Angelic is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Mindfulness Coach and author from San Diego, CA. She is also a volunteer with the Myositis Support and Understanding organization where she moderates mindfulness conversations on clubhouse and advocates for myositis, a rare auto immune disease that has affected her own life. She also knows what it is to live as an expat. In this interview, she talks about her expat journey and her new book ‘Women Thrive’. We discuss how we can live wellness with a partner who works away from home.
Women Thrive: Inspiring True Stories of Women - by Angelic Ingram
Welcome to Holding the Fort Abroad, the podcast for expats with traveling partners. My name is Rhoda Bangerter. I'm a certified coach and the author of the book Holding the Fort Abroad. In this podcast, I interview men and women who live abroad and have traveling partners so that we can all benefit from their wisdom and experience. I also invite relationship experts to apply their expertise to this topic. Today my guest is Angelic Ingram.
Angelic is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Mindfulness Coach and author from San Diego, CA. She is also a volunteer with the Myositis Support and Understanding organization where she moderates mindfulness conversations on clubhouse and advocates for myositis, a rare auto immune disease that has affected her own life. She also knows what it is to live as an expat and with a partner who travels. In this interview, we will talk about her journey, (intercultural relationship, overseas experience and if/how business travel has been a part of it. then go into your book Women Thrive and how we can live wellness in this lifestyle. Angelic welcome!Angelic Ingram (:
Thank you, Rhoda. I'm so excited to be here with you. Thank you so much.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Well, thank you very much for joining me today, and I'm really looking forward to hearing your perspective on how to manage and use mindfulness and wellness practices when you are overwhelmed, when there's a lot of challenges and when a lot of life just kind of keeps hitting you. So maybe we could start off a little bit with your journey and how you became an expat and some of the challenges that you faced.Angelic Ingram (:
Yeah, sure. My expat journey began in 2008. I actually met my husband, who's from England in 2005. And then we decided to move to England from California. We met in California and we decided to move to England because he actually obtained a business proposition that we just could not pass up. So we moved ourselves to England in 2008 and it was supposed to be just for a couple of years, but then 10 years later,
And then after a while after the dust started to settle and we started to kind of get into our routine. My husband was of course traveling into London for work, being gone a lot, so many hours of the day. And we lived just about two hours north of London at the time. So we lived in a small village and it was very difficult for me. After a while, I started to really become emotionally affected. I was just without my husband there and not really having any friends, it was really hard to make friends. Again, as a small town the English are very reserved people, so it was really difficult to attain those friendships, that connection that I wanted and we all crave, right? And so that was the beginning of a very strong situation for me emotionally and mentally.
So going through that, it started to affect my relationship with my fiancé. We were engaged at the time. So I just started creating these narratives in my head. I was feeling lonely, I was feeling frustrated. I was beginning to resent him, you know, and I started to fall into this dark hole of emotional scarcity. I just did not know what to do with myself. I suddenly had all this time on my hands, I had left my small business behind in San Diego to move to support his career. And that was really hard for me because, you know, I love working with my clients and saying goodbye to them. Although I was excited for the new adventure, I suddenly felt like I had no purpose. I wasn't waking up to anything other than, okay, how do I create this new life here?Rhoda Bangerter (:
And what did you think was gonna happen? You must have had an idea which then didn't match, presumably, right?Angelic Ingram (:
Well, you know, because we were only, we were only going to be there for a couple years, we decided not to get a work visa for myself because it's a very timely process and expensive as well. So I decided, okay, well I'm just gonna hang out and try and create this new life in supporting my fiancé at the time. And I wasn't really sure what to expect.
