Four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Out of my Shell”. Their stories were recorded in-person in front of a live audience July 16, 2023 at Bonner Park Bandshell. The storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in The University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program. The Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking processes and habits of the mind, enabling our students to develop, refine and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities, as well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions plus independent studies and a final project.

Transcript : Creative Pulse - Out of My Shell - Part 1

[00:00:00] Marc Moss: Welcome to the tell us something podcast. I’m Marc Moss. We are currently looking for storytellers for the next tell us something storytelling event. The theme is lost in translation. If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406 203 4683. You have three minutes to leave your pitch.

The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. If you’re not the type to share a story and you want to attend the event, you can get limited edition printed tickets. At Rockin Rudy’s, you can also get digital tickets at We acknowledge with deep respect and gratitude that we are on the ancestral lands of the Pendelle Salish and Kootenai peoples who have stewarded this land for countless generations, their profound connection to the earth and its resources. Has left an indelible mark on the landscape. We now call home in recognizing their enduring legacy.

We are called to be steadfast stewards of this land, nurturing its diversity, preserving [00:01:00] its ecosystems and upholding the principles of environmental sustainability. May we honor the wisdom of our ancestors and theirs and embrace our responsibility to protect and preserve. This precious land for future generations.

This week on the podcast.

[00:01:17] Stephen Tucker: The world starts to come into clear focus. And I can hear the dog still barking and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks like something is wrong. To do

[00:01:27] Sandy Sheppard: my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right. One old man on the left. And the patient.

I’m a little nervous.

[00:01:40] Jolyne O’Brien: And I turn and look at my daughter, and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is. Eyes big and sure,

[00:01:51] Candace Haster: mom. So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I want to try it in the most simple way possible.

I can use interventions later if I want [00:02:00] to, but I want to start simply. Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

[00:02:06] Marc Moss: Four storytellers shared their true personal story on the theme, Out of My Shell. Their stories were recorded in person in front of a live audience July 16th, 2023. At Bonner Park Band Show, the storytellers you’ll hear in this episode are all educators enrolled in the University of Montana’s Creative Pulse program, a graduate program of the University of Montana that Creative Pulse embraces critical thinking, processes, and habits of the mind, enabling the participants to develop, refine, and integrate these processes into their own thinking and learning abilities.

As well as those of their students. The Master of Arts in Integrated Arts and Education is completed over two consecutive summer sessions, plus independent studies and a final project. Our first story comes to us from Stephen Tucker. Stephen Tucker accidentally learns who his favorite cat is when his apartment complex catches fire.

Stephen [00:03:00] calls his story Midnight Mayhem. Thanks for listening.

[00:03:06] Stephen Tucker: In May of 2013, I graduated from the University of Montana with my bachelor’s degree in elementary education. And I got my first teaching job teaching fifth grade in the Bitterroot Valley. And so it was time to finally move out of my college apartment and get a place of my own.

And I knew the first thing that I wanted to do was I was going to replace my college roommate with two cats. I wanted to get two cats in particular because I wanted them to be able to keep each other company when I was gone for the long days of teaching. So I went to the Humane Society with my mindset on finding and adopting two kittens.

And I went into the room with all the kittens, played with them, and there just really wasn’t much of a con Excuse me, much of a connection building and I walked out of the room feeling a little bit disappointed and I walked down a corridor going towards the back of the Humane Society where they have some more enclosures and some bigger cages and that’s when I saw this bigger cage that had these two cats in there.

They [00:04:00] were older cats, eight years old. Uh, their names were Sunshine and Pepper Ann and I took them out and I cuddled with them and in that moment I knew right away. That these cats were going to be my girls. So Sunshine, she’s a Himalayan with this beautiful thick white fur with these golden hues in her ears and in her paws.

And she has these mesmerizing blue eyes that when you stare into them you just can’t help but fall in love with her. And just want to pick her up and hug her and squeeze her. And, which kind of sucks because she hates being picked up more than anything. But, doesn’t stop you from wanting to pick her up and hold her and hug her.

And Pepper Ann. She is a stubborn cat and she’s got these beady yellow eyes. She’s a tortoise shell cat. And the thing that I love so much about her is that she loves to talk to you. And when you stroke her in just the right area, right behind her ear, she’ll cackle at you. So I moved into a small cabin for my first year of teaching down in the Bitterroot Valley.

And when I say small, I mean it was really small. 350, 400 [00:05:00] square feet, lacking a lot of amenities. So after the first year, I knew we needed to find something different. So I moved into a brand new apartment just right behind the Lolo Peak Brewery. And when I say brand new, I mean this apartment was literally brand new.

They had just finished constructing it. You could still smell the fresh paint and the new carpet when you walked in. And this wasn’t just any apartment. This was one of those ones that they built as a luxury apartment. So it had the 18 foot vaulted ceilings, the fancy countertops, the high end appliances.

It didn’t really feel like living in an apartment. It felt like living in a resort. So Sunshine Pepper and I, Pepper Ann and I, we got settled in. Pepper Ann immediately claimed dominion over the guest bed. She covered that thing with so much thick fur, I don’t even remember what color the comforter was, cause she spent all her time there.

I made a mistake, I think I said Sunshine did that, that was Pepper Ann. Sunshine, she found her [00:06:00] happy place on my balcony. And she loved to sit out on my zero gravity chair like a little princess basking in the sunlight. And my favorite thing to do was when I’d go out there and grill and she’d be out there with me and I called her my little grilling partner.

So like I said, we’d been settling in quite well. Beautiful brand new apartment complex. Really quiet as well. Hadn’t even met the neighbors, um, and this was about a month after living there. It’s late. August in 2014. It’s the middle of the night, probably like 3 or 4 in the morning, and I’m fast asleep. And in my sleep, I hear the sound, a muffled sound of a dog barking, ARF, ARF, ARF.

And it, uh, starts to wake me up a little bit. I’m not sure if this is something going on in a dream, or in real life, and it continues. ARF, ARF, ARF. ARF, ARF, ARF. And this goes on for about two or three minutes, all the while I’m slowly starting to wake up but still in that deep sleep fog. And I’m starting to realize, like, this is real life, and I’m getting really confused because I know [00:07:00] it’s three, four in the morning.

And I’m like, why is this neighbor letting their dog bark and bark and bark? And as I’m thinking about this, then I suddenly hear this soft pounding sound. And so now I’m really getting curious and getting a little bit perturbed, starting to wake up even more. I pull out my earplugs, and the world starts to come into clear focus.

And I can hear the dog still barking, and there’s a sound of desperation in its barks, like something is wrong. So that gets my heart rate pumping. And then all of a sudden I hear the pounding again. Pew, pew, pew. And it was the wall of my bedroom shaking. And then I hear, Sheriff’s Department, the building’s on fire, everyone get out.

