The Life, Love Money Show with Summer & Jen

Written By 

Summer Watson, MHS, PhD & Jen Fontanilla, Certified Money Coach (CMC)™

LitGleam Magazine Questions:

1. Who and what inspired you to be where you are today?

Summer: 

When I was six months old, I went into a coma due to a small hole in my intestine, which caused sepsis. As a result of multiple surgeries as an infant, it led to additional surgeries throughout my life. As I watched the doctors and nurses care for and reassure me that everything was going to be okay, I felt a sense of comfort, support and security by the care received from these folks and this impacted positively me. I knew I wanted to help people and it evolved into my goal of being a doctor of psychology and now by being a coach who supports others with their life, love, money and entrepreneurial matters.

Jen:

For me, it happened at a much older age. When I was working as a designer in my mid-twenties, I remember sitting at my desk feeling like there was so much more inside of me and that I wasn’t typing into my full potential. I did start to realize that I absolutely couldn’t stand working for somebody else, but didn’t quite understand what the alternative could be. It wasn’t until this time that I started reading more books on self development, leadership, entrepreneurship and realized there was another way to do things and it began to make sense. The next thing I know, I’m trying to figure out how I can leave my job and embark on something for myself.

2. How important is self-love according to you? 

Summer: 

Self-love and caring for one’s wellness is critical for personal development. When you can establish care for your own physical and mental wellness, this lends to being able to support others better, set healthy boundaries, reduce angst and symptoms of depression, and support healthy personal growth.

Jen: 

Self-love is extremely important to me. I do my best to make it a daily practice whether that is through praying and meditating or working out. I always feel that in order for me to show up as my best and to serve and help others, it starts with me making sure that I am whole- mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

3. Does being a woman affect the rate at which you grow in your career ladder?

Summer: 

There may be a few roadblocks that we may encounter as women as related to career goals, but the biggest factor to inhibit or support growth is ‘the mindset’. Most of the time, we are the ones that get in the way of our own success. We either fear the unknown, doubt ourselves, have imposter syndrome, or forget to lean into our courage. When considering career growth, be your own positive disruptor, embrace your fears and find a mentor. If you have a misstep, embrace the gained wisdom, and know that you are the one who creates your journey and the way you want to live it.

Jen: 

Ironically for me I haven’t really felt this. I have worked in male-dominated Industries and environments where there were mostly men. Also, I don’t look at being a woman as something that affects my career in a negative way. Because I pave my own path and make my own decisions, it’s not something that I’m not directly impacted by because I am in control of what I want to do.

4. How to have a great launch at your career in the early days? 

Summer:

In the early days of your career, I would suggest mentorship. This is a great way to learn and really allay fears and imposter syndrome. Mentorship can help with strategizing your career plan and having someone in your life to bounce ideas off of, gain wisdom and guidance from, and to help support your plan. I would also suggest building your professional connections and developing those into incredible professional relationships. These relationships will create a very valuable support system.

Jen: 

I believe one of the best ways you can have a great launch at your career in the early days is to really understand the importance of always working on your mindset and developing a love for self-improvement. Make sure that you have a strong network and community around you that can support you and help you understand the lessons that others can teach you because they have gone through it before you. Once you embrace that, the journey is up and down and not a linear path, I believe you start to realize that this is a way of life that you chose and as a result, find the lessons and the rewards in the journey and go as far as your dreams can take you.

5. What are the tips you’d give to people who have faced many failures in the initial stages? 

Summer: 

I would say, “keep going”! I would rather call failures missteps. I always say that our missteps are some of the most valuable lessons. Our missteps serve as gained wisdom. This wisdom can be applied to support personal development and success. 

