a cross country expedition across the United States in June, which I'm incredibly pumped about. 

Cecily Mak: I love it. And for those of you who aren't seeing us on Zoom, Jennifer is just one of these kind of extraordinary creatures where you just emanate kind of, you're like physically strong and I know you are such a badass. We're going to get into your work as an athlete and performance coach and entrepreneur as just a fierce female and all of those things. But I also just have to say with your super, super styling headphones and bright blazing red lipstick. I'm just like you go girl, amen to you 

Jennifer Pattee: I'm really looking forward to this conversation. I have to say, right after you asked me to be Your guest on this podcast, which I was so excited to be on. Cause this is one of my favorite things to talk about. And I couldn't talk about my decision to get sober and what happened before and what happened after. but nobody really, at that time wanted to hear about it. , but I talked to a friend of mine recently and I didn't tell him about this podcast. He just brought it up out of the blue. He's like, you know, I have to thank you because remember that day when we were hanging out together and you mentioned to me that you had stopped drinking. He's like, I stopped drinking that day too. 

Cecily Mak: chills man. 

Jennifer Pattee: I know, I've known this guy for 30 years.  And he's never told me this before. And it's, that was back in 2013. I'm like, you haven't had a drink for all that time. He's like, no, I just stopped. And it was one of my best decisions ever. And I'm so glad you told me that. So thank you. 

Cecily Mak: Oh my gosh Amen, I mean love this. This is. This is the beauty of this and it's so interesting because you're right a decade ago This was not a kosher topic. It was a ticket to isolation in a social setting It was a guaranteed way to get removed from invitation lists. It was very ostracizing. And We have to go to the impact of those moments, because this is why this podcast exists. Is I want our voices and our kind of weird, quirky, meandering, imperfect paths to be available to people who are exploring their own relationship with dimmers or alcohol or, whatever their dimmer is. But I wasn't even really in that curious place yet when you and I met and it was about a decade ago. I was very happily in my daily drinking routines and married to a DJ husband, and it was totally normal to do what we did that day, which was meet a friend, go for a hike. And end up in a bar three or four in the afternoon drinking after the healthy hike with little kids in tow. I'll add. 

Jennifer Pattee: Mm hmm. 

Cecily Mak: I remember sitting down with you, the three adults at the table ordered beer, the fourth one being you, I think may have just even ordered water., there wasn't much available in those days for someone wanting to have an alcoholic drink. And I was fascinated. What do you mean you're not drinking? I think I grilled you. 

Jennifer Pattee: It didn't feel like grilling. It felt like genuine curiosity. And like I said, it's my favorite topic and I couldn't talk about it because it was the ultimate cringeworthy end of conversation- conversation.

Cecily Mak: And it was fascinating to me the way you just kind of carried yourself even as not bothering with drinking. Your energy was, it just doesn't really do anything for me anymore. I'm over it. There are other ways to relax at the end of the day. And I remember thinking, that's so interesting. There are other ways to relax other than having a glass or two or three of wine. And it stuck with me so that when it was years later, I think at least three or four years later when I took my own kind of spontaneous unexpected break from drinking, I had that imprint of you in our conversation in my mind. Like I, it was something that I could refer back to as an example of somebody who'd made a choice to change their life and wasn't in this big deprivation victim orientation, but it was instead talking about how that had resulted in an upgrade. And it really actually kind of helped me organize my thoughts and feelings about cutting out alcohol.

Cecily Mak: Can you tell us a little bit about how did you end up even getting to the point where you decided you wanted to stop? 

Jennifer Pattee: Absolutely. So, it was 2013 and I had dedicated my life to fitness and health and wellbeing. And I actually left my job at Apple to go and start an outdoor fitness company. And I had been running it for gosh, like half a, half a decade. At that point, I was very successful. my account was like, I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it because my business was doubling in revenue every year. And I was winning all these awards. I was getting featured all these places. Oprah magazine and all these places successful taking off. And these guys had just raised a bunch of funding to launch an app that was going to be a fitness app. Like having a personal trainer in your pocket, AI app, which no one was really doing then.. It sounds like so basic today, but no one was doing it then and they raised this money and they asked around who's the best trainer in San Francisco and everybody pointed them to me and so they call me up and they're like, hey We want you to be an advisor on this app and I said, okay 

