Prioritizing what matters most in our lives can be a challenge in a busy and distractible world.
With multiple demands on our time and often conflicting priorities, sometimes we find ourselves sacrificing the things that matter most to us. Whether it is small habits throughout the day, or life changing choices, prioritizing what’s most important creates a deep sense of satisfaction, and fulfillment.
In this episode I’m in conversation with positivity powerhouse and change agent Jo Dibblee. We chat about how to make conscious and intentional choices that reflect the priorities that matter most to us.
A full transcript is posted at the bottom of this page if you prefer to read.
[Bio] Jo Dibblee
Jo Dibblee spent over 35 years in hiding as a key witness in a murder investigation. Through it all, she remained an eternal optimist by living vicariously through others – helping them discover their purpose.
She is the CEO of Frock Off Live and Team Humanity Baja. Jo lives in Mexico most of the year and serves those in need – working with the poorest of poor and animal rescue. The purpose of Team Humanity is to elevate, educate and empower.
[Website] Frock-off Live
Check out Jo’s website to learn more about Jo and her amazing story as told in the award winning book Frock Off.
[Facebook] Team Humanity Baja
Discover more about the work Jo is spearheading with Team Humanity and how you can help.
[Blog] Principles for Savouring the Day
If you are interested in the principles that help us savour the day no matter what they day brings, this blog outlines them using some beautiful quotes.
[Newsletter] Savouring the Day
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Scroll on down to the comments section and share your thoughts….
How do you prioritize what matters most in your life?
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is GoodMorning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Show Transcript
Intro: Welcome to The Being & The Doing, a podcast about wellbeing and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author, and life coach, Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hello, lovely ones. Welcome to this episode of The Being & The Doing. As you know, this season, we’ve been focusing on some of the principles that can help us savor the day – to learn how we go with the ups and downs of life – to really enjoy and be present to whatever it is that’s happening in our lives. And also build that mindful resilience that allows us to surf the waves of whatever unexpected challenges or difficulties might come our way, whether those are little challenges in a day, or whether they’re big challenges that come. And so, I’ve been inviting guests onto the podcast this season to share their perspectives on some of the principles. Today, we’re focusing on the principle of prioritizing what matters; how is it that we can in our busy lives, make sure that we’re putting the most important things first.
When I thought about this particular principle, today’s guest was the person who came to mind. I said this to her before we started recording this episode that she’s kind of the poster girl for this for me, because she has led a very interesting life and has had many different kinds of challenges in her life. And she is one of the most positive people, I think, that walks this planet – very focused on prioritizing what matters and making purposeful choices in her life. So I am thrilled to have Jo Dibblee be our guest today to talk about this particular principle.
Jo spent over 35 years living in hiding as a key witness in a murder investigation. And through it all, she remained an eternal optimist by living vicariously through others and helping them discover their purpose. Jo wrote this terrific book called Frock Off that tells this story. And if that was the only thing that we had to talk about, that would be amazing, but that book is just one chapter in her life. She’s the CEO of Frock Off Live and Team Humanity, Baja. Currently, she lives in Mexico most of the year and serves those in need, working with the poorest of the poor and animal rescue. The purpose of Team Humanity is to elevate, educate, and empower. Welcome, Jo to The Being & The Doing.
Jo: Thank you. I think I want to be that person you were speaking about, you know, I’m honoured. It’s wonderful to be here and The Being & The Doing just resonates with me because I think often we get the two confused, so thank you very much for having me. This is wonderful.
Laurel: Yeah. I understand what that’s like. I mean, sometimes when I’m being introduced as a speaker and you think, wow, she sounds interesting. And then you think, Oh, wait, that’s me! So, that is you, Jo, for sure. And, you know, we could do a series of episodes because as I said, you have had a most interesting life. I think that’s a fair statement, Jo, that you’ve had a most interesting life?
Jo: Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s been pretty interesting and continues.
