Alexis: I Don’t Have Time to Fall Apart
Author and motivational speaker Alexis Jones lived her life on the road. Year after year, she kept up a relentless touring schedule, propelling her to new heights alongside icons like Glennon Doyle and Oprah. But behind closed doors, Alexis was falling apart. Chronic pain, a maddening fertility journey, and some earth-shattering revelations about her family’s past all threatened to derail her. But it wasn’t until the pandemic hit and her schedule cleared overnight that she finally had to slow down. With time and space to reflect, and an eye-opening cross-country road trip, Alexis began a new journey of healing… and joy.
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Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Alexis
Like, listen, Jen, listen, Jenny, no big deal. I understand you to go in another direction. Like, I’m giving her all these outs. And she was like, oh, no, you hear this long pause. And I’m like, wait, what? And she was like, oh, you have no idea why I’m calling.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 00:21
Let me be the first to say, it is totally reasonable to be scared of phone calls. Because sometimes you get calls like this calls that completely pull the rug out from underneath your feet. I’m no stranger to them. And neither is Alexis Jones.
And that’s when I was like, oh, shit, and I like immediately hang up on the phone. And I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, it just started like rocking in place. And I was just like, this isn’t happening. This isn’t happening like this is not happening.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 01:03
This is LAST DAY, a show about the moments that change us. I’m your host Stephanie Wittels Wachs. Today, the story of getting blow after blow of earth shattering news, and how the life you rebuild in the aftermath, can sometimes be even better than the one that you’ve lost. Alexis Jones, also known as Lex is a new mom and author living in Montana, who I immediately connected with over zoom. She just released a book this summer called Joy Hunter, which is essentially a retrospective of the life she used to live. Because she wasn’t always the easygoing character I’m seeing on my computer screen. For one, she used to be in a much more polished and much more intense line of work. motivational speaking, day after day. What was your schpeel? Like? What was my skill? Yeah, tell me the spiel.
there were two big spiels that I got hired. The first one was badass girl empowerment, women’s empowerment. So I kind of joke that for a decade, I keynoted every women’s conference in the country. And it was basically just reminding women not teaching them anything, reminding them that they were like, inherently fucking badass. That was my job I just got on stage. And I just told them that like, they were awesome. And anything that they wanted to do as possible. And it was very, I get super psyched about that talk.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 02:37
That talk led to a second Schpeel because once she’d been doing her rah rah girl power thing for a while, she got called on to combine that with other experience she had specifically from working at places like Fox, sports and ESPN.
And they asked me to give a talk to the top 18 quarterbacks in the country on the importance of respecting women. So it’s kind of this interesting, like utilizing my background in sports, but also I was kind of like the poster girl of women’s empowerment. So I came in, I gave this talk. And that talk ended up airing on ESPN and going viral and overnight, my badass girl empowerment top shifted to this quote, unquote, protect her talk. And so I was hired by every division one locker room in the country. And all of a sudden, I was in locker rooms. And that’s when the military hired me and West Point and the Naval Academy and fortune 100 companies and politics anywhere that there was like a huge group of heterosexual men. There, there’s like a problem, right? And so they would like bring me in into and I joke that they bring me into the locker rooms and the war rooms and the board rooms to basically say, how do we celebrate the incredible men doing it? Right? And how do we hold those accountable who aren’t. And I was on the road 150 to 250 days a year for almost 14 years.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 03:59
I’m gonna let that marinate for a second. Alexis started living a life on the road, all the way back in 2006. And she would go on to do that for 14 years. The first 10 of those 14 were already a lot. Then in 2016, she gives that locker room talk and she gets even more attention and more requests. It’s pretty easy to see in hindsight that this lifestyle is fucking intense. Flex was on a ride that was only getting faster and faster. No brakes.
At the time, it was I think just operating at a velocity that was inhumane. So in a given week would be I was in four different cities. keynoting major events, major stages, 1000s of people anywhere from West Point, the Naval Academy to Google to the White House to the United Nations to Harvard. Every week. It was just like oh, where’s My Tinder, I would be like get sent my itinerary. And it was like in this is where you’re going to be. And there were times in the middle of the night where I would wake up in a hotel. And I would be so disoriented that I would have to pick up my phone and I would hit the GPS on my phone just to be like, where am I? Like, what, what city? What town? What state Am I in? And I think that looking back, I can only now recognize you hear that whole analogy of like, you put the frog in warm water. And then like you slowly keep like turning it up in the brain of the frogs, like totally boiled to death. And I think that is what was happening. I think it it started is warm water and it started is 2030 events a year, you know, two events a month and then events just kept getting added to the calendar. And I kept saying yes. And all these events, were we at that point, I was booking out almost a year in advance. So that’s why when I say like the velocity of, of how I was operating was there was no slowing down.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 05:57
And to be honest, the no slowing down thing is for good reason. At this point in our career Lex is in demand, not only by the literal un, but by some really famous and powerful people, the kind of people you don’t want to let down the kind of people who you may literally never get a chance to work with. Again. I’m seeing like your arm around Oprah Brene Brown, like you just said, you went to the White House. You can’t say no to that shit that’s like, I have to do this. This is the epitome of success and achievement and everything I’ve worked for. And if I say no, what will happen, right? We don’t say no to Oprah.
