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Resilience and Positivity in Adversity with Jackie Gilby Episode 47

Resilience and Positivity in Adversity with Jackie Gilby

· 20:41


RS 47 Jackie Gilby

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Resilient Schools Podcast. I am excited to be here live at the Bridging to Resilience Conference. And I have Jackie Gilby today. And Jackie is 32 years old. She spent 17 years of her life in foster care, in abusive homes, couch hopping, and bus jumping. She found her biological family at 17 and followed their lead straight into an urban street mentality and ended up back in the trouble she had been running from.

She spent the next 10 years in and out of jail. And her only survival skills were going back to the basics, which for her, was being on her own and running the streets. She couldn't travel because in her active addiction, she had created a baby that she couldn't get too far from. She still did not have enough to fix the things that she needed to provide him a life.

She knows more about surviving the alleys of Wichita than she does this life. But she's here, and she's killing it. Uh, so Jackie, like, that [00:01:00] sounds like a pretty tough life growing up.

I didn't know any different, so for me it wasn't tough.

Which is just how it was supposed to be.

any different, so powerful. Uh, did you always think that way? Um.

Maybe, and for a long time I thought maybe something was broken inside of me. Like, maybe I didn't have, like, the, capability of having a negative mindset. turns out I do. Turns out I do when I get in traffic.

Um, I have the worst road rage I've ever experienced out of any other human I know. but, no, I've always had a really good mindset. Life has kind of just always been an adventure, no matter how bad it was.

And I've enjoyed it, even the bad parts.

Yeah, well, you know, a lot of times we think that life should be a certain way and then when it doesn't go how we think it should, then we're like totally distraught and upset and and what I hear from people who had what most people consider a negative early life, they have more of an attitude that you have that, you know, yeah, it may have sucked, but it [00:02:00] was my life.

I didn't know. Any different. What do you think the disconnect is there between people who maybe had a good young life and then experienced some struggles and people who had a tough young life and can see it for what it is a learning experience? Um,

Um, this sounds really horrible but the experience of like working for the good stuff.

good stuff.

Um, nothing

that I ever got easy did I appreciate. and I've gotten a lot of things easy, a lot of things. Um, since I got sober, um, I feel like lots of things have fallen into my lap and I'm taking a lot of those things for granted.

But the things that I had to struggle through, my sobriety, um, my, my house, like I own a home now. Like I used to say that I would never ever in my entire life own a home. Um, because I didn't want my name on anything. Um, because I had, there are some aspects that were negative in my childhood. I didn't think that getting a driver's license was a very smart idea.

Um, I watched my whole family get driver's licenses to lose them to like DUIs or, [00:03:00] um, whatever other reasoning they would lose their driver's license. And

Mm-Hmm. . So I was like, that's pointless. Yeah.

Um, and as an adult, uh, I got my driver's license at 30. I got my driver's license at 30 and, uh, I hit, uh, the, getting my driver's license and just everything else kind of fell into place after that.

I, like, bought my first house at 30,


Um, and, like, for me, I was like, dang, I should have been doing this when I was 21, but it turns out, like, not everybody just goes, wakes up one day and buys a house.

Wow. So what do you do for work now?

Um, right now I'm a AmeriCorps VISTA at STEP MC in McPherson, Kansas. Um, I'd like a little bit about STEP MC.

It's a non profit organization that helps people teach themselves how to get out of poverty. it stands for Steps to End Poverty. Uh, we pretty much, I say we, I feel a very big part of the organization. But, um, we walk alongside people and, um, build relationships with them in order to, Give them the support that they need to get out of poverty [00:04:00] rather than like hey Here's money for your electric bill or your gas bill or your rent like this is going to help you It doesn't actually and just creates a another cycle for people to like come back and use the system again, but


You can't take knowledge from someone and like once you have knowledge of the availability of each person that's there and willing to help you do the things.

Um, like, I didn't know how to get a driver's license.


You know, um, I came to StepMC a few years back. not really even sure why. I just showed up because it was something to do and I was in the middle of treatment and like living in, uh, not assisted living, but it was a sober living environment. And I needed to fill my space up so that I didn't have room to go mess anything up.

