June 22, 2021

E79 From Prison to Power with Angie Hejl | CPTSD Podcast

In this episode, we have guest speaker Angie Hejl talk about From Prison to Power, and one of the most important things that we can do in life is to use our story and circumstances to create change that we want to see in the world.

In this episode, we have guest speaker Angie Hejl talk about From Prison to Power, and one of the most important things that we can do in life is to use our story and circumstances to create change that we want to see in the world.

Learn more about Angie's Hejl at https://asoireebyangie.com/

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Learn more about coaching at https://coaching.thinkunbroken.com

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Hey, what's up on Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well. Wherever you are in the world. I'm Michael Anthony — author, speaker coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma and you are listening to the Michael unbroken podcast. And I'm really excited today to be joined by my friend here, Angie Hejl. Because I think one of the most important things that we can do in life is to use our story and circumstances to create change that we want to see in the world. And I think, Gandhi said it best, you know, be the change that you want to see in and on occasion, I come across someone where I go. Wow!  I'm actually super inspired by this person's journey and so Angie my friend, I'm stoked to have you on the podcast. How are you today?

Angie: I'm doing great. Thank you for having me today.

Michael: Yeah, Of course!

Angie: I’m glad to be here.

Michael: Yeah, me too. And I think the best way to jump this off in to start this is, tell everyone what you do now, and then we're going to go back in time and some space to tell your story.

Angie:  Well, that's a good question and it might be a little bit of a long answer. I have my hand in a few different areas. I host an alright co-founded a women's Empowerment Group called Glam Soiree and it's just a place where we all get together pre COVID bimonthly and we all get together and support each other to the pre-glam event. It's something that started when I started a party planning company. So it's a space where I get to create for others for them to experience and just have a really good evening and it's grown into this beautiful community of women who just really a lot more entrepreneurs are on a healing Journey themselves. And it's a place where we get to support each other. And another thing, and I'm recently launching, our creative therapy workshops, create something that's been incredibly healing for me, along my journey. So, it's something that I feel really inspired to share with others and that's really exciting. We're having our first one in March, so it's new and it'll be just a safe space where people can explore and create. And then the way we met, I also do outreach work for a company called Aluma and they specialize in people healing their trauma through using Ketamine Therapy and it's something that I have found a lot of value in it and I just appreciate them so much that it's somebody that I'm so honored to be aligned with. So those are the three main things that I have going on.

Michael: Yeah, you have a lot of plates spinning there, but I understand from your story that hasn't always been the case. And it's taken a lot for you to step into a place where you have now transmuted your own journey. And so what I'd love to do here, take me back to kind of before this, what was happening in your life? What were the events and occurrences that kind of led you down this path?

Angie: So, that's a really good question.  A little bit of my background is when I was 20, I was in a car accident from drinking and driving. Somebody was very injured in the accident and that was in, you know, that's been a life-changing event for me. And it definitely has led me to a lot where I am today.  I did spend 24 months in afford, a present. So, I went to prison for 2 years. That was quite a journey and there's a lot to unpack there and then it led me to really being really intentional and thoughtful about my life now and where I show up and how I want to contribute to the world.

Michael: And what happened, you know, I think they're obviously is so much to unpack there and people are going to be very, very curious in your story. What was kind of the lead up to this moment where you have this accident? What was your life like what was happening?  You know, I think that often an event a moment, like, drinking and driving can be very impulsive. I had a very similar event when I was 19, I went to a house party on my birthday with a bunch of friends and got just obliterated drunk and high. And I was the only one who had a driver's license. And so I was like, no, no, I'm fine. I'll drive us home, turns out.  I didn't notice until I was almost home that I've been driving for over a mile and a half on the wrong side of the road.  And I mean, it's just like, such a godsend moment that that nothing happened and my emergency brakes or my brakes went out. And I had to control the car with my emergency brake like all these crazy things happen simultaneously with five people in my car and I think about how a split second difference, maybe if I left too early or too late could have changed my whole life forever and then you faced it and you were impacted by it in this way that did become detrimental. What, what was the lead up in that? Because I think, especially when we're young, we make these weird and often ignorant, impulsive choices that can change your life forever.