Oprah invited me to her house. What am I gonna be like, Nah, bro. You know, I’m actually kind of busy. But thank you know, like, like you said, Everything felt like such a profound privilege. Totally. And especially like growing up in a house with like such staunch feminists like my mom who got pregnant at 16 and had five kids and no one graduated from high school and her family, much less college. And she put all five of her kids through undergrad grad school and or law school. So like, my mom is a fucking warrior. And my grandmother, like was a warrior. And so I just like, was raised by these incredibly powerful women. That part of me was like, they like the sacrifices the women before me have made to give me these opportunities. Like how dare I say no to them? Yeah. So I think there was a lot of obligation, like a sense of obligation and duty, to keep going and to keep kicking ass.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 07:41
And is there anyone in your life who’s like, like, Is your husband seeing how unbelievably tired you are? How is it manifesting in your body and your behavior to the people you love most.
First off, I was having like, indescribably intense physical pain. That was that was something that was very present in my life at that time, which for me, showed up like in my shoulder, my neck, which is where I hold my stress. But so much so that I had an all day event with Google. I was in New York, and I canceled the morning of because my doctor that I was like, every time I was home, I was like pit stopping to get like MRIs and X rays. And like, nobody could tell me what was wrong. But all I knew was that on the like, 24 hour layover that I had like in my home, that all of a sudden I was like, unable to get out of bed fully unable to get out of bed. And so my husband is witnessing this. And really looking back the neglect that I was experiencing, I was experiencing a profound sense of neglect of myself and self abandonment of appeasing and accommodating everyone else at the expense of myself and my own health and wellness. So of course my husband had a very intimate front row seat to all of this. And the whole time is like it’s not worth it, babe, this isn’t worth it. And so that was a big kind of narrative I was sitting with was here I was like kicking ass in the world. And people saw that version of me. And then really behind closed doors I was completely falling apart.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 09:15
Alexis is life is defined by this rise and grind cycle. Eventually though, she starts to realize that there is one area of your life that you can’t as previous last a guest Maya Shankar would say hustle your way through. And that is fertility. Alexis and her husband Brad decided to start trying for a baby in 2016. Yes, the same year that Alexis his career really takes off. She is carefully and thoughtfully pursuing something that could put her immensely busy, successful life on pause. It is a huge decision. But once they make that huge decision, getting pregnant proves to be a problem. Alexis has a very low egg count her body’s under immense stress and it certainly isn’t helping that people keep saying things like, so when are you going to slow down and give Brad a baby? It is a high pressure and confusing and disappointing experience. So Lex puts it out of her mind. The show must go on and by 2017 The show is a speaking tour with Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach.
Abby was like my childhood hero, I was a soccer player growing up. So of course, to your point, like when you think you’ve made it, it’s like when your actual hero reaches out and was like, I would love to interview you on stage. And I was like, bawling when my team called. Because, you know, I think everyone has like a couple of these little things that are like I have made I have a decorative bathroom in my house now, right like a powder bath, which like growing up with no money, I’m like, I’ve made it like that was like I was like, one day I will have a fancy powder bath. And for me, it was like Abby Womack, like I got that call. And here is like my hero wanting to interview me. So of course, it was an unbelievable privilege.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 11:09
When this privilege is about to kick off, Alexis is hot off another speaking engagement, like literally reviewing her prep for her next event while on route to the airport from the one she just did. Of course, though, she’s got this kind of schedule down pat. So aside from the thrill of touring with Abby Wambach. Alexis expects this to be pretty typical. But oh, was she wrong? If her fertility struggles were any indication, more trouble was coming. And it begins with her doing a DNA test for ancestry.com, who was one of the sponsors of the upcoming tour. At this point, Alexis has mostly forgotten about the saliva test she’d done for it, and the promotional TV segment they filmed, it was all just standard press for the tour. She’s got plenty of other stuff on our mind anyway, like working with her idol. And whether or not her Uber driver is driving fast enough for her to make her next flight.
