Episode 244 – Unstoppable Transition Mentor and Coach with Wendy Cole

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I find that people do not necessarily view themselves as “unstoppable”. It just happens with them although later they may truly adopt an unstoppable mindset. Such a person is our guest this time, Wendy Cole. Wendy and I are roughly the same age and, I suspect, for different reasons have many similar life values and observations.
At the age of ten Wendy announced that she was a girl although physically she was a boy. As she puts it, her brain was a girl and the rest of her was a boy. Even so, she moved forward with life. She spent 20 years working for Digital Equipment Corporation. After being laid off as DEC was failing, she decided not to work directly for one company but rather to accept contract work. She enjoyed doing this kind of work and living that existence for twenty years more.
In 2012 she retired, sort of. Wendy began looking more at her life and existence. She began researching transgender topics and discovered that medical science finally concluded that transgender was not a psychological or mental issue but rather it was, as Wendy says, a medical condition. In 2015 Wendy took the leap as she will tell us and became physically a woman.
She now not only coach’s transgender people to help them navigate their uncertainties and concerns, but she is a recognized coach helping and mentoring anyone requiring aid in navigating life changes. As Wendy points out, we all are constantly dealing with change and thus transitions from one thing to another whether it be job related or anything else you can think of.
About the Guest:

Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:20
Well, hello, once again, and welcome to unstoppable mindset. Today, we get to talk to a transition expert in all that that implies, her name is Wendy Cole. And she will tell you about her own transitions and also the things that she helps other people with. So I’m going to not give a lot away. Because I think it’d be more fun for Wendy to tell us and I think we’re going to have a wonderful discussion about the concept of transition and change and so on. And it’s interesting. For me, I hear a lot. And I know I’ve talked about it a bunch when we talk about September 11, of course, was just my story. Afterward, people kept saying we got to get back to normal. And for the longest time, I bristled at that until I realized why I wasn’t happy when people said we have to get back to normal, which really was saying We don’t like change. But the problem is normal would never be the same again. So we can’t get back to normal because normal is different. And we need to discover what it is. And normal in reality changes regularly. And we’ll talk about that. But I would like you to meet Wendy Cole and Wendy. Welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Wendy Cole ** 02:35
Thank you, Michael. I’m really excited to be here. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for having me.
Michael Hingson ** 02:40
Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about the earlier Wendy and all that sort of stuff and kind of catch us up but like to see where you came from and all that. All right.
Wendy Cole ** 02:54
Well, as we, as we’ve discussed, I, I help people learn to embrace change. And I help them explore and identify and eliminate the stresses of life changes. That’s a very general statement about what change is all about. I have, I was born with a very different condition. I was born, what we now call today, transgender. And in 2015, I faced a monumental life change. And I went from living as male to which I really wasn’t. I refer to him as my mail facsimile. And I went from living that way to living as when he and I have never been happier. And throughout that entire experience, I learned to embrace change in ways that I never dreamed possible. For me. I spent my entire life repressing what I felt who I felt I was, and I was told at age 10, that I would be committed and fixed at a psychiatric institute. If I didn’t stop telling my parents that I was really a girl that was in the late 50s. didn’t go well. I tried again in 1970. That didn’t go well either. That was when a psychiatrist told me I was afraid and should move to New York City. At any rate, he was right and there was only a few choices I had so I began life with repression and hiding for real, and I was always told, get married. Have a Career have wife have a family. And you’ll forget all about this. Well, that didn’t work either. So, in terms of life changes, I struggled, I struggled, I repressed, and I repressed everything about myself for probably at least five decades. And we came into 20 2015. And that’s when I found that everything had changed. The way I was born used to be considered a psychological condition with no treatment and no cure. And I found out in 2015, that as of 2012, it had been changed to a medical condition treatable through therapy, hormones, and surgeries. For me, I had to do it. I was 67 at the time, and it’s never too late. And I just had to do it. One of the first things I started doing was working on myself, Michael, working on aligning my own inner being with who I knew myself, there really be. I did a lot of things to make that happen. visioning mindfulness, a lot of meditations, a lot of work with my therapist. And within six months, I was ready to make the leap, take the leap of faith. I realized at that point, there was no guarantees, I had no idea how it would come out, what would happen to me, and there are no guarantees in life. And throughout all of that six month period of the first six months of 2015, I learned a very hard lesson that life is all about change. And it doesn’t stop, it just keeps going. So the best thing I learned to do was evolve with it. You know, it’s
Michael Hingson ** 07:09
an interesting concept. And the issue is, you happen to experience that and exhibit that with a physical change. But that started with being different than people thought you were that is you were a boy, now you’re a girl. And you were really a girl all along internally, right? But the reality is, does it really matter if it has to do with gender or any other thing? You know, like I said, September 11, people experienced that they wanted to get back to normal, but that genie got let out of the bottle on September 11. And normal would never be the same again.