Laurel: Yeah. And so, we could dive in anywhere but I think maybe it would be helpful for the listeners if you could just share the very sort of short version of what led to Frock Off, just so people have an understanding of, again, how it is that you ended up prioritizing what matters to that whole chapter of your life.
Jo: Absolutely. Well, you know, growing up in an extremely dysfunctional family, which is, you know, kind of the norm, it seems like if you have a normal family, that seems odd to me. But in any event, growing up in that dysfunction led to being placed in foster care. And unfortunately, the foster parents were using the system to acquire victims; that’s the nicest way I can say it. I was assaulted, was lucky and got away, but he murdered a little girl I knew, and I became their key witness. And so, Frock Off was really more about me covering up all the time, hiding, I had to live in disguise. I think there’s one of two things; it either breaks you or it makes you better. And it’s so cliche, but it’s because it’s true. You know, I had a choice either step up, do something different for even myself just for me or I could succumb to it.
But Frock Off was really living through all of the nightmare. I mean, that’s a short version of 35 years, but you know, 51 moves in 19 different names, it was challenging to say the least, but there are ways to continue being who you are, if you know what you want. That’s probably the best way I can say it, but today I’m free and I’m so grateful for that. Freedom is, as they say, it’s never free. It has a very high cost and I definitely paid the cost as did others, but I am free now. And I’m just so happy to be able to live and give to others and make sure that I live my own true purpose
Laurel: I really encourage listeners to read your book and certainly in the show notes, we’re going to have a link there for where people can find your book and read Frock Off which is this amazing story. But your decision to go public, come out of hiding, really is the epitome of prioritizing what matters – of being able to take your life back and stand up for what it is that’s important for you.
Jo: Absolutely. You know, it just got to that point where either I continued along that path of staying in hiding, or basically, I would succumb to all of the things that were terrible about that. And so there was a day and I remember it very well, it was February the 27th, I think – I get the 27 and the 28 mixed up – but it was 2007, it was 7:00 PM and I just decided enough was enough. I had to take my life back or else I wouldn’t be doing this. This is where I become very passionate about this because the truth is if I hadn’t stepped up and prioritized myself, I had been so good at making sure I was keeping everyone else safe, but if I hadn’t put myself in that position, I would not be able to do the work I’m doing now.
And no, I did not know that in 2007, but I did know that it was time for me to say, this is it; like, this is the time, do something now. And it was scary, it was truly scary to put myself out there. I mean, I was in hiding, doing all my best to stay hidden to all of a sudden going national, at least, in Canada, and then it went international and Holy cow! Isn’t it? I’ll tell you, you go from, I called myself visibly invisible to highly visible in 24 hours from when that book launched. And it changed everything in my life and I’m so glad it did.
Laurel: And that’s interesting, that you can put it down to a date on the calendar – a this enough is enough moment. For my listeners, I’m going to guess that pretty much all of them are not in hiding being a key witness in a murder investigation so I’m going to put that out there – quite likely be that there isn’t something as sort of dramatic – I’ll use that word – going on in their lives. But I’m going to guess for all of us, for all the listeners, there are things that we know matter that we don’t prioritize. Do you think that it takes this “enough is enough” moment? Whatever that is, whether it’s people know their health is important, but they don’t prioritize that, or they know their relationship with their kids or their partner, whoever, they know that’s important, but they don’t prioritize it. Do you think there is this “enough is enough” moment that we have to have?
Jo: I do, because I think what happens is you build and build and build through this process, as we’re going on our journey, you know, whether it is, as you said, your kids or your health, or maybe your marriage, or finances, it doesn’t really matter. But there’s this traumatic moment I think, in all of our lives, which is not that necessarily that you’d be a witness in a murder investigation, but there’s a moment in each of our lives where it’s, you know what – this isn’t what I thought, this isn’t working, this isn’t what I want, or I know I can do better, whatever that is. I do think you reach this tipping point where it’s – I’ve been doing this for a long time and you know, let’s take it away from the drama of the case.