My stepson was out there as well. So that was one thing I wanted to, you know, my goal was to get closer to my stepson and form that relationship with him. And really just immerse myself in the community. But it wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be
Yes. And also things change, right? You think you're going out for a couple of years, so you make one decision and then you end up staying longer and you're thinking, ugh, if I'd known, I would've taken a different decision to begin with. But that's the nature I think of the life is that things will change and you sign up for one thing and then you end up getting something a little bit different. And so it's navigating that situation. That's mentally tough as well, isn't it?Angelic Ingram (:
Yes, absolutely. For sure. And the more time that went by, it was harder for me. You know, I was beginning to feel guilty because I left my elderly parents at home. I wasn't expecting to be gone for that long. And all of these things just started to come down on me. And it was when I realized, okay, my relationship with my fiancé was being jeopardized by all of these emotions and the resentment and the frustration, of course, we started to argue a lot about that. And I woke up one day and I said, right, you know, this is not healthy. I need to find some guidance. I need to move through this. I cannot do it on my own. And that's when I decided to reach out to someone who could help guide me.
And this was when I first became aware of the life coach industry. I was looking for a therapist online, and then I found this woman, this website that just struck a chord to me. I was just attracted to her work. And aside from therapy, she also offered life coaching as well. And I thought, what is this life coaching? So I contacted her and she oddly enough was also an expat wife. And so immediately I was like, okay, this woman gets me. She understands what it's like, I want to work with her. And so I took her on as a coach and an amazing journey. We went through it and the process was just so beautiful. You know, she really opened a lot of doors for me in terms of looking inward and seeing what I have control of, what I'm bringing to the table, what I'm responsible for, and why I'm telling myself these stories that are just keeping me down.
And so that process was just amazing, and I'm so grateful that I did find her. And it's funny how the universe will just bring you what you need at that very time to help support you. And it wasn't until a few years after we finished our work together, that I thought, you know, ‘I’m still here in England. And I'm meeting more and more people now, it's been years and I'm seeing a lot of expat wives and expat partners out there with all the same kind of situation. And I thought, why not do this myself? Why not help the community as a holistic health practitioner? I can go get my coaching accreditations and help the community, help these expat partners get through their challenges as well.’ided to launch my business in: Rhoda Bangerter (:
So as you started transforming and maybe seeing things differently, what did you see change in your life?Angelic Ingram (:
Oh, wow. I started to just relax with this whole new process. And I have to say, I did start my mindfulness journey over 20 years ago when I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder. And that journey in itself really directed me into a holistic health perspective. And that's what I wanted to do. I decided that was my pathway.
So, you know, all of my journey through my mindfulness practice has been able to calm me down. Right? And, and I'm able to invite more peace. I feel more light because I'm not sweating the small stuff anymore. I'm not seeing things and trying to control things that are out of my control. You know, letting go of that, releasing it, being in my own presence and just inviting in more peace. And that in turn gives me a lot more balance in my days. And I'm able to really be present with my relationships and invite that clarity, that light.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Okay, yeah. Because as you develop this, circumstances aren't changing, you are still in the village, right? Your partner's still traveling two hours into London and being gone for a long time, you're still without, I was gonna say without a job, but in the end, you found a purpose, I suppose, did you?Angelic Ingram (:
Yes. After my process I found a volunteer job with supporting people with brain injuries. Okay. And I worked with this company eight years called Headway in England. I started in Bedford. And then when we moved to London, I transferred over to their London clinic. And it's just amazing, you know, just helping other people, supporting other people and meeting and making new friends as well along the way. And the volunteer work was really helpful. And I was really grateful for having that because then I was able to feel like I was doing something. That was all my purpose. I'm here to help and serve and myself as well. And that really helped me through that process.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Can you tell us a little bit more about the rare autoimmune disease? I think it'll be really helpful for the listener my listeners to hear what it is. Maybe some people are struggling with the symptoms and don't know what it is. You said it takes sometimes a long time to get diagnosed. So maybe explain it. I'm curious as well to hear what it is.Angelic Ingram (:
Sure. Just over 20 years ago, I was diagnosed, well, okay, let me start here. There was some trauma in my life that was indirect trauma. I was married once before and I had just been married. And it was a year after we got married that this traumatic event happened. And about a year later, after that incident, I started having these symptoms of, it started with like a shortness of breath. I was working with the pediatrics office at the time, and I noticed that I need to catch my breath a lot more often. It was just kind of strange.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Even just from walking?Angelic Ingram (:
Even just from walking, yeah. Or I'd be sitting there at home watching a movie, and suddenly my chest would feel tight and I would have to take some breaths, it was very strange. And my husband at the time, he said ‘maybe you're just out of shape’. Because I hadn't been working out, because I've been very active always. But I was kind of slacking off on my walks and everything. So I decided, okay, maybe you're right. Maybe I'm just needing to increase my endurance. So I started walking again, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't walk even a block without feeling heaviness in my chest. And then over the weeks, I started to have muscle weakness, and that's when I knew, okay, something is seriously going wrong here. This is not just being out of shape.
