The Spotlight series highlights individuals in first responder life who have felt an impact, made an impact, and shared an impact with others. We need to share our stories to know we’re not alone and we can do this… together!
Caroline: It’s time for October’s Spotlight and we’re talking to Brandie Thomas, Purpose Coach and Business Strategist. Brandie holds faith and fitness as some of her core values. She’s been married to her husband, Jeremy, for 10 years and together they have a beautiful adopted son who’s two years old. Jeremy was a CO, then a probation officer, then in 2014 became a police officer. Brandie is an entrepreneur as well, having been involved in the coaching world for some time. She’s been a coach for four years doing both life and business coaching for groups and one on one sessions.
Brandie, thanks for being in the Spotlight this month.
Brandie: You’re welcome! I’m excited to be here.
Caroline: Today, we’re focusing on coaching through loneliness and bringing hope, empowerment, and encouragement to our coaching partners. Brandie, let’s start by talking a little bit about your experience as a LEO wife and your draw into coaching.
Brandie: [My husband and I] were married before he went to the Academy, he was a Correctional Officer at the prison. We would both work all day, and then he fell asleep by eight o’clock. So, I was experiencing loneliness even before he became a police officer, just in his Correctional Officer position. Then when he became a police officer, we actually moved to an entire new city. I didn’t know anybody.
I was commuting two and half hours a day. So, I was alone in my car all day, then in a cubicle, then when I came home, he’d work the night shift. I spent a lot of time alone and that’s honestly why I got into the business world. I was looking for a community. Business was my background in school. I had done the network/marketing space before but my sister introduced me to a new company at that time. So that’s how I got back into the online space and back into the entrepreneurial journey which then led me into the coaching space. I was just seeking either LEO wife connection or other women’s connections, just communities.
So, because of my husband’s career and not having anyone to talk to and sitting alone in the house… I just needed to talk to somebody.
Caroline: I totally get that. My husband’s worked overnights for over fourteen years. Even when they’re home, they’re not home sometimes. So, that’s a huge thing for first responder spouses and partners. That led you into the business world and connection world. What was your first connection with coaching? Was it for yourself or did you get involved in a group?
Brandie: It was life coaching for myself. I hired a coach because I was struggling with scaling my business. I thought it was just a mindset, which it ended up being a mindset, but we ended up diving deeper into past trauma and we talked over a gamut of things. Life coaching opened my eyes. I’ve been to counselors and therapists before but none of them gave me tools. I was like, “It’s great, I can talk about myself for an hour but what do I do to stop anxiety? What do I do to stop feeling lonely? How do I not have a panic attack? Equip me with tools because I don’t believe I’m supposed to be like this.”
There’s circumstances and things that happen that cause certain physical reactions. Mental health is a huge, bigger thing, but for me, a lot of it was caused by circumstantial. There’s health issues too and there’s trauma in just my medical space. I know that these circumstances don’t define me, and my body is just responding. How do I heal my body so I don’t sit in the state of operating forever?
So, that’s kind of how coaching started. I realized that with coaching I could actually have tools, learn new mindsets, strategies, and operate differently, and not have to relive the same thing over and over.
Caroline: Yes, that’s exactly what coaching is all about. It’s about changing perspective, and, like we said earlier, empowerment, and getting ourselves out of our own hole. It’s not just waiting for someone else to do it, because then if we fall in the hole again, we don’t need someone else. We know how to get out.
Caroline: That’s huge. That speaks a lot to coaching, and not just counseling and therapy, which is also necessary in some situations. Coaching is definitely a new angle. We talked about first responders, and their spouse is often feeling lonely and misunderstood. Can you speak a bit about your experience with loneliness and feeling misunderstood?
Brandie: Nobody really understands. Unless you’re in the First Responder world, nobody really understands what it’s like to have a spouse, but also be like a single parent at the same time. They don’t know what it’s like to send your husband off to work, and not know if they’re coming back or not. That doesn’t bother me necessarily anymore, but earlier in my career, and especially as a police wife, some traumatic experiences happened with some other police officers, and I just took all of that on. It was hard and lonely to just have all of these big emotions and thoughts and feelings. I didn’t really know what to do with them or how to not let those scary What Ifs spiral me out.
That was earlier in my career, before I had equipped myself with all of these beautiful police wives. That’s what I struggled with in my earlier years. Who do I even talk to you? How do I even talk to them? Who can relate to me? People have a lot of assumptions on police officers. Maybe it’s the media or their own personal experiences and they’re projecting that onto the whole career. Also, I needed a safe place to go. That was probably the biggest thing, needing a safe place to go.
Caroline: Definitely, and I’m glad you found that. And you found that through coaching. Let’s talk a little bit more about coaching. You specifically do purpose coaching, is that correct?
Caroline: What makes a coaching style “purpose coaching” exactly?
Brandie: So, with my background and faith, I really do believe that we are created for purpose and create Kingdom impact. A lot of what I do with my clients – I work with women in business – is to help them know how to take their business specifically and create Kingdom impact with that purpose. So, it’s great to build a business and it’s great to bring in an income, but there has to be something bigger. Most people get stuck in their business because they’re just thinking small and they’re not thinking of the greater impact, their legacy impact. So, I am helping them align their business with their God-given purpose and vision that He’s called them to live out and then just walk obedient with that, and give them principles and strategies that align Biblically to do that. That’s kind of what purpose coaching means.