In my normal life, I still have these moments where I go, Hey, this isn’t working; enough is enough. We got to do this. But I think what happens is we’re busy living, we’re busy doing, not really being who we’re supposed to be. So we’re busy just doing the day-to-day, whether it’s just making sure we keep the peace, but there is a moment in time where we switch. I think everyone goes through this. Everyone I’ve ever talked to about this in their own way has come to me and said, you know, Jo I’m frustrated or I’m fed up. Or I know that there’s more to my life. So it’s almost as though we’ve hit that tipping point and that is where we’re just not willing, I guess, to settle anymore so we prioritize what we really care about, even if it means taking huge risks. It doesn’t matter what the cause is really, it’s about being willing to step out of that – I say comfort zone and say, I’m going to walk in this, but I really don’t know where I’m going and I didn’t so I can understand what other people say. I don’t know what it looks like. Yeah, I totally get you but yes, I do think that is exactly what you need.
Laurel: I like how you use the word risk and I think comfort zone is a good way to describe it. That intellectually, I think we understand the concept of prioritizing what matters. And I would say that on some level we understand what matters. And what matters to me may not necessarily matter to someone else, but in order to actually begin to prioritize, make decisions, create boundaries, conscious choices around things, I think there is a risk of something, right? It’s the risk of what’s it going to be like when I stop doing whatever it is I’ve been doing and I actually start doing something that prioritizes what matters.
Jo: Exactly. I agree with you because we don’t change unless we feel the tug of something. We don’t make that move to do something different unless there’s something either tugging at the heart in my case, or pulling you in a different direction, but there will always be some sort of risk. It’s both challenging and frightening, but also exciting. And so it was not both, but you see all those elements come into play, but there has to come a time in our life. For me, it’s about knowing my purpose and living it fully.
Laurel: Which is a great pivot Jo, in terms of knowing your purpose, because you are very focused on how it is that you give back to people who are in need in some way. Can you share a little bit about the work of Team Humanity and what it is that you’re doing there?
Jo: Yes. Thank you very much. You know, when we came down here to Mexico, like many, when you come, it’s like, Oh, this is a vacation spot, but when you live somewhere, wherever you go, there you are. So I live here, so I post work. I have all that stuff, but you start to see things differently because it’s not a resort, it’s not a five-star resort. And so you start to look around and I think everyone goes through this. The people that I know that have been here that have been coming back for years, they say the same things. They had no idea what was going on. So down here, you know, just to put a little bit of context to this and how Team Humanity was formed, people earn – this is not per hour what I’m about to tell you – they earn if they’re lucky, $7 a day.
So just try to live off $7 a day, no matter how economical, it seems in another area it’s not possible, it’s physically not possible. There are all sorts of things going on behind the scenes. There is such a huge need. And it’s what drove me to work with what we call the colonies; these are working poor people that live in what we might refer to as shanty shack. There might be eight people. They’re all working. They worked six days a week, but do the math, you know, that’s $42 a week per person. It’s just not doable. So they’re lacking basic needs stuff. But just to put this in perspective, basic hygiene; women’s products are so treasured that when we get them and we donate them, they start to cry.
That is so mind-boggling to me that something that we take as just part of life, like, I have to go buy this, it’s not a big deal, but here a $7 product, that’s your wage. So that just doesn’t happen. So we started with the orphanage and the colonies, and then, animal rescue. But we are very purposeful. It is based on if we can elevate, educate, and empower. We’re not just feeding the fish, we’re teaching how to fish; whether it’s in animal rescue, helping out with the spaying and neutering of animals, or whether we’re helping with fostering and getting them out. We’re also doing education at the same time. And in the colonies we’re doing many different things, including teaching entrepreneurship, so that if they have a side hustle, they can at least earn some extra money because the education, public education down here – I can talk about this forever, but I’ll keep it brief – I’m so passionate about it.
