Audio (Podcast)

“Just Surviving” to “Successfully Thriving!”

Sarah Webb
By Sarah Webb

Stacy Bernal is a writer, speaker, and trainer at See Stacy Speak LLC. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Weber State University with a BA in Public Relations and Advertising. She currently serves on the WSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and is the VP of the Ogden Pub Runners, where she has made a tribe of running friends who encourage her to make crazy decisions, like running marathons, triathlons, relay races, and an ultra-marathon.

Stacy is the proud mom to one neurotypical daughter, two sons (one neuro- and one atypical), and two fur babies. She has been happily married since 2013. She has been published on,, and Autism Parenting Magazine. She’s pretty sure there’s a future book (or two) in her as well. Her shenanigans can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @seestacyspeak.


Connect with Stacy Bernal:


LinkedIn: Stacy Bernal

Facebook: Stacy Bernal (Stacy Rabino)

Twitter: @SeeStacySpeak

Instagram: seestacyspeak

Scary Mommy Article: Middle School Can Be Brutal, Especially For My Autistic Son

Introduction:00:03Welcome to Plaid Radio by Plaid for Women and the #NoMeanGirls movement. Enjoy today's show and be inspired to change the world.
Sarah Webb:00:16Welcome to Plaid Radio, I'm your host, Sarah Webb, and I am with today's special guest Stacy Bernal. Stacy is a writer, speaker, and trainer at SeeStacySpeak. I need to work on my alliterations! She is the proud mom of one neurotypical daughter, two sons (one neuro- and one atypical), and two fur babies. I always gotta throw those in. She's been happily married since 2013. She's been published in a few crazy places like Scary Mommy, which is one of my favorites, Autism Parenting Magazine, and Chicago Now and she's pretty sure that she's got a book or two inside of her. Go check her out at SeeStacySpeak! Today, though, we're going to talk about your session at the #NoMeanGirls Conference. Thanks for joining us.
Stacy Bernal:01:02Yeah, thank you for having me.
Sarah Webb:01:04Well, Stacy is joining us at our #NoMeanGirls Conference, September 21st and 22nd, as a breakout speaker. Your session is titled "Just Surviving" to "Successfully Thriving." I did a little bit of research on this and worked on some questions that we're going to work through today. This was the last week of school for my kids this school year and I was not thriving. I'm kind of wanting a personal coaching session on how I can move beyond "just surviving." So, tell us a little bit about your session and what you're going to share with our audience.
Stacy Bernal:01:40Sure. And I think you absolutely hit the nail on the head because you're talking about, with your children and feeling like you're barely surviving and how do we get to that point of thriving rather than just surviving, and so, my breakout session really is focused on the additional responsibilities of being a woman and a mom and being in business. You know, we have a lot of struggles that are unique to us. I faced a lot of it in my own personal story. Obviously, I kind of hit a rock bottom at a certain point in my life. I was a single mom. I had gotten divorced, my autistic son (and he had just gotten diagnosed) … and I had just spent a lot of my life feeling like I didn't know what I was doing with my life. I was waiting tables and I was bartending… And so, I kind of floundered in my career and my relationship and then I got to this point where I thought, I have to do better than this. This can't be my life. I have to be able to provide for my special needs child. So, at that same time, I started running and I ran my first marathon. After that, it was a game changer. I looked at my life and realized I could do these really hard, impossible things and I reinvented myself from there. So, that's really my story of hitting rock bottom, reassessing my life, and how I kind of took back control and just turned my life around.
Sarah Webb:03:20Wow! I think me hitting rock bottom would never include me running a marathon. Were you athletic or was that something that you enjoyed? Was that a stress reliever? I mean my stress reliever is reading a good book. Did you find that therapeutic?
Stacy Bernal:03:33Yes. And that's the funny thing because I also was not a runner. In fact, in high school I was in band and our punishment if we were late for band practice, we had to run around the track. I never wanted to be late to band practice. So, I was not a runner and I was actually 31 when I started running. And so, people, I meet people all the time who tell me, “I can never do that.” And I'm like, man, neither could I! I never ever pictured myself doing something like that. And the fact that I did really… I mean it taught me so much about myself and that's why when I talk to groups and they say things like, “well I can't run” or “I hate running;” it doesn't have to be running. And I am certainly not advocating that everyone needs to go run a marathon, but whatever it is, I tell people, find your finish line, whatever that thing is for you that brings you your joy and helps you find balance. Because when I look back and think about all the stress that I was going through dealing with the diagnosis with my son, I think man, it's a good thing that I started running at that same time because I feel like I don't know how else I would've made it because it is definitely a stress reliever for me.