Angie: It's a really good question and there had been quite a few years leading up to the accident of self-destruction. I have a background of I lost my father, when I was 15 but prior to that. I categorize or I like to say it as he really was a victim to the opioid crisis in the midst of all of it and being surrounded. So to go back, the drugs were almost glamorized when I was a child and it was something that was really familiar to me and it was something that was really normalized. So I kind of didn't know any different as a teenager and I would say losing him really spent me sent me into a spiral. I had a lot of feelings of rap, shame, and guilt that I should have known or that I could have done more and I think that it led to a lot of self-destructive behaviors for the years between about 15 and 20. And there definitely was a lot of partying, a lot of self-medicating because I really think I didn't know how to understand those feelings, and I think that they were there for sure.  And I am a highly sensitive person.  So it's I feel a lot, but in the same sense, I needed help with them and that's where the drugs and alcohol really really came in and it's easy to say, you know, people always say as it could happen to anyone and it could and I know that we've all been in situations where like oh thank God, it hadn't happened but I can definitely say that I feel like I had warning signs leading up to it. There were quite a few instances where there was, you know, I'd previous accidents, I hadn't really remembered and I can definitely say that I was on a path where I didn't really care if I hurt myself but it was never, It never really entered my mind, the impact that I could have on someone else until that very split second until it happened.  And in that second, it changed everything I can definitely say that night has I mean, it's just, it can happen so fast and it changed the lives of so many people in a matter of seconds. And I often say, like, part of me, I felt like died that night like and also part of me woke up and that's, you know, in a situation in some of the like the darkest moment of my life where I wasn't sure, you know, that I was going to survive, I would switch places in a heartbeat.  I really had to make a decision to survive and work on it or let it overcome ever take me.

Michael: Yeah. And you know it's my mother and most of my family members were definitely income earned by buy drugs and especially prescription drugs like everywhere we turn there were just these little orange pill bottles around our house, and our friends’ homes and our neighborhoods. It was like the go-to and I agree with you to some extent, it was glamorized and we looked at it and we said, you know, not only can these things get as high, but, you know, I spent a lot of a long time, selling prescription drugs to people and selling weed and other things because it to me was it wasn't only just like something you did in the neighborhood. Like it was also survival and when I started doing drugs, luckily, I never stepped into hardcore pharmaceuticals. But my friends and I used to call him skittles. We'd go and get over the counter.  Like oh my gosh, what does that stuff called? Not hydrocortisone it was I can't remember the name of them but we would just take so many of them that suddenly it felt like you're on another planet and it felt like such an escape and that's what drugs felt like until we would have these moments. And I had many moments in which I thought to myself, I am on a pathway of destruction and and and maybe there is a part of me that knew that I wasn't living up to my expectations or my potential but it just felt easier to escape because the experience of watching someone effectively kill themselves through their addiction is so incredibly difficult and traumatic and I don't think people really understand what that's like until it's your mother or your father. And I watched my mother just bury herself in that and my coping mechanism ultimately became very similar to the same thing except it was more about alcohol and fast cars. One of the things I'm really curious about is, so at that moment I think that's this period as you mentioned in which everything changed in your life and I don't think that there's a way that it doesn't, right? When you have an impact like that, but then also you see the ramifications of your actions impacting other people what's actually happening in your mind at that moment that I think for a lot of people they would just run, right? They'd be like, holy shit. I've done this, I've, you know, I got to get out of here. And now you're faced with being culpable. I think this is a hard conversation. I think because it's a reflection of understanding that there are ramifications for our decisions. What was that like in that moment for you to recognize like, holy shit, I am probably in trouble?

Angie: A question. It was a hard moment.  I'm a big believer in taking responsibility for your actions. So I knew that it was something that I was in a lot of trouble for. I knew that I was going away for a long time.  My mom knew I was going away for a long time. And honestly, the amount of self-hate and like you don't even know who you are any more like it's almost like an out-of-body experience. It’s truly is survival mode at that point, I do believe that something switched where my body really went into like a fight or flight response, where it was surviving and that was all I knew how to do was get to the next hour, get to the next couple of hours, get to the next day. I was actually home for a year and a half before I was sentenced and that year and a half of being home was torture, it was just a lot of the unknown.  I think the unknown for people, in general, is hard but then also having the self-hate on top of it, I did exercise a lot that was a lot of my, you know, looking at it now I thought it was an e way to cope. But again, I also wasn't really sure what to do with the feelings and they were so intense that really just waiting. And I think that people were hoping that I wouldn't go to prison and man, I just really wanted to because like I said, I believe, you know, there are consequences to actions and for me, I was in my own presentation that nothing that a judge could sentence or being in a prison would be any worse than like my own jail that I was in.

