Avery – 00:00
You know how sometimes where people say like it’s not rocket science or you don’t have to be a rocket scientist?
Well today I’m actually talking to one.
Melissa Corley Carter and I met a couple of months ago over really interesting circumstances which we may or may not get into today but She is such an interesting person.
She has run a marathon on every continent and yes that includes Antarctica and she has the pictures and the book to prove it.
She has been through a lot and has come out smiling and I am so excited to share her journey with you today.
Hi, I’m Avery Thatcher, a former ICU nurse, and this is not your standard stress management podcast where we just focus on those band-aid solutions like the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and self-care.
You already know that you need some kind of recovery strategy to deal with your stressful life.
Avery – 01:02
But what you may not know are all of the sneaky ways that society, our upbringing and our high achieving nature, and so many other factors contribute to our risk of burnout.
That, my friend, is what we talk about here on this podcast because you can’t do something about a situation that you’re not aware of, right?
So if you’re ready to get out of the pattern of burning out, feeling better, only to burn out again, it’s time for us to shut the light on the truth about burnout.
Avery – 01:32
Alright friends, so let’s get to it.
I am super excited to dive into our conversation with Melissa because as I said in the introduction, she is a rocket scientist.
She is amazing and has if you were if there was a video version of this you would see her book behind you as well that I mentioned where she shares about her running all over the world including Antarctica which is just like why somebody would want to run a marathon there Well, really, let’s be
honest, why would someone want to run a marathon?
I’ve done one.
That was enough.
Avery – 02:04
But she’s done a bunch.
So yeah, welcome to the show, Melissa.
Melissa – 02:09
Thank you so much, Avery.
It’s a joy to be here.
Avery – 02:12
So I alluded a little bit in the intro as to how we met.
And so really, Melissa When I reached out to her I was reaching out because I was about to invest a lot of money in something and I wanted to see if it was going to be valuable or not and so I just kind of like did the scattergun approach and reach out to a bunch of people and Melissa got back to me
with the most thoughtful response and I really feel like it just speaks to the kind of person that she is and the caring nature that she has and although this is great it can serve us in a lot of ways it sabotages sometimes too.
And sometimes that sabotage leads to burnout.
And that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.
So why don’t you tell me a little bit about you, Melissa, and tell us a little bit about your burnout story.
Melissa – 03:00
So burnout story.
So yes, I have my whole life kind of been on the high achieving track, you know, Start as a high achiever from when I was very little and had big dreams wanted to be an astronaut and all the things decided that when I was pretty young and so I was always kind of hard charging and good at everything
and doing all the things and that whole astronaut dream followed it for 20 years and then in 2012 was actually when I First put in my application and I’ll say along the way I kind of knew that I wasn’t actually physically qualified because I had really bad eyesight and I knew that was a
thing but I was kind of trusting the process that eventually they would start accepting eye surgery and they did so I got LASIK and so by the time 2012 rolled around that was the first time I had the eyesight I had all the education I had all the things all the little boxes checked and put in my
application And found out I was rejected because my eyesight before LASIK was so bad that I was disqualified anyway.
So I’d say that was probably the beginning of the burnout story in that From then on, I literally had no idea what my life purpose was.
From the time I was very little, I had a thought that my life purpose was to become an astronaut, or at least my life goal was to become an astronaut.
Melissa – 04:28
I actually just recently heard a really powerful phrase.
I talk about this a lot like the dark night of the soul, but what I have learned is that the phrase I heard was that it’s not the dark night of the soul, it’s the dark night of the ego and the healing of the soul.
And so that is exactly what happened because it was such an awakening process of like, actually, this isn’t your life purpose.
This is, you know, there’s something else going on here.
So all that to say, I think what I experienced as burnout was a feeling of just disconnect from purpose.
Not knowing what my purpose was.
Coming to realize that because I had no backup plan, I just sort of continued on in the track I was going, which worked for a little while, but I was active duty air force and I got to a point where I just, you know, I loved the people I was working with, but I was not inspired by the job.
Melissa – 05:19
I didn’t really like the job itself.
And I felt like I didn’t know my purpose.
And so, you know, so that the specific, one of the specific burnout stories that I, when I really noticed that there was something wrong, was you know i was coming home from work one day and i had gotten into kind of a habit of going to the store and getting a bag of dove chocolates which are sort
of my thing my comfort food at the time i still love them but this particular time i got a bag got home stood at the kitchen counter and ate every piece in the bag before i mean i didn’t even do anything else i was i just came in stood at the counter ate all the chocolates and thought
oh my gosh This is not normal.
You know, happy people, I’ll put happy in quotation marks, air quotes, don’t do stuff like this, you know?