But I did let that go for a couple more weeks. And it wasn't until one day I was working and I was cleaning up the waiting room in the office. The kids had books everywhere. So I'm picking up the books and I'm putting them on the bookshelf, and I could not get myself back up. I did not have the strength to push myself up. And a nurse was walking by, a good friend of mine, and she came over and helped me up and said ‘Don't worry. Go home and call your doctor.’ And so I was panicking, you know, I was walking through the parking lot, going to my car thinking, what is going on with me? You know? And it just all kind of hit me. I was trying to hold onto the steering wheel, and it hurt just to reach up to my steering wheel and hold onto it. And I would try and turn my neck to see, you know, if traffic was coming. And it hurt. Everything started to hurt. The pain started to set in. And by the time I got home, which was about a 25 minute drive I couldn't get out of the car when I parked in our driveway. And I literally had to pull my legs out and my husband saw me, and he comes running out, and I just broke down. I said something was seriously wrong here. And, you know, it was too late to contact anybody. We didn't go into urgent care. I just thought I need to rest and just wants to sleep. And hopefully tomorrow morning I'll wake up and I'll be all good.
Well, unfortunately, that didn't happen. I woke up the next morning and I couldn't even get out of bed. So that's when I called the doctor and my appointment started happening. And, of course at first, you know, I got the whole ‘it's all in your head’ kind of thing from the doctor, being shunned by the doctor, and having to go through that, that was very difficult. And the muscle weakness was getting worse and worse. It was my whole body and the pain was from head to toe. And it got to the point where I couldn't lift my arms. You know, I couldn't shower myself. I could not walk much less, you know, I was like shuffling, like a hundred-year-old person would, you know, just these little shuffles.
And I ended up in a wheelchair, and it took them four months to diagnose me. They thought I had lupus in the beginning because I did have that rash, butterfly rash, they call it, on the face. And then it was also showing up on my joints. But lupus was ruled out. It wasn't until they took a muscle biopsy from my leg that determined myositis. I had no muscle activity whatsoever. So that was as you say, it was like a blessing in disguise in a sense, because going through that journey and starting the treatment that, you know, the first protocol of treatment is a small form of chemo with steroids. And of course, I was in and out of the hospital with that stuff because of the side effects. And seeing the bureaucracy behind our healthcare here in the States, the HMOs, I was observing that as well, you know when I kept going into the hospital, I mean, they knew me by name. It was like, ‘Oh, Angelic, you're back again. What's going on?’ You know? And that's how often I was in and out of the hospital. And I got to know the staff really well. But, you know, that whole journey really just put me into a whole different light of, okay, where Western medicine is not where I need to be. If I make it through this, I want to serve the community in another way, in a holistic way.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So that's when you discovered more mindfulness and having the - I always say the combo - of the Western and the Eastern and the traditional and the non-traditional, is sometimes the best combo, because then, you know, you have both.Angelic Ingram (:
Yeah. Absolutely.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So what would you say to somebody who was overwhelmed, who might be fighting an illness or … chronic, at this point we're talking, right? Or just feeling like I can hardly get out of bed in the morning. What what would you say to them? How do you go from there, where do you start?Angelic Ingram (:
Patience. You need to start with some patience and some kindness to yourself. Because if you don't have that, you're gonna stay stuck in frustration. And you're going to resent so much on the outside. And it's not easy. I am gonna say, it's not an easy journey. Believe me. When you are in pain and you are feeling low at your lowest, I get that. Cuz I've been there. And through my mindfulness journey, I've been able to just be okay with that, with those days. Cuz we're gonna have good days, we're gonna have bad days. And I feel that if you can cultivate more patience with yourself and know that, you can do what you wanna do or what you're able to do, then that's a blessing in itself. And having been coming out of the wheelchair those 20 years ago, I was given a second chance. That’s how I see it. And I'm grateful for that because now I'm able to get back to my quote unquote, “normal life”, right? Even though I'm still managing this illness and now rheumatoid arthritis as well. It's not easy. But now I know that every day is gonna be a different day. Every day is a new day. But I need to stay with what's going on with me right now. And then I need to stay present and focus on what I'm able to do right now. Count the blessings that I have. I'm able to sit up and talk to you today and get out of bed and do the things that I can. And having the compassion for the people that that are there to help you. And being able to accept help. Because that was hard for me in the beginning cause I was 32 years old, and here I am needing help in the bathroom and the shower. That was very difficult. And it's hard to let go of that that, you know, you need that help. And so accepting the help is one thing that you really need to learn, to open up to, because they're there for you. These people love you and they want to help you, and they're there for you. And we need to accept that, regardless.Rhoda Bangerter (:
You said, have compassion for those who help. That's an interesting way of putting it.Angelic Ingram (:
Yeah. I think because we need compassion for ourselves and putting that compassion out there for them, it's inviting them into your personal life and we can tend to resent and blame other people. Or we make up these stories and that's what mindfulness too is about. It's about being able helping you move through those stories and narratives that we tell ourselves that, you know, oh, this person's just trying to do this for that, or, you know, they're not really trying to help me or whatever those stories are. And mindfulness is really about being more aware of what we're thinking and why we're thinking that. Because when we're in pain - oh my gosh, I mean, I still struggle with this - you know, when we're in pain, we can really easily tell ourselves a story that is not true. And when we believe these thoughts, when we believe whatever it is, these negative thoughts, whether it's a judgment blame or whatnot, we react to it and our bodies are reacting to it. It it can be something as simple as, oh, why isn't she texting me back? Why aren't they calling me back? Oh, they're probably mad at me because…, or maybe this and that. And our bodies start to react to that. And that's when we start to respond physically. Whether that's a stomachache, headache, rash, whatever it is that we physically respond to, that's so unnecessary. We're doing that to ourselves when we don't even know the truth. Perhaps that person had an emergency that we didn't know about.
We're making up these stories, and we're reacting to them. We're getting upset. We're getting angry, we're getting sad. It’s just our bodies feel that. And if we can calm down those thoughts, remove them. As soon as we start to feel them, be aware of them, recognize them, and say, you know what? I don't know the truth to this. Why am I doing this? Why am I having this thought? And really just kind of reflecting inward and thinking, okay, what is this, that it's there for a reason. Why is this challenging me? Am I having an insecure moment right now? Or what is my fear? What do I need to address about myself?Rhoda Bangerter (:
So the lesson is, when there's a lot happening, when there's a lot of stresses or a situation of overwhelm or a situation where we feel we might need more help because we're struggling to be extra mindful of what we're thinking. And the stories we're telling ourselves and thinking, okay, why am I thinking this? How is my body reacting to what I'm thinking?Angelic Ingram (:
Yeah. Yes. Absolutely. It's self-awareness. Mindfulness is about attention plus intention. Attention to ourselves, the self-awareness, recognizing our thought patterns, and then having the intention of correcting that or shifting them, shifting them to better serve us, to remove ourselves from the self-sabotage that we often do to ourselves. And that affects our bodies.Rhoda Bangerter (:
I mean, this applies very well to, for example, our partners being away. It puts us under stress. We start thinking they don't love us. They don't think about us. They haven't called in six hours, they probably don't love us anymore. Whereas it's got nothing to do with us. They're probably in a crisis situation, or they're taken in whatever they're doing. And so I think it's our personal responsibility. And this was what I've learned in my journey too, to say, wait, what am I thinking?