And I’m in the car and I get a phone call from my speaking agents who say, hey, they pulled the segment. I don’t know why the ancestry TV show segment. They won’t tell us they will only speak to you. And at the time, I was like, oh, okay, and you live in Hollywood long enough. I lived in LA for 10 years, you know that you’re always just getting replaced by like a more important person, you know, like a more and I was like, oh, like in my head. I was like, Oh, they book Charlize Theron. That’s fine. Like, I take her to, you know, like, oh, wait, you book Dwayne Johnson the rock? Yeah, I get it, I got bumped. So you know, I get on this call. And I’m like, trying to give her an out. And I was like, Listen, you know, Jennifer from ancestry. I’m like, listen, Jen, listen, Jenny, no big deal. I understand you to go in another direction. Like, I’m giving her all these outs. And she was like, oh, no, you hear this long pause. And I’m like, wait, what? And she was like, Oh, you have no idea why I’m calling. And in that moment, I was like, Well, I’ve I mean, I figured you went in another direction that you found sudden, she was like, oh, okay, so like, you hear like gathering herself. And she says, Well, I love my job. And these moments make my job really hard. The information that you provided for your biological father is incorrect. And there was just like this long pause. And then this absurdly confident in arrogance that came out in me of like, oh, well, no, you’re wrong. You’re wrong. So you have made a massive mistake, like the gravitas of your mistake. Like I just go into this, like, totally rude, like ancestry, I don’t even I don’t even know where you get the science from. Like, I just start invalidating this poor, sweet kind woman. And, of course, she very gracefully accepted all of my condemnation, and then said, you know, I understand this is, you know, this is hard to hear, you may want to have a conversation with your mom. And I’m like, Oh, I will have a conversation with my mom. And you’ll hear from my team. And I don’t even know what I so I end up getting off the phone, I immediately call my mom. And again, sitting in the back of, you know, this car, and being driven to the airport, and I call my mom and who’s my best friend like to know me is to know that my mom is my best friend. So I call her and I’m like, This is crazy. And ancestry and Jennifer ruined everything. And, you know, they they canceled my segment and over this big mistake. My mom’s like, slow down. So what are you talking about? And I said, Well, mom, she said that dad isn’t my biological father. silence And that’s when I was like, Oh, shit, and I like immediately hang up on the phone. And I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, it just started like, right arcing in place, and I was just like this isn’t happening. This isn’t happening like this is not happening.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 15:18
We are back. Alexis has just found out that the man she calls dad is apparently not her biological father. And her mom’s radio silence more or less confirms it. As they say this opens up a whole can of worms.
Eventually, it would come out that my mom had had a one night stand at the tail end of a dying marriage. And that I was actually half Mexican. Let’s just throw that in there. So now I’m reeling with like, I tell my life story. For a living, this is what I get paid to do. And you’re telling me that story is not true. And now I have to grapple with like, how do I undo my origin story and create a new origin story. And then the real kicker at the time was my mom asked me not to tell my dad. That was the hardest part. And looking back, she can fully admit that she was like that was totally unfair, like a completely unfair request. But she was dealing with her own shame, her own guilt at the time. And she said, Please don’t tell your dad, please don’t tell your brothers. And so then I’m holding this secret, and the shame and his guilt that I feel as I’m like trying to, you know, reassess kind of who I am and how I came into the world.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 16:38
My god. Okay, so at what point do you share this news with your dad?
Yeah. For me, there was this moment. And thank God, I had an incredible therapists. I’m a huge fan of therapy. And I was confessing that I now felt this wedge between my dad and even listen, my mom and dad got divorced when I was six weeks old. So there was no pretending that there was this like happy marriage. But my dad was this epic dad who coached everything I ever played, who was deeply involved in our lives. And so I would always joke that my parents had a better non marriage than most of my friend’s parents who were married and like legitimately didn’t like each other. And so I finally came to my mom. And I said, Mom, this is too much for me. And like, I have to talk to dad about this. Because like I said, I’m like, I’m daddy’s little girl. I’m so close with him. And it did. It felt like there’s this invisible wall that was being formed between us. And she said, of course, course I understand. Like, do whatever you need to do. I love you. So I write my dad this letter, and I, you know, I’m thinking I’m going to be so brave. And I’m gonna, like read it to him. And I show up and I don’t I like totally panic. I like thrust this letter into his lap, and I like run out like it to anyone standard, like the most bizarre, like behavior ever. Right? Like here, Dad, sorry. And like, I just like grunt physically run out. And then I don’t hear from him for hours. So I’m like, Oh, my God, I just blew up my entire life. Like, I blew up my relationship with my dad, like, what if? What if he just like, can’t look at me anymore? Like, what if he doesn’t love me anymore? All of these thoughts. And so I finally call my stepmom. And, you know, and I’m super weepy. And I’m like, I mean, I guess like dad read the letter. And he doesn’t, you know, he doesn’t want to talk to me. And she’s like, Sweetheart, what do you what are you talking about? And I was like, the letter the letter that I love. And she’s like, one second, I can hear in the background. She’s like, Mark, Alexis is asking about a letter did a letter that she left with you? And I hear my dad go. Oh, yeah. But the game still on. So does she want me to read it now. And I’m just like, Oh, my God, for like, hours. I’ve been like, disliked so certain that this man no longer like is never going to speak to me again. And this son of a bitch is just watching a football game.
