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70. (S2E34) Living a Mindful Midlife with Billy Lahr
Episode 7013th October 2022 • FINE is a 4-Letter Word • Lori Saitz
00:00:00 00:47:28

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From the moment I met Billy Lahr, I knew he would be someone I’d want to stay in touch with. I wish he lived locally so we could hang out together because he is inspiring, smart, and hilarious. I’m so happy to have him as a guest on today’s show.

He was home in the States when we recorded this, but as you’ll hear, he’s gone back to live in Korea again this month. In this one, we’re talking about finding and settling into a sense of clarity, living and lingering in the gray area of life, and Billy’s strong stance on the phrase “everything happens for a reason.”

If you’re up for some laughs today, keep listening.

Billy is currently the host of The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half. Billy spent 21 years as an educator but became disenfranchised the last half due to budding mental health concerns and unrelenting social media harassment from students.

In 2021, Billy left his job as dean of students to travel the world in search of more meaningful life experiences. After an emotional breakdown in Korea, Billy’s path in life became crystal clear. Since then, he’s been focused on navigating his own midlife crisis more mindfully and helping others do the same by using his life experiences as a guide for others to reflect, learn, and grow.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Zen Rabbit. If you’d like to find peace of mind amidst the chaos and no matter what’s going on around you, get on a complimentary call with me. In less than 30 minutes, you’ll get insight on any issue you’d like to bring to the table. And you’ll leave the conversation with clarity and renewed energy. Find the booking link here. Or text me at 571.317.1463.

And if you’re not into chatting just yet, you can go to to find free resources, like meditations and articles.

Billy's hype song is Refuse/Resist" by Sepultura





Here's the meditation Billy created for Fine is a 4-Letter Word.

And you can listen to Billy interview me on The Mindful Midlife Crisis here.



[00:00:16] Billy Lahr: go to the bar


[00:00:29] Billy Lahr: That's all right.


[00:00:31] Billy Lahr: start over?


[00:00:37] Billy Lahr: being fine. We're just gonna go right on


And I


[00:00:56] Lori Saitz: months ago, and I gotta say, Billy is the most prepared host I have ever talked to, which makes this even funnier because I am not,


So I jumped in there and I made all of these edits to it and they're like, Thank you for streamlining this for us. And I'm like, Well, think we've, if anything's worth doing, it's worth doing,


[00:01:42] Billy Lahr: let's go. We're gonna have a spreadsheet. This is what it's gonna look like.


[00:02:06] Billy Lahr: I knew you were gonna ask this question because you told me and because I listened to your podcast and I've struggled with trying to come up with, I guess almost like a. I feel like people always give the positive. This is where I really, but I didn't really have a negative, uh, experience growing up either.

I think what happened was I tried to model after my dad too much in the sense that my dad is a natural salesman and he connects with people very, very easily. Like my dad and I when I, you know, I was 22 to 28 years old, like he and I would go to the bar together all the time, and my dad was able to just kind of schmooze and get to know people and it, it was something that I, I admired quite a bit from him.

So I, I al I took it on myself. Unfortunately, I think I took on. That persona a little bit too arrogantly. I was too cocky with it. There was a great deal of entitlement with it. I think particularly when it comes to relationships, I think it turned me into a people pleaser because then if people didn't like me, I never saw anybody not like my dad.

Everybody love my dad. And I think when I would do those things and people didn't respond in the same way, then that caused some. Anxiety, It caused low self-esteem for me, and, and that was just how I internalized it. But then on the flip side of that too, like I feel like he taught me how to treat people.

And the more positive energy that you give out, that that's what you're gonna get back in return. I think my dad was, Sure of who he was and so confident of who he was and so comfortable in who he was, that he was able to get that back. And that, what's funny is that's just a realization that


[00:04:27] Billy Lahr: I'm sharing this answer with you and I.

Yeah. Yeah. And I don't think that I was ever that sure of myself and that I was ever that confident in myself until. Now in this stage in my life, like I turned 45 in three weeks or whatever. I feel like I'm finally at that point now where I feel very comfortable and very clear on where I'm going. And it's so interesting, like you were catching me on.

The ascent right now because things have shape shifted so much, particularly in the last oh month, I would say, to where like I, I feel really good about the path my life is on right now. So it's very exciting to be on this show because I absolutely am transitioning. Living a comfortable, fine life to a terrifyingly exciting life.