Jennifer Pattee: But I was super nervous and and then I did the thing like I delivered what they wanted. I'd already finished the job It was the funnest easiest job of my life, but I was still nervous about it And then they asked me to come to an offsite party at one of their investors house in Stinson beach. And I was so nervous. They're like, the whole company is going to be there. I'm like, okay. And so I go to Stinson beach. I and I get there and they serve me a drink at the door, a Paloma. And then we have dinner and a really good one. And they serve this, uh, amazing wine, but they were all like no carb at that time. They were Keto So there was no carbohydrates to absorb all the alcohol. And basically I got wasted and I passed out fortunately at like 11 PM, but I had to work the next morning in San Francisco at 6. So, yeah. I had a client, a very important client and a client who was going to be so fundamental in my takeoff. At the next level of my career, like it was a real estate deal was going on. There was a partnership with the mayor's office going on. There was, I had all these corporate things going on. Like this was a really important meeting that I had at 6am and I was wasted. And so I wake up at 4am. I have to walk to my car, get in my car. 

Jennifer Pattee: Driving in Marin, you know, the windy road. And I'm like, I'm like, realize, and I'm like, wait, wow, this is really weird. How I feel. I'm not hung over. I'm still drunk and I am driving very fast. And fortunately, because I swear to God, there are so many angels. In my hair and over my shoulder. I got to my appointment in San Francisco at 6am. I was two minutes late and I just kept working like nothing happened. But the upshot was I was so ashamed because I was on the cusp of destroying everything that mattered to me in my life. Everything that was good. It was, it was a, it was a near death experience. It was. Not a physical death, but maybe, but definitely a spiritual death. And I was so ashamed because I knew that I was doing it to myself. I was so ashamed, so ashamed., the people I talked to about it, my friends are like, don't be so hard on yourself. 

Jennifer Pattee:That's called being human. I'm like, no, this, this is more. And so with that shame, I started asking myself, okay, tenderly, I'm like, why did you do that? And I was like, well, because I was really, really nervous and uncertain. I was like, okay, why were you nervous? And I'm like, well, because I don't really think I was supposed to be there in that room.Well, why, why don't you feel you're supposed to be in room? And I kept on asking why, why, why? Like five why's and I'm like, I landed on worthiness. I didn't feel like I was worthy of being in that room. And once I landed on a worthiness issue, a self worth issue, because I'm a trainer, I'm well, that's a muscle that self worth that belonging in that room. 

Jennifer Pattee:That's a And the only way that you're going to develop that muscle is if you keep on getting into those situations without, without the alcohol that you just raw dog it, and you just go in and you keep on going and you experience what it's like to not feel enough of anything until you get comfortable and feel that you're enough. And so as soon as I, I call it my Beyonce moment, cause I remember reading somewhere that Beyonce doesn't drink. And she was like, you know, I have to be on 24 hours a day because I have so many opportunities coming at me. I have to be ready.And that's how, that's how I want it to be. I have so many opportunities coming 24 hours a day. I want to be ready for them. I don't want to be hung over. So that was, that was basically the story. And once I identified that as. I was like, alcohol, gone. Didn't drink again for seven years. and then, then things got really interesting.

Jennifer Pattee:Because basically, once I stopped drinking, I went on this journey and it changed the trajectory of my life forever. But first three really bad things had to happen, but I'll pause there just in case you have other, any other questions. Otherwise I can continue.

Cecily Mak: No. This is amazing.. I mean, okay,a couple of clarifying questions and then we need to get to these three things. So, you just made a decision that day? That's it? 

Jennifer Pattee: Yeah. Mm hmm. 

Cecily Mak: done.

Jennifer Pattee: Yeah,

Cecily Mak: Did you lean into any type of like program or book or did you go to an AA meeting or what? Did you have anything supporting you through this other than just your sheer willpower and a clear decision?

Jennifer Pattee:, remember the Christmas carol? it's like the ghosts of Christmas future came to me and they're like, choose the movie that you want to see for the rest of your life. Do you want the path that drinking goes to?Cause it's, cause what you just experienced of Driving drunk, being late, embarrassment, Cause if one of my trainers had showed up to work drunk, I would have fired them immediately. You know, so I had to fire myself. So it's like, you can, that could be the rest of your life or, you can have this other life. 