So eventually, he reads a letter. And he calls and leaves a message, because I missed his call. And he said, I just read your letter. I love you so much. Why don’t you come over first thing in the morning? Let’s talk because the truth is I have something to tell you. And I’m like, what? Yes, I’ll be there tomorrow morning, of course. But like, what do you need to tell me? And so I show up the next morning. And he was like, what I want to tell you is that I’ve always known and I was like, what? And he was like, yeah, come on. I’m an engineer. I did the math, like your mom and I were living together but like, we were separated. We were on our way to getting a divorce. You know, and then all of a sudden, she’s pregnant. And like, I did the math, you know, and he was like, but when you were born, I was in the hospital. And I asked your mom, when when you were born, I said Claudia is she mine? You know, and the nurses are like, look away, nothing to see here. Like, we’ll give you a moment. Like every nurses worst nightmare. I was like, oh God. And apparently my mom kind of like looked away and was like, Oh, just kind of trails off. And the nurse hands me to my dad. And he said, and I looked at you and I chose you. And that’s all you need to know is that I chose you then. And I choose you now, and I will always choose you. He was like, but parenthood isn’t about biology. Alexis parenthood is about making a choice. And love is not an emotion. Love is a commitment. And I have shown up and I’ve made that commitment to love you every day.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 20:50
A little while after this DNA drama with the happy ending lexan Brad resumed the fertility journey that they’d put on hold. And it is just as tricky as when they first tried.
Because I had such low egg count, I only got two embryos to eggs, period, only one embryo made it to like the nine days of blastocyst, we did a fresh transfer. And that was when I got pregnant with that one egg. And we were like it’s a miracle baby. And people are like dropping off gifts, and they’re like God is good. And you know, and then to lose. To lose that baby really was, like I said, the straw that broke the camel’s back and I was shattered.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 21:34
This miscarriage is a devastating loss. But when you’re Alexis Jones over a decade into an intense, nonstop life, you just keep going. It’s just that, as the world would have it, her attempt to carry on would also be cut short.
Right around the corner COVID hits in my entire career. That is as we talked about my only source of identity and validation and confidence. 150 events were cancelled within two calendar, workweeks my entire income, which like growing up like a poor girl in a rich community. I had so much arrogance about the amount of money I was making. I immediately went on unemployment. I mean, it was like everything that could possibly go wrong. Everything that I thought made me matter was taken away from me in a very short amount of time. And it felt like there was nothing that I could stand on. And that was when our best friend at the time, who was heartbroken for totally different reasons he was going through divorce, texted like half joking, we should go on this road trip because like, we all gotta get out of here. And like in his at the time, like shitty old Tahoe, you know, that he thought we were gonna do this huge cross country tour with my six nine husband. And at the time, it felt like a lifeline. And he reminded me that he was like, Yeah, I sent out this text message to kind of our group of friends. And then apparently, I like immediately responded and was like, When are you planning on leaving? And he’s like, wait, what I mean, I don’t really can we even can we even cross over state lines, like, that’s how early in the pandemic it was, it was like locked down, and nobody knew anything.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 23:13
What Lex did know, was that staring at her same four walls was not an option. She was grieving. She was restless. And she was in need of some kind of distraction from all the trauma she just faced. Fortunately, if I can even say that any of this is fortunate, some of that trauma was shared. So her husband and their friend agreed to take their little COVID pod on the road, if only to give their minds a break.
I mean, I never could have imagined like, I’m gonna go on this RV trip, and I’m gonna heal the parts of my heart that I didn’t realize, you know, were broken. And then I’m gonna write a book about it. Like none of that it was just like, get me the fuck out of where I am right now. Like, that’s the honest truth is I was just like, I just needed to get out of my life.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 24:03
Well, and if you had been for 14 years, traveling this much and go, go, go, go going to be stuck in one place, sheltering in place in the middle of all of this sorrow when you’re used to just sort of like you said, jumping out of bed and getting to the airport in the face of it all, like escaping escape just doing it. You’re just doing it. How the fuck else are you going to deal with it? Yeah, I don’t like that. It seems honestly as you’re telling it, the only way that it could go.