And, and it was interesting because I think everyone on the outside, I projected this totally on top of it, squared away, high achiever persona.
Melissa – 06:21
And, you know, I’m a big smiler, so I smile at everybody and yell all that kind of thing.
So I’m, I sort of seem like I’m okay, but I realized, wow, I totally not okay.
And I didn’t really know where to go with that, but lots of things kind of conspired to set me on a different path.
But anyway, so I’ll just say the realization of not being aligned with purpose was kind of my core burnout experience.
Avery – 06:44
I love that you highlighted that because a lot of people can’t always determine which style of burnout they’re experiencing because we’ve talked about that on previous episodes as well that there’s actually four different core types of burnout.
There’s physical, there’s emotional, there’s mental and there’s fulfillment burnout and so fulfillment burnout is one of the trickiest ones especially if you’ve got this history of high achievement because you’re just looking around at your life and you’re just like Why aren’t I happy?
And other people look at you and they’re just like she must be happy everything is aligned and you just feel that emptiness and then we look to fill it with other things like maybe Dove chocolate Which like, you know, I feel like all of us have been there when we were like, it’s okay, I’m just
going to have one and then you look down and you crush the bag and you’re like, well, that happened.
So I feel like that’s such a powerful thing for people to hear when they’re not really sure if what they’re feeling is actually burnout.
But you’ve just clearly outlined that so beautifully.
So thank you so much for doing that.
Avery – 07:48
You’re so welcome.
So tell me, What was that moment when you realized that you kind of had to let go of the identity of who you thought you were going to be?
What sort of triggered that moment and then what steps did you take after that to really find the purpose again?
Melissa – 08:06
Gosh, do we have 100 hours?
The moment, gosh, there were a few moments and I’ll say the very first moment was What I discovered in post-processing and reflection is that it wasn’t just not getting to do that thing but you brought up the word identity and that’s so huge.
I had completely wrapped my identity around becoming an astronaut and
Without that, I literally didn’t know who I would be or what I would do.
And I remember like thoughts going through my head, like, Oh my gosh, what am I going to tell everybody?
Like anybody actually thinks, you know, that you’re going to become an astronaut, right?
I mean, it’s so few people do it.
Melissa – 09:00
No one’s expecting me to do that.
But in my head, I basically told everyone I had ever known that I wanted to be an astronaut.
And I was, I mean, there’s, so there’s a little bit of embarrassment and fear.
Of, oh my gosh, I don’t know what, how am I going to show up as awesome if I’m not an astronaut, which, again, if you think about that is sort of silly, but it was my core identity right and so I think that There was that kind of processing in the background and as I was kind of going about
then this normal job, but I think things that helped me take steps were there were actually books I started reading.
Maybe one of the first things was actually yoga.
I had In this process of running marathons on all seven continents, one of my roommates on one of my trips introduced me to Bikram yoga, I’m hot yoga, and so I had started doing that and, you know, so first started to hear about the concept of mindfulness and things like, you know, how you are on
Melissa – 10:03
the mat is how you are off the mat and bring intentionality and focus and presence and also grace and self-forgiveness, you know, a big thing in yoga is not showing up with any expectations, so maybe you, you know, did you Feel like you had a really powerful class yesterday and today you show up and
you’re not feeling so good especially Bikram because it’s the same 26 postures and like every single class is the same format but it’s never the same class because you’re there with a different body and a different mental state and all this the other thing so being kind of steeped in that
helped me start learning about this I guess more spiritual aspect and I think there have been little nuggets of that actually all throughout my life but that was a big step I think.
And then actually a book that really helped me was a book called Thrive by Arianna Huffington that was about kind of the new metrics of success, wisdom and well-being and I think then there’s a third one that I can’t remember off the top of my head but not basically how much money you have or what
job title you have or anything like that but really focusing on What does fulfillment look like?
And then I actually ended up also in a 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshop and another big key to me that I was maybe not at that time on the right track was we had an exercise we were writing our mission statement and We had this, you know, five minute just stream of consciousness writing
and I wrote this whole thing and it was not even remotely about anything I was really doing at work.
Melissa – 11:33
It was really all about helping finding the universe in myself and helping other people find the universe in themselves and so I realized there was this higher purpose calling me.
So those are some of the steps.
I guess I’ll pause there and see how that’s landing.
Avery – 11:47
Yeah, no, that was great.
Lots of different ideas and ways that people can start to find their way out of it if they’re feeling also that maybe fulfillment burnout is sort of aligning for them.
Now there’s a couple of things that you said that I kind of want to circle back to and with yoga you talk about how we’re showing up on and off the mat with this non-expectation and so a lot of that is really that concept that Vedic concept of santosha which is just this general acceptance of right
now it’s like this And really just embracing that.