So again… You know, I’m not fully awake at this point. I’ve got the 3 a. m. brain. And so the first thought that goes through my mind is, well, the building can’t be on fire. It’s brand new. They just finished building it. And I realize that logic makes absolutely no sense. But at 3 a. m. it makes [00:08:00] perfect sense.

So I get out of bed and I go to the front door and I pull it open and as soon as I pull open the door, the smoke immediately starts billowing in. I can smell the burning, um, the burning plastic and the burning wood. And the other thing is I hear the sound of a smoke detector from one of the apartments on the other end of the complex.

It’s beeping. Beep! Beep, beep. And with all of that evidence confronting me, I look down at the sheriff’s deputy who’s down the hallway still pounding on the walls and I say, is there really a fire? I don’t think he heard me because he didn’t say anything in response to me, but that was the moment that it kind of finally clicked and the adrenaline kicked in.

So I ran into my room, changed out of my pajamas and came out into the family room and did what everyone probably would do at that point. In that moment, and I started walking around in circles. So you know how sometimes you have that fight or flight response? You can also have that freeze response. And I could not make a decision about what to do next.

A million [00:09:00] questions were racing through my mind. What, you know, how much time do I have? Do I have time to grab things? What should I grab? Should I grab my computer? Do I, should I grab my documents, my birth certificate? What about the cats? And that’s when I noticed them. They’re just sitting there, without a care in the world, looking up at me.

Wondering what’s going on, why I’m walking around in a panic. And so I realized I gotta get my cats and I gotta get out of here. But again, not that easy making decisions in that moment, still a million questions racing through my head. Well, do I have time to go get their carriers out of the storage closet on the balcony?

Uh, if I come back in, I mean they’re in front of me right now, what if they run away when they see the carriers? You know, then I have to find them, I don’t know how much time I have. So maybe I should just scoop them up. And just carry them out of the apartment. But, you know, things racing through my mind.

What if they get scared, start squirming? I don’t want one of them to get away. The last thing I want is one of them to disappear and to lose one of them. So, again, I can’t make a decision. And then, just suddenly, without [00:10:00] thinking, I grab Sunshine and I run. So I’m carrying her out the door, across the balcony way, down the stairs.

She’s digging her claws into me, squirming. Uh, and get down to my car, open it up, toss her in, and then turn around. And I can kind of assess the scene and take in what’s going on. And there is an apartment that’s on the complete… The opposite end of the complex, as far away from mine as it could possibly be, and on the balcony, there’s flames that are building up, they must be like 5 or 10 feet tall.

It’s a pretty raging fire. But I can see that it’s contained in the balcony really far away from my place. So I realize, okay, it’s safe, I’m gonna go back in. I’m gonna go get Pepper Ann now. So, same story, she’s digging her claws into me, probably a little bit extra hard because she’s like, what the heck, why’d you leave me?

And, got her in the car, and then that’s when I really had the time to start breathing, taking the scenario, I realized, all my neighbors are out there with me as well, these people I’ve never met, what a weird way to Get to know your neighbors standing out watching the building burn at three [00:11:00] in the morning.

And you know, like me, there’s some of the neighbors, they’re out there with their pets. We’ve got a neighbor who’s with their dog, and we get to chatting with each other, and one of the neighbors tells the story of what happened. They said we were asleep in our beds and we heard this loud, huge explosion.

It shook the whole apartment and we looked out the window. The next door neighbor’s balcony was on fire. So we called 9 1 1 and reported it. And when we gave him the address, They didn’t know where we were. Remember that part where I said that the building was brand new? Apparently it was so brand new that 911 didn’t even know that it existed.

So they had to give them directions. Um, but all the while, while we’re having this conversation, the fire department’s there, and I hear, it sounds like Niagara Falls, like thousands of gallons of water that they’re using to douse this fire on this balcony, and it’s pouring over the edge. And it was probably about an hour or so before they had it completely mopped up and we were able to go back inside.

And I remember thinking, man, how the heck am I going to fall asleep now? So what you don’t know is, the next day is basically the [00:12:00] first day of teacher orientation returning back to school. So, you want to talk about back to school nightmares, I pretty much lived one of those. So, I don’t think I did get back to sleep, but went to school the next day, everything went well.

Came home and talked to that same neighbor and they had talked to the landlord, the landlord had figured out what had happened. And so apparently the people who live in that corner apartment, they were smoking a cigarette earlier in the afternoon and they put it out in a dried flower pot on their balcony.

And then they up and went out of town. And that thing smoldered in the flower pot all day and all night until the middle of the night when a flame caught. And then that lit the dried plant on fire. And then that flame spread to the gas tank of a lawnmower that they had on their balcony. And that detonated and that caused the whole incident.

And I remember taking away two things. The first one was thinking to myself, who the [00:13:00] hell lives in a second floor apartment and has a lawnmower on their balcony? And the second thing was, I think I might have just accidentally figured out which of my cats is my favorite. I’m sorry, Pepper Ann.

[00:13:18] Marc Moss: Thanks, Steven. Steven Tucker is a third grade teacher in the Bitterroot Valley with ten years of experience. As a teacher, he has a passion for science, technology, and coaching Lego robotics. He loves the outdoors and enjoys hiking and spending his days on the lake with his pedalboard. When he is not teaching or enjoying the outdoors, Stephen spends his time watching way too much YouTube and indulging in his unhealthy obsession with Taco Bell.

Our next storyteller is Sandy Shepard, who details her ordeal of becoming the first woman optometrist in Montana in the 1980s. Sandy calls her story, I Will Rise Up, or It Takes a Little Time. Thanks for listening. [00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Sandy Sheppard: Hello, Missoula!


so nice to be here with you. Thanks for coming. But in 1982, this was a different state. Summer of 1982, my husband and I moved from the University of California at Berkeley because he was taking his dream job at the University of Montana. He was teaching fire science, and he was close to the fishin and the huntin So, it was my job to find my place in this new state, this new town.

Being a practicing optometrist, I knew what I had to do first. I had to go to Helena, Montana, a new city for me, and take the board exam. Uh, several people come once a year, and um, you take a written test, A lab test and then you examine a real live patient. [00:15:00] Well, my lucky day, I had a six year old in my chair and I knew this was gonna be a piece of cake.

I go to the right eye, I scope ’em, I say, which is better? One, two. I go to the left eye, which is better? 1, 2, 1. Done. Well, I walk out to the mom, I tell her my results, I predict her son’s future, and I ask, do you have any questions? And then, I leave with my husband because it’s time to go home. Job done.

Check. Well, I have to wait two or four weeks to get my little acceptance letter.

And guess what? I failed.

I failed because I didn’t go and ask the mother if she had any questions. Oh, I was so naive. I trusted the system. I [00:16:00] trusted that the board would know I went out and asked the mother or if they knew I needed to they would have followed me.