Sarah Webb:04:46Well, excellent. I'm glad you found what works for you! “Just Surviving to Thriving,” give us like one or two takeaways and... don't give them all, because they need to come to the conference and hear this session… but what is… So, two weeks ago was the last week of school. I didn't care what anybody ate for lunch. They could have pop tarts in their lunchbox. I was just done! How do I pull myself out of that situation? What tip would you give me to say, okay, I’ve got to reclaim this. I’ve got to reprogram something.
Stacy Bernal:05:19Yes. And that's the thing. When I speak to groups, I have two goals. I want to give inspiration and I want to give information. Really, the tools are... and I don't want to give anything away because I want people to come and hear my presentation… but there's a saying that we are the average of the five people with whom we surround ourselves. And so when I started, I know that during my struggles I kind of had these blinders on and it was like I couldn't look to the left or the right and see what other people were doing. I could only focus on getting from surviving this week and how am I going to take care of my kids this week? When I got to a point where I started putting those blinders down and getting involved and started volunteering and getting involved in my community, it really started opening my eyes to no matter how bad my situation was, there were always worse situations for other people. And I started being able to give back and to put myself in a place where I could start being more positive and seeing the good in my life rather than focusing on the bad. So, I love this idea of inspiring because when we can start seeing what others are doing, we can take a look at our own lives and think what can I do? Because I know at the time I wasn't in a place that I could give financially; I was a broke single mom, but I could give a little bit of my time and I could serve and help other people in that capacity. And doing that, I started seeing, okay, there are these things that I can do, and I can help, and I can be of service and it inspired me. And so, I started thinking, if I can do this, what else can I do?
Sarah Webb:07:05Yeah, absolutely. I love that you're passionate about the topic and you've shared a little bit about your journey. When did you decide to take this life experience and turn it into being a professional speaker and a writer? It can be pretty scary putting your personal life out there. I think people find your story interesting, but at the same time you kind of want to have this privacy. When did you decide that it was okay to share that and move into that?
Stacy Bernal:07:34Yeah. I'm realizing it is very, very scary to put yourself and your story out there because you are opening yourself up to criticism and you are making yourself very vulnerable. So, my speaking and writing journey really, it came to me kind of accidentally about a year and a half ago. With my "real job," I am a home warranty rep, and so I market to real estate professionals and I give presentations, all the time. I had an opportunity to do a presentation, but it was not to be about home warranties; it was choosing my own topic. So, I thought, okay, I'm going to give kind of a motivational presentation, and I actually called that one Failure to Finisher and I talked about my story of running a marathon and finally going back to school and graduating college. The feedback from that first presentation was so good and I started getting invited to speak at other places. So, I thought, okay, this is cool, maybe I could make something of this. So, it just organically came to me. Then I started reaching out and seeing what other opportunities there were. I met with a friend who was a writer and he suggested I start sending submissions out, which I never would've thought to do that. I had a blog with no followers. He read my blog and he said, you're a great writer, you have a great voice. And so I love this voice concept. So I did. I wrote an article, I sent it out and lo and behold they published it. That was my first one with Scary Mommy, and it was amazing. I was like, I never ever would have thought like, okay, yeah, I'm going to be published on Scary Mommy, like who am I? Who cares about my story? But when it was published on their Facebook page, there was so much engagement and there were so many other moms that were saying, I can relate to you. Thank you for sharing this story. And so again, I go back to this voice, it's my word for the year, and I thought if I have something to contribute that can help other people, then that's what I want to do. That's what I feel very purposeful and passionate about. So that's kind of been the journey.
Sarah Webb:09:40Yeah. That is amazing. Walk us through like that risk. Did you just say… I mean you talked about this guy and you had your voice and your blog… were you doing that full time while you were working somewhere or did you kind of just jump all in to this speaker/writer lifestyle?
