Transcript: Thanks Allan, this is David Brower with your 20 Minute Podcast. Our special guest today is Lucinda Bakken White, and she’s the author of Confessions of a Bone Woman: Realizing Authentic Wildness in a Civilized World. And that’s gotta be one of the most interesting book titles I’ve ever heard. Welcome, Lucinda. How are you?
Lucinda B. White: Hi David. I’m great. I’m really happy to be here talking with you.
David Brower: I’m just so fascinated by your bio from where you were to where you are and how you got there. Let’s go back to maybe before, maybe when you were a child, maybe when you were a single mom in the ‘60s. Where does your story start?
Lucinda B. White: My story does start in the ‘60s. I was just born at the very end of 1959, three days shy of the new year, and was raised as a young child in the ‘60s. Which was a hippie era, but my mom was not a hippy. She raised me as a single mother and had to work really hard to simultaneously get a college degree and a job as a teacher. But she didn’t burden me, it was difficult for her at all with her problems. She just allowed me to be free and play in nature.
So, I was very happy and deeply connected, and had friends in the neighborhood and cousins. But then when I was 11, she remarried a man … she had worked her way up to getting the degree and working at a school as teacher, a coveted school district. And she married a man who was very affluent and overnight we moved, and it was all new family, hometown, friends, values for me. And to the outside world, I looked really lucky to be rescued.
David Brower: Sure.
Lucinda B. White: But I was actually shaped in into the system to become a Yuppie and it was very, very hard for me to do that.
David Brower: Well, I can’t imagine. I mean, just on the surface, being a young girl, 11 years old and being out in the wild, and enjoying that, and having that be a part of your heart, and your passion, and the way you live. And then all of a sudden you’re jerked for lack of a better term, into this fluent role. And it had to be like a train wreck. I can imagine.
Lucinda B. White: It was very traumatic for me and I didn’t even know it at the time, because I was only 11. And then of course soon after going through puberty, and my dad loved me very much. He adopted me and my mother, they had three babies together right away, so my mother was very busy with the babies. And my dad took me on, in a loving way, but I was shaped by the masculine view of what it means to be a woman. And I want to very much to please him, but it was important to him that I was slender and highly educated, and have achieved high advanced degrees. So, I struggled really hard to do those things that he wanted me to do, and those values were reinforced by the media and the overarching culture as well.
David Brower: You bet.
Lucinda B. White: And the promise was if you do this, you’ll be happy and successful, and well loved.
David Brower: Yeah. Welcome to the rainbow.
Lucinda B. White: Exactly. So, guess what? I did it. I went to UCLA, I starved myself on diets. I got a Masters in business. And then I was 27 in the year, 1987, it was the way before the Internet, and I got a job at IBM, which was very competitive, I beat out a lot of people and it was a very prestigious job. So, there I was at age 27, living on the beach in a condominium with my girlfriend’s, driving a 911 yellow Porsche to IBM. And I had it all, except one day at work I realized something was wrong.
There was a disconnect between the thoughts and feelings in my body, in my head compared to how I looked on the outside. When I tried to talk about it with friends or family, they all looked at me and said, “I don’t feel sorry for you. You have it all.” One girlfriend is struggling with her weight, another person couldn’t get a job. Another person her parents are going through divorce and everyone’s saying, “You’ve it all. The perfect family unit money, you’re pretty, car, job. Get over it.” And that made me feel worse.
David Brower: For sure.
Lucinda B. White: There’s something wrong with me. How can I have so much and be so miserable? So, it caused a crisis. I quit IBM at a time when everybody at IBM was a lifer, nobody quit. And I spiraled into a suicidal depression.
David Brower: Been there.
Lucinda B. White: Really?
David Brower: Yeah.
Lucinda B. White: How old were you?
David Brower: 62.
Lucinda B. White: Really?
David Brower: Yeah.
Lucinda B. White: How did it change your life?
David Brower: I got some counseling, who I still go to once or twice a year. I prayed a lot. Confided in my wife a very moment, I was close and went to our pastor, talked about all that and got on the proper balance of meds, if you will to them to control it. And ever since then I don’t spiral anymore. Think about it once in a while, but it’s more of a, “Yeah, yeah. That norm we don’t need to think about that. Let’s move onto something else.” You know?
Lucinda B. White: Exactly. In retrospect are you glad it happened because you came through it and it changed you in a positive way?
David Brower: I am really, because it’s a story that I would have been able to share and occasionally it helps somebody along the way. And so, for me that’s the payoff, is to turn that experience into something positive to hopefully help somebody.
Lucinda B. White: Oh my gosh, that is exactly what I’m doing now. Because I want people to see that the wounds are actually an experience. It gives us a lot of wisdom. And when we get through something that’s so difficult, whether it’s an illness or depression or a divorce, or whatever we are now able to help other people in the same situation, because we have genuine compassion based on firsthand experience.