Jen: 

One of the tips I would give people who have faced many failures is to talk to other people who have gone through that before you, especially in the same arena that you are trying to break into. It’s so often that we think that everybody else has it easy, they got lucky. and we think nothing goes wrong for them. So often, especially on social media, people show the Highlight Reel and not the behind or deleted scenes! So what I advise is that you change your perception of failure and realize that it is a part of the game. Failure teaches you lessons and shows you what you are made of. It tells you how you need to respond and how to do better and it shows you what worked and what didn’t work. I equate it to inventors and science. Running into failures is like field experiments that teach you to take a different route. The important thing is to keep on going and don’t let it stop you, because you never know how close you are to hitting that goal.

6. Is being courageous as important as it is thought to be?

Summer: 

Being courageous is so valuable when it comes to personal growth and fulfillment. Courage means taking baby-steps towards your goals. It means leaning into your fears. It means understanding the “why” and reasons for your fears to gain a better understanding of how you can work through what might be holding you back. Being courageous allows you to learn new skills and lends to resiliency. Being courageous is critical in how you develop both personally and professionally.

Jen: 

Being courageous is extremely important. You absolutely need it, because there are going to be many times when you are faced with fear, when you want to stop or you don’t want to take the next move. Courage means doing things even when you are scared to do it. We need courage and boldness and faith in order to keep on moving forward. Without it there will be no progress and you very well might be giving up on your dreams.

7. Can you please talk about making life-altering changes? 

Summer: 

Life altering changes can be very scary. I would suggest creating a very strong network of support, develop a realistic plan for change, and then take action towards change. The first few steps are always the most difficult, but when you have a plan and have a supportive network, these two factors can be of such great value.

Jen:

Making life-altering changes requires bravery and courage and fearlessness. It requires you to think outside of yourself and the things and people that become affected, especially if there are people depending on you such as children. But at the end of the day, you need to really ask yourself what is your mission, purpose and are the decisions you are making aligning with your values. Life-altering changes require you to consider what kind of sacrifices need to be made. You also have to accept that things may not turn out the way you planned and that’s okay! This is why we talk about failure or what you may consider as failure, and this is where you need to decide what you want to do differently. We live in a world that constantly changes, so our job is to figure out how to maneuver through it and with it.

8. You also talk a lot about how money might interfere in a relationship. Can you give more insights on that?

Summer:

Money and how we each feel about it can be laden with emotions. The reasons this can be such an emotional factor for so many and has the potential to interfere in a relationship is due to how each of us were raised to think about money, how to spend and save it, and what you saw others do with their money. When in a relationship, you are joining with another person that has their own unique feelings and ideas about money and they just might be very different from your own. If you can come up with a workable money plan with your partner, in the beginning of the relationship, this will help significantly to reduce future money issues. 

Jen:

Money definitely can interfere in a relationship whether that’s negatively or positively. There is so much emotion behind money and it’s difficult to ignore that it has an effect on us in our relationships. What we really need to look at is our own relationship with money because when we bring in another person that can become magnified. On a basic level, we have to see how our relationship with money is and how we view it and how we value it. What are the lessons we learned from our parents on a conscious and subconscious level? When you bring another person into the situation and when your money values, your view about money don’t align with your partner, it can definitely create conflict. It can also create confusion and misunderstanding, because we have different expectations from our partner. There’s discussion that can take place, such as who manages the money, how it’s spent, and how it is saved. We even need to take a look at the fact that some people are afraid or don’t know how to talk to others about money, especially their partner or spouse. This is why there is a breakdown in communication and which is why money related issues are one of the biggest reasons for divorce.

9. Are relationships worth fighting for when there is already a lot going on? 

Summer: 

This is a very loaded question. It depends on what is going on and if the conditions of the relationship are such that they are contributing to healthy functioning. I will say that if there is abuse in the beginning of the relationship, it is important to seek professional guidance, remove yourself from the relationship, and to keep yourself safe. As for the other factors, it really depends on your core values and if they align with your partners. Core values is a subject that I speak about often, because it is the basis for your choice of partner, how you are going to get along, and will support the longevity of the relationship. Your core values and those of your partners will serve as the foundation for a committed relationship.