That’s really interesting, I’ve never thought about it like that. That is a really interesting observation. But I think you’re right that my coping mechanism was escaping to my cocoa agonism was like if you just keep sprinting away, your shadow can never catch up to you totally. And then like you said, it was like everything falling apart all at the same time. And I had no practice of stillness in my life. I was someone who was like, oh, meditate what for three minutes and then I’m Like doing to do lists in my head. So I think that you’re right, I think the only way I knew how to cope was like, again, just like getting on the road. And that first length of 11 hour stint, our first destination was to Santa Fe, Austin Santa Fe, I had a brother who lived in Santa Fe. So we were like, well, let’s start in Santa Fe. And again, like, we didn’t know, if we were gonna get like stopped at the border, like, we had no idea if this RV trip was even possible, but that was the goal, we were like, we’ll just drive to Santa Fe, because I have a brother there, we can stay there. That was like, our only plan. And then we had like a couple random things where like, it’d be cool to go here, and maybe there and maybe Montana and but we were just starting with that. And I remember sitting in the captain’s chair, and we just pulled out of Austin. And looking outside and like seeing the blur. You know, like when you’re like driving fast and like everything’s like didn’t like you can’t really focus on any one, like on a sign or on a building or on a street sign you like, it’s all a blur. And I had a real epiphany of like, this is been my life. I have been speeding through life. And everything has been a blur. Because if I stopped long enough, then I actually will hear the like deafening, begging and pleading of my soul to live a different life. And I was so afraid of hearing that like internal truth that I thought if I could just keep, like, at that velocity that I could again, like abandon what was real and what was true. And what was trying to be communicated inside of me that I didn’t want to listen to.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 26:55
When you are on the road trip, is there like a whisper happening? Or is it like, you get back to Texas? And you’re like, fuck, my problems are still here, right?
Like, no, no, no, it was whispering. It was all these little moments on the road trip to your exact point of all of a sudden, I was reevaluating everything, every decision I’ve ever made all the things that I thought I wanted, I just kind of started looking at like, did I really want is this the life that I wanted? Or have I been a really good girl checking off all the boxes of everything I think everyone expects of me. And I think that was why it was the beginning of like that month long RV trip ended up being like such a huge a profoundly healing experience. Because it was the first time that I slow down long enough to let myself feel. And up until then like that wasn’t an option for me. Because if I fell, then I would fall apart. And I kept thinking I don’t have time, I don’t have time to fall apart.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 27:56
Until, of course you do have time. Because when the world stops all together now, you might even say you have endless time. And with all this time and space to think one of the first big aha moments comes when they reach Montana.
And we had a really good friend, childhood friend that we grew up with. And he lived out in Montana. We actually we had dinner with him when we were in Montana, and on the road trip. And I remember he like had this really cushy invitation to like take over his family’s dealership in Austin like just like guaranteed income guaranteed security. And I hadn’t seen him in years, Brad and I hadn’t hadn’t talked to him in forever now he was living in kind of like rural Montana. And I was like what happened like last time like we graduated high school. You know, we all we all went off to college, but like I always thought you’re taking over like your set mom dealership, like what happened? How did you make your way to Montana. And so he basically ends up telling this like unbelievably sage advice, which I talked about in the book was he was like, Yeah, I just had a moment where like, I wasn’t happy. I was looking at like the next 30 years of my life and I couldn’t do it. And I convinced my wife and my with a new baby to like, walk away from this dealership opportunity and this guarantee of like income insecurity to get into a road like go do an RV road trip for a year until like reevaluate life. And I was like, wait, what? And he was like, Yeah, I was willing to give up the life that I had for the life that I actually wanted. And I remember leaving that dinner, and it was the perfect way that you described it like the whispers right because we like get in the car. And at the time he said our friend was like yeah, and everyone thought I was crazy. But like look at my life now he like had traded in what equity he had and bought an RV park and like was just living this epic life in the most beautiful like area right outside Yellowstone National Park and he was like now everybody wants to come and visit and now you No, now it doesn’t look so crazy. And I remember getting in the car after dinner with him and like looking at my husband and being like, I mean, that’s crazy that he moved to Montana. Like, we couldn’t do that right? And eradicated me and been like, Absolutely not like all of our family, our lives, everything like we’re home, home grown Austinites like, my husband had played professional basketball had retired was now in commercial real estate. This was like, Boom Town USA was like Austin, Texas. And he was like, Yeah, I mean, we don’t know anyone. Like we would never move to Montana. And I was like, Yay, yeah, no, I know. I know. It’s crazy. So I was having all these moments. And I think that’s what scared me the most was scared me the most was I was starting to question everything I had ever thought that I wanted
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 30:51
So Alexis takes this opportunity this world on pause, what else do we really have going on opportunity to propose an idea?