That , that may or may not work out the way that I have it envisioned, but I'm becoming more and more laser focused on where I want my life to go, that it each day feels more and more invigorating and those relationships that I was investing. A couple years ago are coming back round in full so that those are propelling me into this new


[00:06:21] Billy Lahr: Correct. Yeah. I actually quit my job back in September and I have been traveling around ever since then, and this wasn. Eat, pray, love type situation. Where I was going to do when you soul searching, that kind of thing. It was more, I just wanted to experience these adventures all around the world. I, I wanted to accumulate different life experiences.

I didn't get a passport until:

So all of my travels, Oh yeah. All of my travels revolve around those three things. So the fact that I did this trip for the last 10 months by myself was. A significant risk in that I, I didn't know what was on the other end of it. And I am somebody like, I worked in education for 21 years. Bells tell me when to start and when to move on to the next thing.

So I am very used to structured, I, like I talked about the. The spreadsheet at the beginning of this, like I love structure. I like setting schedules, that if there are people out there listening and you are floundering around with inefficiency and time, email me. I would love, love to sit down with you and organize your day for you so you can be more efficient.

Because when I was traveling, I really wasn't efficient because I was kind of whimsical doing my own thing. The last two weeks that I was in Korea, I was in Korea for three months, and the last two weeks I started to have this great sense of clarity around what I wanted to do with my life, and I just settled into it.

And I've been back now in Minnesota and I'm house sitting again. Just dumb luck that I am house sitting where I am house sitting right now. And I have. Started to get back into my old routine, and the more that I dip back into my old routine, the better I feel and the more focused I am and the clearer this future vision that I have


[00:09:08] Billy Lahr: You have no idea. And like if people who wanna travel hit me up because I love making travel


[00:09:15] Billy Lahr: my


And she's like, Oh, cuz I never thought of it. Um, so yeah, maybe I'll introduce you. She can, you can help her too. Yeah. All right.


[00:09:42] Lori Saitz: you had, you've been hosting your podcast Mindful Midlife Crisis for more than a year, right? Because you, you mentioned you left your job. Go ahead.


Now, I sent in my forms. I actually was taking a leave and I submitted my forms way back in


[00:10:31] Billy Lahr: and I


[00:10:40] Billy Lahr: No, I have been wanting to take a leave like this for quite some time now. I've always wanted to go to Korea. I've always wanted to go to Japan. Unfortunately, Japan still isn't open to tourists right now. They're open to tourist groups, but I've been wanting to do this for a while, and I put it off because I had a dog and I said, You know, I.

o she passed away in April of:

[00:11:33] Lori Saitz: my gosh. How


I went back and , yeah, they're, there Just wasn't gonna be any way for me to transition back into that old position. So I said, you. Here we go. And, and that was terrifying. And I think for those few months after that, I fell into limbo because I, I was, what we, we have a, we have a mutual referring Kari Schwear, and she talks about gray area living and.

ake a decision by February of:

Now, if I had to make that decision back in February, because who knows, like I don't have a job lined up right now, so would I be going back into education? Like I, I might be, you know, So it was good to just have that. Severed relationship with, with the district and be like, Okay, this is forcing me into the deep end of the pool where I am going to have to now figure out what it is I want to do for the next few years.

That sort of thing. And, and I, I had another clarifying moment too, kind of in those last two weeks. Of my time in, in Korea, I was taking a course with a, a job coach, with a career coach, and a lot of the talk was around resumes and a lot of the talk was around cover letters. And I was looking at the jobs that were out there, and it dawned on me that I, I don't, I don't wanna work in this, in corporate America like, I thought that I wanted to make that transition from education to corporate America, but I think that goes back to, I would've been fine with doing it cuz it would've been paying me money, but I don't know that it would've been all that fulfilling for me to do that.

And I don't necessarily know that my work has to be fulfilling, but because people spend so much time working, I don't know that there'd be a balance in other places in my life. So for me, maybe it does mean that I need to be doing something that is fulfilling and I could be doing, I, I'm starting to think that maybe I need to do like gig work, that sort of thing until I get this project that I'm working on with my friend Jill up and running because we're meeting.

for people in, in January of:

But what was interesting is I knew that I wasn't gonna be able to create that by myself. I have, I have the ability to, to structure things, but I have too many ideas in my head. And Jill has,


[00:16:04] Billy Lahr: Yeah, and, and, and Jill has a centralized focus of ideas, but not a lot of structure. So we are a perfect match for each other because I have the structure and she's able to whittle down. The information that I have in my head and just say, Mm, that's good. That's not so much. Let's stick with this. And, and it's really, really coming together quite nicely and I'm, I'm very excited for that to roll out.