Wendy Cole ** 07:54
Absolutely. So
Michael Hingson ** 07:57
yeah, and transition isn’t just about gender, or any one particular thing. Transition is well, you know, children become adolescents, and they become adults. And if that doesn’t change, I don’t know what it is.
Wendy Cole ** 08:15
Right. And when I was going into this, I started thinking back on the earlier two years of my life, while I was repressing this while I was trying to get through life and just barely survive, which I did quite well actually. I realized that I had changed my life, periodically in many different profound ways. I started a career in the computer industry. I worked for 20 years for a computer company, second largest IBM,
Michael Hingson ** 08:52
at which company was that? Oh, that was digital equipment, corporate. Look where they are today. Okay. Anyway, I just have to say that yeah. Oh, I remember playing with Dell computers. We had a PDP 10 at UC Irvine. So
Wendy Cole ** 09:05
Oh, yeah. Those were the big ones.
Michael Hingson ** 09:09
Big ones. Yeah.
Wendy Cole ** 09:12
That was in the days when mainframes pretty much still ruled. And you know, disk drives were the size of washing machines.
Michael Hingson ** 09:21
And if one crashed, you knew it all over the campus you could hear.
Michael Hingson ** 09:29
when a disk was a disk,
Wendy Cole ** 09:32
it was in 1989, that I faced a significant life change. And that was digital equipment was beginning to go out of business. And I was given a choice. I got laid off in New Hampshire, where I was living at the time, or take a transfer to Philadelphia and I took the transfer Were to Philadelphia and stayed employed until 1992, when I finally got laid off. And I got a severance package and two years worth of health benefits. And when I sat down and started thinking about what was I going to do with the rest of my life? Well, what was I going to do for work? So that in and of itself is a fairly profound life change?
Michael Hingson ** 10:26
By any standard it is, what were you doing for DEC,
Wendy Cole ** 10:30
I was, I started out with them as a quality engineer doing inspections of all the equipment before everything got bundled up for shipment. And by the time I left, New England, and the job there, I was a senior project manager overseeing projects in three different states. For the manufacturing facilities. And when I went to Philadelphia, I was a sales support tech type person handling a lot of the sales paperwork, making sure everything was technically correct. And when they messed up the orders, which they did frequently, I had to go in and fix them. So I went from doing that kind of work to I decided, well, I did pretty well working for Dec. Throughout the years, even though it drove me crazy. You see, it was a high tech company. And they reorganized frequently, the way they reorganize this the dissolve the entire organization, everybody had to go get new jobs, you had to do up a resume, you had to find out what the new organization looked like. And you had to go interview for jobs. And that was very frequent. So and that actually drove me crazy. During the time I used to drive a drive people around me nuts with the way I was. And when I was working, I resisted change. And it I just didn’t deal with it. Well, and I lived like that for 20 years.
Michael Hingson ** 12:24
What about other people?
Wendy Cole ** 12:27
Um, some people just didn’t care. It just kind of went with the flow. I was not one of those flow people at the time.
Michael Hingson ** 12:38
But you weren’t guaranteed a job with the new organization, whatever that was? No,
Wendy Cole ** 12:42
you weren’t. But the reality of it was this, almost everybody did get a new job. Okay. And the reality of it was, and this is what I found out. After going through that for 20 years, and then doing some serious introspection on what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I actually did better every time they reorganized, I always got a better job than what I always had. I just didn’t recognize it at the time. And that was something that was kind of like a major aha moment in my life at that point.
Michael Hingson ** 13:27
Interesting, though, concept and interesting way to go about doing business even so just to constantly reorganize like that. I’m wondering what the professionals in the world would say today about that, or do we still do a lot of that?
Wendy Cole ** 13:44
There are there are organizations do change quite frequently, but what I noticed happened after that timeframe. And was the organization’s didn’t change. People started changing jobs. When I started working, the mindset was, and it’s all about mindset. The mindset was, you go to work for a corporation, you work for them for 40 years, you retire. That’s it. Yeah. Well, somewhere along the line, I think in the 80s, maybe even the early 90s, things really started changing and people didn’t stay at jobs. They might work for a company for three, four or five years at the most and switch, go to another company get another job. Why? Ah looking for a better job looking for a new challenge, looking for some sort of improvement in their career.
Michael Hingson ** 14:53
Did the kind of reorganization thing that happened at DEC send a message that We’re not necessarily as loyal to you, as maybe we were or as you think we ought to be.