But I didn’t go and say, Hey, I just asked the mom questions and here’s what we said. I was baffled and I was angry. I got myself an aggressive woman attorney. And she went to the board and she told me, hey, they’re going to do you a favor. They’re going to give you a I passed

the first one. She said, Sandy. You can either take this special test or you can wait till next year. I didn’t have a choice, so my husband and I go to a new city. Great Falls, Montana.


we enter this old optometrist’s office, which is fine because I love old equipment. [00:17:00] And guess who my patient is this time?

The old optometrist. Who happens to be a member of the board. So, to do my eye exam, I now have three board members watching me. One old man on the right. One old man on the left. And the patient. I’m a little nervous. In fact, the tension is so strong you can cut it with a knife. I gotta prove myself. So I scope the right eye.

Pretty easy. I scope the left. Well, I’ll do the right first. Which is better? One, two. Which is better? One, two. Okay. I go to the left eye.

Guess what? This eye’s a whopper! It’s off the charts!

If I [00:18:00] weren’t so nervous,

I would’ve figured it out. I would’ve taken that faropt away and I said, You were born with a bum eye, weren’t you? But, I was reduced. I had lost. And I went to the car and said to my husband, Let’s go, I failed again. Well, this is a little Japanese American guy, a great debater, a great professor, internationally known.

He’s not gonna let this stop us. So he goes back into the building, talks to him, comes out, Sandy, you gotta go in and talk to him. They wanna talk to you. Oh my God. So I do. I go back in, and guess what they say? What do you have to say for yourself? I’m reduced to a four year old Navy [00:19:00] brat who doesn’t have a place at the table.

I can’t defend myself, I just buckle. I crumble. And I walk out. I don’t say a word. Well, I looked at my husband, guess who gets my wrath? My husband. I didn’t realize that he didn’t understand what we were up against. That we were up against men who were narrow minded, who weren’t ready for the first woman optometrist, let alone from California.

Who could have been racist. He was Japanese. I didn’t know that, but I sure was mad at him for throwing me into a snake pit. So we’re driving home. I’m fuming and I’m just so full of shame. I flunked twice that I just [00:20:00] wanted to throw myself out of the speeding car. But I didn’t. Thank God. And we went home.

My plan was I’m going back to California. I’ll wait a year and come back and take the test. I did so well in California. I stayed with my step grandparents. My adopted grandparents. We had martinis every night. I found two awesome jobs. And one time she said to me, Sandy, I just know when you’re going downstairs, you’re just crying in your pillow because you miss your husband so badly.

I said, yes, I do. I couldn’t tell her that I was going downstairs, snog her into my, my pillow. So it was lovely being with them again. And then I went home. It was July. It was July the next year,

[00:21:00] and I went

to take my test. Lo and behold, I

didn’t have to hardly take

any test, and they passed me. I can’t even remember what little test I had to take.

What shocking, what a shocking situation. Why did they make me wait a year? But, the point is, I came home, I started my own business, I bought my building, I retired at 60, and… I love Montana. I love Missoula. My husband is not my husband anymore, but I sure am grateful that he brought me here.

Thank you.

[00:21:43] Marc Moss: Thanks, Sandy. Sandy Shepard was a Navy brat. She lived in oceans, bays and islands. She is thrilled now to be living on the Clark Fork River. Who would have guessed that she would have landed in Missoula, Montana and would have stayed for 41 years. Sandy believes that her first three years [00:22:00] may have been happier landing on the moon.

Coming up after the break

[00:22:03] Jolyne O’Brien: … and I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem is, but she is sure on board to help mom whatever it is. Eyes big and sure mom.

[00:22:15] Candace Haster: So I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple. I’m going to try it in the most simple way possible.

I can use interventions later if I want to, but I want to start simply. Okay. You should do that, but it’s not going to work.

[00:22:30] Marc Moss: Stay with us. Do you have your tickets for the next tell us something live storytelling event. You can get your tickets online at tell us something. org better yet though. Why not pick up some limited edition printed tickets?

These tickets are the same price as the online tickets and feature the beautiful artwork used on the posters. Artwork for the Lost in Translation event was created by Bear River Studios. These special tickets are available exclusively at Rockin Rudy’s. Get your tickets now at Rockin Rudy’s or get the digital version at [00:23:00] tellussomething. org. Alright, back to the stories. Jolene O’Brien shares her story about what people never told her about pregnancy. Jolene calls her story, No One Told Me, or The Fourth Trimester. Thanks for listening.

[00:23:17] Jolyne O’Brien: Good evening, thanks for coming out tonight. Um, it all, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2020.

Four beautiful, huge, bald heads, eight arms, eight legs, came through this body. And no one told me.

I remember the summer of 2014. It was shortly before I gave birth to my second child. I was super pregnant in my third trimester. And my husband was [00:24:00] leaving for Phoenix to go for a business trip. And I thought, I’ll tag along. Winter was coming in Missoula, and I needed all the vitamin D that I could get.

I should have been traveling on an airplane at that time, but I went ahead and went anyways. And while we were in Phoenix, my husband was off doing his business thing, and I decided to research some really great things to do. So I came across this taco truck event. That was about 200 taco trucks all in one area.

If you love tacos, raise your hand. You are my people and we Couldn’t get tickets, they were sold out. So I went ahead and shenaggled and got us um, some free tickets through um, this marketing event that I told them that I would do which was take a picture of myself on Facebook really quick and then get free tickets and hop into the Docker Truck event.

Fabulous. So as we were at [00:25:00] this taco truck event, we walk in and I can smell the barbacoa, and I can hear the sizzling, and I see the fresh pico de gallo, but I do what all pregnant women do, and I scope out the bathroom scene. So I find it, it’s an amazing set of port o potties off to the side. I tell my husband I’m gonna go get in line, and he’s thinking for tacos, and I’m actually heading to the line of the port o pot, and I head over there.

My husband graciously and lovingly joins me in line because we know no one in this thousand person taco truck event. So I go to the restroom. Go get a taco, go back to the restroom, taco, back to the restroom, taco, my husband ditches me, I go to the restroom. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing that.

It was hot, it was hot, it was muggy. My, my event wasn’t as great as his, he had all the tacos he could eat, I spent my event smelling a port a [00:26:00] pot. So we leave, and the next morning, we go, um, to go to the airport, and my husband is super punctual, and I am on time if I’m 30 minutes late. We are running 30 minutes late.

So he is agitated, irritated, and we show up and it’s um, the part of the airport that’s under construction. So, there’s no bathrooms, there’s no restaurants, and there’s no um, like clothing and cute purses and bags that you normally would see when you walk through an airport. So that’s fine. So we get in line and I am doing again what all pregnant women would do.