Caroline: Nice. What are some of the things you might do? I don’t know if you can be specific about some of the tools that you might use in a coaching session with purpose coaching that might be different than, say, another coaching style.
Brandie: My first two hours with my one-on-one clients is teaching them how to operate in rest and actually heal from past traumas or wounds. A lot of times, we carry father and mother rooms, so we talk specifically about what those are. We take them to the foot of the cross and let Jesus carry their burdens. And so, we’re not really carrying them anymore because we just cast our burdens on Him.
And we do a visual exercise. We talk about the wounds that they have. And then we do an actual visual exercise of them walking to the cross and throwing or casting down their burdens. Jesus picks them up, and we watch Him cast them into the depths of the ocean where they can no longer go and pick them up because they can’t even see them. A lot of people drop their burdens, but then they pick them back up. So, the visual exercise of Jesus actually casting them away where they can’t get them anymore a lot of times just breaks that hold on them.
There’s a CTFAR – have you ever heard of that exercise?
Caroline: No, explain that.
Brandie: So, it’s Circumstance, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, and Results. What I do is sort of put a Holy Spirit spin on it. We have our default settings in our flesh and then we have our Holy Spirit- aligned as what we want to be in. So that’s when we get to receive the peace, the rest, the abundance, the joy, all of the fruits of the Spirit. But a lot of times, we’re operating from our flesh, which is when we’re operating in lack, we’re operating in fear, anxiety, doubt, all of those things that really are not from God. Like Paul talks about, he has joy regardless of his circumstances. So, regardless of our circumstances, when we do this exercise, we do it from the flesh, from a flesh perspective.
If I’m doing a business example, we’re [might say]: My business isn’t growing. That’s the Circumstance. The Thought is, “I suck at business.” or, “I’m not worthy,” or, “I can’t do it.” Whatever the thoughts are that are spiraling in your head, we want to write those out. And then, we talk about the Feeling. “I feel gross.” “I feel disgusting.” Whatever that feeling is, maybe helpless. Then we do Actions. So what actions are you taking? Maybe the person is literally overwhelmed and just paralized. Finally, the Result – well, there’s no result because the person’s not scaling or doing anything.
Then we shift to the Spirit. So if you’re standing in your divine energy and authority, you know who you are, you know what God’s called you to do. Your circumstance right now might still be the same but now your thoughts are, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. I’m worth far more than rubies. And I’m more than a conqueror.”
Your Feelings are, “I feel strong. I feel hopeful. I feel proud and courageous.” My actions are, “Now I have a defined download where I can take my next step in faith. So, my next step is maybe I’m going to delegate something, or I’m going to stop doing something that’s not for me, or I need to pivot.” We talk through the different actions and now you have a completely different result because you’re operating in alignment with your Holy Spirit and in partnership with God and your identity and not operating in the lies of your flesh.
So, that’s a really big exercise I like to take my clients through that’s different than most [coaching tools] out there.
Caroline: That definitely is. I like that you put a faith aspect on it. I know that I did a faith piece in the blog several weeks back. We talk about how those who have a strong faith tend to recover from trauma and other events more quickly and that’s scientifically studied as well. Do you ever have clients that don’t have a faith base that you end up coaching?
Brandie: Typically not because I’m very bold on my social media and that’s how I get a lot of people from other women who refer to me. So typically, that’s just who I attract.
Caroline: That makes sense. People are going to choose a coach based on their profile, but sometimes you never know what you’re going to get.
Brandie: I would say there’s different levels of faith and maturity of faith. It is really beautiful just to be in it. I’m not doing the work; you are and you’re partnering with God in the transformation. I’m just like talking to you through it. It is really beautiful to see them deepen in their relationship, receive rest in their spirit, and see them shift in their actions because now they are partnering from a different perspective.
They’re operating as a child of God, and not operating with a worldly expectation. Because you’re never going to be good enough and you’re never going to live it up to all the worldly expectations. So, if you come into alignment with your divine identity, you already are enough – you’re worth far more than rubies – you’re already secure. It just totally shifts how you show up for everything in your life, your relationships, your business, your activities, whatever it is.
One other thing I forgot to mention before is teaching people how to build their life in business and synergy, and operate from a place of rest. Everybody’s trying to strive for this work-life balance. I have never achieved balance. If somebody has achieved balance, could they let me know? Synergy is a process improvement of six sigma. It’s everything flowing together. So, it’s not in conflict. Everything has a place and a priority, but they don’t all need to be the same.
Caroline: I think a lot of people mistake balance for some sort of quantitative equality. If my faith is more important than my kids’ sports, then obviously balance for me is going to be putting more weight on faith than my kids’ sports. That’s just an example off the top of my head. Yeah, a lot of times people confuse those and it doesn’t mean getting an equal measure. It means getting enough in each according to what’s needed.