Before we even made it back to Austin. And listen, it was like June at that point. So it was like already 100 degrees in Texas. And it was like shelter in place. And we don’t have a ton of parks that you can go to or anything like that. So it was an easy sell. That I told Brad and our best friend. I was like, hey, what why don’t we? We get the RV back to Texas. Why don’t we rent an Airbnb in Bozeman, because we really loved Bozeman. For a month during summer, if I can find an Airbnb are y’all down? It’s like, oh, no trading, like 100 degree Texas weather for like the plush summers in Montana. And they’re like, Yeah, okay, like, you know, that makes sense. And 11 months later, we were still in the Airbnb. And my husband at one point looks at me, and he was like, so did you move to Montana? Be like, Is that an option in marriage that you just moved, but like, kind of didn’t tell me but we like kind of live here now. And he was flying back and forth. So he was like doing two weeks on two weeks off in Austin. And, and I was like, Yeah, I think we should like live here, like full time. And at the time, very similar to our friend, like everyone thought we were crazy. Like neither of our families had ever been to Montana. Like Brad had this very successful, very lucrative career. In Austin, there was a lot of resistance. Yeah, from the people in our life who love us. And actually the people who love us the most, who really thought we were making a bad decision, and that we were selling our house in Austin and Brad was giving up this career and like we didn’t really know, like, what was like, transferable, like, wasn’t the same financial opportunities for him at the time in Montana, what’s coming across as love, right. I mean, my mom was afraid for us was like, why would why would you move to Montana? Like, we all live here? Like, why would you move away from us? And at the time, felt very critical. And it was really hard, like, to the degree where Brad and I were like, I mean, we are adults, but like, are we like, making a major mistake?
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 33:13
Oh, I mean, I don’t I don’t think my mother has ever and I’m also southern girl. My mom’s from Mississippi, like, we are also thick as thieves. I do not think that she has ever screamed at me or, or called me names or, like gone out of body rage on me. Like absolutely fucking lost her shit. Like she did when I told her we were moving to California. And she’s not she’s like the sweetest, most delicate little lamb, you know? Yeah. But it was true. It was like such a threat to Yes, but it is. It’s a threat. And I had two kids that I was taking away from her. So yeah, her she was like you’re taking my grandbabies? Like, you’re an absolute monster, you know? Yeah. Good. Yeah. And then you’re like, holy shit, the person I love the most in the world, and who loves me the most? thinks that I’m an absolute monster. And also like a really dumb person. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Like, what? I must be wrong. And it’s true. I mean, we had the exact same experience. It was really painful. It’s painful to say, like, I’m changing and you’re not. Yeah, you don’t have a say in that?
Yeah, that’s exactly both of our moms were I mean, the euphemism is they were not kind and how they communicated. And yeah, and there was, you know, a lot of questioning ourselves and being like, are we being selfish? Like I had moments where I was like, am I being selfish that I’m like, potentially taking future grandkids away from you know, not to mention, like all the support and am I being selfish with Brad like that? He’s thriving professionally in Texas. And that was a big part of like, what I learned in this like Joy hunting journey, was that it was okay to make these kinds of decisions and I felt Like when I told Brad, I want to move to Montana, that it was the first seemingly very selfish decision that I was asking him to support me on. Because it didn’t make sense. Like, I didn’t have a career. It’s not like I got this great job. And I was like, oh, moving our family because I got this great job. Like, I’m literally like taking away future grandbabies. And I’m taking away a woman’s son from her, and I’m taking away, you know, his income and his career and asking him to, like, completely be uncomfortable and like, get an entirely new job. And all because like, I love the mountains. You know, like, at the time, I was like, Oh, my God, but but that is that was Lex 2.0, that for the first time wasn’t thinking through all this because thinking through it, none of it made sense. I would have never ever done that. And I would have continued the pattern of accommodating other people’s comfort at the expense of myself. Yeah. And because I was no longer ascribing to that. And because for the first time in my life, I was actually feeling into my body, which I think is the only way that our soul communicates is not through our head, but it’s through our heart. And it was the first time that I was really listening to that. And I remember telling Brad, like, at one point, like crying and being like, I can’t explain it. I know it doesn’t logically make sense. But I’m telling you, for whatever reason, I feel a compulsion that this is where I and not just myself, this is where we are supposed to be right now. And he’s such a writer die partner, that he was like, okay.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 36:50
We are back. So Lex and Brad moved to Bozeman, Montana in 2021. They really fuckin do it. Now, I won’t sit here and pretend that everything just gets easy breezy for them. And fertility and trauma and DNA don’t just disappear. But after they make this choice for themselves, things do start to change. Starting with Brad, the successful real estate mogul whose career every one was worried about.
What ended up happening is like, again, kind of out of nowhere, he got this absolute dream job offer which by the way, if we lived in Austin, and he had been presented with his dream job, we would have moved to Montana for it.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 37:36
Eventually, Lex and Brad also decide they want to try again for a kid. Obviously, Lexis fertility prospects aren’t changing. And her miscarriage was still pretty recent. So a top fertility doctor recommends that they get an egg donor, instead of going through IVF. All over again. This means that even though the odds were already pretty slim, now there’s really no chance that she can be the biological mother of her child.