I’m scoping out for the bathroom scene. And it is at, we are at the back of this huge line, and it’s on the other side of the TSA. Excuse me. So on the other side of the T ss A, so I am thinking to myself, well, if I can snaggle some taco tickets that are sold out, I can sure as heck get to that bathroom really quick.[00:27:00]

So I ditched the luggage and I start like weaving through the line. Like I know somebody at the front like you might do in Disneyland. There’s my partner up there you go. That’s for me. And I get to the front and I go through T S A. And my only focus at this point is to get to that bathroom. Well, the gentleman who’s running the TSA, 6’4 bald, 350 pound man, had a different agenda.

He pulls me over to the side and wants to search me because I look super suspicious with my belly looking like I swallowed two watermelons. I’m in a dress kind of similar to what I’m wearing tonight. So I said, Sir, I’m so sorry, but I have to go to the restroom. And he said, I’m not, no, that can’t happen.

Follow me. Well, I’m not really wanting to follow him. So I said, no, I really have to use the restroom. And he says, I’m sorry, you can’t. Please follow me into this room. And he walks me. Mind you, I just, all the people I just snuck in front of. Okay, don’t forget that. [00:28:00] I walk in front, or I’m walking a couple steps behind him.

And he takes three steps to his room. Which is a quadrilateral of four translucent… Help me with the word. Walls. Thank you. Where everyone is now watching me get searched by my new friend. So I’m the lady in Costco that when you want to come talk to me about how cute my belly looks, I don’t want you to touch me or rub you.

Or rub me. Please don’t do that. And I’m realizing I’m about to get searched. He asks for, put my arms out, put my legs out. And I’m thinking to myself, I’m not going to make it. So again, I plead. Sir, I really need to use the restroom. No, you may not. He is as serious as serious can be. And he’s not realizing the seriousness of the situation.

So my arms are out. He rubs, he has no wand, for whatever reason. And he rubs his arms across my arm, back under, down my… [00:29:00] Sides down my leg and over my shoe. Well at this moment I am like starting to panic. And I do what all beautiful third trimester women would do in this situation. And as he takes his hands to check up my legs, I pee on him.

Thanks friend. Well, he’s not chasing me down as I turn and rush myself beelining it for the bathroom. No one tells you. So I make it to the, by this time my husband had put the luggage through. We make it to the front of the door and I am sitting in urine clothes for the duration of this, of the ride home.

Flight home. No one told me. 10 years and not one time did this topic come up. No one told, no one told me. It was the summer. [00:30:00] I’m sorry, it was the winter. Of 2020, Missoula had about 4 inches of snow on the ground and it was arctic freezing cold outside. It was this like arctic shifting wind, um, the kind that hits your face and you were like immediately boogers frozen.

So I had taken my daughter on a evening with mom, we do Wednesdays with mom at our house, and afterwards I needed to stop by WinCo to pick up… A few items before heading home. We had a brand new vehicle that we had just purchased. And my husband loves this thing. It’s now my car. It’s the family car. And as we’re walking out, I have a cart full of groceries.

Step and crunching in the snow. Niagara Falls come falling out of me with no warning. And I turn and look at my daughter and I say, Sis, we have a problem. She’s not really exactly sure what this problem [00:31:00] is, but she is sure on board to help mom, whatever it is. Eyes big and sure, mom. Whatever I can do. So I continue walking and I turn just to look behind me for a moment and notice that dog trail in the snow that I had just left.

I have a few steps to the car and I’m thinking, how am I going to get out of this because I’m not getting in my brand new car with soaking wet pants. So I do, I think what you would do, I took my pants off in the middle of the parking lot in Wingo. And I turn to my daughter and I say, I need your coat, sweetheart.

She is refusing to give her coat up at this point because it’s arctic cold outside. And I said, no sis, I really need it. I so am so sorry for the two gentlemen that were walking past at that moment.

She hands me her coat. I stick it on the chair. I take my coat off and I cover myself and I drive home naked. [00:32:00] Ashamed. Embarrassed, and so proud of my 8 year old. So I call my husband, and I tell him I’ve had an accident. And I need his help. And I need him to meet me at the door with some pants. Well his immediate response is that we need to call 911.

I don’t disagree, there’s a problem. But it’s not the car that’s broken, it’s me.

So I explain to him the problem and he meets me at the door with pants. And the reason I’m up here today to share this story with you is after 10 years when no one told me, I’m here to tell you there’s something called fourth trimester. And it’s something your body needs as a woman after having a baby.

And so if you are pregnant, if you’ve just had a baby, if you know someone having a baby, please do your research and tell them about fourth trimester. Nobody told me, [00:33:00] so I’m here standing here. Love yourself. Love your babies. I’m here to tell you. Thank you.

[00:33:11] Marc Moss: Jolene O’Brien is a wife of one husband, mom of two daughters and two sons. And a teacher of hundreds of children. Jolene is a woman, a daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and a close friend. She is an artist, a portrait photographer, and an incredibly creative writer. Closing out this episode of the podcast is Candace Haster.

Candace shares her story of deciding to have a baby and the process by which she did so with a kind sperm donor. Candace calls her story. Well, that’ll be interesting. Thanks for listening.

[00:33:46] Candace Haster: Hi. Um, so my story begins with the moon, but before that there was a storm. I was 33 years old. I was in [00:34:00] France with my mom. We were on a walk. She’s over there. Um, we were walking and it starts to rain. It’s a downpour. We’re soaking wet. There’s nowhere to seek shelter. We are just wet. And we are laughing.

And if you know my mom, and if you’ve heard her laugh, then you know that her laugh is the kind of laugh that makes you laugh too. Her big laugh. Her belly laugh. Sometimes she bends over while she’s laughing, and sometimes there’s snorts. Um, so we’re walking in the storm, trying to get out of it, running, laughing.

And as soon as the storm, or as quickly, I should say, as the storm comes in, it parts. And we’re hungry. So we find a restaurant, and we sit down to eat dinner. And there’s sourdough bread, and there’s an Aperol spritz, and there’s wine. And there’s this [00:35:00] salad. And my mom still talks about this salad to this day.

Perhaps it’s her favorite salad that she’s ever had. By far, it’s the most unusual that I’ve ever had. Picture with me, if you will, um, a bed of butter lettuce greens and asparagus and apples. But if you’re picturing this right now, I guarantee that you’re picturing it wrong. So… Imagine with me a green apple, a whole one, a round one.

It’s cored, a cylinder through the middle. It’s sliced thin, so what you have are donut shaped slices of apples. Three of them, arranged on the plate, on top of the butter lettuce. Through each apple is stuck, vertically, a spear of asparagus. But the asparagus isn’t green. No. This is the kind of asparagus that is grown under a pile of [00:36:00] hay.