Jennifer Pattee: I mean, AA is wonderful. And I applaud everyone, the program, everybody who does that like mad props. It's not easy, but it just wasn't, what I chose at that point. Like I just, I had this knowing. I chose my Beyonce life and it, and it was in that way. It was easy, you know?And then I figured some stuff, some tools out along the way, like how to relax. But, um, the choice was easy. I never craved alcohol again. 

Cecily Mak: awesome. And, and I, and I love it because I think that we have this misunderstanding in our culture that it has to be hard. And I know from speaking with many people and my own experience, you know, different things are hard for different people for different reasons. Right. So for example, in my experience moderating was really hard.I used to do this thing where I'd say, yeah, I'm only gonna drink One drink a night or I'm only gonna drink on weekends or I'm never gonna drink at home And again, I was never a falling down drunk. I did never got a DUI. I never put my kids in jeopardy I don't even think very many people have ever seen me past a buzz and 

Cecily Mak:So it startled people and I when I stopped because they were confused and curious I didn't know you had a problem on another podcast, right? But there's something about it this access to a choice that I think people don't realize is there, like, it might be very hard to, to moderate because frankly, you have one drink and it kind of, Takes down your inhibitions and your fuck it muscle kicks in and The one you know it like all of a second and you're waking up the next morning feeling like crap.

Jennifer Pattee: I didn't know that's what that muscle was called. Thank you.

Cecily Mak: I I sometimes miss my fuck it muscle and help me book a lot of like very spontaneous Mindless vacations and buy clothes. I would have never otherwise There's a long list but For some reason, just making a decision, very similar actually, and I've heard this many times, you know, there's kind of like, you want to go left, you want to go right.

This is your Beyonce life. This is the path you're on. Which one do you want to choose? And I love that people can hear directly from you. It actually doesn't have to be hard. You can actually decide right now, listening to these voices. 

Jennifer Pattee: mm, mm,

Cecily Mak: Alcohol is progressively addictive substance, right? So we start using, eventually most people are abusing, and if you abuse for long enough many folks are going to end up addicted. And I had somebody tell me, who really knows what they're talking about, that I got off of the train in that abuse channel, right? When it was easy to make the choice, just make it.

Like you did too. We just made the decision. If I'd waited another five or ten years. Maybe it wouldn't have been that easy. Maybe it wouldn't have been as easy for you. There's not only psychological and emotional attachments, but there are also physical addictions and dependencies that can develop if we use something for long enough.

So in a lot of ways, it's a real life blessing to at a certain moment, just say enough is enough while it's easy to just make it a judgment call. Like this is not the life I want to live anymore.

Jennifer Pattee: But I will say and in full disclosure that it wasn't hard Because I was given this really beautiful, choice. Um, it got harder later. And you know, I think I said something about seven years. Like recently I went back to drinking and I did, I like to think of it as an experiment and I collected some data almost to make sure, you know, just to make sure I had made the right decision because I, I'd gotten to a point. where I was wondering, was my decision to stop drinking and to be sober?

Was that coming from a place of, um, vigilance? I had such a hard line about it, like zero drinking. not a sip, you know, absolutely zero drinking. I was like, is that coming from a place of vigilance? Like, Is it because I don't trust myself? 

Cecily Mak: Is vigilance a negative? Help unpack that a little bit for 

Jennifer Pattee: At that time in my head, it just felt like I was holding on to something really tightly from a place of not trusting myself.

Like almost like I had this part of me who was like uh uh uh. No, no, no, you can't be trusted with alcohol. 

Cecily: I totally get that. 

Jennifer Pattee: And I was like, how do we, how do we know I can't be trusted with alcohol? Like maybe I could trust myself. I want to be able to trust myself. That's kind of how that, that conversation went., I guess that was my attempt, my experiment with moderation, which one of the sober women on Instagram, she calls it the hell of moderation, the inner hell or secret hell of moderation, it is hell.

And that's kind of what I experienced for that about year, year and a half when I was trying to do moderation. And the experiment concluded very conclusively that moderation is how it doesn't work for me. And so I stopped. Again, completely stopped with no question that it's not good for me. I don't want it. And it, and it leads to that really horrible Christmas future that I don't want to have anything to do with, but by staying on the path of sobriety, I get the really wonderful Beyonce life that's meant for me But what I learned from that moderation was. You know, what I thought was vigilance was actually a form of kind of white knuckling it through when things got hard, when, when life got hard and not drinking got hard. and I needed some support and that white knuckling, I learned we're not supposed to white knuckle our way through anything, especially if it's white knuckling against a addictive substance what we're meant to do, when things get hard, is we're meant to reach out and be, and seek connection, and be connected to each other., that is how we're meant to get through things that are really hard is through connection. Not through ding, ding, ding, dimming. 