And that was a big moment of grief for us of grieving for me to be like, I don’t get to participate biologically, like, damn it. And then my next thought was, it actually doesn’t matter. Like I have been the recipient of this kind of voluntary love that I profoundly more than anyone that I know. I know the power of that commitment. And I’m willing to make that same commitment with my son. And so it was the beautiful serendipity, in dovetail around me finding out this what seems like this very kind of dramatic family secret that ends up being one of the greatest direct experiences that I have that has informed me as the mother of my son now.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 38:52
Utilizing an egg donor is just another curveball that life has thrown at her. And at this point, she’s no stranger to those. Plus the pregnancy is ultimately successful. She and Brad bring a beautiful baby into the world. His name is Bridger, and he’s currently sleeping upstairs and they’re absolutely gorgeous home in Bozeman, Montana. And maybe it’s because the first grandchild is always so world changing. But Lex and Brad’s families are definitely warming up to the idea of life in Montana.
Like my mom has been here since Bridger was born has been here 17 out of 20 weeks. She’s lived with us here in Montana. My mother in law’s I mentioned who’s an incredible woman we’re so lucky to have like two epically involved grandmas. She’s upstairs with Bridger right now she’s like looking at real estate. I’m like before you know it, the whole family is gonna allow it’s gonna happen now that yeah, now they get it now like oh, yeah, it’s the most beautiful place and before I ever came up with like the title Joy Hunter, the only way I could verbalize it, to brag about how I felt about that wasn’t in Montana is I said, the only thing I can say is that it brings me actual joy. Like being in the mountains. And it’s not just the mountains. But it was. It’s the lifestyle here that like, Mother Nature is is a family member that is beloved and cherished and visited every single day, every single day. Like when I wake up and I like step outside on our porch and I like, look at the mountains or like, I’m like, that verb, whatever that is. And by the way, for some people, that’s the city, right? Like, that’s where they feel most alive. And there’s like, people listening to the podcast, you were like, That’s what New York does to me. Like, I am electric when I am like in a big city and like the skyline of you know, all the buildings. And so I think that that is what is so unique about what brings you joy. And what brings me joy is like it is it’s like our fingerprints, like it’s so profoundly unique to each of us.
Yeah, so I think everything in hindsight, right, you have so much more clarity, when you look back. And when I look back, I’m like, How did I ever get there? How did I ever get to a place? Because I look at it now. And Brad’s, like will say things like, Could you ever imagine like going back to your life of being on the road? And I’m like, bro, I have a hard time go to the grocery store now. Like, I love my house so much. And like, I don’t ever know. Yeah, I don’t ever know how I existed in such an abusive relationship with myself yourself. Yeah, totally. You are horrible to yourself horrible.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 41:41
Needless to say, Alexis is no longer touring 200 days out of the year, that kind of life just doesn’t speak to her anymore. And that change can be traced directly back to the road trip. There was a huge amount of upheaval that motivated them to take that trip in the first place. And the trip itself brought about tons more change. I mean, they live in a different timezone. Now they have a totally different perspective on parenting. Brad has a whole new career. And would any of that have happened without all the shit they were trying to escape? I mean, realistically, probably not.
And of course, the big epiphany that comes out of that trip is it there’s always purpose to our pain. And the time is the only revealer. And recently I looked at Brad and especially on the other side of our miscarriage, and the entire trajectory of our life was changed. Because we took that RV trip, not only did it put me on the road of healing and put me on the road of an entirely different life and career in everything. But we stumbled upon Bozeman, Montana, which we now call home. Everything had to be burned to the ground, so that I could build something that was true. So that I could build something that was more honest for me.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 43:05
Yeah, that’s, I mean, I wrote a book after my profound loss and sorrow and pain, all the stuff we’re talking about. But one of the things that I really was able to write in the epilogue, not during, but after, was that I feel like, the only way I can describe that period of time is like, there was a nuclear bomb. There was an atomic bomb. My house was bulldoze to the ground. I had nothing left. I was sitting on boards and dust and nails. And in this discomfort, and I was just stuck there for a while. And then at some point, I was like, Hey, I probably need a roof. Again, and I probably, but you know what, I actually never liked the way that that other roof looks. And you know what, I would have changed the wallpaper there. And actually, when I’m thinking about it, I fucking hate living here anyway, so maybe we should move over there. And then you actually, because everything’s been destroyed and demolished. You have this power now to make the choice about intentionally rebuilding where you want and how you want. And so I do. It’s so fascinating because doing this show, I meet two kinds of people. I mean, everything happens for a reason, and I meet the universe’s chaos. I think I leaned towards the universe’s chaos. But I also do acknowledge the fact that like, there is no way that I wouldn’t be here. Had I not had to start being intentional about what my life looked like. And I think there’s this like, profound, shared universal experience with people who have had their ship blown up where you change, but like there’s there would have been no road trip there would have been no sort of exploration of what do I want next without being demolished?