To deprive it from light. This is white asparagus. Why? Personally, I prefer my asparagus to be green. So anyways, you can picture it now. White asparagus. Stuck through slices of apples with holes in them. Arranged on a plate. It’s a great salad. We finish dinner. There’s more wine. We decide to go on a walk.

The town that we’re in, in the Burgundy region of France, is surrounded by what are called ramparts. These are old stone walls meant to protect the town. Along some of the ramparts you can walk, and on some of the ramparts you can walk on top of them. They’re so wide. So we’re walking on top of these ramparts because we want to get a glimpse of the moon.

This is something that we’ve always done. We’ve always gone to go catch glimpses of the moon. We’re walking, it’s still cloudy, but the clouds part, and the moon shows itself. But it looks weird. [00:37:00] Why is the moon shaped like that? Why is it that color? It takes us a while to realize this, but what we’re witnessing is an unexpected eclipse.

And we laugh. It’s amazing. It’s magical. And in that moment, I know that this full moon is going to trigger my period. And in that moment, I also know that two weeks from now, I will ovulate. And in that moment, I also know that I’m ready to get pregnant, to have a kid. So, step back with me in time about 11 years prior.

I’m about 22 years old now. I’m walking in the north hills of Missoula, again, with my mom. The moon is out, but it’s the daytime. It’s a pastel moon. And we’re talking. We’re talking about all different things. We’re talking about the flowers that are growing. We’re talking about what’s for dinner that night.

We’re talking about my [00:38:00] partner at the time. And my mom says to me, Are you a lesbian? I don’t know. Well, are you gay? I don’t know. Well, what do you think I should call you? You can still call me Candace, Mom. We keep walking and a little bit later she says to me, Do you want to have children someday? Yeah, I do.

Well, that’ll be interesting. Indeed mom, that will be interesting. So come on back in time, actually forward in time again, to right when I get back from France. And, uh, I’d had previous conversations with a midwife and I’d also gone to the library and checked out so many books that talk about how to women can get pregnant.

And what all of the books tell me is that it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be expensive. You’re [00:39:00] going to have to use interventions. And my midwife confirms, yeah, it’s going to be hard. You’re probably going to have to use interventions and it’s going to be expensive and insurance won’t cover anything.

Not that I had insurance anyway. But wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. I remember in middle school, those VHS tapes that we watched, those sex ed VHS tapes featuring Patricia F. Miller. She told us that we could, I could, in fact, get pregnant in a hot tub without even having sex. Do you remember those stories?

Some of you remember those stories. I know you do. So what gives? Um, so I tell my midwife, I want to do it my way. I just want to be simple, I want to try it in the most simple way possible. I can use interventions later if I want to, but I want to start simply. [00:40:00] Okay, you should do that, but it’s not going to work.

But count it as practice, because what you’re going to need is a lot of practice. Okay. So previously, my partner and I had talked to our friend Seth, who had agreed to donate his sperm.

His partner Kenya was 100% on board. Kenya loves participating in weird shit. So… We make a plan. I give them this little plastic cup with an orange lid. Kenya helps Seth get his semen into the cup. She brings it to the house in her bra. It has to stay warm. And she knocks on the door. We have a secret knock.

Because there’s no need for chit chat in these moments. I open the door, Kenya hands over the semen. She [00:41:00] explains that during the process of getting the semen into the cup, there was a lot of laughter. Which I love. Um, she also said Seth is a little bit worried that it’s not enough. There’s not very much in there.

Like this much. Um, is it enough? I don’t know. I don’t have that much experience with semen at this point in my life. So, we go about the business. Put that up into me. Some of it slides out immediately. Scoop it back in. It’s okay. My midwife had previously told me that because I have a tilted uterus, which is not uncommon for women my size, that after the insemination, I should rest with my hips above my shoulders.

She suggested that I get down on all fours, but on my elbows. Rest that way. It’s not comfortable. She also told me how important it was to relax. I try [00:42:00] that. I try relaxing. And I decide that what I need to do is move my body because that’s what I am most comfortable doing. So we go backpacking. We get to this favorite spot.

Set up a tent, and these clouds roll in, and it’s a storm, it’s a full on thunderstorm. There’s thunder, there’s lightning, all of it, and in that moment, I feel this surge. It’s right here, right here, a little lightning bolt, and I know in that moment that I’m pregnant. Nobody believes me. You’re so weird, Candice.

Um, well 41 weeks and one day later. I’m in my kitchen. I’m making bread. My mom is there. Kenya’s there. I think they’re making dinner. The dough is sticky. I put flour on my hands. Knead the dough more, and I feel my contractions beginning. I hold that moment for myself for a while before I tell anyone. [00:43:00] Then at about three o’clock in the morning, my kiddo is born.

In my house. My mom and Kenya finished making the bread. And, a little bit later, a storm rolls in. There’s thunder, and there’s lightning, and the house smells like fresh made bread. Now, Things are a little bit different right now in my life. I have a different partner, and I have a little bit more experience with semen.

But, I still take time to look at the moon. And in fact, last night, my kiddo came to me right before bedtime and he said, Hey Ma, wanna step out on the stoop and take a glimpse at the moon? Hell yeah kiddo. Always.

[00:43:59] Marc Moss: Thank you. [00:44:00] Candace grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and moved to and fell in love with Missoula in the 1990s. You can find her small scale ceramic and paper artwork tucked into nooks and crannies around town, in the woods, and possibly in your neighbor’s pocket. She has a parent, a Scorpio, an avid cyclist, and is way into tigers.

Pretty great stories, right? I’ll bet you have a story to share, and I’ll bet that you have a story to share on the theme. Lost in Translation, the next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for September 28th. The theme is Lost in Translation. Pitch your story for consideration by calling 406 203 4683.

You have three minutes to leave your pitch. The pitch deadline is August 20th. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch. Tickets for Lost in Translation are on sale now. Limited edition printed tickets featuring the artwork of Bear River Studio are available at Rockin Rudy’s or [00:45:00] you can get your tickets online at tellussomething. org. Join us next week.

[00:45:05] Charlene Brett: The thunder



and it’s echoing off all of these

walls back and forth. My dogs are getting terrified. They’re like, can we go in the tent? Please? We’re scared. Please let us in. So we all

we bail into the tent because the rains come in and the rain

instantly starts pouring.

[00:45:22] Jessie Novak: And I know where this is going. And I don’t like it one bit. My brain is saying, they’re going to shut the oil lamp off too, and it’s going to be really, really dark. And boy, was I right.

[00:45:36] Sydney Holte: When I’m doing the thing

that I’m nervous about, the feeling goes away. But this time, the feeling in my stomach did not go away.

I was still feeling

really queasy.

[00:45:46] Marc Moss: Join us on the Tell Us Something podcast next week for the concluding stories from the Creative Pulse graduate program. The University of Montana event on the theme out of my show, the telesumming podcast is made possible in part because of support from Missoula Broadcasting [00:46:00] Company, including the family of ESPN radio, the trail one Oh three, three Jack FM and Missoula source for modern hits.