Wendy Cole ** 15:10
Initially, I don’t think that was the case. But I think as as the years went by, especially by the late 80s, that’s the message that started going out. But the rest of the high tech companies at the time, they were all going through similar situations.
Michael Hingson ** 15:33
That’s why I was wondering if it was somewhat, not whether the companies did it, even initially. But whether people thought that was the case, and wondering if perception went faster than reality, but reality caught up and companies end up not being quite as loyal as they had been wanting to just keeping for sure, exactly.
Wendy Cole ** 15:55
I think that was, that was probably more the case, things began to evolve as they started outsourcing and overseas, shipping jobs overseas. But what I had decided in the early 90s, when I was laid off was I didn’t want to be an employee anymore. When I started, contract work. And I actually loved that. All I had to do was please my, the person that signed my contract and do a good job, which was something I always enjoyed doing. And I taught myself how to program in the Microsoft technologies. And I taught myself SQL Server database and started building intranet applications for corporations. So yeah, that was, I did that until 2012. So
Michael Hingson ** 16:58
that was a major mindset shift, needless to say, because it sounds like you went into the workforce, thinking you’re going to be loyal to a company, and you’re going to go through that whole thing. And then along the way, things changed. And then you decided to shift the mindset to Well, I can be loyal to somebody who signs my contracts. And that’s great. And it might last a long time. But the bottom line is, I need to be loyal to me first.
Wendy Cole ** 17:29
Exactly. My contracts usually ran in three month increments. So every three months, I got the equivalent of a job review. But at that point, I had gone to the mindset of I didn’t care, I was fine and confident in what I was doing. I knew I was doing good work and delivering results. I would take on major projects and make commitments to deliver incrementally, every two to three months, major changes and major improvements in what I was doing, or make progress in developing what I was developing. And that would always be visible and open to them. Because I would put everything on what I called staging servers, so that people in the organization assigned by the people signing my contract could actually go in and look at what I was doing. And give me feedback on it as I was working on it.
Michael Hingson ** 18:31
So even though you had contracts that went like in three months intervals, did people keep signing your contracts, and you stayed with the same contractor?
Wendy Cole ** 18:43
What my first contract was with a small ambulance company in Philadelphia. And that was an interesting meeting with the CFO who was signing my contract. He said I was very expensive, and that he could only afford me for a short period of time. And I decided well, okay, he said he wanted to know exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to fix their problems. By Friday, this was on a Monday. So I said to him, well, since I’m expensive and you want this by Friday, I’ll save you some money. I’ll leave now. And I turned and headed for the door. He told me to wait, I came back. He said Why are you leaving? I said well, it’s gonna take me at least a week or two to figure out what your system is how it works. Forget about finding out what’s wrong with it. This week, I just have to identify what you’ve got and how it’s all working or not working. And within a week Within two weeks, I’ll start being able to tell you how I can fix it. And that was something I could never say to a boss, one. Boy. under contract. Yeah, I could say that mindset shift. Exactly. And it felt good, Michael, it really felt good.
Michael Hingson ** 20:23
So what did he say?
Wendy Cole ** 20:26
He agreed. I committed to updating him every Friday where I would meet with him every Friday morning and tell him where I was and what was going on. And I did. And the first Friday, he was relatively pleased. The second Friday, he was very happy because I was making progress. I had figured out a lot of things. And I worked there for three months. And I was done. They they got there. They were having problems with their invoices to you United Healthcare being paid. And United Healthcare owed them $6 million, because their invoices hadn’t gone through correctly. I fixed it, I put a new system in place for them. He was thrilled the money was flowing. He offered me they were moving to a new location. And he offered me the job as IT manager. I turned it down. But you can surprise
Michael Hingson ** 21:35
I had a mindset shift. Again,
Wendy Cole ** 21:37
I had a much better job offer, doing contract work at Merck. I wound up working at Merck supporting the serology laboratory where they do the blood tests from the clinical trials of drugs. And that was a really interesting job. And I enjoyed it, I learned a lot there. I continued to develop my programming skills and my computer knowledge as especially in the Microsoft platform, which I had not worked in in my first 20 years. In fact, I discovered PCs in 1992, and had my first one then. And being a former techie type hardware person. Within two weeks of buying my first PC, I tore it all apart, formatted the hard drive, just to figure out if I could put it back together. And it was fun. Yeah, the I worked at Merck for three years, every three months new contract. And I asked him, I said at that point, I wanted to work basically with intranet applications, and do that kind of development work. And they said they weren’t interested in doing that. They didn’t trust it. So much to their surprise, I think I quit. I didn’t take another contract with them. That’s when I went to NEC. Okay. I want the NEC for an in an engineering department and built a whole applicant SQL Server database application for them. And when after, after about a year, it was pretty much done with that and then moved on to a chemical company called FMC. And I took much the same approach to everything I’d been doing just, you know, a whole mindset shift of just been independent doing my work. And I didn’t have to play office politics. I didn’t have to do any of that stuff, Michael. Yeah. It was really good.