Stacy Bernal:09:59I am still jumping in... Jumping in to the waist, right now. I haven't gotten to the point where financially I can make it just be what I'm doing, but I'm building up and I have a lot of opportunity. So, at this point it's like, what did you say? What was the question about being brave? Yeah, it is very scary. In fact, my friends kind of have this idea that like, oh, you send out your submissions and you get published and look at you just doing all these amazing things. I'm like, yeah, but for every "Yes" you see when I might post my article, you're not seeing the six other "Nos" that I got. There's a lot of behind the scenes kind of scary rejection. So you know, I feel like, okay, I might get knocked down on this one but I'm just going to get right back up and dust myself off and get back to it.
Sarah Webb:10:59Yeah. That takes a lot of resilience. I get a lot of "No" on Plaid stuff too. I get a lot of "Yeses," too and I love to share those, but the "Nos" are so hard and it's so hard on your confidence, especially being a writer! Like that's you! You know what I mean? You're not creating fictional stories, that's not what you're doing, and so it takes a lot of resiliency to come back after the "Nos" so that you do have the "Yeses." That's just hard. What do you think has been like that mentor process or where have other women lifted you up in your life? Who do you look to as your tribe or mentors around you to pick you up off the floor after the "Nos" and maybe you haven't gotten a "Yes" in a while?
Stacy Bernal:11:44I am fortunate because I have so many wonderful tribe members. With my job as a home warranty rep, I'm a part of Women's Council of Realtors in my area, so I mean you want to talk about some strong, amazing women. I am connected to them. I'm in my local chamber’s women in business group, so they are just… I mean these women get it. We've all had our share of failures and disappointments and we know how it is, so we're all there to support each other. I love that. And I run with a group called the Ogden Pub Runners. These people, I mean you want to talk about crazy people. People think I'm a crazy runner. I'm like, you have no idea! The people I hang out with are even worse! I have surrounded myself with people who are amazing and strong and also resilient and so they are the ones that are there to lift me up.
Sarah Webb:12:42Yeah. I'm not a runner, but my husband was a runner. Temporarily, for like three or four years. There are some crazy runners out there. I feel like if you don't have fancy socks and like pound a beer after your marathon running and I'd be like, oh my gosh, you know, like he's over there like counting calories and making sure he's getting all the right stuff and he's like very scientific about it. But there's some people who are incredible because you need that fun and enjoyment, especially on those long runs, it can be lonely. So I think it's fun to have a group and to keep it lively.
Stacy Bernal:13:15Yep.
Sarah Webb:13:17What is something that you've created that you're most proud of? You talked about this book that's inside you. What going to be the inspiration behind that?
Stacy Bernal:13:26That's where I'm having a hard time. I just recently took an online class from another great writer and she talked about writing your memoir and she said you need to hone in on the big story. And I feel like, in my life, I have several big stories. So I'm trying to decide which for the first one, what's it going to be? Because a lot of my stories are based around my son with autism. So, you know, I put a lot of bad out there, but I also deal… I was a survivor of childhood abuse. And so I think that's a big piece of the puzzle. So I just need to find the right starting point. And then how I weave all that together.
Sarah Webb:14:09I have no doubt that you'll do that. In your big story… I guess when I think about it from a reader standpoint, different parts in different points in your life, speak to different people. You talk about being an abuse survivor. There are people who need to hear that story. Being a mother to a child with autism, there's a lot of people that need that story. And so, there are different people for different stories and I love that you're able to make an impact in lots of different ways in different communities. Tell us one interesting fact about you that you don't mind sharing? Besides being a runner! Because I feel like that's really, really interesting. What's going on in Stacy's life? You said you were training for a triathlon recently, which is kind of related.
Stacy Bernal:14:57Yes. Well, I asked my husband, I'm like, what is something interesting about me? He said, well, I think it's pretty interesting that you love speaking as much as you do because he's says everyone's terrified of speaking. I think that's funny because I joined my National Speakers Association, the local chapter here, and when you surround yourself with people who also love what you do, you think like, oh my gosh, there's so many other people that love speaking. So, to me, it doesn't seem weird that I love it as much as I do, but apparently my husband thinks that kind of kind of an odd thing because he's terrified of it. I was kind of running through my mind, what do I think is interesting about myself and I'm like, I've run in 10 States, in Cabo, and in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean because I went on a cruise a couple of years ago and I ran around the track on the ship.