David Brower: Yeah. Well, and I think too, if I’m reading your experience properly, as you find yourself, other people are more open to look at you the way that you hope they would, instead of … Does that make sense? Instead of having you isolated in that in that affluent world where it was so foreign to you?
Lucinda B. White: That’s it exactly. Because I was following like, a lot of people do, a cookie cutter formula phase. And it’s not that it was a bad one, it’s just that it was somebody else’s formula, not mine. So, I wasn’t being authentic. It didn’t feel right to me. And so then I was able, same as you, I went through a significant amount of counseling which pulled me out of it. And that’s when I started to get in touch with, who am I authentically? What do I want? What resonates with me, is going to enliven me and make me happy?
David Brower: Wow. What a journey to get to such a beautiful epiphany, huh?
Lucinda B. White: Yes, exactly. And that’s the thing. There is no reality really. There’s only your perspective. And so one point, I felt completely trapped staring at the wall, crying, couldn’t move, couldn’t even get up to take a shower or sit under a tree to all the sudden, oh, I see the higher wisdom in that. I see what I learned through that experience, and I see that that led me here, which is a better place. Without that happening, I might not be here.
David Brower: Yeah, exactly right. Wow. And so where is here?
Lucinda B. White: Well, here is. So that was age 27, now I’m 59 and my kids are grown. So, I am striving and starting out as an elder, a rookie elder, a significance. Because that’s the other thing I learned is that our society is really fearful of death and aging, and so we’ll do anything to avoid it. And I realized that this is the best time of my life, because I do have a lifetime full of wisdom to share with people in the world needs my wisdom, based on time, maturity and being present. Because the suicidal depression was … depression wasn’t my only … I had issue that I came across and had to come through.
So all these things I paid attention to and move through them with different modalities. One time it was a psychologist, the next time it was something else. And I gathered all these things together so that now I was able to write my story in a memoir and tell people like demonstrate another way of moving through struggles and seeing them from a different perspective. So now, I do public presentations on these topics and I teach and I write a weekly blog and I counsel people, I guide them.
So, what happens is I found out that when I was working really hard for survival, you know we have to do that and master food, shelter, and clothing. It became exhausting over time, because I had built up more friends and more responsibilities. But now that I’m doing what I really want to do that’s authentic and that’s sharing this wisdom that I’ve gathered, I’m more enlivened. I’m working just as hard, but it’s a different kind of energy. It’s a higher vibration energy, because it’s authentic to me. So, I can’t wait to get up in the morning and I love what I doing and it came after a life of going through all the life stages of being young and then getting married and having children. So now as an elder, I want to share the wisdom to help the younger people who are in their twenties struggling like I was.
David Brower: Well, I think the other interesting thing, if I hear, if I hear you properly, is where your goal previously was education, family, money based, all the stuff that all the magazines and all the media say where we need to go. And now you could care less about money. The money just comes from what you are and where you are, and what you do to help other people.
Lucinda B. White: Yes. That’s it. And it relates to what I’m doing as well, like it’s not like it’s a grind in like a creative thing that comes from inside of me. It’s inspiration, comes from inside of me.
David Brower: Wow. That’s so cool. And you’ve got on your side … there’s so much stuff on your website, and authenticwildness.com or Lucindabakkenwhite.com?
Lucinda B. White: Yes. Either one will get you to the website.
David Brower: Okay. So, I’m on authenticwildness.com. And it’s fascinating all of the things that you make available to people for free. The meditation fascinates me. The blog is exceptional. Your book, I love the cover of your book. That just blows me away. I won’t even pretend to describe it. It’s so cool. I mean, it sends such a message of, “Wow, I’ve got to stop and think about that for a minute.”
Lucinda B. White: Oh, thank you. Well, the subtitle to the book is realizing Authentic Wildness in a Civilized World. And it speaks to those two parts. We do have an exterior image of the persona and façade that we use to fit in, because we do crave human contact and connection, and belonging. I think all is good, until it gets out of balance. So, when we do too much of that, we lose track of who we are authentically on the inside.
And then there’s people that are so connected to who they are on the inside did they just can’t relate to the outer world. So, I just love realizing authentic wildness. That’s the inspiration I talk about that wants to move and it spontaneously curious like a child, and it’s not thinking what will people think? Will I make money? We’re just doing it because we’re compelled. But we are human beings and we do need to master food, shelter, clothing for survival, and we want to sit in for connection. So that’s important too. And so that’s the subtitle of what I am and what I’m talking about throughout my life and my book is finding that balance between the two.
And then the photo of me holding up a taxidermy deer in front of my face, speaks to that balance of being natural and authentic, and also being human, because a long time ago, before there were podcasts and workshops, and psychologists. Our ancestors used to look at animals as their guides and animals would inform them of how to be authentic, because a wolf would never think of acting like a squirrel. So, what we’ve been talking about here is how I followed a cookie cutter formula to success and it didn’t make me happy. So, knowing who my animal totem is by studying the animal’s behavior, I am able to pick up those qualities and get more in touch with who I am authentically.