Any of you that have kids to just think about this, here they graduate in grade six. That means, they’re 11 years old because they start school the same time as our kids, they are done at 11, 12, they’re done school unless someone can pay for high school for them. And so that’s another part of our elevate, educate, and empower. For me, it’s very clear those three components drive everything we do. If people come to us and say, can you help us with this? It has to meet that criteria. If it doesn’t, we have lots going on at any given time anyway. Team Humanity is basically a full-time job, which I love. As I said, I could talk about it for hours.
Laurel: What does that tell us when you can talk about it for hours? It’s because it matters to you. It’s something that really speaks to you. How did you come to know that this was part of your passion and purpose in life?
Jo: I think, for myself coming from a childhood where there was…I don’t mean there wasn’t food in the fridge I liked; there was no food in the fridge. There was no food in the cupboards. I know what it’s like to live…and that’s part of that story of Frock Off, but I know what it’s like to grow up in a first-world country with nothing – but down here, it’s even harder because there is no social system. There’s no social structure, except for the community coming and saying, Hey, we’re going to help you, but there’s only so much anyone can do when they’re in that financial position in life.
But it’s easy now for me to look around and go, there’s a need here. And I think out so much of it, so much of it is driven by how I grew up and what it was like for myself and my siblings. We were lucky, we had people step up and say, you matter, stay in school, but imagine graduating at 11, how do you function like that? You can’t get ahead. So there’s a problem with the education system when you have to pay for high school; it’s not college – it’s high school.
Laurel: So for listeners who are thinking, okay, that’s inspiring to hear what Jo is doing, do you think this big conversation about deciding what matters in your life, do you think there is always -, I’ll call it a volunteer – a volunteer component to it?
Jo: I really do, because at the end of the day, we all do our thing. I worked in corporate Canada for a really long time – 20 plus years is really a long time you needed to be in that. And not as a negative, just that’s where I was, but I didn’t feel that sense of fulfillment. And one thing I want to say for the listeners, it’s whether it’s a Team Humanity situation; sometimes, you know, it’s the food bank in your local neighborhood or it’s a big sister situation. I think really, for me to determine what matters or to talk about that, because it is a huge topic, it is about living your legacy life.
I want to be remembered for giving. I don’t want to be remembered for saying, she thought she should do this, but she never quite got to it. So it’s like, seriously, because we do have, I call it the checkout date, which I know is for some people might be a little bit brass, but I’ve had a few close calls. So we only have so much time. That’s a whole different conversation, I know that but if you find what matters, number one, as you said, it matters. I can talk about it for hours. I want to make an impact that leaves the world better than when I arrived. Meaning I think I should do something that makes some kind of impact. And I think that is what triggers most people, they find their purpose or their passion; which could be as simple as reading to children. It’s not about whether it’s Team Humanity, it’s about finding what makes you excited, makes you want to get up and do it and it’s for free because you’re volunteering. But volunteering is really a win-win anyway, the person receiving wins and you win way more. So, yes, I think volunteering is a critical component for it.
Laurel: Well, and you know, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you giving that bit of wake-up call there. We all have a limited amount of time, we don’t know. We just don’t know when our expiration date is, we’ve all got an expiry date tattooed on us somewhere. We just don’t know what that is. I mean, from my perspective, I think we have this great denial that allows us to not prioritize what matters, because we know that; again, intellectually, we know that. Yeah. Yeah. I get that. However, I’m just going to keep doing things in my life that ignore that big reality, that there is only a certain amount of time and not from a fear place. Like, Oh no. Now I have to run around and do a whole bunch of stuff because, you know, I might get run over by a bus tomorrow. But just this honoring of this beautiful gift that we have, whether you’ve got a day or whether you’ve got a hundred years, it doesn’t really matter. It’s about prioritizing the gift of that amount of time, whatever it is that you’ve got.