And step MC was one of those things. So it wasn't like wholeheartedly that I joined that program. but when I did, like people... From the middle class were like, Hey, well, we know how to do these things. Um, I'll take you to the DMV. And like, they didn't do it for me, which was a huge difference. [00:05:00] Like they were just like, this is the steps you've taken.

This is what you have to do. And I'm like, Oh, now I have to do it on my own. Like I learned how to call the doctor's office by myself, which was a whole nother experience on its

own. Yeah. How interesting. So you. Went there yourself when you were struggling. Now you work there and you help other people. Um, so what, what are the things that you, the steps that you tell them to get out of poverty?

Um, so it's not really steps, uh,

so it's not really steps. Wait, that's confusing. Yeah, it is.

it is, um, so like, when you first join the program, you come in and you're part of the Getting Ahead group,

Mm hmm.

and you build a community with the other people that are in the Getting Ahead group, and it kind of builds trust, and like, I don't know how many other people realize that that's exactly what's happening, but like, uh, no one pays attention to the literature in Getting Ahead.

Like no one, you're pay, you're paying attention to who you can trust inside of that room and outside of that room and who you're breaking bread with. And you build [00:06:00] relationships with those people that would be of your community if you lived closer together with them. and those people are probably the people you're gonna trust more because they come from a similar background and they're in similar situations, so you're like, Hey, This person struggling with food, more likely you're going to have empathy for those people than you are the middle class people that are having dinner out with the other group.

and once you go through, I believe it's like an 18 week program, I could be wrong, they changed it recently. Um, once you go through that class and you come out into the open.

And you join the next step. You, uh, get partnered with middle class people that have gone through Bridges training. And, for whatever reason, everyone has their own story as to why they are there and why they are volunteering their time and why they want to break bread with you. And, uh, you become partners with them.

And everybody's partnership looks different. Um, I feel like my partners, my partners are super funny. Uh, they are very good, uh, by the book people. school, they had a upper middle class [00:07:00] lifestyle, they did college, had careers, and like now they're volunteering in the community, and like that's what you like, seem, seemingly see as the American dream, so like, I put spice in their life.


Um, because I'm a very goal driven person, you know, and, uh, we have goal sheets that, you know, we fill out and we, like, create smart goals for ourselves and that we learned how to do and then getting a head class and, uh, we lay these goals out and, like, our partners are there for support, like, not to give us all of the answers, just to kind of guide us through that, like, so they're an intentional friend.

Like you have a friend that's like, Hey, you you can't say that to those people, or you can't have that attitude or maybe fix your face. the magic that happens in that relationship, you kind of like Give them a little bit more empathy towards your situation or like maybe other people's situation because like we're both judgmental.

Like it doesn't matter who you are, um, everybody can come, like I don't know, everybody's come to me numerous times like I'm not [00:08:00] judgmental and I'm like you're a liar then. Um. But, we've all created judgment against the middle class, like, they don't understand, they have no feelings, they could never understand, like, they really can, it's just a matter of, like, having a sit down experience with someone else that doesn't live a life that you do.


Um, so, I feel like I've spiced up their life, and also shown them, you know, like, we're not lazy, we're not lazy, I work three jobs, you know, um, I'm not sure if I do it intentionally, or if it just works with my schedule, cause I have two kids. Um, but I enjoy it. I enjoy, enjoy everything that I do. I enjoy the way that I do it, and I enjoy the process that it takes for me to get to where I'm going.

Um, and I am goal oriented, and not everyone is built that way. So, like, they got it easy, I think, maybe, as far as, like, having to, like, push me to have that drive. Um, I get to, like, I don't know, they're just somebody I can brag to, and just be like, hey, so, remember that time when I was like, I'll never do this?

Well, I did it. You know, and, like, they're so excited for me, and it's like, Just [00:09:00] really good to have somebody that has your back that's really proud of you. and for whatever reason, it like puts this amazing inspiration in your life that like drives you to want to do more. I've seen people like go from


being homeless because that puts you in survival mode, so it's really hard to help you with the program if you're in survival mode, but being on the verge of being homeless and I've watched them go through this program and like they, I have a friend that just bought a brand new car from the car lot.