You want a 4. 5 learn more at Missoula broadcasting. com. Thanks to Float Missoula for their support of the Tell Us Something podcast. Learn more at FloatMSOA. com and thanks to the team at MissoulaEvents. net. Learn about all of the goings on in Missoula at MissoulaEvents. net. Thanks to Cash for Junkers who provided the music for the podcast.

Find them at CashForJunkersBand. com. To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit TellUsSomething. org.

Tell Us Something Board Secretary Sarah FitzGerald reflects on the impactful experience of volunteering for a Jesuit organization in St. Louis, Missouri.

Transcript : Meet the Board - Sarah FitzGerald

Marc Moss: [00:00:00] Welcome to the tele hunting podcast. I’m Marc Moss. The next, tell us something live storytelling event is September 27th. At the Dennison theater. The theme is letting go eight storytellers. Take the stage to share their two personal stories from memory. Tickets are now on sale. For tell us something live at the Dennison theater, September 27th.

Marc Moss: Get your [email protected]. We again, welcome our friends from the deaf C. By providing American sign language interpretation. See you September 27th for letting go stories at the Dennison theater, more information and tickets are [email protected]. The next, tell us something podcast episodes are a little different than what you are used to.

Marc Moss: You will meet each member of the, tell something board, former board member Sierra Ty Brownley interviewed the Tellum board for her podcast. Impactful experiences. Sierra believes that listening to meaningful stories, changes your ideas and makes you think and feel beyond what you [00:01:00] may already accept.

Marc Moss: This week. Sierra sits down with tell us something board treasurer, Rachel Beas let’s

Sarah FitzGerald: listen.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Welcome back to impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley, where I chat with a new guest each episode and ask them to share one of their impactful experiences. This is your host Sierra, and I want to thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy today. I am joined by Rachel Beas elementary teacher in Western Montana.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: And tell us something board member, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast

Sarah FitzGerald: today. Thank you for having me. I’m excited.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Me too. And of course, so let’s just hop right in and if you’d be willing, could you tell us a little bit about your impactful experience?

Sarah FitzGerald: Sure. Um, you know, when I was asked to do this podcast, I think like many people, I thought about [00:02:00] several different things that have impacted me the most, but I think really my journey, um, to be, and my detours, um, to becoming a teacher is probably the most, um, impactful experience for.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: I’d love to dive a little bit into that. And if you could share kind of what your journey has been to becoming

Sarah FitzGerald: a teacher. Sure. I was one of those little girls sitting in second grade with Mrs. Roach, knowing that I was meant to be a teacher. I knew it. from second grade. And so, you know, all through elementary, middle school, high school, you read my yearbook.

Sarah FitzGerald: Everything is about me being a teacher mm-hmm . And I decided before I started community college, that I would start working with kids. I was an aunt, I had three, uh, I had two nephews and a niece by the time I was 20 and had baby. Yeah. And had babysat, uh, a ton starting at age 11, 12 years old. And, and.

Sarah FitzGerald: Really comfortable around [00:03:00] kids, but I wanted to make sure that translated into education mm-hmm . Um, and so when I was in high school, I, um, did some volunteering in a first grade classroom and I loved it. And then it was time to graduate and time to go to college. Yeah. One of the jobs that I got was as a summer camp counselor, And I hated it.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, wow. And , and for whatever reason, I convinced myself that that was teaching mm-hmm and I was like, this is not a good fit. Like I, this is I like, yeah. I don’t know what the problem is this whole time. For years and years and years, I had a plan in place. This is what I was going to do and was like, absolutely not.

Sarah FitzGerald: I need to do something else. so fast forward, like 12 years mm-hmm and I was a real estate lender in town, um, [00:04:00] and really enjoyed it. And then I reached a point where I stopped enjoying it. Mm-hmm and I was about 31 years. I was 30, 30, 31 years old. Mm-hmm . and I just started feeling like I needed a change and I, I didn’t know what that was.

Sarah FitzGerald: I didn’t know if it was a career change. I didn’t know if it was just switching companies. Yeah. You know, I wasn’t sure. So those feelings were kind of stirring in my brain. And, and so, as I mentioned, I always knew, and everyone knew around me, my whole childhood, my high school years, that I was gonna be a teacher.

Sarah FitzGerald: There was no other option. I didn’t even think about anything else. Mm-hmm . And so when these, these uncertain feelings were starting to stir around. I randomly had a phone conversation with my first love from high school. Mm-hmm Roland. And I hadn’t seen him or talked to him since I was 17 years old. Yeah.

Sarah FitzGerald: And [00:05:00] I only knew him when I was 17 years old, so I only knew him for a year of my life. Okay. And we had this lovely conversation. Ironically I was at work. He was a real estate lender. And one of the first questions he asked me was, are you a teacher? And I was really taken aback because I kind of forgot that that was my path.

Sarah FitzGerald: And that’s the only thing that he had in mind. So when he had reflected on our time together, just me as a person, that’s what he focused on. Mm-hmm like, of course she’s a teacher, right? I’m talking to her 14 years later. Of course she’s a teacher. And I was like, no, actually I went, took a different path and you know, and I was very successful in my career.

Sarah FitzGerald: I had purchased my own home by myself and mm-hmm , you know, I legitimately had a career, but I had this nagging feeling that it was. Time for a change. Yeah. And so when he made that comment to me, it really affected me, um, to the point [00:06:00] that I got off the phone with him and sobbed in the bathroom at work.

Sarah FitzGerald: Oh, I know. And I was like, okay, well, I don’t know what that means, but you know, it, it almost felt like I was a failure. Like I hadn’t done what I set out to do, even though I was living a great life. Yeah. So fast forward a little bit, again, still stirring feelings. And I had a realtor friend that invited me to a networking event.

Sarah FitzGerald: It was this monthly, like women’s group that met and talked about business ideas and tried to do business together. Mm-hmm and we were sitting around the table. and, um, it was like a hundred people in a conference room, 10 people to have tabled one of which I knew and had become friends with, but everyone else was pretty much strangers.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And we’re sitting at this table of 10 people and the keynote speaker comes on the microphone and she said, before we, you know, have lunch and [00:07:00] before we chat, I want you to talk to your table about what would you do as an icebreaker question? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? And I, of course, maybe not.

Sarah FitzGerald: Of course my, maybe this is shocking. uh, I started crying immediately, um, at this table full of strangers mm-hmm and I said, I’ll go first. I’ll go first. Okay. And I said, I would quit my job and I would go back to school and I would become a teacher. Mm. and it just hit me that that’s what I was supposed to do and why I allowed my 18 year old self to convince myself that summer camp was teaching and let go of my dream.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. You know, we, we learn. Right. Um, so now I was this career woman that owned a house and had responsibilities. But I knew I needed to leave. I knew it immediately. I, I [00:08:00] never looked back Sierra ever. The next day I took the day off of work. Mm-hmm I went to the local university of Montana, Missoula mm-hmm I enrolled, I reviewed my finances that weekend.