Michael: Yeah, that's powerful. And I think that's an experience for a lot of people not even necessarily in this context because there's a so individual to you. But in general, in life, in this place, where you're full of self-hatred, where you can't stand the reflection in the mirror, where you're ultimately in that place I call the vortex of just being trapped, it's like well what gets worse than this like, how do you create change? How do you do, whatever comes next? And so now that waiting period to me, the unknown feels so incredibly torturous and I think about that and the events of my own life and being in the unknown, and being amazed precarious situations, or in these life-and-death situations that I faced and just having a gun, like an outer body experience, as you mentioned and suddenly you're like zapped back to reality in that time frame. Where did reality start to play a role and more importantly like was there any change in your thought process about what had happened before being sentenced?

Angie:  Gosh, I would tear started to snap back to reality when I did start working with a great company in between the time of going to prison and being home. So I was able to start rebuilding my life or at least the pieces in you know what the world saw on the outside but really trying to be better and knowing that I just wanted to do everything I could to be a person and knowing that I was working towards all of it. And it was probably, you know, going away when I ultimately was sentenced was a challenge. It was hard to go, but also, I loved having something that I could go and take my mind off of it and something that I was building. So, really that time in between was an opportunity for me to reflect, and put some pieces back together before ultimately going to prison.

Michael: Yeah. And it sounds like you may have used that time to your advantage. As a child, I actually frequent prison, my uncle was in prison and we would go he sees him at Pendleton State, Penitentiary out and Indiana and we'd go see him at least once a month sometimes twice, you'll go make this really long drive, you know, as a child 2-hour drive takes forever and you'd go and do that constantly not go and see him and be in that environment and the one thing that I would say probably paid played towards my advantage in childhood and even when I was doing these very illegal things is, I had made a declaration to myself that I would rather die than go to prison. And that's because I saw it every single day and even though I was running with drugs and running with guns and stealing cars and breaking the houses, I ran from the cops. So often like I'm actually shocked, I never got shot in the back to be honest with you because I was willing like part of me made that declaration of myself, I was like, I'm willing to do this. And I mean, getting chased through backyards at 10 o'clock in the morning, is such a weird experience for like a 14-year-old.  And then looking at the impact of that, on my family and my friends of my community. And knowing that there is such a distinct correlation between child abuse or dealing with, you know, if you're familiar with the ace scores, having these experiences that correlate towards imprisonment as an adult, they almost go hand-in-hand.  How much do you feel like, and, I have a few questions about your experience here, but to start with, and looking at a knowing that it is generational the cycle of imprisonment because of decisions made through the experiences that we've had leading up to shame, guilt, mistrust, anger, hatred whatever that thing might be. How much do you think that your childhood and your youth played a role at that moment?

Angie:  I think it played everything or a lot into that moment. Ultimately, I did make the decision but also I think that you know, 75 to 95 percent of women who are incarcerated are victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, I don't think at the time that I knew that it was emotional abuse. But I also gosh, my biggest fear was ending up like my father and I was getting there so fast and I can genuinely say that everyone liked in his inner circle in his company was either dead or in prison. So I just feel like why it was all I knew. And I think that I just never really had the opportunity or the guidance to do something different. And I think that just it had everything to do with it.

Michael: Yeah. And I think about that a lot too. I didn't know any better, right?  Like, if you grow up in these environments and if it is true, which I believe it has and I say it all the time that we are, the sum total of all of our experiences until this moment, right? You are only being informed by what you knew, what you saw, what you experienced. I mean, it wasn't uncommon in the same way for my friends to get high and go still a car in that you would see that happening in the community, that's what we thought you did. And so, now that you're in this and you're obviously in the moment like you're probably not putting two and two together, right?  You're having this very even, I would imagine while being in prison, outer body experience. What was it like for you while you were actually incarcerated?