Sarah Webb:15:51That is cool!
Stacy Bernal:15:52Yeah, seriously as I would run around the track, I'm like, I don't, I have no idea where I am. I'm in the middle of the ocean and I'm just doing laps. I've got two more trips before I get to Texas. I will be running in Wyoming and Hawaii. So, when I get to Texas, and I plan on running in Texas, that will be my 13th state that I have run in.
Sarah Webb:16:11That's a really neat thing. That is interesting and kind of shows your dedication that even when you're on vacation and you're doing different things, you still take care of yourself and running is how you do that.
Stacy Bernal:16:25Yeah, I love it. Yeah, it's a little bit crazy.
Sarah Webb:16:27You know... and I know you support... Plaid for Women is all about #NoMeanGirls. We want it to be a place where women can support each other and lift each other up and go to thrive instead of just survive. Have you ever received mean girl treatment before?
Stacy Bernal:16:45So much, sadly. In fact, I have this one story that I share as I was working my way through college. I was finishing up my last year and I was bartending and pregnant with my youngest, my baby. He's now six. But I was working with a girl and I was talking about how gotten a 4.0 GPA. I was so proud of my GPA and she said to me, well, you know, you should maybe tone it down because it kind of sounds like you're a little full of yourself. And I just, I was so hurt by that. Like it's something that supportive people would say that's really awesome. Like you're working so hard and you're pregnant and you're trying to just get to graduation and instead someone took that opportunity to knock me down and I just thought, man, what's going on in your life that you can't let me have this bit of happiness. So, I definitely, man… This is why I surround myself with the tribes I have now because it's about women lifting up other women and empowering and supporting and I can't imagine wanting to take away someone else's joy. This is why I love what I do because I love seeing the inner heroes of everyone else. People that I've talked to, women all the time and they… There's nothing special about me. I mean I don't do anything, and then they tell me these stories of these amazing lives that they've lived. Things that they've survived and I'm like, how are you not owning that? How are you not embracing how awesome you are? Like just own it, put it out there. You're a survivor and you're a fighter and you're amazing! And so I love helping other women see that in themselves.
Sarah Webb:18:35Sometimes we're mean to ourselves and that's that lack of self-confidence and like you said, like not seeing that inner hero. I love that image. What about in the autism community? Do you find that connecting with other parents that have an atypical child, is that a support or is there kind of any cattiness in that?
Stacy Bernal:18:55That's a good question. Yes and no. Online. I have seen some very interesting cattiness which kinda makes me sad, but autism is different for everyone and everyone has… because it's a spectrum. So, some people have... I am fortunate my son is high functioning. Then I have a friend who has a nonverbal son and I can't even imagine if I couldn't have a conversation with my son. So, I have a great network of people around me with autistic kids and that's great. But yeah, I have absolutely seen the cattiness online and it breaks my heart to think… We're all in this kind of hard muck and we shouldn't put other people down when we're already dealing with some hardships. So yeah, I've definitely seen that some meanness.
Sarah Webb:19:46I love that inner hero image because we've all got it and it's all different. Like my inner hero doesn't look like yours and that's good, that's okay because if we were literally all the same, I would think this would be a very boring world, so I really appreciate that. Thank you so much for joining us today. I am so excited about your breakout session. People can cyber stalk Stacy at SeeStacySpeak and on our #NoMeanGirls website and I'll be sure to put all the links in there. Shoot me that article from Scary Mommy. I'd love to post that and share that with our audience as well. It's kind of like, this is where Stacy made her big break, the very first one! I'm excited to have you at the conference and I can't wait to learn more about you there. I'm going to find out something else besides running that you're good at. I'm going to find out some interesting facts that Stacy doesn't even know about herself and I will report back to all of our listeners.
Stacy Bernal:20:38All right, sounds good.
Sarah Webb:20:39Thanks. And that's a wrap for Plaid Radio.
Sarah Webb
A bit about me, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. I am married and have two children - one who aspires to be a secret spy ninja and the other wants be a doctor for toys...Read More
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