Sarah FitzGerald: and on Monday I gave my two week notice. Wow. Yeah. And I left that job 11 years ago. Mm-hmm I started taking classes that summer. I didn’t even wait till the fall. I started that may. And I got my teaching degree and a minor in reading in three years, mind you, I had a lot of responsibilities and had to figure out how am I going to do this?

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. And there was times where I had seven little part-time jobs, little. Oh my gosh. I know. Like, it might have been like one day a week. I worked at this daycare and uh, the other day of the week I passed out these pamphlets and it was all these little, [00:09:00] little jobs. Mm. Um, but I did it to make it work and I never, ever, ever looked back.

Sarah FitzGerald: And, um, I’m now going to be entering my ninth year of teaching.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Wow. Okay. Really? What a journey. And

Sarah FitzGerald: it was, yeah, quite a journey, some detours along the way. But once I made the decision, I knew that this was going to impact my life. Mm-hmm .

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. And now that you have been teaching. Um, or like you said, nine years, do you see yourself staying in teaching or potentially moving in the future?

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: You

Sarah FitzGerald: know, I am really into embracing side hustles. Um, that’s my, that’s my new thing. So. You know, my passion is my day to day teaching mm-hmm . Um, I have looked into the past just based on my past experience and leadership qualities. Would I wanna be an administrator? Would I want to go in a different direction?

Sarah FitzGerald: Would I [00:10:00] wanna use education to work at a museum or whatever it might be? um, for me, I’m good. Like I am beyond satisfied. Mm-hmm I, um, I went back to school in 2019 and I earned my master’s. Last year. Okay. Yeah. So I have that. And so that was really a great professional development opportunity for a few years, um, to continue to learn more, um, I’ve focused on integrating arts in the classroom.

Sarah FitzGerald: So that has challenged me as an educator. As well. So for me, I think I’m good. I really would, you know, it took me a while to get here. Mm-hmm and I’m, I’m very, very grateful. And, um, beyond satisfied, I feel extremely fulfilled. Now I will, I will say I am the type of person. That’s always pursuing other things, but that doesn’t, that that has nothing to do with my career and my passion mm-hmm so that.[00:11:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: that would be like, for example, you know, I would love to teach, um, as an adjunct professor and maybe get my foot in the door at a university mm-hmm maybe that’s something that could transition into teaching a summer class, or maybe after retirement potentially being something, um, a mentor for educators.

Sarah FitzGerald: Things like that. So I’ve definitely looked into that. Um, I was a TA this summer mm-hmm , um, at the university for my old master’s program. So just kind of dipping my toe into different things, um, has been fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Very nice. And did you know kind of what grade or age of students you wanted to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, because of Mrs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Roach, my second grade teacher, I always felt like that was the right grade level for me. Yeah. Um, and then it was kind of a joke because I’m, I’m on the petite side. Um, so I was like, I don’t want them to be taller than me [00:12:00] and I just always really liked that age group. And so ironically, when I. Did my student teaching, um, I student taught in second grade mm-hmm and then I ended up getting hired from that same school in first grade.

Sarah FitzGerald: So I taught first grade for five years. Mm-hmm then I taught second grade for a year. Um, and then I was ready to make a move to a different school district for a variety of reasons. And the position that was available. Was at the district that I wanted, that I’m currently at was fourth grade remote, fully remote for the full year.

Sarah FitzGerald: And the remote thing of course, you know, is a little scary in general. Mm-hmm um, and then fourth grade was really scary for me. That felt like a huge jump from first. Yeah. Um, and to be honest, I felt like it would be a good foot in the door. And then I would kind of get a feel for if there’s other grades that open up and ironically a second grade position did actually open up and I [00:13:00] had zero interest and okay.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. So this will be my third year teaching fourth grade. I love it. And I would say about seven of the kids last year were taller than me. wow. Okay. So I prepared for that now every year. Yes. Um, but I absolutely love it and I, I don’t know. This might be the perfect grade for me. Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Interesting. Um, and then.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think maybe what skills do you think helped you go into teaching or maybe had you learned before you went into teaching? Um, yeah. That you think are really applicable,

Sarah FitzGerald: you know, for me, I think some potentially non-traditional things have really prepared me to be successful. I think that, you know, I did my student, I did part of my student teaching in, um, Guang, China in 2014.[00:14:00]

Sarah FitzGerald: And I was expecting to enter an environment that was very rigid. and that I really need, and I love that I was really excited cause I’m kind of type a and I really like things very structured. And so I was like, okay, great. Like I’m gonna have a set schedule. I’m gonna know exactly what’s happening, what grades I’m teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it was the opposite because of the dynamics of the country. Um, that certainly trickled down into how the schools were run, how the students behaved. The relationship between the teacher and the student. And I was blindsided at how flexible I needed to be. Mm-hmm and that was very challenging for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, I didn’t have a choice I had to be. Um, and because of that, that is one of the biggest things that has translated into my teaching life here in the United States. And it sounds really silly. but the idea of covering someone’s recess [00:15:00] duty for them spontaneously, and the idea of, you know, a student having an issue and you needing to stop a lesson and do something else.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm , those are skills that are really important and they build community. Um, and so those were things that I really brought into. My career that I wasn’t expecting. Mm-hmm I think, I think also, you know, sometimes I joke like, oh my gosh, if I would’ve just gone to college, when I was supposed to go to college, then I would be retiring in five years or whatever it might be, or, you know, different things like that.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, or I would be making more money cause I would have more experience, but, but honestly, I don’t know that I would be where I am today. If I. Gone on that path that I had expected. When I went back to college a little older at 31, I took it very seriously and I had a mortgage to pay. I have [00:16:00] responsibilities that I wouldn’t have had when I was 18 years old.

Sarah FitzGerald: And so I was very focused, not only on actually getting good grades and learning, but also getting it done quickly so that I could start making. Money, even if it was even if it was a teacher’s salary, at least it wasn’t seven part-time jobs. Yeah. Um, so yeah, I think those are the things that I was not expecting to bring in and to learn that I, that I have.

Sarah FitzGerald: Okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: So you think that if you had gone into teaching, um, I guess right after school, do you think you would still be in teaching or. I don’t know what

Sarah FitzGerald: happened. I mean, I really don’t know. I would say that my advice, if I was talking to my younger self or someone else, mm-hmm , um, you know, my advice would be to always pursue what you feel your passion is, but don’t just go straight to college.