David Brower: And isn’t there a piece of that 11 year old girl is still hangs out with you?
Lucinda B. White: Yes. And that is this secret exactly. A lot of people forget who they are as a child because society wants us to grow up and be so professional and behave. And a lot of times what our childhood dreams are. Maybe we wanted to paint or sing and people around us said, “You can’t make money. Don’t do that. That’s not a value,” or you’re no good. And that is still there, it’s authentic and so when people are struggling or tired or sad, I asked them to daydream about their childhood. “What did you do when you were child that you love to do, just to do?” And if you can reconnect with that. That is the path to follow to your authenticity, to the enlivening energy, the inspiration energy. So, exactly that little girl is with me. I’ve brought forward my connection to nature into this eldership years.
David Brower: Absolutely love it. And everybody has at some place in their young life has that authenticity and you can help them find that, right?
Lucinda B. White: Exactly. That is so true. Every single person out there has an inner authenticity. An authentic wildness, it is longing to express itself and that exactly what I do. I help guide people to be their own inner authority and defined to reclaim that authenticity.
David Brower: Wow. How do people get in touch with you? What’s the best way to … of course, your website has tons of materials and things to click on, and read about and all that. But if they really are sincere and wanna get in touch with you, and have an individual program, is that possible?
Lucinda B. White: Yes, definitely. And the best thing to do, the easiest thing is just to go to the website and it’s on the last page. There is a contact thing. You can send me an email. Or there’s with the giveaways, you’ll automatically connect with me. If you sign up for the blog or something, but everything is on the websites and just keep it simple.
David Brower: Yeah, it is really simple. I love this one blog post, “The difference between judgment and discernment.” That is just, that is a conversation that I have in my head, and with my wife over the last few years, is trying to focus more on discernment and kicked judgment to the curb and that’s really hard for me.
Lucinda B. White: Yeah, it is. I went through this phase where I was much younger where I felt like I was judging people and then my girlfriends were gossiping. I was participating and it didn’t feel good afterward. I said, okay, I don’t want to judge. I’m not going to live vicariously through someone else’s life and compare myself to them to make myself feel better. So, I stopped my subscription to people magazine and thought … I don’t need to worry about other people’s lives.
But then I ran into situations where I felt like I needed to judge and I really dove deep with this, and what I realized is, judgment creates disconnection. Because when you judge, you’re automatically creating right, wrong, good, bad, and that’s a line in the sand. But if we are all open and we just love everything and everyone, then you can compromise yourself. What if the PG&E guy coming to the door is a burglar? You have to discern.
Is it right to let him in? And there’s … we’re not meant to hang out with every person or be everybody’s best friend, so we discerned, does this feel right for me? You meet them where they’re at, you honor their differences, but say, “Yeah, you know what? I don’t think I want to hang out here.” Maybe once a year is enough, that’s discernment, which creates boundaries and protection without a fortress where nothing can get in or being wide open and too much gets in.
David Brower: Absolutely love that. I’m going to listen back to that 45 seconds, so many times, that was really good.
Lucinda B. White: Yeah. And so I always ask myself, is this going to create division or unity? So discernment is still connection because you honor that person and their difference and there’s this underlying little thread, versus judgment says, “Nope. Line in the sand, you’re wrong. I’m right.”
David Brower: Yep. Black and white, here we go.
Lucinda B. White: Yep.
David Brower: Fascinating. So, on your page under offerings, it says, “Dear Wild and Tamed Souls.” And those have to be totally different. Is that right?
Lucinda B. White: Yes, that’s the balance I’m talking about. So, we get tamed by civilization and the rules of our family, and our culture, and our community, and the schools we go to, and our friendships. There’s rules, right?
David Brower: Right.
Lucinda B. White: And that’s fine because that gives us guidelines for how to fit in and connect. But again, when we overemphasize it, it gets out of balance and then we’re just trapped animals in a cage, and we can’t do anything because we’re following so many different rules, and half the time they don’t even line up. This group thinks this rule, this group thinks that rule. So, a wild soul is not someone who goes out and parties and get drunk. That’s the dark end of that spectrum. A wild soul is connected to their authenticity, the soul wants to move. It’s that childlike essence, not the immature person that never grows up. It’s that pure childlike essence that wants to play the spontaneous incurious wild soul, that’s authenticity. And then the tamed soul, is domesticated into the rules and the routine. And that kills the soul.
David Brower: Absolutely right. Folks, you’ve got to reach out to Lucinda Bakken White. It’s fascinating stuff, authenticwildness.com is her website. Her book on Amazon, Confessions of a Bone Woman, all five star reviews, kindle, paperback. It’s all available there. And this has been a great 20 minutes. I can’t thank you enough. Lucinda I’ve really enjoyed it.
Lucinda B. White: Oh, and me too. Thank you David.
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