Cecily Mak: yeah, yeah. Ah, that's so beautiful. And I just, I, I really, I love and appreciate that you went through that moderation experiment journey as you did. Because I think one of the best feelings is, That we get to have if we're living without our dimmer of choice is that we're, we're, we're living each day without it because we choose to, right?

So I tell myself and I tell people all the time I'll drink again if I want to 

Jennifer Pattee: Mm 

hmm that's With one exception, which was actually quite recent, I haven't even had the inclination or the desire.

Cecily Mak: I've never thought, oh, a drink would be really good right now, which is affirmative that the work is happening, right? That we have created or we are creating a life that we don't want to dim out or escape from. And when we do have those inclinations, it feels like a little tap on the shoulder to do exactly what you just described so beautifully, which is find connection, you know, pay attention to what it is that we're missing.

Ask for help. If we need help, phone a friend, text somebody to just kind of be there with us, not necessarily in a Help me stay sober a moment. It doesn't have to be that at all It could be just that we're going through something and we need a better way to deal with the discomfort Than pouring ethanol on it, which doesn't do anybody any favors.

Jennifer Pattee: Mm-Hmm. . It's so true. I've been thinking a lot about dimming a and, you know, the thing that we're dimming is often like the pain of our problems, but it's, we're meant to feel that pain.

And, and what is life if not a series of problems happening One after the other. After the other, right? 

Cecily Mak: Mm. And we really, I mean, those are our messages too, right? Like if we're, if we're feeling uncomfortable or we're feeling awkward or our intuition is waking us up at three in the morning consistently, there's some, there's some message within us that needs to be heard. And I know from my own experience, I had a lot of years, you know, my own version of posture complex, my own version of.

An unhealthy relationship and so on where I just really didn't want to deal with the inconvenience of change.

Jennifer Pattee: Oh yeah.

Mm-Hmm. 

Cecily Mak: I didn’t want to disappoint people who thought I'd built this picture perfect life. And so I postponed the pain, like the bigger pain of the change, which came with the even bigger joy of the results by dimming out that discomfort every night. You know, coming in the front door, feeling tension in the house,

Jennifer Pattee: Mm-Hmm.

Cecily Mak: have a cocktail,

Everything’s fine. We're good. Have a glass of wine. We're good. Go to bed. Start the whole thing all over again the next day. And I often wonder how life would have been different in those years. 

But what would have been different if I wasn't kind of dimming out that discomfort? It's, it's, it's our inner language with ourselves. It's how we know we need to change something. And it's no wonder that when people stop drinking, whether it's a, you know, spontaneous choice or with a lot of help from AA or rehab or whatever it is, I often pop our heads up and look around and think, wow, quite a mess. made here because we haven't been listening to those signals for so 

Jennifer Pattee: Mm-Hmm. 

Cecily Mak: long. We've been overriding those signals. I want to go back to, you mentioned three things that happened in 2000, I guess it was 13, 14 or 13 when you stopped drinking that were surprises. You kind of have me on an edge here. What, what happened immediately after that, that, that came up?

Jennifer Pattee: Three really bad things happen. And then one really good thing happened. So, uh, my mom died. That was really bad. I broke my ankle. And for somebody who, I broke my ankle running the race of a lifetime, which was the quad dipsy, um, in your, in your backyard. so it's, was going to be my first ultra marathon and I, I broke it. Walking and crossing the street to get some water. It was so tragic. so I was just broke my ankle, which turned out to be a really bad thing for me. And then the third thing I got audited by the IRS, which I won. I just want to go on record. Uh, I was charged zero dollars. But as anybody can imagine, any one of those events would be a major life stressor.

But to have three of them happen in rapid succession, especially like having my mom pass right after I stopped drinking and then break my ankle. So I was basically like laid up in the house and they couldn't do surgery. It tended, it turned out to be just a really bad break. So I was laid up in the house on the couch.

And when you're an athlete on the couch, um, you're like a, a caged animal and all of my, I had to confront all of my demons on that couch and I had to do it without alcohol. Because I, I decided not to drink so I wasn't doing it. but it was just, it was really painful for me because, I was grieving my mom.