Sarah FitzGerald: And what I mean by that is like, I still [00:17:00] would. I still, I think looking back, I would’ve just pursued teaching more while I was getting my. So I would’ve thrown myself more into the classroom. I would’ve volunteered more. I would not, I would’ve spoken with more educators about their experience and versus telling myself that summer camp was the same as teaching mm-hmm or like saying babysitting children is the same as teaching.

Sarah FitzGerald: It’s not at all. Like, my job is. Relationships with parents. My job is about relationships with other people and those other teachers and those interpersonal connections. It’s not just like, oh, I get along with kids and I like learning about math. It’s so much more than that. So I think it’s about, if you have something in mind, take that time to volunteer.

Sarah FitzGerald: You know, if you wanna be a veterinarian, don’t just go straight to vet school for the next eight years. Like. Get your high into a vet clinic, you know, like [00:18:00] those kind of, those kind of things. Mm-hmm okay.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Yeah. And do you have kind of a favorite aspect of teaching? Because like you just mentioned, there are many different things that you do and it’s not only.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Working with the students.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. I mean, I would say because of the grade level that I teach in fourth grade, there is so much room for not only creativity, but also for them to choose different ways to learn. So I think for me, it’s great to be able to expose my students to a variety of ways to learn, uh, specific skill.

Sarah FitzGerald: And then for them to be able to have the, uh, confidence to be able to choose which one works best for them. So I think that that is, that is something that we have the luxury of doing now. I, you know, it wasn’t like that when I was growing up even, um, that we were just taught one way to do it, and this was the only way to do it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And now there’s, there’s so many different ways to express your, um, skill level. And so [00:19:00] that, that exposure is, is really fun. And to be able to see students take ownership of their learning

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: mm-hmm okay, cool. Cool. I think that’s an interesting topic. Um, kind of thinking about different learning and also education changing over time.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: What do you think has changed or maybe what are some differences that you’ve seen even from when you were student to now, or just throughout your past years teaching?

Sarah FitzGerald: Well, a couple things. I mean, I grew up going to a private school. There was 40 students in my class mm-hmm um, and which is enormous. and you learned one way to learn things and that was it.

Sarah FitzGerald: And it didn’t matter what you were necessarily going through emotionally, or if you were struggling academically, we were pushing along. And so that’s one thing that I take pride in is being able to assess my student and where they’re at. And if we are having [00:20:00] an emotional breakdown, if we are having students, you know, like this year we had students that were upset, they were having just conflict with it, with, you know, like friendship issues.

Sarah FitzGerald: Yeah. They’re not able to learn. They’re not. And you know, if you certainly, if you have support of a school counselor or anything like that, that’s fabulous. But sometimes we don’t have that. And I had multiple occasions this past year where I just stopped teaching and we just got in a circle and talked and kind of problem solved some things.

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, and that was a game changer because then I was able to get back to teaching and they were able to absorb it and care about it. Yeah. Um, because I was able to make that modification. So I think being able to have that flexibility is huge. I think. You know, dealing with COVID and so many different things going on that administration certainly recognizes how important it is to meet students needs of their social, emotional [00:21:00] needs.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm first, before you can teach them anything. And so it comes back to that flexibility and, you know, being able to modify things like that. Mm-hmm

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: definitely okay. Um, kind of going back to knowing which grade you wanted to teach. Is there a grade you really don’t wanna teach or like you would never want to teach?

Sarah FitzGerald: Um, well, that’s funny. You’d say that when I was student teaching in second grade, We had a teacher that was in the middle school that got ill. And my principal said, can you please just step in just for a couple hours in seventh and eighth grade? Yeah. And it was fine. It was fun. But I came back and I was like, this is not a good fit for me.

Sarah FitzGerald: Like I, I, yeah, I am an elementary teacher period. I. I could be a middle school teacher. I could be a high school teacher [00:22:00] for an hour if I needed to. I I’m joking, but more than. But it would not, it would, I would not be my best self. My best self is in elementary education where I can reach the whole student in a variety of ways, social, emotional, academic, um, that mix of love, but loving but firm, um, you know, clear expectations with a hug.

Sarah FitzGerald: That’s that’s who I am. Mm.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Okay. Alrighty. Well, I think that we’ll start wrapping things up here, but okay. As always, my last question is Rachel, what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve been given.

Sarah FitzGerald: It is the most random and simple phrase and it is leave it alone. And I will tell you that my friend’s husband brought this phrase to me about 15 years ago.

Sarah FitzGerald: And to her, yeah, it’s really about picking your [00:23:00] battles, deciding when it’s appropriate to speak and not speak. Deciding when there’s certain things that you just need to leave it alone. And I used to not leave anything alone ever. I used to pick everything and I don’t mean nitpicky. I just mean that I felt like I was an advocate for myself and for everybody around me, even if they didn’t advocate for themselves.

Sarah FitzGerald: And I’ve learned with experience that it’s really important. Just like we’ve learned with tell us something it’s, it’s, it’s almost more important to listen than it is to talk. Mm. And the leave it alone thing has trickled into all aspects of my life, whether it is a student behavior that is just annoying, not dangerous.

Sarah FitzGerald: Mm-hmm leave it alone. Right? Ignore it. Leave it. Whether it’s a personal situation where someone has said something, do I really need to comment on that? [00:24:00] Leave it alone. So this leave it alone. Thing has been a pattern for me. And it sounds really silly, but it actually has been like super profound for me.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I never ever had that piece of advice, but thank you. you’re welcome. Okay. Well, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really

Sarah FitzGerald: appreciate. Thank you so much for having me. That was fun.

Sierra Tai-Brownlee: Of course. And thank you guys for listening.

Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel and Sierra. Rachel is an elementary school teacher in Western Montana. Rachel has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in reading and earned her master of arts in integrated art and education all from the university of Montana. Miss. Rachel served at the local nonprofit north Missoula community development corporation as board chair and secretary in Missoula for 10 years, where she led [00:25:00] fundraising efforts, board retreats, and attended various conferences in and out of state.

Marc Moss: When Rachel is not working, she can be found with her St. Bernard Laura lie on logging, walks with friends, reading her next book for her monthly book club, grabbing a Quatro formage or pizza from Beka pizza. And planning her next road trip Sierra Ty Brownley is a curious individual with a never-ending interest in people and their stories from asking 50 strangers for their best piece of life advice to sitting down, to hear about pivotal stories on her podcast, impactful experiences with Sierra Ty Brownley.

Marc Moss: Sierra is always excited to meet new people and hear what they would like to share. You can find the impactful experiences podcast, wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to our inkind sponsors, Joyce of tile, gecko designs, float Missoula and Missoula broadcasting company. Thanks for listening to this week’s podcast.

Marc Moss: Remember to get your ticket to the next event. [00:26:00] September 27th, 2022. Live at the Dennison theater. The theme. Letting go more information and tickets are [email protected].