Now we're in early stages of it, and like I said, I'm, I'm unemployed and, uh, I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to finance all this. So I'm gonna have to be doing things here and there. But again, that is me transitioning from. that fine where everything was comfortable into an


Like, how did you make that happen?


And then after that I was paying all the bills and then living on, And the thing is like I could have. Even more if I like to cook at home. But I, you know, I don't like cooking just for myself. Like I'll cook for anybody, and I'm not in a great cook, but I'm a passable cook. I just don't like cooking for myself.

And so I would go out to eat all the time and, and I, I could have saved a lot more money. I think back to how much money I spent on alcohol in my twenties. If I go down that path, I, I just become very, very depressed because I could have taken this trip a lot sooner or, or I could be financing stuff. For multiple people.



[00:18:34] Billy Lahr: correct, correct.


[00:18:52] Billy Lahr: Right, and, and you know that I am not a fan of that. Everything happens for a reason statement, but I'm not a fan of it in the moment. I don't like when people try to console another person by saying Everything happens for a reason. Mm, shut the fuck up. I, you know, like, I don't need to hear that. While I'm going through it, I need to come to that conclusion on my own once I have processed it.

But if that's your way of consoling me, Oh God. And what's interesting, I can't remember who the guest was, but she was on the, the, the Jordan Harbinger podcast and she talked about. Like there's actually research around comments like that actually do have adverse effects on people who have high anxiety.

And I'm guessing by now your listeners have gathered that I am high intensity, which also gather, which also comes with high anxiety, you know, so . So this is just how I run, like I practice mindfulness to stay at this level


[00:20:14] Billy Lahr: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, I really, I think where this energy is coming from now is, like I said, that excitement and the, the, that terrified feeling of the unknown right now. You know, 2012, 2013, I, I was in a really, really dark place, like in, so I had to go into therapy because I was in a, I was experiencing anxiety attacks.

I had depression. I was, I had suicidal ideation. So I went to therapy and picked, and I learned these mindfulness tips and this mindfulness practice that was able to recenter. My mindset and, and reframe how I was viewing the circumstances around my life and, and giving me tools to, to feel the, the somatic experience of anxiety so that I was able to manage it a little bit better.

And, you know, now I'm, I'm at a point where I'm very in tune, almost to the point where I'm, I'm hyper aware. My thoughts and, and my feelings and those sort of thing. But you know, as much as a, as an overthinker as I am, I'm able to at times, Pinpoint like, okay, if I'm able to have all these thoughts, then eventually it's kind of like word vomit, where eventually the, the, the really intelligent thing comes out.

It's kind of like at the before, at the beginning of the episode where I was like, Wait a minute, I just had this awareness from, from talking. So, you know, sometimes your rambling and, and I was just seeing the other day, if you're, if you're an overthinker, Write and if you're an under thinker read, and I thought that that


[00:22:09] Billy Lahr: information for, for if you're an over thinker, right? If you, you should journal, get those thoughts out of your head. If you're an under thinker, you should read, you should be consuming information. So, and then that way you. Kind of develop better perspectives on what's going on around you said that you have more thought, you have more ambition, you have




That that was kind of the insight that I was taking away from that,


[00:24:00] Billy Lahr: Correct. Yeah. By original plan, I had been planning for 18 months to do a month in Thailand, a week in Singapore, six weeks in Japan, and six weeks in Korea. Well, Covid wasn't relenting, so I had to. Rethink what my travel experience was gonna be and always wanted to go to Portugal. I'd like to retire in Portugal some days.

So I'm like, well, let's, that's, that's open. Let's go check that out. And I can very easily get to Spain from there, so let's do that. And you know, as I was, I remember I was in Lisbon just kind of seeing where am I going to go after this, because, When I travel, I know I'm, I'm gonna be here for four days and I'm taking this train to this city at this time.

And you know, and once I kind of get into the city, then I allow for that flexibility. When I went to Portugal, I didn't have a return ticket. I didn't really know how long I was gonna be there. Now, I, I booked all of my accommodations right away, but I, I see people like nomadic Matt as he's all about the, you know, if you like it, extend a few days.

If you don't like it. Eat the money on the, on the reservation and go somewhere else because time and energy are precious and it's like, Oh, I could never do, I would like, I would find something, I would find some experience, or I would just


[00:25:29] Billy Lahr: being productive in some other way rather than eat the money i'd.