Have you ever used your own – just coach-to-coach here, I know it’s a thing – but have you ever used your own coaching on yourself?
Brandie: Sometimes I’m coaching somebody, and I’m thinking, “I think this is for me.” Sometimes I hear the words coming out of my mouth and I think I may have just preached to myself a little bit there.
So yes, a lot of tools that I have, I learned from my own mentors and coaches. Maybe I tweak them or put my own spin on them but everything I practice I pretty much preach. If I’ve mastered things and I am moving on to new things. Yeah, everything I coach is because I was in this dead zone and I never want to go back there and I don’t want other people to be stuck there either.
Caroline: Yeah, I know the old saying, “Physician, heal thyself.” Well, as coaches, we tend to try to fix our own problems by going through all those motions. Although, sometimes we are so stuck that we can’t heal ourselves and we need to go talk to someone else. So, that does happen too.
Brandie: I still have my mentors and community that I go to for professional development. I don’t feel like we’re supposed to do life and business alone or anything alone. I have communities for everything.
Caroline: That’s so true. We should never be doing anything alone, no man is an island. We should always be involved in some sort of community. I know there’s definitely some who like to go it alone. I know lots of guys and some girls that are like that with whatever they’re dealing with, but even they need some sort of connection. Maybe it’s one-on-one instead of a group, but it’s important to make sure that we find our community. We talked about that a lot. We talk a lot about getting through loneliness and finding your community and connecting with people; connection is so vital.
What do you think is something that we can do for first responders and spouses and partners that are struggling to find their community? You can’t talk to everybody. They don’t all know Brandie.
Brandie: All I can really do is try to share what I did to find my community. Hopefully, one of these ideas will help them. When I moved to my new city, it was really hard to meet people. I was commuting 2 1/2 hours a day, and I was always also getting my Masters in business. I got into a local church and that helped me get into a Bible study which helped me to meet people my age and couples our age. Jeremy was actually willing to do the Bible study with me so that was nice once a week. He and I could meet together and spend time as spouses, but also in a community with other young couples.
So, getting into some sort of physical community was helpful to me at that time. Whatever that looks like for you, whether it’s a church or club, whether it’s a hobby that you enjoy like a gun range, golfing, hunting, Meetup groups, all are a great way to do that. I use social media a lot, like Facebook groups. I sought out police wife groups specifically and I also started my own community. For example, I started a police wife group in my Indiana area and it’s really grown.
I’m not really active in that area anymore because I’m not in that city, but I found that other women had craved the same thing. We could pray for each other, we could come together and just talk about things that were going on. If there was a specific call and all of our husbands were involved, we could come together in that community.
I was also involved in a Bible study just for police wives. That one was really awesome too. We’d read a book, or do a devotional, and get on a call. We would just share our hearts and stories and talk about what was going on with our husbands or we talked about our loneliness and the struggles in our marriages. We just created a safe space for that community
And as I’ve matured in my police wife journey, and in my faith journey, which looks different now, I have a completely different community of women in my online space. I live in a more rural area, so thank God for the Internet. And I also have a Prayer Warrior group so if I need or someone else needs something prayed for, we just drop it in there. I know I have a community of sisters that are going to have my back in the war for the spirit.
We moved four years ago, and Jeremy is now in a city. We were in a county and he was a Sheriff’s Deputy and now he’s a city officer. So, we were blessed to have a law enforcement family right across the street from us. They’re now retired, but that was a beautiful connection. Through them, we were able to meet other spouses. We actually had boys the same year, so we get to do play dates now with the spouses from his shift.
You have to be intentional. If you don’t want to be isolated, just know you are not supposed to be isolated and you’re supposed to have community. Let that soak in and own that. Then, be intentional about finding your right tribe, your community that will support you, love you, ugly cry with you, that will laugh with you and celebrate your victories and be snotty, crying on the floor with you in your valleys. That’s truly the community I have now and the one I want everybody to have. It is such a blessing to have people that will carry you and have faith for you when you don’t have faith for yourself.
Caroline: I love how you point out that they need to cry with us in our valleys and shout with us on our mountain tops because that’s what a really good relationship does. We celebrate with one another but we also mourn with one another. Sometimes a good friend isn’t the one that says, “How can I fix this?” Sometimes a good friend is the one that just sits with us and hands us the tissues. And that’s totally fine and I think that’s what is missing a lot of times. Sometimes we don’t need things to be fixed. We just need someone to be in the moment with us.
Those are all really great ideas and ways of getting involved in communities. No matter what anybody’s beliefs are – although, I mean, I’m biased as I’m Christian – but it’s so important that we find those connections. Our hearts are the most important part of us and I think that’s really vital.
Did you have anything else you wanted to mention?
Brandie: I can’t think of anything else right now.
Caroline: Well, thank you so much for doing this Spotlight with me, Brandie. I’m really excited about all the work that you’re doing and that you’re part of FRC.
Brandie: My pleasure!
Caroline: You can check out Brandie on her webpage, Victorious Entrepreneurs Rising. You can also request her as your coach through FRC. We’re all about building community, just like Brandie. Let’s keep building and helping others find their purpose.