Jo: It completely is because there’s no, ‘I’m ringing the bell when you’re gone’ so it’s just done. So what did we do while we were here? And, you know, not in that arrogance or I mean, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about at least knowing – I’d like my eulogy be that I actually did something to help others. For me, that’s very important so I’m very clear on what matters to me. I want my legacy to be that I did what I could when I could, and as best I could. That is very important to me. But I know for others it will be the same, but maybe in a different direction. And I think sometimes people get caught up in, ‘it has to be this grandiose thing’. No, it doesn’t.
It has to be what matters to you so that your life has value to you and others. It’s contagious. The minute you start doing what you’re intended to do, the minute you prioritize your life to matter for you, and however that rolls out, people will follow you; it’s the oddest thing. Like I never thought there would be so many people that want to come down here and volunteer with me. They’ll fly from other parts of the world to come and volunteer with me because they want that experience. So it just shows you, if you have something you’re so passionate about and it matters, and you actually do prioritize yourself, do this, others will be moved and you are setting in motion something else that’s much bigger than yourself. And so for me, it’s the coolest thing ever to see these people getting involved that knew nothing about this and thought it was five-star resorts – it’s cool.
Laurel: And I think for listeners, it’s important for them to consider a couple of things; there’s this level of what in your life right now, inside your day to day life, what is it that matters that you’re not prioritizing whether or not that is about relationships or your health or whatever that is, to begin having that conversation with yourself. What is it that I am not prioritizing that actually matters that if this thing was taken away from me, that would be Holy smoke, I don’t want that to happen? And when we begin doing that, then I think it also begins to open up that door to other possibilities. I think it’s hard to begin to give to others when we can’t even begin to prioritize what it is that matters to us that has a direct impact on how we are with the people closest to us, to our family and friends. Because if you don’t prioritize your health or you don’t prioritize relationships in your personal life, then it’s very difficult to begin to go out authentically and now start giving to the wider community. What is your thought about that?
Jo: Yeah, I agree. I 100 hundred percent agree because until I wrote my story and came out of hiding, I did live vicariously through others. I absolutely did – your success was my success in some small ways. And what I mean by that, it didn’t matter whatever was going on and you were rocking, I was excited because I got to be part of that story in my own mind. That’s what kept me sane, to be honest. But to say that I could have done what I’m doing now without having given myself both permission and the desire to say enough was enough, and to prioritize myself, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now. It’s way too big of a task. It’s just too big. And it would actually probably swallow me because there’s so much need. That being said, though, as you said, if you don’t take care of yourself, you know, if your cup isn’t full, you can’t serve anyone including yourself actually. I mean self-care, those things, I didn’t get that until I actually said I was worthy of it. So I agree, a hundred percent.
Laurel: Aa last question for you, Jo, as listeners are thinking about this, sure, it’s a really busy world that we live in, there are a lot of distractions going on. What’s your suggestion, advice, guidance for people about how do they begin prioritizing what matters given the fact that life’s really busy? I’m sure for some listeners, you know, they’re listening to this and it’s like, yeah, that sounds great but I’ve got to take care of my kids and I’m working and I’m taking care of aging parents and that just sounds like a “nice to have”. So what’s your suggestion or guidance for people about how do you begin to do that? How do you begin to prioritize what matters even though we live in a busy distractable world?
Jo: Exactly and it’s a great question. It’s a fair question. You know, I was a single mom for eight years, so I get busy, I totally get busy. I went to school, raising the kids, and I was working. I totally get feeling like, Oh my goodness, if you put one more thing on my plate, I’m going to lose it. But you know what you can do – and it doesn’t take you any extra time because it’s going to happen organically – is notice what’s pulling you. For example, I’m not a great sleeper, but when I go to bed at night, there are things that I’ll think about, Oh my goodness. Or as you said earlier, I would be so distraught – I’m paraphrasing – if this was taken away from me, if I could have spent more time. Again, the kids grow up, regardless, the children grow up, it doesn’t matter.