Yeah, there's no way I could do that. But you know, over this whole experience. What was interesting is when I got to Porto Vita, well, here, I had to shift gears here because in January the plan was to go to Thailand because Thailand was somewhat opening up, and I'm like, Okay, here we go. We're gonna make this happen.

Well, then Thailand couldn't get their Covid regulations straightened out, so I just eventually canceled my trip to Thailand and I literally Googled Metro Transit, Ocean Mountains, cheap warm weather, and proto Vita popped up. And so I booked my flight to Porto Vita. I booked my accommodations there through the month of February.

I was there originally from February 7th through the 24th, and I had these four, I guess flex days at the end of February. And I am very much a concrete thinker in. know, I leave on the last day of the month, or I leave on the first day of month. Like, that's just how I, I don't, I don't start


[00:26:47] Billy Lahr: Like, that's the way that I am. Right. So people are like, Yeah. So people are getting a real, an even deeper sense here of just how structured I am. Right. So, I had those four days and I was really enjoying myself, and I, I didn't want to go back to Minnesota in February, so I extended for those extra four days.

When I got back to Minnesota, I've, I thought that there was a, there was a relationship that I was trying to nurture at that time, and it, it just, it didn't work out. And in h. Had, I guess had I known that I would've liked to have spent three more weeks in Puerto Vita because I had made really strong connections in those first three weeks, and then I felt like I was leaving them right when I was starting to build something, build a community down there.

So when I went to Seoul, I was supposed to leave Korea on May 31st. And I went from Soul to Jesu Island on May 17th, and I remember telling my Airbnb host, who is the nicest, most genuine human being on this earth, he and I are, are will be friends to the end. I remember telling him, I've met so many wonderful people here in soul, that if I were to leave on the 31st like I'm supposed to, it would feel. An unfinished chapter in my life. So I learned that lesson from when I was in Porto Vita and, and said, You know what? If I can figure out a way to extend my time, an extra month, I'm going to, And I, I did, I was able to change my flight, and I was able to book my accommodations with Ernie and I, I deepened those relationships with those friends over there.

To the point where that's where I plan to end up by March. Like that's the goal is to get back there. And if, if Japan is an open up in the fall, then I'm going back to Seoul in October because the last two weeks there is when I realized that I needed to stop chasing relationships that do not reciprocate the same. That I am putting out and I need to stop chasing relationships where I do not feel as valued as I am, putting value, like I'm overvaluing this relationship because it's not being reciprocated. And as soon as I stopped doing that, then all of a sudden these other relationships with the friends that I had, Really started to develop, Like people all of a sudden were messaging me outside of the hiking group that I was part of and saying, Do you wanna just hang out?

Do you wanna go do stuff? And it was a feeling of belonging that I, that I, I don't know that I've ever felt my entire life. And so that's when things started to become crystal clear for me. That's when I started to. See this work that I wanted to do with my friend Jill. And that's when I started realizing that this class that I was taking with the career coach wasn't for me anymore.

And I think that's a, that goes back to the point that nomadic Matt makes where he says, Hey, I know you spent the money on this hotel, but don't stay there if you don't like it. And I spent money on that class, but I realized with two sessions left, I don't wanna work in corporate America. Now. I took a lot of great things away from there and they, they talked about interviews and I'm gonna have to interview at, at some point.

I imagine if I'm gonna be doing gig work, but I just realized. I'm not gonna put in as much work into this because that would be me going back into the fine end of the swimming pool and I want


And so stepping into that flow, everyth. Gets easier. This is something I've been focused on a lot in the past several months as well. Like it seems like it should be easier to allow, like isn't it crazy to think that it's, Why am I struggling with allowing, That should just happen,


Tapes, if you rew and played that cassette over and over and over again, you wore it out. And I feel like that was a realization that I was making with the relationships in my life, is that I was wearing people out. You know, it's, it's never a good feeling when somebody says


[00:32:43] Billy Lahr: stresses me out.


[00:32:47] Billy Lahr: that's, that's never a good


It's on the dynamic between the two of you. Not you need to change because, and


[00:33:32] Lori Saitz: That goes back to


[00:34:00] Lori Saitz: like you were talking about with your dad, he was very confident in who he was and comfortable. And that when you get to a point of being very confident and comfortable in who you are, there are, you are not two people. You are one person and you are, are authentic. in that, in showing up as who you are in all areas of your life, which to what I was gonna say about your, your comment about interviewing, whether you're doing gig work or interviewing for corporate, or whatever you end up doing.