Jen: 

My favorite answer- it depends. It depends on the situation. It depends on what is going on, it depends on someone’s well being and if that’s being compromised or in jeopardy. But I do understand that there are seasons in everybody’s life. Some people are going through major life changes or something traumatic and sometimes we just need that space and time to ourselves in order to process things when there is a lot going on. This is why it’s so important to have an understanding partner and that you are able to communicate with them clearly about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through. There’s also the element of bringing in professional help if needed. Sometimes our ego and pride may get in the way and it prevents us from talking about things or seeking help and I would advise that you don’t let it get to that point. If someone truly loves, supports me and is in alignment with what is important to me and my values, I definitely think the relationship is worth fighting for. This is a matter of me seeking to understand what is truly going on at the root level and what can I do to make things better.

10. What are your thoughts on balancing work and personal life? 

Summer: 

Passion, happiness and purpose. When you know your “why” aka your purpose, what you are passionate about, and how you are aligning your life with your core values, this will make it so much easier to create and sustain balance in your life. If you live by your core values, these values will be the compass that guides your decisions about how you want to live your life. When you feel you are getting off track, your core values will also be what helps you get back in alignment with how you want to live a life you love and that it is balanced.  

Jen: 

Balance is such an interesting word and over the years I hear good and bad things about it. The more common thought is that there needs to be harmony between work and personal life. Personally, I believe that those two sections can work together well if you know how to plan properly and quite honestly, manage your time. I think there is a way to have fun, relax and have time for yourself. I also believe that you can work hard and hustle. However, I do also believe that there are going to be seasons and moments in your career or your entrepreneurial journey, where it may feel out of balance. I want to challenge everyone to look at imbalance as something that could help. For example, there are going to be times when we are working on a new program and haven’t gotten sleep over the last few days but you know that you are not going to do this for months. This is what I mean by seasons and the small moments of time when it may feel imbalanced. But that’s where you need to use your discernment to understand that you need to recalibrate and take time for yourself to regroup, relax, refocus and recharge.

11. What do you think that still is a taboo and needs to be talked about in our society and why? 

Summer:

Issues related to mental health. I think society still is challenged by talking about issues, such as depression, anxiety, and suicide. The more we talk about these issues, the symptoms and signs to be aware of, and how we can help ourselves before a crisis, seek help, and support others, this will help reduce the stigma of mental health. This open communication about mental health will serve as a more preventative measure to reduce mental health issues before they actually become a crisis, which not only impacts the individual, but the community as a whole.

Jen: 

I used to say money, but I believe there has been a shift in society realizing more and more that financial literacy is something that we talked about more openly now than ever which is a great thing. The thing that I think is taboo is having that tough conversation with elderly parents when it comes to estate planning. Far too often I see the scenario where adult children never have the conversation with their elderly parents in terms of what is put into place. They don’t know who owns the house or what to do with the house or if there is trust. They don’t ever have the discussion about who will pay for funeral arrangements. Discussion of who and how will elderly parents be taken care of and whose responsibility it will be is also important. This is something that I think is still taboo and this conversation is not taking place as often as it should be. From my perspective, this is so detrimental to many families’ financial planning. It is not an easy conversation and unfortunately on the elderly parents’ side many of them could have a negative view that the children just want the money. On the adult children side, they are not paying attention to the detrimental effects of lack of planning.

12. How has this journey been for you? What were the challenges that you needed to endure in the process? 

Summer: 

If we are speaking in terms of personal journey, it certainly has been a unique one. I have been challenged by medical issues, having to work at a very young age, and being raised by a single parent, who worked late shifts and as a result I was mostly alone. However, I always had the capacity to see that these challenges were also rewards. I learned how to be more independent and resilient when it came to everyday life challenges as well as those that impacted my professional career. I have always been one to pick myself up and learn from my missteps and the unforeseen situations. I have also been focused and learned how to continually assess what was serving me well or contributing to my well-being. Being resilient and knowing that I could lead with courage and lean into my fears has helped me grow as a person with character and develop my core values. 