Yeah, no question. Everything you just said, I think that like, I believe that like universe is total chaos. And yet I also believe, like this divine intentionality that exists in life and like reason and purpose for everything. And I’ve certainly experienced both of those. Because I think I assumed that once we got pregnant, I was like, you know, obviously, God’s gonna give me a break, you know, because shits been so hard to get here. So I kind of thought, like, Oh, I get to chill for a bit, we’re gonna have like an epic, easy pregnancy. And then like, the whole pregnancy, like my water breaks, seven weeks early, and I move into the hospital and my son is born with a hole in his lung and just thrown into the NICU. And you know, then like, just everything that could go wrong, went wrong again. So that’s where I have moments of like, the universe is total chaos. Oh, you’re just randomly chosen for really hard things. And I know we can all do hard things. I just wish they hadn’t been so hard. And, and yet, at the same time, now I look at this like chunky, almost four month old baby boy who’s like, totally thriving. And I’m like, Whatever, man, like, whatever it took for you to get here, dude, like, wanted to come early, you have this grand entrance into the world. And through all of it, I will say that, like I sent in my final manuscript in two weeks later, is when we did our embryo transfer, which is when I got pregnant. So it’s interesting because I in the book, being like, I have no idea how we’re gonna get there. I have no idea how we’re moving forward. And that was important to me. Because of course, there was a moment of like, my editor being like, do you want to event like, I could add one page of epilogue into the book? And I said, No, because if that’s not honest, you know, like, we went another, you know, however many months, you know, with a book, like book edits can be a year. Yeah, like, there were like, months of this still unknown. And I was like, I don’t want to tie it up with a bow and say, like, and then everything turned out because when I finished that book, everything did not turn out. But you know, now I do have a four month old son. And I just recently looked at Brad and I was like, Could you imagine if we never had that miscarriage? Like we would never have the beautiful life that we have now. And that there was purpose. And by the way, do not tell people that there’s purpose to their pain in the moment because they may punch you in the face. But I don’t think I could have heard that message then. No. But looking back, I’m like, oh my gosh, like, of course.
Stephanie Wittels Wachs 47:40
A lot of this stuff is just like, yes, yes. Yeah. This is empowerment, actually, like you used to like talk about empowerment. This, this is empowerment. Okay. Yeah. So what’s next for you?
I mean, I will say, like, for the first time in my life, I don’t know, in that, I’m okay. Not knowing, you know, and normally again, like pre atomic bomb, Lex, like, life was a chess game, I knew every single move in anticipation, and I start this company, and then it would transition and I’m doing this company now, like, so goal oriented, and so specific about the strategy of how I was maneuvering. And for the first time in my life, I think I’m like, in this place of being able to, like coexist with the unseen, like, as it is unfolding, and trusting that like, whatever is in store is going to find me and I never had that kind of surrender, and that kind of faith in myself. And that kind of like self love and that kind of trust. Never, like that kind of trust in myself and God in the universe. Nah, I never believed that, like anyone had my back but me, and that I had to go out there and like grind and hustle and like figure out in that so interesting to use that language, like I had to figure my life out, as opposed to like, trusting and allowing life to unfold. But I am so in a different place where not that I’m great about like being present in the present moment. But like, that is my spiritual practice. Everyday is like, right here right now. And when I feel that poll, like pulling me out of the moment, and where I like, like, deep, like, angst around like, what is my next thing gonna be? I just like have that mantra over and over. I like take some deep breaths. And I say right here right now, right here right now, right here right now what that means is like being present with you, which has been like such an unbelievable pleasure so far have this conversation. What that means is like when I’m off with you, I’m gonna go upstairs. I’m gonna like cuddle my son for a little bit and love on him. And then I’m probably going to like pop back into my office and like, just right here right now. Like, what is the next thing right in front of me? And uh, allowing that to be enough
Stay tuned at the end of this episode for an exclusive listen to Alex’s book Joy Hunter courtesy of Apple books, and get Joy Hunter on audiobook for yourself by clicking the link in the show notes. There’s even more LAST DAY with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content like an AMA with yours truly. AMA stands for Ask Me Anything in case you didn’t know. So just FYI and FYI means for your information. So subscribe now in Apple Podcasts. LAST DAY is a production of Lemonada Media. The show is produced by Kegan Zema, Aria Bracci, and Tiffany Bui. Our engineer is Brian Castillo. Music is by Hannis Brown. Steve Nelson is our Vice President of weekly content and production and Jackie Danziger is our Vice President of narrative content and production. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and me Stephanie Wittels Wachs. If you’d like what you heard today, we have three other seasons that you can check out. Have a story you’d like to share, head to bit.ly/lastdaystories, or click the link in the show notes to fill out our confidential Google Form. follow and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership. You can find us online at @LemonadaMedia and you can find me at @WittelStephanie. Thank you for listening, we will see you next week.