I was, I felt powerless. Uh, I had to ask for a lot of help, you know, cause the orthopedic surgeon is like, okay, and now you're going to go home and lay on the couch for, um, for a week and you'll be home for, For a month or so, maybe longer. And I'm like, okay, so I'm on the couch, except for when I'm leading classes and running my business.

Right. And he's like, no, no, you're, you're not leaving the couch. And I'm like, well, who's supposed to run my classes? You know, I've got these corporate classes. I've got all this important stuff. And he's like, well, now it's time to ask, call in some favors. And like, what? What? I have to ask 

Cecily Mak: He said the F word 

Jennifer Pattee: Um, and so. So those, it was rough, right? Going through those things. I learned a lot about myself. I started writing crazy Unabomber missives in my journal. Like I was like losing it. I learned what kind of handicapped person I would be. I went to a TEDx conference and I was like hitting people with my cane.

I'm like, get out of my way. I was like so angry. Right. And frustrated at the quote unquote limitations of my body. Um, but you know, then I got, then I started getting better and my orthopedic surgeon was like, I went in for an appointment. He's like, okay. Today, I'd like you to ride your bike. I'm like, really?

He's like, yeah. Go ride your bike, go have some fun. And so it was Indian summer and I jump on my bike first time, you know, cast off everything off, go on my bike. And I used, I was living by the panhandle near Golden Gate park. So I go up by Trader Joe's and then I'm at the top of the city, top of Masonic or whatever hill that is, and it's sunset.

And the sun is golden. It's filling up the sky. It's reflecting off of that miry building. I'm on my way down to the Marina. So it's like going to be a roller coaster on my bike. Just like beautiful, flowy, flowy downhills. And so I start my descent. I'm going, I'm going down on my bike and I'm standing up in the air.

And is that against my skin? I feel so good. So happy. I feel so alive. It was like going, it's like wizard of Oz going from black and white to technicolor and I am flying and every cell in my body is doing the Samba. That's like, there's a dance going on at a, at a cellular level. And I realize I'm having this moment that like born again, Christians call like being born again.

I was, I was born again it was every drug, everything in my life. Hi, I've ever experienced going off at the same time is better than that. And I was like, Oh my God, this is what it, it means to be alive. This is a liveness. This is, this is our life on this planet, in this existence, in the universe.

This is humanity. This is being alive. And I was like, there is nothing special about today. It is a Wednesday afternoon at 7 PM and it is always available to me. And all of us, and it's always been available always. And I, it was in that moment, I realized when I was drinking, I wasn't just numbing the pain or dimming the hard days.

I was also numbing the good days and the joy, and I was dimming the joy. And I was like, Holy mother of God. I am so glad I learned this lesson because I don't want to dim joy. This is amazing.

Cecily Mak: Yeah. 

Jennifer Pattee: to, I want to feel this at whenever it's available to me. I want to make this for myself, but this doesn't come from drinking.

This comes from gratitude. You know, Brene Brown says that the thing to unlock joy, all joy is unlocked by gratitude and the most joyous people are the most grateful. And that's what I was experiencing. I was so grateful to my doctor and my ankle and my bicycle and my city. You know, I was so grateful and the, and whoever, however, I became alive, I was so grateful and aware of that moment.

And then boom. All the joy. And so that was, that was the gift. And that, that was the thing that changed the trajectory of my life. I'm still on that trajectory. And I'm so grateful to the me of 2013, who made that decision, who had that courage and that willingness to go, to go in and ask those questions.

Cecily Mak: So beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. I have chills up my back with your description. That's extraordinary. And I want to ask, do you think based on your own experience that dimmers, you know, in our, in your case, in my case, drinking keeps us in the middle of the spectrum of experience? So we might not experience, you know, real pain and difficulty, but then we also are missing out on the.

The real extreme joy is, does it keep us sort of in the middle or how else, how else could you describe that learning you had from this?

Jennifer Pattee: I just, I think it keeps us, I think it does keep us in a kind of messy middle of. Our expression of our purpose here on the planet. Like we're never fully going to actualize ourselves and our experience here on, in this life. If we're dimming, because you have to, you have to ask what are you dimming?