You know, and I sold her a car a couple of years ago that I was like, this is not gonna last long. Um, it will probably break down next week and I'm really sorry, but I need to get rid of this car and you need something.

talk to me a little bit about your goals. What are your long-term goals in, 20 years. What are you

20 years, I don't think I've thought that far ahead. Um, I want to be educated, uh, which I'm working on. I went through, I'm an Ed Sachs student also. Um, I graduated SDAC a couple years ago, thankfully.


Um, I want to be educated. I don't know what I want to be educated in. I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

I'm sitting here at 32 years old, like, I don't have a clue. I want to help people. Uh, I tore up this town that we're sitting in right now. Uh, and I want to have a hand in helping to fix something. You know, I, I know I can't, like, save the world or, you know, like, climb from building to building and, like, rescue people from trains or cars or anything like that, but, like, I know that I have a part in, just doing something.

to help with anything, and I don't know what it is. Like, I feel like there is something out there, some higher power that puts things in my pathway. It's just like, here you go. This is the next thing you're gonna do. And I've gone with it, uh, in the last five, almost six years, and it's worked out for me.

Yeah. Uh, you know, what's really powerful is I, I talk to people from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds, and they keep coming back to that thing, that there's some sort of higher power [00:11:00] that's putting things in my path.

And when I follow what is put there, then I find success, and that just keeps coming up again, and again, and again. And I just think that it's really powerful, and you know, some people say that it's God, some people say it's the universe, some people say it's the sage mind, like, it doesn't matter what it is to me.

Uh, I think we're all talking about the same thing, just using different words.

feel the same

And, and so, it's like... You just listen to that voice, you just follow those promptings or impressions or feelings, and do those things that it's guiding you to do what is right. And, so your goal is to be educated, and you don't know what that's in, but what does that mean to be educated for you?

Does that mean get a bachelor's

It's honestly a piece of paper, but it's socially acceptable to be educated and people listen to you.

You know, I like talking. I love it. I have a story to tell. I have numerous stories to tell. I've done a lot of things in my [00:12:00] life. I've done a lot of bad things, and I've done a lot of good things. But I know that, um, when I open my mouth, people hear me. And I know that they hear me because either A, they have someone close to them that's thought the same way, or talked the same way, or they themselves have had the same issues, or you know, they've struggled with the same struggles, or they've had the same excitements.

but you get to a certain line. Um, where like when you're not educated, like that just doesn't matter completely. Um, and I want my kids to be educated. And that sounds really crazy, but, um, I went back to school because my son tried to quit school in like kindergarten. And I was like, I can't just be like, oh no, you can't quit.

And he's like, uh, you did. So, um. I went back to school, it took me like three times, three times, um, after I quit nine times during my high school career, I came back to SDAC three separate times, before I graduated.

And I just, I, I want to be the example for them that they need because my goal for them is for them to just be a little bit better [00:13:00] than I was.

And they don't, they don't remember everything, that was bad, so I just want them to remember like, hey, you, you got some shoes to fill. Yeah. That's awesome. And, and that is really the,

Um, and what's funny is my dad told me that was his desire when I was like 15 or something. He's like, I just want you to be better than me. And I was like, what's wrong with you? You're like 50 years old. You don't get it yet. And then, and now I'm like, Oh my gosh, if my kids can be better than me, I would be amazed.

That would be great. If they're going to be worse than me, I'm going to feel like I've failed them. Right. And, They're going to make their own choices and that's all fine, but man, I hope that I can teach them everything they need to know. and so they can be better than me and not make the same mistakes that I did and have a life that is even more fulfilling.

And my life is pretty fulfilling right now. I'm not going to lie. I love my life and I feel so blessed, but I want them to have it even better. But I also [00:14:00] know they have to go through hardships and struggle to learn those things. What's your thoughts on that?

I believe that too. Um, my oldest son is 10 years old and, um, like I said in my bio, like, he, I know he's seen me in my active addiction. He doesn't really talk about it a whole lot, because I abandoned him, uh, when he was about two and a half years old. I thought that being a good mom in active addiction meant I didn't use or, or drink or anything like that in front of him.