Angie:  So that's really interesting. I do want to serve; I want to say the day of sentencing. I did have one of the hardest judges in Volusia County and I knew that going into it and I was okay with that and I'll never forget the words that he said to me that day and He said. Well, I had an opportunity to write a letter and in the letter, I really just apologize. I feel like there were no words that, you know, not asking really for forgiveness or for any leniency and he looked at me that day and he said I don't think you're a bad person but I do think that a bad decision was made and he said it was almost like the perfect storm. Anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong at that very second and he did believe in punishment. So they feel like that was the first step to making it to prison. And that was a long journey, it's not just you know, you make it there and that's it. My first few weeks in Lowell, so that's the maximum-security facility in Florida. So I was in Florida, it's in the middle of nowhere and it’s summer and I was placed in the youthful offender. So youthful offender is mainly girls for about 17 to 20, and I was right on the edge of being too old for all of the youthful offender program, and I kept hearing for people that like the youthful offenders were terrifying that it was way harder than being in a regular person. And at that point, I wasn't really sure what I was walking into, I can definitely say through the entire intake process.  I mean it's just so dehumanizing like your body isn't fill your own anymore. You know, you have all these people there's just a lot that happens along the way but the youthful offender was hard. It was really, really eye-opening for me, and it did show me, you know, most of the girls came from really broken homes, a lot of them and in and out of foster care, and I feel like they were told that they didn't matter and I feel like the prison system really instilled that back into them and that was a really scary first few weeks and then after that, I was transferred to which taken out and transferred to the main intake Center and from there you stay for a few weeks and then your place in your main facility and that it's so hard to say that there was good that came out of it, but I was put in a year-long intensive program, it was state-mandated we lived as a Therapeutic Community and I can definitely say that program was life-changing for me growing and healing with Women in such a place of darkness was really unique. I don't like to use the word special, but gosh, you're surrounded by people that are often in their darkest place. Not really sure how they got there. Not really sure what their life is going to look like and you have this opportunity to reflect and look at your life and make new decisions, you're taught and you really grow together and it was something that I feel so passionate about now is the growth as a community and the chance for healing and it was just a unique opportunity.

Michael:  Yeah, I mean there's no question. That's so much about what think unbroken is so much about my own healing Journey, just being in connection with other human beings. I mean, if I rewind in the last really 25 years of my life, I look at the most significant moments of change. It was really within like this intensive men's group therapy that I volunteered myself into so that I could have a connection with men outside of violence or high five around, you know, girls and cars and shit. Right? And that was profound for me because I got to have an emotional understanding of what it meant to be a human being from a different set of eyes in a different lens while also it being proctored by a really special therapist and so, you know, I think about that and those moments and being like, I'm really glad I volunteered myself for that, but you didn't have an option where you are thrown into it and I think in part that probably is a really, really good thing that happens. What was it about that like I want you to dive into that because I think it'd be really important and special for people listening right now? What was the experience that became so profound, and so changing for you? Because I think that it and you probably saw a lot of people went in there, huge guards up, it created 0 or less than 0 change for many, but for some, it probably became this really beautiful Catalyst, yourself included for what ultimately becomes next in life. But what do you think that gave you that was missing from your life?

Angie:  I do believe, it gave me a sense of hope and you are right about that. When you say that a lot of people probably didn't want to be there myself included. I remember the first one of the first few days I was there, we were in a circle, there were a number of counselors in the program. So number one, the counselors are people honestly that gave a shit. It wasn't just like an officer. That was telling you what to do. Those people showed up and a lot of them had their own stories of hope and their own stories that they had changed their lives.  So, number one, they were a huge example for us. And, you know, they weren't definitely weren't easy on us, but I do remember my counselor looking at me and telling me that I had a problem, and at that moment, I still didn't agree with her. I was in prison in this program and still would not agree with her, that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol or that they were, you know, they that, you know, I made a mistake and I had control of everything and a lot of the women in the program felt that way. So a lot of us when you start the program you're right. They go into it kicking and screaming but you really have no option and starting to see that shift in people also inspired you to make that shift and it was learning from each other and every day getting up, you know, we had a very structured schedule. It was you, you know, you show up dressed and you have an entire day of working and you eat together, you go to bed together, you know, there was a weekly encounter. So if you were, you know, showing bad behavior, you got to pull each other up. And that was really interesting to learn how to take constructive feedback from people who are giving it to, usually, because they care, when normally it would be, you know, very easy to be defensive. So I think that's a program that installed a lot of hope and people and growing from different personalities. I've met some of my best friends from the program and usually, it was drawn to people that, you know, I'm shy and I carry a lot of social anxiety and they were just totally out of the box, would their true selves and I just feel like it gave us all an opportunity to learn from each other.