We dig into that a lot on my other podcast which is called Inner Stillness, Outer Chaos but really I think understanding that piece is really tricky for high achievers to just be like right now it’s like this when you’re just like fuck but I want it to be like that so tell me how your relationship
is now with that high achieving part of you like what has shifted be able to allow you to have that santosha I love that.
Melissa – 12:54
I love that question.
I think so much has shifted.
I feel like I If I identify at all as a high achiever now, I identify as sort of like a high achiever in fulfillment, like I, but not in a check the box kind of way, but, but in a, am I, do I feel like I’m really living to the fullest and am I embracing my joy?
And am I doing like, if I’m making decisions, are they aligned with my soul?
And so the high achiever is like, it is, has kind of come into the position of, I’m going to make hell yes choices and if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.
And that’s okay.
So it is a total reframe of how that works.
Melissa – 13:37
But I think one of the huge things that helped me get there is actually one of the first things I did when I left active duty Air Force and I started my own path.
I actually did a coach certification program with the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and I learned this framework called energy leadership and it’s so beautiful.
It’s really all about the stair step, like how we go from the spectrum of Victim of circumstance, like life is happening to me and there’s nothing I can do about it, to I am creating my experience of life in every moment.
And so practice with that for years has been really huge.
Where it is right now, that level of acceptance is the highest state, right?
Not judging it as good or bad or anything, but this is what’s happening now and I have the power to choose differently if I want it to be different.
I don’t have to, it doesn’t have to be different, but I get to choose and so for me one of the biggest, biggest things I bang on about is reclaiming your power, you know, to really create your experience of life in each moment because we all have that power and Big society with a capital S
Melissa – 14:55
would have us think that we don’t, you know, and we have to buy the latest thing or do this or do that or all the fear, you know, and it’s pervasive.
But so you have to make a conscious choice to not focus on that, but to actually focus on where is my power and we can’t control what happens to us, but we can absolutely control how we respond to it.
And so that’s where the majority of my Self-development work has come from and what I love, love helping other people with as well.
Avery – 15:29
So let’s dive into that a little bit.
Tell us a little bit more about what you’re working on now and how that shifted your idea of fulfillment and where people can find and learn more about that.
Melissa – 15:41
So it has been quite a journey in the in the entrepreneur space.
I never actually envisioned myself as an entrepreneur, but so I left active duty Air Force in 2015 and have been an Air Force reservist since then.
So I’ve been doing some leadership coaching, leadership training and stuff in that arena as well.
But you know, I’ve done things like human design and learned a lot of different Modalities and other emotional freedom techniques and all this kind of thing.
So it’s been really interesting.
I’ve gone in lots of different directions and I think a lot of it has been from my own healing journey and where I have kind of crystallized now is I, first of all, so I have my book but then I also just recently came out with a wisdom card deck that’s a companion deck to the book.
Melissa – 16:28
So what I’m super excited about and kind of on the front edge of right now is doing How many people shine their lights?
I want to do these shine your light sessions where I’m drawing wisdom cards for them and being a space holder for you listening to your own wisdom.
And then also using that energy leadership work to again give people a framework and a way to kind of identify where they are energetically right now And then from there you can decide, do I want something to change?
And if I do, then how do I do it?
So really working within that step-by-step fashion.
On the rocket science piece, I’m a huge fan of taking small steps and adjusting course.
Aim at the moon and don’t make any changes.
Melissa – 17:15
You actually do make incremental changes along the way so I like to do this kind of one small step at a time adds up to the giant leap and so I am just all about helping people take those one small step at a time to become and To realize how far they actually have left and how far they have come and
how much they’ve changed and how much they’ve grown and how much they have the capacity to do that moving forward as well.
So yeah, all about the helping you shine your light and live the life that you came here to live.
Avery – 17:50
Oh, I love that.
And I love how The space history has woven its way into that.
Oh, that’s so cool.
And it just makes sense.
I just love that you are still bringing forward the learning from those spaces rather than trying to shun them out completely.
And I think that’s such a powerful space to come from.
Melissa – 18:14
And I’ll say just one other thing about that.
That actually has been the big realization that the whole astronaut thing was sort of a superficial understanding of what my life purpose was because it has never actually changed.
It has been about the basic principles of rocket science, which are going from where you are to where you want to be.
Acknowledging progress and adjusting course and letting go to lift off.
And all the things that I originally wanted in becoming an astronaut were about spiritual connection with the cosmos and inspiring people to greatness and all of those things I get to do every single day and it had nothing to do with being an astronaut.
Melissa – 18:53
So the goal, the real goal never changed.