Like, what is the dimmer switch attached to? Like I, we think. That we're dimming our experience of pain, or we're just, we're just bringing it down a notch because we're a parent and I'm, I'm not a parent. So I can't speak to how hard it is, but I understand it's very hard. And so it might be just, I just need to take it down a notch because I'm a mom a, you know, worker and I'm a daughter and I'm an executive and I got a lot going on in my life and so I just need to take Down a notch, right?

And so we think that we're dimming the intensity of our existence of our, of our life, just, just, just a notch, right? But that's not what we're dimming. I, I believe that the thing that we're dimming is our radiance, our aliveness, right? experience of, of life on this planet, which I, which I now like to call earth school.

Like we're, we're all just going through earth school and we're here to learn a series of lessons and the faster we learn them, the higher we advance in our school. And, and it's also, you know, the best party there is. And so I want to learn those lessons and get to that high level because I think it's what the Buddhists call enlightenment at the end.

Right. And, and that's what I want. I want, I want to feel. My radiance full, full blast. And I want to experience that, that transcendence and that inner peace that you see in the eyes of the, of the monks and the people who are joyous and the people who are grateful. I want to experience my radiance and I, and the only way I think I can get there is for me to experience the pain.

That's, that's you going through classes at our school. We were, we were put here to grow and, and the growth comes from the pain and the connection. And so I think that's, that's what we're deeming is, it's our, is our life force. It's not, it's not our everyday lives. 

Cecily Mak: Do you think there's ever a time, whether it was before or after you stopped drinking that you were intimidated by or afraid of your potential of your radiance?

Jennifer Pattee: No, but I was afraid of the way other people reacted to it. Um, because where, where my life force takes me, you know, the places that I'm, I'm called to go, you know, personally, professionally. You know, professionally, like, like, I think I believe that I am a catalyst. Like if you asked me to sum, sum up who I am, why I'm here in one word, I'm, I'm a catalyst.

Like, uh, I am here to fuck things up and, and, and I, I, I am here to make a change and, and, and I am here to make a big change. And I've always known that. And I've always, always felt that. And sometimes, you know. It's annoying because I'm a very shy person and I was called to lead outdoor fitness classes is called the lead people in classes and classes of sometimes 150, 200 people.

And as a shy person, that's terrifying, right? I'm like, Oh man, do I have to do this again? That's a lot of people. That's a CEO of Lululemon. Could we not have to be called to do this today? Um, but really I was scared of the ways that people, mostly men and cruelly sometimes women would react when I would.

When I would talk about the things that I was called to do as an athlete and the journeys that I was called to go and, and to see how far could I go in the outdoors, how could I run across the Alps? 100  miles in a day? Could I run across the desert a hundred miles in one go? Could I do that? I think I can. I think I must, you know, and even my father at that time was like, honey, I don't think you could do should do that race.

You could get hurt. And then I did it. Absolutely. He's never told me not to do something before. And then I did it. every time I did one of these long races into the wild, like I came back a different person and I learned so much about my own potential, but also. All of our potential. I learned about human potential and I learned that we are only operating with a fraction of what we're capable of.

And the experience of going out there and discovering what you're capable of. It doesn't suck. It's a little bit hard, but it is transcendent. It is incredible. What you see out there, you, you, you, you have, like, I had the most amazing experiences at every long. Race I did in the Alps and, and unreal. And, and yet when I would talk about it, people would be that, that's crazy that you're doing that over and over again.

That's crazy that you want to do that. What are you doing? She's crazy. Bitch be cray. And, and in the beginning I was like, But no, no, no, I'm not, I'm not crazy. Like this is, this comes from my heart. It's really important to me. No, I'm not crazy. Listen, you need to stop calling women crazy. Like women have had their, you know, uteruses removed in the middle ages because, uh, men wanted to hold them back and they were telling the woman they had to, this had to be done because she was hysterical.

She was crazy. We need to talk, stop talking. And calling women crazy. I'm brave. I'm courageous. And I want to talk about the thing I discovered out there. But you're not asking me about that. And then I realized the reason why they weren't asking me about that is because the very act of my desire, the very dream I had to go and do it and the certainty that I belonged. And could probably be successful was a threat.

Cecily Mak: yeah,

Jennifer Pattee: And that scared me for a long time. That scared me. That held me back. It took me a long time. So I was like, I'm 52 years old and I'm finally comfortable with that. My ambition and my drive to go out into the wild. But man, it took me a long time. I was more scared of how people were reacting to me than I was of why I was here and what I was capable of.