Michael: Yeah. And in that there's something I mean we are communal beings by nature, right? There's no doubt about it, like being alone and which I'm sure how you felt in your Youth and how I felt when I was young and I felt alone like nobody got it, nobody understood. But when I started to have the realization that in fact was not true, but instead of the story that I was making up, it really helps solidify the idea that somehow there was potential. What, what about if anything in those moments and those times not necessarily just like within the therapy, but while you're incarcerated, where did you gather and garner hope, and compassion for yourself and the idea that you know, one day once this is over, you'll step into something else?

Angie:  Gosh, I have just a distinct memory of being out in the rec field. It was just an open field where you could go exercise. I would walk by myself and I just remember having the sun on my face just because I wasn't something that you had to feel every day. And I would tell myself over and over again that I will do great things and it was just something that I repeated you know, it was my affirmation that I will do great things. And I made a declaration to myself while I was there that I would go home and change my life and that great like a great life would come of it and I really hold on to that hope and I wanted it for myself. I wanted it for my family, I wanted it for what happened not to be in vain and it was really that carried me through.

Michael: Yeah. And hope is such a powerful word. And I don't think that it's leveraged enough because there has to be some semblance of an understanding that there's a possibility and that's what carries through. I mean that that was my experience it still is right my hope is ultimately to put myself out of business to make the idea of childhood trauma and abuse be a conversation we no longer have and I know on a long enough timeline that will happen at this moment, my only hope is I'm going to do all the things to get there, right? Once you're out and you're in the world again. What was it like to readjust? And actually, this is twofold one, I saw not only my friends but my family come back and then go right back in. And, and that's the common narrative. You are built to fell when you come out of prison. That is just the way the system is because it wants you in there because then you make money, that's the truth of it, right? How do you sustain this hope that you have once you find yourself back in the real world?

Angie:  So you're right. Usually, people go back and never won. I knew I did not want to be a statistic and I would do anything. I could not be adjusting to being home was really really hard. The word, institutionalized Israel, I came home and I had developed a lot of firm me. I look back and they were survival skills. I know that you've talked a lot about Perfectionism, a lot of obsessive-compulsive behaviors and a lot of it was me, you know, it gave me a sense of control, and it almost gave me a sense of calmness for a really long time, I think they served me really, really well. I thought that it's interesting when you're in it, you think that you're adjusting well until you have a few years to reflect back, but I do think that I was, you know, I really just wanted to come home and work hard.  I was really really fortunate that the company that I worked for before, I went to prison gave me my job back. So number one I had an extreme amount of gratitude to them and then they also gave me an opportunity, it was a fine-dining Steakhouse. So in the hospitality industry which I love that, the hospitality industry gives people chances. I can definitely say for people that have been incarcerated that you have an opportunity to grow and it does allow you to warn skills along the way. So they made me a private dining coordinator with the possibility of becoming a sales manager. If it went well, and I just had so much fight in me at that point, that I worked my ass off for that job, and I eat, slept, and breathed working, and just being successful. I just wanted to be self-sufficient, and also I wanted to be a contributing, you know, person to society. So I used to use a language that I got really lucky to have those opportunities, but I'm learning that those opportunities came from how I showed up and how hard I worked. So I'm really learning to take ownership of that and it ended up going really well, work was going great, and I was starting to build, and then shortly after that, I met my husband. So, you know, everything on the outside was going as planned, if not better than I could have ever expected. But I still had a lot of those self-limiting thoughts that I didn't deserve everything that I was receiving, and that at any moment, it could be taken away and it has taken me years to work through that.