You don’t want them to grow up too fast or other times you do want them to grow up fast because they’re exhausting. But life is what it is and whether it’s children or just day-to-day commitments, it doesn’t make any difference but you can notice what’s pulling at you. That’s what happened to me. I started to notice and I started to develop, I don’t want to say anxiety, but definitely, concern over things that I definitely was missing out on. And I knew I was missing out on them because I wanted to do them and it wasn’t about doing more things; it was about being involved in something, for example, or being more engaged, like you said, with your family, with your friends, whatever, and feeling like, Oh, I haven’t spoken to that person.
Just notice what’s pulling you. Because when you start to notice, you’ll start to know what it is you’re drawn to and then you can start to prioritize things. Maybe a small step, like something as simple as, you know, wanting to learn something. It could be something as simple as reading a book. If you can etch out the time to read the book that starts you on that path and it allows you to prioritize yourself with something that’s not…you know, don’t bite off Team Humanity, that might be a big one. You can read a book, you can look for quotes, you can go to a bookstore and just look at…go for a walk. Do something that’s just for you, 10 minutes. I’m pretty sure you can etch out 10 minutes.
I’m saying that dramatically because we can all do that, but just notice what you’re feeling. This was a big thing for me. I wouldn’t take baths because it took too much time. Like, seriously, I can have a shower because it takes this amount of minutes, seriously. That’s a small thing, but it was a big thing because I missed it. So notice what you’re missing, the small things and you know what’s amazing, you’ll start to prioritize because you’ll know, Oh, that’s what I want. That’s what drives us. We’re not going to change if we’re comfortable.
Laurel: And I think we can come at this from two different ways. I love this idea of just starting to notice which way you’re being pulled. That’s, I would say, awareness; awareness precedes purposeful action. We have to be tuned into what’s happening. And so, the invitation to just notice is great. And what I’d pair with that is, and that thing that you already know, but you don’t have to build any awareness, you already know this is a thing that matters that you’re not prioritizing. Every single one of us has something like that. We know that. We begin doing something with that, some small thing of how can I elevate the priority level on that particular thing?
Jo: I would just say it starts with that. It starts with awareness because that’s the first step, really. And it will lead you to the next and the nex, and it is actually so different today than where I was from, but it began with just the little things doesn’t have to be this grandiose thing.
Laurel: Well, I’m so glad that you were able to carve out a little time to spend with us because you know, as I said, there are so many different conversations that we could have because I really feel like you’re someone who can speak from a place of, I’m going to use this word, authority and I know you’ll probably go, ah. But what I mean by that is that you have such lived experience in so many different ways and lots of things that have happened to you that could have been the excuse for not really leaning into life. It could have been the excuse for leaning away from life and you’ve leaned in and continue to make such a wonderful impact in the community with the work that you’re doing in Team Humanity, or just with friends and family. Any of us who know you really see you as a beautiful example of what it means when you put the most important things first.
Jo: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s an honour. And you know, just the work that you’re doing, it’s so critical because we often don’t talk about things until we’re in a space that is not good. So for you to be able to create this opportunity for people to be listening and just taking them on their own time, it’s wonderful. So thank you so much.
Laurel: So, lovely ones, I’m going to put in the show notes some links for you if you want to learn more about the work that Jo is doing with Team Humanity. I’ll put a link to her website and how you can get the book Frock Off; trust me, it is a fascinating read. So please check out the show notes so that you can explore this a little bit more. I know you’re in beautiful rural Mexico, sunny, I’m imagining not far from the beach. And so thank you for carving a little bit of time out of your paradise there to be with us. I so appreciate it, Jo.
Jo: Thank you.
Laurel: Okay. Lovely ones, that’s it for today. In the next episode, we’ll tackle another principle from Savor The Day and have another interesting perspective. Until then, I hope that you are indeed savoring the day, no matter what it is that the day is bringing you, the ups or the downs or the in-between, we get one go-round with this life. So go with the flow of whatever it is that’s happening. I’ll see you soon.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being & The Doing with your host, Laurel Vespi. If you liked this episode and think other people would please subscribe, rate, and give a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to tune in next week for another conversation about The Being & The Doing. Thanks for listening.