I didn't act it. Um, out, or act like a thug, or do any of the thug things in front of him, so like that made me a good parent, which was not true. It wasn't. Um, looking back now, I did the best I could with what I had, um, which wasn't a whole lot, and I left him with his dad, who's also in active addiction. Um, so my son has seen, um, both of his parents in active addiction.

He's seen people in and out of the house, um, because it was a drug house. Um, he's watched people shot, and he's, I know I'm not saying that I'm proud of any of this, but like, because of all of that, [00:15:00] I carried my son with me the whole way through my recovery. So like, he attends this 12 step program, just like I do.

Well, like, not for himself, but like, he comes along with me during the whole process. Um, if he didn't have school, he would probably be here. Um, he gets to be a part of both sides of it, so he gets to witness, you know, not just m myself, like, you know, I'm not just this one miracle that happens, like we're surrounded by them.

and he's, himself has gotten a little involved, because like, he's nosy and enthusiastic and he's a sensitive little, um, sweet boy, and, he'll 12 step you faster than you realize, like you won't even notice. He's just like, come let me help you, let me talk to you about your recovery. my daughter, on the other hand, she's a, she's three and she's a spitfire and, you know, uh, she's the one I worry about because she has never seen, um, hardship.

She has never seen, um, Failure. Um, she came into this world whenever everything was looking up, and like the struggles that I [00:16:00] have today are Cadillac problems. Like, I don't have to worry about anything. Like, I wake up in the morning and something goes wrong, there's a backup plan. There's not only a backup plan, there's a backup plan to that backup plan, and now I have enough savings that I can just call somebody and be like, Hey, there's this problem, can I pay you for

um, which

Um, which, Sometimes I get hard headed and I'm like, Nah, I can fix this myself. and, and, like, mainly, yeah, you know, my kids got raised by two different moms. You know? Um, and still get raised by two different moms.

and still get raised by two different moms. Yeah. So. Interesting. There, I have like a million questions, Jackie. Uh, we don't have time to go into all of them. But I, I just, I hear you talking about these things and, and the way, the matter of fact way in which you're saying it, that there's not, there's not shame about it, but there's not pride about it either.

It's just, it is what it is. This is what happened. And. and I'm sure that you do have feelings about it, but that's not coming across [00:17:00] like it's just, it's just, it just is. And, and I think that's such a powerful approach to take. And even though you say your daughter hasn't experienced any failure, um, I'm sure things are not perfect, right?

Right now they are.


really crazy. Um, I have, I. Try not to sound super egotistical when I say this, but like, I am blessed and highly favored. not a lot of things go wrong in my life right now.

And if they do, it's because I can't see them. Because it's just something that, like, is so minute that, um, the blessings kind of blind me to that. I live in a really nice house. My, my car is not brand new. Um, my children are fed every day. They get up and they go to school with the backpack that they picked out, that they wanted at the store, it didn't matter, you know, like, they get to pick out snacks for the refrigerator, and like, I don't know how to explain how big of a deal that is, but like, being able to get snacks to have in your home, but let alone like, [00:18:00] allowing your kids to pick out whatever snacks they want to, like, my kids aren't perfect, and like, I'm not a perfect mom, you know, I'm, I'm winging it every day, cause I have two different kids.

But it feels perfect. It feels like this imperfect, crazy, hectic, um, life is exactly how it's supposed to be.

Yeah. That's so powerful. That's great. Um, so somebody right now is listening to this saying, my life is not perfect. What would you say to them that they're struggling, they're feeling like they're not blessed. What would be your advice to them? To, to fix it and make it feel like it is perfect.

Keep going. Do the scary stuff. Uh, the best things I ever did in life, I was scared to death. You know, um, I hear all the time from, like, people that are in recovery or people that are trying to fix their lives or people that come out of domestic abuse. A lot of people, um, that haven't experienced that, I hear them like, you can't have faith and fear at the same time.

Like, you can. Like, that's exactly where it comes from, you know, and that's exactly what [00:19:00] courage is. And if you keep doing the scary things all the way until you feel like you can't do it anymore, that's when the miracle happens.

Yeah. Hmm. That's so good. I love that. Okay. I think that's a good place to end it. But Jackie, I feel like we should stay in touch and talk again I'm excited to see where you go.

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