Michael: Yeah, and it does take years and it takes patience and, you know, there's something to be said about, I think that one of the big myths, no meres, and the world just as a whole is people feel like they're deserving of things, but I think the reality is you have to earn every inch every single day. And then, the hard part about that is when you come from a background in which you've been told, you're not good enough, smart enough capable enough, pretty enough, whatever enough there are always those moments of those limiting beliefs in the self-doubt and the shadow self in that part of you, that even though you go through a trial, after trial, after trial, and you have these moments where you reach out and you grab that brass ring and you're like, yes I'm victorious, is still goes, you're not good enough, you're not strong enough, you're not capable enough and working through that is I think probably the greatest challenge that we face as human beings. There's nothing in my opinion, more difficult than getting to the place where you put your feet on the ground and you say, I love myself.  And that's so much of this journey that's so much about what life is because you have to be able to get to that place to actually create real sustainability. Because until you're there, your little bit trapped, right? You're still always in the vortex and that was my experience. I have the cars and the clothes, and the women, and all of the things. But I was miserable inside, because I hated my reflection in the mirror, and justifiably so like realistically, I'd put myself in that situation, I had made my choices and I had to suffer the gratification of that. The harder part of it is the upswing, right? Where you're looking at, you're going doing all the things, I'm doing all the things but still that little voice, right? That little piece, that's there. What you're doing now is such a just a position of where you started this journey writer and really your whole life to be in this place where you are, for lack of a better term in service. Talk to me about where that comes from, what inspires that, and what your hopes are with what you're doing now?

Angie:  It's funny that you say in service because that's really been something that has stayed with me a lot this year, and my declaration right now is I want to be of service to others and to be able to be of service to others, I've had to step into a place of forgiveness, and I think that you're just like you said, we had all the things, you know, we moved with the beautiful wife, great house, great husband but something was still missing. I remember there was a moment, I had a few on my knees moment, we're number one, we were supposed to write a letter to somebody that we were angry at and I wrote it to myself and that was an aha moment for me. I was in a, you know, self-improvement course, and I couldn't think of anybody else that I was angry at, and I was like, so I wrote it to myself and then we had to read it back to someone else and both of our eyes got really wide and she was really confused, and I was just like, man, I hate myself and that was a moment for me because up until then, I don't think that I knew that and I remember reading the book, “The Body keeps the score” and I'm a bit disassociated. So I think that I just moved on I was like if I do all these things if I do all the right things and everything will just fall into place and it just wasn't in learning the science behind how trauma affects the body. It just lit something in me that I was like I need to get a handle on this and I do remember having a moment one night where I was on the floor in my kitchen telling my husband that you know he was going to check me in somewhere for a little I'll and that I was going to go away and really work on my trauma and I was being a little bit dramatic but at that moment I committed to my healing and that's ultimately when I found Illumma and therapy and I made a commitment to sitting in a mess really, I knew that it wasn't going to be pretty. I never wanted to get that messy, I just wanted to keep sweeping it under the rug but I had to give myself space to work through it in order to be able to show up for others. And that's been the only way that I've been able to keep showing up for others is by working on myself.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, I could not relate to that more. That's so much of my experience, and that book is very special and very profound. And I found when I got serious, about this journey 9, 10, 11 years ago, it so much about education and self-education and understanding and putting myself in these positions of learning so I could grow and so, I could heal, and so I could change in and it did require sitting within it such a great way to put it because I had to come to this. Like for lack of a better term is coming to Jesus moment where I stood there and I looked at myself and I said, well what the fuck are you going to do about it? You know, because you've destroyed everything there this doesn't get worse, right? This is Rock Bottom. This is effectively as bad as it's going to be. And so you have a decision to make what are you going to do? And that really being very much this ultimatum to myself, but also looking at my life and recognizing that I'd never once lived up to the potential that I truly had. Fuck the cars, fuck the clothes that stuff doesn't matter, right? What matters is as one of my favorite people on planet earth; Tom bill you always say it. The only thing that matters is how you feel about yourself when you're by yourself and I hated every fiber of my being because that's an effect. What had been distilled down into me through decades of abuse and some in that place, and I'm thinking, I'm like, okay, grow grow, grow grow grow, and then, just by proxy, it turned into service. And I have the words for it five or six years ago when I started getting more serious about this, it was just very much like, how do I just take something I understand, and put it in the world and hope that it may be crated changing someone's life. And I'd have to imagine that's very much how you are now within the scope of what you're doing.  Talk to me about art therapy, talk to me about glam, talk to me about everything that you're working and building up, and what the mission of those things is?