Jen: 

This journey has been tough and very volatile but by the same token very rewarding as well. I could easily look at the challenges that’s something to be angry about, but I look at them as lessons on how I could do better and what I would do differently moving forward. I personally went through a divorce in 2009 and suffered financially from it and the after effects and that has been an uphill battle to overcome. But by going through that, I realized how resilient I was and that I could get through anything. The tough lessons that we go through help us gain wisdom and perspective and enable us to move forward. I also believe that they are placed there in order for us to help others and mentor others and to encourage them that life goes on and you’re going to be okay.

13. How do you ensure your content connects with your viewers?

Summer:

As a researcher, a doctor of psychology and someone that has worked in the field of human services and mental health for years, I study human behavior. I look at polls, research, and how people respond to certain subjects on social media, which helps me understand the demographic that I serve better. I also conduct my own research and do needs assessments when I want to get really clear and find the specifics about what will connect with my viewers and their needs.

Jen: 

For me it’s really learning how to show up as your authentic self. I know that sounds so cliche but it’s actually true. You really need to focus on who you are as a person, and not try to be somebody else, and realize you are going to attract the people that love to listen to you that resonate with your material, that relate to personal experiences and stories that you share. I realize that this does take a level of honesty, openness, and vulnerability, but if you are willing to do those things that is how your content can connect with people because they realize that you are being true to yourself and honest with them. Nobody can relate to perfection so why try to be that?

14. How are love, life and money interrelated? What is the one aspect according to you which one should focus on?

Summer: 

Core Values is what drives every aspect of our lives. Some might also add intuition and impulsivity. However, I would say that, overall, when you are clear about your core values, these are the foundational beliefs from which you make decisions about almost every aspect of life to include: love, life, money, career, relationships, kid. If you are confused about your core values and how to lead with your foundational beliefs, I would say that it is so important to start with a bit of reflection and evaluation about your core values. I actually wrote a book that provides strategies about how to identify what your core values are, your core values mission statement and your “why” aka purpose.

Jen: 

Life, love and money are totally interrelated, they are topics we talked about all the time because that is what people deal with in real life. Love and Money in itself affect our relationships, not only with others but how we see ourselves. I spoke earlier about the relationship we have with money and if that is not healthy and whole, it’s going to be more difficult with your partner. And if you’re trying to plan a life together it’s all related. There is so much overlap. The one aspect I would say to focus on is exactly what Summer said – your core values.This in effect has become our Flagship Mantra if you will. We talk about core values all the time, because they truly are the driving force and Northstar that guides you in your decisions. Without them you will not know what to focus on and what you are aligning yourself with and therefore you will continue to be lost and confused. 

15. Anything you’d like to share with our readers?

Summer: 

My mom always told me to be happy in whatever you choose to do, to live life with integrity and always find time to laugh. These three key elements have served me well and knowing that I have a super power called choice. We as humans get to live a life of choice. Choose how you want to live your journey and remember to never give your power of choice away. 

Jen:I know there are so many aspects that we can say to focus on and sometimes this can be very overwhelming and leave somebody feeling like they don’t know where to start. Let me leave you with something simple to start implementing. Ask yourself if you have a daily morning routine. How do you start your day? Do you go immediately to your phone and check emails? Do you start scrolling down social media feeds? What are you feeding your mind with each and every day you wake up? In order for someone to embark on a lifelong journey, you have to think about your daily steps first. What is it that you were doing to create your miracle morning? When you can start focusing on those little daily habits and think about the compounding effect that could have on your life, you will look back one day and realize that you have been on the right path all this time. But it starts with daily habits. One book that I read recently that I think I would pass along is Darren Hardy’s Compound Effect that talks about this very concept. Don’t try to tackle the universe in one day. Don’t try to compare yourself to the people who are ahead of you. Start with today and start with you and ask yourself what is it that you can do every single day to move closer to your ultimate goals and dreams.

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Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.