Right?Rhoda Bangerter (:
It's probably got nothing to do with me. The fact that they're not calling or that they're busy doesn't mean that they don't love me anymore. I'm responsible for my space for what I am doing here and to be present in what I'm doing. And as I start feeling better, he starts feeling better as well because he sees that I'm okay. I think he worries a lot sometimes if he sees that I'm not okay mentally, or that I'm creating these narratives, like you were saying, that are actually completely untrue and doing our relationship a disservice as well.Angelic Ingram (:
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I experienced the same thing when I first moved to England, I was having those very same thoughts thrown out of, oh gosh, you know, why isn't he calling me back? Or I would be so jealous. You know? And because he was going off to London every day, meeting new people, serving his purpose and having these great interactions. And I was here at the house by myself, no friends, no real work, and you can only clean the house so much.
But of course, we're all tolerable to certain things and we started to have problems because of my narratives, because of what I was doing, letting myself fall into, and I'm so grateful for his patience and his support through all of that time, and helping me wake up one day to that awareness that, okay, I need to do something. I need to figure out what's going on with me. Because he is right. It's not about the external world. I need to stop blaming, I need to stop feeling resentful, and I need to work on this. And it's not easy to do that for everybody. It's not easy to look at yourself, right? And say, okay, where do I need to shift? Where do I need to make these things better for myself? How do I make that shift? And what do I need to do? And face those fears. And we have to face our trauma. We have to face our fears and our worries so that we can heal from them. And make it better. Right?Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah. Do you have any resources, anything simple that someone could start with? Or is it better to contact you and start with a conversation? Or what would you say?Angelic Ingram (:
Yeah. That's both really. I mean, breath work is a really big one for me. And that's so simple. We all have it, and it's free, right? So whenever you start to feel a little bit anxious about something, or if you start to have a negative thought or blame, just sit back and just really take a deep breath in through the nose, like for four seconds, and then hold it at the top for two, and then breathe out and do that a few times. And this helps calm the nervous system. This helps us get out of that fight or flight mode that our stories, our thoughts are bringing us to.
So doing some breath work and, you know, it might sound simple, a lot of people are talking about it, but you know what, it's very powerful. It is very powerful to our bodies. And if you can just sit back, take a few deep breaths and just be present with yourself. And then think about that thought. Is it true? Is what I'm thinking true? You don’t know, do you? So we have to just trust in ourselves, do that breath work and write it down. Journaling is always a great technique to use as well, if you're more of a person who likes to see things, we actually, when we write things down and we see it on paper or use your laptop, whatnot, it helps us heal. It helps us see a little bit more about what I'm writing. And you can see a little bit more clarity in when you're writing down what you're feeling and what your thoughts are, that can help you take a little bit of a break and sit back and be a bit more aware of why you're having that thought.
So breath work and writing it down, journaling can help you just calm the mind a little bit. And of course find the guidance, find the support that you need to go along that journey because it's hard. We all need that guidance. We all need support. And part of mindfulness, I wanna say there's so many misconceptions about mindfulness, the things that it's being positive all the time and or sitting in meditation for five hours a day or something. But mindfulness is really a state of mind. It's really just the self-awareness and one's desire to want to live with more peace, more balance. And it's a hard journey. You have to do the work. And that of course goes into facing your traumas, facing your fears.