Angie:  So It's all the things that I love and I had to really sit back and be like, what do I know? What do I know from all of this? I know that I want to be in the community. I know that I believe in the power of community, and I think a lot of that came. Now, I know a lot of it came from my experience of being incarcerated and knowing how important Community was and growing together and having a support network, and I've done a little bit of volunteer work here now Austin to where I go back into the prisons, and it was something that I always said to people was just like, you have to have a support network of people and my business partner, it's really funny two years ago. She asked me if I would consider sharing my story and I told her she was not and I called her and I was like how dare you say that when you have no idea? And now I just feel like she's somebody that's been in my corner this entire time and cheering me on, even when I didn't want to hear it and we really just wanted to have a place where we could celebrate each other have community, and if you had asked me three years ago, if I was a creative person, I would have told you that I wasn't creative imagination and everything like that, that comes with growing as a child was not something that I knew. But I have this super crazy husband and you're not crazy, he's crazy creative and he's so inspiring.  And he really pushed me towards growth and creating, and I can definitely say through finding my core self and getting more in touch with my feelings.  So much creativity has come out of it.  And what I have seen through design and I play with all areas of it through interior design party planning for the events, that what inspires me most is when other people share their creativity with me. And when women text me and tell me that they're going to start slowing down and taking times for themselves and for me, that's such a win, because I'm like, thank you for feeling safe enough to share that space with me and tell me, you know, what you want out of life and share your creativity, because there's so much beauty in it, and I just think right now is such a special time with social media, and, you know, everyone's creating this is creating, and people are putting so much art into the world. And I think that it's also such a vulnerable space to put yourself in and I think that there's a really high reward from it when you put your art into the world. And, you know, allow other people to really see you.

Michael: Yeah, that's very true and I think also in the way that I always approach it as if I'm going to do this and I have to do it with vulnerability and understanding that it's only through authenticity that people create relationships with each other.  You know, it'd be really easy and you know, as human beings we can always tell when people are bullshitting us like, that is a natural and especially if you're coming from a place of trauma, becomes a really big radar for you before I ask you, my last question, can you tell everybody where they can find you and especially if a woman is listening right now, and I want to be a part of this group, that sounds amazing. Where can they do that at?

Angie:  Yes, they can find us a glimpse or on Instagram @asoireebyangie, @glam_soiree, @illummaclinic. Also, www.glamsoiree.com and my creative therapy workshops are listed on my primary party planning company, and that is www.asoireebyangie.com And yeah, that's where you can find us.

Michael: Awesome! I'll put all the links in there. I don't even know how to spell that word. So, my last question for you, my friend is, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Angie:  When I think of unbroken the word resilient comes to mind and I think as human beings we are so resilient stronger than we know. And I think we have the ability and the strength to whether small and big storms and not only just get through the storms but to come out, stronger, wiser, and better on the other side. I'd and most importantly, I think that we have the resiliency to come out hole on the other side.

Michael: Yeah, that's beautiful. I totally agree. And you what an incredible story. I mean, to take this huge tragedy and turn it into triumph and be in a position to create change in the world is something that I think we all have the ability to do if we're willing to step into it.

Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for being here and listening.

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Like, follow, subscribe, leave a review, tell with a friend.

And until next time. 

My friend, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.


Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Angie HejlProfile Photo

Angie Hejl


Angie Hejl has spent the last 10 years building a successful life after prison. She has used this time to focus on trauma healing, giving back to others, and learning to create something beautiful out of adversity.

Angie Hejl is a creator who loves all things design, story telling, and creating a beautiful life! Angie is the owner of A Soiree by Angie, Co-Founder of a Glam Soiree, and a mental health advocate.

A Soiree by Anige is an event design company based in Austin, Texas specializing in intimately curated events. We recently launched our new initiative of Creative Therapy Workshops. The intention behind these workshops is to provide people a supportive and mindful space to explore, connect with others, decompress, and create something beautiful with their hands.

Glam Soiree is Angie’s passion project with her partner Jo Placencio. Glam Soiree is an intentional event hosted by Angie Hejl + Jo Placencio where women of all different backgrounds and professions come together to celebrate life, support and inspire each other, set intentions for the future – and be GLAM while doing it.

With the pause of events in 2020, Angie took her creative skills and love of design digitally, and works with local businesses on branding, social media, outreach, and community building. This has allowed her to work within the mental health space and help Austin's Premier Ketamine Clinic, Illumma expand their network.