To me, it's always just a conversation like, here's who I am. I'm interviewing you as much as you're interviewing me. Like, how do you prepare to be yourself? Like that's really what you need. I mean, that's really how you need to show up. Here I am. I don't know.


[00:35:09] Lori Saitz: oh. Sure. That's what it is.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everybody's six foot here. Everybody's, you know, blonde, Scandinavian looking. Five, nine. I got all of skin, I got black hair. I, I get it. There's a, there's a prejudice again. No. Uh, but it's just, But all of my interviews that, uh, that I would, all the jobs that I landed were phone interviews, and I think it's because I was more comfortable in those interviews and I was able to, Not feel the eyes on me and feel like that they, I was getting judged for all sorts of, you know, my mannerisms and that kind of thing.

CHAD, Please chop out all this highlighted in blue/red text part

Because you, I mean, you don't have your, we're not doing this video, but I'm gesticulating the entire time. Like there's, I've big emotions with my hands and my arms. Like that's, that's how I convey. My message because there's a lot of emotion in my message. There's a lot of intensity in my message and, Yeah. Yeah, and, and so it is important for me to find someone in, whether it's in a relationship or whether it's terms of professionalism.

that matches my energy or that can compliment my energy. In my last associate principal, she and I had, she was very much introverted. I was very much extroverted. But the two of us together were a dream team and I absolutely love working for her To the point. I gave the toast at her wedding. Like that's how much we clicked because we just understood one another, and that's the kind of synergy that I'm looking for in life moving forward.

That's why I always love talking to you


[00:37:12] Billy Lahr: fun conversations.


[00:37:37] Billy Lahr: We could, we could we just keep going? I'll.


[00:37:57] Billy Lahr: You know, it's funny that you're bringing this up. We recently did an interview with Rich Bracken and Rich's fantastic. He does emotional intelligence conversations. He's a dj, so he turns his presentations. club like atmosphere. And one thing that he talked about was having a mood booster, uh, playlist.

And I'm very much from the nineties. Pearl Jam is my favorite band, so I listen to a lot of that. But you know, that music can also be very dark. And like I, I, now that I have this mood booster, I just pick songs that make me laugh. If I need like an extra boost in order to lift weights or something like that, I'm probably going to listen to Bulls on Parade by Rage Against Machine, or Refuse and Resist by ura.

Those will always get me going, but if I need something, There's like a mood booster. This is so funny. But you know, I start listening to my mood boosting playlist in the morning now, and my showers have gone from like three to four minutes all the way up to 10 minutes because I'm just dancing in the shower.

I just having like, just moving it and for whatever reason it people can make fun of me. But for whatever reason, party in the USA by Miley Cyrus.


[00:39:29] Billy Lahr: Is, it is just such a fun son. Just put your hands up. I just, I, I just, I love it. I love it. But if we're at a karaoke bar,


[00:39:42] Billy Lahr: ready for that


[00:39:59] Billy Lahr: absolutely. Yeah. I remember one time, this was years ago, and I was with my friends Mike and Rob, and all three of us are pretty big music snobs. And Mike said, Mike said, All right guys, what's the song that you like that you don't want to admit? And I said, You know what I really like since you've been gone by Kelly Clarkson.

And Robbie goes, I actually like that song too. And Mike said, I like that whole album. It's just like it's validation all the way across the board that Kelly Clarkson kicks ass, and


[00:40:33] Billy Lahr: you are since you've been gone, is a rocker. It is a bop


[00:40:51] Billy Lahr: Yeah, we're on Instagram, Mindful underscore, Midlife underscore Crisis. We're on Twitter, Mindful Midlife. We have a Facebook page, The Mindful Midlife Podcast, or excuse me, the Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast. You can go to our website, Click contact, and you can email us there.

You can join our newsletter. Our newsletter sends. A different meditation every single Sunday. We also have links to what our past guests are up to, whether they have courses, whether they have events going on. You can get more information about that. You can always email me at Mindful Midlife

I love connecting with people and I'd love to know who listened to this conversation and valued it and who. My story resonated with out there. Please hit me up. Let me know. I'd love to connect with you because if, if you've got the energy that I have, or even if you've got low energy and you need some of mine, I've got some to give.

I, I would love to, to connect with people out there. I always like to know who's listening to the podcast of the world, so there's so many out there, but there's so few good ones and


[00:42:08] Billy Lahr: this is a, this is an amazing one and ours is a good show too.


[00:42:18] Billy Lahr: Thank you for having me, Lori. Good to see a.




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