And we're gonna have good days and bad days, but every day is a new intention of wanting to create that space for more peace and more joy. And it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. But you need to have that support around you, and place those boundaries around you as well. And that's really hard to do because sometimes that affects your family. And there needs to be boundaries set around you so that you have the space for yourself and live more in your truth. Live your truth. Because so many of us are living for other people, whether it's our parents, you know, or the people in our family that expect us to be living a certain life or something. We can get really attached to those expectations of others. And we need to live our truth. Life is too short. We need to live what we believe in, and shift our beliefs to what we truly believe in our hearts.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Exactly.Rhoda Bangerter (:
You're not living what's important to someone else. And at least I think balancing it out with your partner. Cause sometimes what's important for them and what's important for you can sometimes clash. And it's finding that situation where you can both have it, which sometimes can be the challenge.Angelic Ingram (:
But yeah. The communication is key. My husband and I, over the last several years we decided to have these what we call ‘retrospects’, right? And I know a lot of big businesses do it, right? And they get their teams together, okay, what's happening? What's going right, what's not going right? We do that with our relationship every once in a while cuz we live so far apart. Sometimes, you know, he's in Africa right now, I'm in California, and when things start to come off balance, we say, okay, it's time to get together. Let's sit down. What's going right, what are we happy about? What are we upset about? What are we sad about? And then we just sit there, and we talk about these issues that we're feeling and we keep that communication line open, and that's what helps us keep that balance. We're at least, and we do it without judgment, we do it without taking things personally. This is about two people who love each other and want to work at keeping that balance for that love.Rhoda Bangerter (:
That's a brilliant tip for a long distance relationships, to just have these moments of just taking stock. Where are we at?Angelic Ingram (:
Exactly.Rhoda Bangerter (:
So that then you're not growing apart, you're aligned with each other and you can hear what the other person's saying.Angelic Ingram (:
Absolutely. Because we can't read each other's minds, can we? And if someone's holding something back, it needs to be said. Regardless of whether you feel it's gonna be disappointing or not. We have to be open to that. And try not to take things personally. This is just how the other person is feeling. And so we need to address it together.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yeah. And many times it can be rectified, whereas if we keep it back, we’re like ‘ngh ngh ngh ngh, I’m not happy about this. I'm not happy about that.’ Well, it can never get rectified if you're not saying itAngelic Ingram (:
Rhoda Bangerter (:
Yes. So you have your in a book called Women Thrive. Is that right?Angelic Ingram (:
Yes. Yes.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Can you tell me a little bit about that? It sounds fascinating.Angelic Ingram (:
Thank you. I'm so excited about it. It's a collaboration actually, where there's eight women authors from around the world and it was headed by the Women in Business Club in London, England. And she wanted to bring these women together to tell our stories of overcoming adversity and empower other women and men really to keep going. You know, life is full of adversities, but we have the power and we have the strength in ourselves to overcome them and come out strong and stay fierce. So we are so excited about this book. We launched it a few weeks back and overnight we hit three bestselling lists on Amazon. We're so excited.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Congratulations.Angelic Ingram (:
Thank you.Rhoda Bangerter (:
You're hitting a nerve, I think, with people, you know, people are resonating with it.Angelic Ingram (:
Yeah, it really is. You know, it's just been an amazing journey and we're still going through the promotion of it. And we're gonna be doing chapter readings. We're each going to read our chapters starting the month of April. So once a week, the authors we will be doing that and we're excited about it, because it's so important that we support each other and we inspire each other to keep going, whether that's a professional or a personal adversity. We have to just let our stories out there. And that's what we encourage other women to do, is to reach out and tell their stories, whether that's in a book form or whatever, how that needs to be for them. Get their stories out there because someone needs to hear it. Someone needs to really hear what you, what you've gone through and be empowered to tell their story as well.Rhoda Bangerter (:
That's super. So how can people get in touch with you if they wanna get in touch with you and would you like to add anything to what we've just said before we wrap it up.Angelic Ingram (:
Yeah. I have a website, angelicingram.com, I'm also on LinkedIn and Instagram @mindfuljourneys. I do a lot of advocating for rare disease as well. And so reach out to me. I'm always happy to connect with people through the expat community or the chronic illness community, the rare disease. I'm always happy to connect and share our stories and just support each other. So connect with me. I'm always happy to do that. You can grab my book, Women Thrive, True Inspiring Stories of Women Overcoming Adversity on Amazon. I believe it’s still at the low discounted price, but it's on Kindle version and paperback, so we're excited about that book. And just remember that it's one day at a time, one day at a time. Be patient with yourself, be gentle with yourself and know that you have control of your happiness, you have control of your physical and mental wellbeing, and it's time to thrive.Rhoda Bangerter (:
Thank you so much, Angelic, for being with us today.