The manifestation or interpretation of it is what changed.
So that is also something I really like helping people with.
Like what’s the goal behind the goal?
And there’s a million ways to get there.
Avery – 19:09
Yes, beautifully said, beautifully said.
So tell the person listening right now how they can learn more about you and go check out all of the things that you have.
Maybe check out your book, your wisdom cards, where can they find all of that?
Melissa – 19:23
Awesome, well so it’s all on my website epicalifeactually.com.
So that’s the home and then I’m also on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Instagram is my favorite because I do love photos.
So those are the main places that you can find me.
But the website is TheHomeEpicLifeActually.com and the book is there and the card deck is there.
Avery – 19:44
Love it and we’re going to link to all of that in the show notes as well so you can go ahead and find that in the description.
Thank you so much Melissa for sharing your story and for just so clearly outlining fulfillment burnout and the ways to move out of that but because this is the thing is like you said it’s not necessarily a hard left turn leaving everything behind it’s about figuring out and digging into some of
those more meaningful reasons And that is just such powerful advice.
So is there anything else which you want to share before we end things today?
Melissa – 20:19
I think the number one thing I would share is that for anyone listening just, and I know this is a lot easier said than done, but really just relax.
You are exactly where you need to be for the perfect unfolding of your path and Basically, your life purpose and what you’re here for is not about what you do.
It’s about being you.
You are the gift.
Avery – 20:42
Oh, I love that.
And it’s so fun that you say that because I need regular reminders that Where I’m at right now is totally fine and I can be okay here.
So I actually have a little necklace that says, slow down, you’re doing fine.
So every time I’m doing yoga, it like comes to wax me in the forehead when I go into Ardhamukha Svanasana, downward dog.
I’m just like, great, slow down, you’re doing fine.
It’s just a perfect reminder.
So maybe you don’t need a necklace to wacky in the face, but some other little reminder like that.
Avery – 21:13
might be a good idea because it’s very good advice from melissa so thank you thank you avery so thank you again for coming here and sharing your story and yeah i feel like more collaborations will be coming yay i look forward to it you’re the best thank you avery Hold it right there.
Don’t skip to the next podcast you’re going to listen to just yet because I have something else I think you’re really going to want.
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Avery – 22:09
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In this episode, Avery opens the door to a unique conversation with a guest who breaks the mold of traditional burnout narratives. Introducing Melissa Corley Carter, a remarkable rocket scientist.
The episode teases the intriguing circumstances of Avery and Melissa’s initial meeting and introduces Melissa’s awe-inspiring achievement of running marathons on every continent, including the challenging terrain of Antarctica.
As the host of a stress management podcast, Avery sets the tone by acknowledging the cliché phrase “it’s not rocket science” and the irony of speaking to an actual rocket scientist. This introduction provides a glimpse into the unconventional perspective Melissa brings to the table.
Understanding Burnout (01:32 – 02:09)
Avery emphasizes the podcast’s focus on addressing burnout beyond surface-level solutions like meditation, introducing the importance of uncovering the various factors contributing to burnout.
Melissa’s Burnout Story (03:00 – 06:44)
Melissa shares her burnout story, starting with her high-achieving childhood and the dream of becoming an astronaut. The pivotal rejection from the astronaut program leads to a deep reflection on purpose and the realization that her life’s goal transcended the superficial astronaut dream.
Understanding Burnout Types (06:44 – 07:48)
Avery introduces the concept of four burnout types, emphasizing the challenge high achievers face in recognizing fulfillment burnout.
Realizing the Need for Change (07:48 – 11:47)
Exploring Melissa’s pivotal moment of realizing the need for change and the steps she took to rediscover purpose. The discussion touches on the challenges of identity and the importance of understanding the deeper goals behind external achievements.
Acceptance and Santosha (11:47 – 13:37)
The conversation delves into the concept of santosha (acceptance) and its relevance to high achievers. Melissa shares her shifted perspective on high achievement, focusing on fulfillment and conscious decision-making aligned with the soul.
Melissa’s Current Work (13:37 – 17:50)
Melissa discusses her entrepreneurial journey, incorporating various modalities and energy leadership. Her recently released book and wisdom card deck are introduced as tools to guide individuals on their paths.
Rocket Science and Fulfillment (17:50 – 19:09)
The intersection of Melissa’s space background and her current work is explored, emphasizing the enduring principles of rocket science in her life purpose. Listeners are encouraged to identify deeper goals behind external aspirations.
Closing Thoughts (20:42 – 21:13)
Melissa encourages listeners to relax and embrace their present positions, emphasizing that they are the gift. Avery adds a reminder to slow down and appreciate the present moment.