Cecily Mak: yeah. Oh, so awesome. And it's such, I mean, what you're sharing is such an invitation. I really think women in particular today in this era, we need to feel great about stepping into our capacity and our potential and our power. And you, you, you note this really important nuance. Often it's not. It's not us that have a problem or a concern with it. It's our reaction to other people's reactions.

Jennifer Pattee: hmm.

Cecily Mak: We make people feel uncomfortable sometimes when we fully show up and radiate. 

And I think this is one reason why, I mean, I know in the audience for all my clear life work, it's 70, 80%. Women, a lot of the time, depending on the channel and the topic, but I think many of us are discovering that we've been kind of holding ourselves back from our fullness to make the people around us feel better.

Jennifer Pattee: Mm hmm. 

Cecily Mak: you're a fantastic example of somebody who just said, screw that. That's not my path and are being very bold about what you're doing and how you're doing it and why. You know, one thing I remember hearing a lot in my teens and twenties, um, particularly from older men or older women who are kind of seeing me come into my own and my career in my life where, you know, you might want to turn it down a notch

Jennifer Pattee: my God. Oh my God.

Cecily Mak: you, you came on a little strong at that

Jennifer Pattee: hmm.

Cecily Mak: Oh, the party where I wore the backless dress with the red lipstick and felt fantastic with my date that I was proud to be there with. Like I'm sorry, my showing up as myself makes you uncomfortable.

Jennifer Pattee: Yeah, I have I've had not one but multiple men tell me that my problems with dating were because I was so tall

Cecily Mak: Oh yeah, no. I was coached by my beloved own father to not talk too much about my career aspirations when I was dating in my twenties because I'd never land a good guy. 

Jennifer Pattee: but it's changing. It's changing. as you know, like what I'm doing with my startup is really about service and supporting female leaders. 

Through coaching and a specific type of coaching, which I believe is the most powerful type of coaching, which is sports psychology. So that's the mental coaching that athletes get from their sports psychologists or really good coaches that enable them to do impossible things. So that's sports psychology.

I didn't know it at the time, but my coaches were using sports psychology on me to enable me to do these incredibly long, hardest races in the world. Right? And that was the mental coaching that enabled me to keep going when my brain was telling me to shut down. It was the mental, uh, story about myself that enabled me to keep showing up for training when it was raining, when it was uncomfortable, when it was, You know, all the signs were saying, you should not go out there and train.

You should not go out there and do that race. Um, it was the mental story that told me I, I can, and I must, and I will. And so sports psychology, I think is absolutely fire. And, the reason why I want to help female leaders is because I really feel at this point in history. , And this, this image comes to me from, a tribe in the Amazon. They have story that they've been passing down generation after generation about civilization, human civilization. They use the metaphor of a bird and the bird is the thing that's carrying human civilization forward. And. For all of history,since the beginning of civilization, the bird has been flapping with one wing, right?

And the power that's flapping the wing, that's helping the wing go up and down, has been male, the male part of humanity, right? So all of the progress forward, that bird, it's all been male. The men who are propelling civilization forward. And now, because the other wing, it couldn't. It couldn't get up to fly, right?

But now we are at a period in our history, in this, in this, uh, in this century that we're in now, where finally the women are able to lift the wing. So that the men don't have to flap that wing alone anymore. A lot of men don't want to be flapping the wing alone. Like a lot of men are like, I'm done with the patriarchy. I'm ready for it to stop. And now is the time. I truly believe it. We can see it everywhere now that women are starting to rise and that wing is starting to flap. You know, there's one of the political races I'm about to jump in and get involved with and start supporting is happening in Utah right now. There's a mountain athlete named Carolyn Gleick, who's running for Congress. to represent Utah, and she talks a lot about what she learned as an as a professional athlete, and she's using her stories to inspire people in her in her state to fight things like climate change. She's like, we can do hard things It seems impossible right now, but I have experienced what it's like to overcome the impossible in my own life. We can do this together as a city, as a state, as a nation. And so now is the time I think we are no longer gonna be so quick to hold women down and get discouraged and uncomfortable with their power, because they're sharing their stories.

And in the same way that my story inspired you and then this podcast is going to inspire so many women who are on the, on the cusp. Of quitting drinking like now it's just taking off and I think I think we're going to see more and more women stepping into their power and no longer worried about making people feel uncomfortable because there will be enough people now cheering them on.

Cecily Mak: so true. It is. It feels like a movement. It feels like a real massive global cultural shift and you're right, it's everywhere. And I love it that you're taking what you've learned in both your personal and professional journey and channeling it in this way. It feels like a real offering. It's awesome.

I can't wait to see what you do with it. Is there anything that I should have asked you about that I didn't?

Jennifer Pattee: Yeah, What am I doing on my, uh, cross country expedition?

Cecily Mak: What are you doing on your cross country expedition?

Jennifer Pattee: so I'm a, I'm a trail runner, but lately I've been gravel biking and a gravel bike is just a, it's like a mashup,between a road bike and a mountain bike. I love being out there on my bike and on the trails. And so. I found out about this trail that goes from Canada to Mexico. and it's, it's a trail that was built by a nonprofit called the Adventure Cycling Association. That was started the year I was born in 1971, and it goes through the Rockies and so it's, uh, it's about 2000 miles, give or take. And, I did the Montana section, two years ago, and now I'm going back and training to do the whole thing. So I will fly to Calgary. I will bike over to Banff from Calgary.

It's like one of the most beautiful, beautiful bike rides in the world through the Canadian Rockies. and then we will ride our bikes as best as we can, through, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, down to the Mexican border. 

Cecily Mak: Oh my gosh. You go girl. That's amazing.

Jennifer Pattee: Thank you very much. 

Cecily Mak: Okay. I have, I have one more question for you if you could go back to the version of you Before that blessing of a night at Stinson beach and tell yourself something in that era when you hadn't broken free from this dimming tendency yet. What would you tell yourself?

Jennifer Pattee: Oh, God, that's a, it's a beautiful question. 

You know, I would get in my ear and in a very sweet voice, I would say, I got you, you know, I got you. I would let myself know that I have a higher self and my higher self is, holding me. I am held. Because I think that that was the feeling that I felt at that time in my life. Like ///I think I felt that I was I was alone And because I didn't feel like people understood me or because I felt like people were holding me back and sometimes they were actively holding me back, but it was that feeling of being alone. And I would tell myself that I got you, you are held, you're held by something that is more powerful than you know, and it's you (laughter) 

Cecily Mak: Yeah

Jennifer Pattee: like we all are.

Right. 

Cecily Mak: oh, it's so beautiful. Thank you so much for your candor and your open heartedness and your fire and Everything that you're doing for yourself and leading by example and offering to others on their own path. How do we find you? How do we follow your adventures?

Jennifer Pattee: Mm, well on Instagram, It's at Jen underscore Pattee, jenn_Pattee. , P-A-T-T-E-E. And that is the best way to find me. , I'm gonna do a, uh, sub stack because I have a lot of people who are, aren't on Instagram and they want to follow along in the form of a newsletter, so I'll, uh, put a link in my Instagram so people can get my newsletter, but yeah, that's the best way to reach me. And thank you. Cecily, thank you so much for inviting ] me to be on your podcast. It's such an honor. and For having a chance to, share this conversation with you. And I, and I want to thank you for taking the time and using these moments from your wild and precious life to have these conversations, and open, these doors up for people. Cause you're going to help a lot of people, with your work.

Cecily Mak: Thank you. It feels like a channel and you have absolutely been a North Star. So thank you so much. Really. Hearts. We're making hearts in the screen. So good to see you. Safe journey to you. 

CECILY NARRATION: Thank you, Jennifer Pattee for joining us today. Jen is an endurance athlete, an Apple trained designer, and a Y Combinator founder who's democratizing access to executive coaching through her new startup coach. She's been featured in Oprah magazine. San Francisco magazine and at South by Southwest for her unique approach to revitalizing cities and building community through fitness. She's on a mission to normalize women pushing boundaries. So no one calls the next generation of girls dreams crazy.

CECILY NARRATION: You've been listening to Undimmed, a Clear Life podcast. Clear Life is more than a series of conversations. Clear Life is a movement. If you want to learn more, go to cecilymak.com (spell it), follow us on Instagram at ClearLife journey or subscribe to Substack under my name, Cecily Mak. I want to thank a few humans who made this possible.


First and foremost, Joanne Jennings for producing Undimmed. 


Laura Inserra, the magician behind the music, which she composed and recorded for Undimmed. Matteo Schimpf, who mixed and mastered what you heard today including additional music from Blue Dot Sessions.

Thank you for joining us. Be well


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