Michael Hingson ** 24:06
So you really took to this particular mind ship mindset. idea of being a contractor, which is cool that you you really liked what you were doing.
Wendy Cole ** 24:17
Yeah. It also helped me with my own personal issues, because
Michael Hingson ** 24:25
I was gonna ask that. Yeah, people like
Wendy Cole ** 24:28
me need distractions, things that will take my mind off of what I was struggling with and what I was repressing. And my computer career definitely did a good job of helping me in that department. But this is something that never goes away. It’s just part of who, who I was.
Michael Hingson ** 24:56
So what happened in 2012 2012
Wendy Cole ** 24:59
I’m in the tech field, at least it at that point. And I know in hindsight, this was really wearing on me, I looked a lot older than I actually was. I probably just didn’t have the right vibes and the right energy, when I was interviewing for contracts anymore. I was tired, Michael, really tired. And so I couldn’t get another contract for quite a while. And what I wound up doing was just setting up my own little business doing in home. Computers and technical repair for small businesses and for IN HOME people. Okay, that kept me busy until about 2014 or so. And then that’s when I pretty much went into retirement mode. Which I didn’t like.
Michael Hingson ** 26:07
Well, you know, I’ve been dealing with basically 42 years on the job of doing something. Yeah.
Wendy Cole ** 26:13
So, and that was also I was in a really, really dark place with my whole gender issues and everything else. I’ve been fighting that for decades. And dealing with that, and it just, I was, I was really pretty much done living. But I did decide, I would go online, and look to see if anything had changed relative to my diagnosis that I’d gotten in 1970. I didn’t look after that at all. Because thing. I I just couldn’t. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 27:04
Well, that’s psychiatrist and 20. When you were unwell when nothing, so 1970 called you a freak. I mean, that’s a pretty traumatic sort of thing. Anyway. So one can but wonder what that psychiatrist would say today.
Wendy Cole ** 27:24
I, well, see, this is something to that. People like me go through. You try. And besides, you know, distractions, things that you can do for yourself to get past the gender issues and repress them. A lot of people embark on substance abuses, they become alcoholics, drug addicts, things like that. In from the 90s on, I was pretty much involved with psychiatrists. But I never told them what the underlying condition for my anxieties, my depression and my other things that were going on in my mind, I never told them. After all, why would I always call the freak and so but they’re all too happy to prescribe medications. And have you come back for regular visits. So I spent a lot of that time very heavily medicated, when I discovered that the diagnosis had changed to a medical condition that you’re born with. And that is treatable by therapy, hormone therapy, and any unnecessary surgeries. That was, sounded wonderful. could finally do something about this. And I was seeing a psychiatrist in Doylestown, Pennsylvania at the time. So I told him all about the underlying condition. Well, guess what? Michael, he wanted to send me to conversion therapy. And that’s where they try to work on you so that they try to get it out of your mind by various techniques. And it’s been proven not to work. They tried it a lot with gay people. They also tried it with people like myself, it just doesn’t work. It’s basically, when I was when I was still in the process of being born. My brain went female, my body went male. That’s the condition And now it’s recognized as such, and it’s considered treatable. And it affects people differently. to one degree or another, not everybody goes through what I did. But I started seeing a therapist, she started me working with mindfulness started me, basically back into my old hippie days of meditations. And basically challenging all of my beliefs about who I am, what I am, so that I could learn to accept myself, develop self acceptance, self awareness, and actually begin to develop some degree of self love. Okay, and it, I just continued working on that all the way through the first six months, and giving myself little life tests of going to therapy as Wendy going out after therapy, different public outings and things like that. And I found out that I could do this. And that’s when I discovered that there. It’s all possible, and life is all about possibility. And
Michael Hingson ** 31:27
that’s an important concept for anyone, no matter what, exactly whether you’re dealing with a gender issue or whatever, right? Because
Wendy Cole ** 31:38
with once you realize that life is about possibilities, the thing that I found that blocked those possibilities from my vision, or make, it’s my beliefs that make it look like it’s impossible to do that. So I started asking myself, why, what do I believe that makes this impossible and started challenging that. And what I found, Michael, is that really works. I’m shifting my beliefs, your beliefs are made up of your thoughts, and your emotions. And it’s the chemical reactions of your body, with your mind your being that drive that. So that’s what I learned to change.
Michael Hingson ** 32:41
So I know you have what you call Windies 80% rule. Tell me about that. I think it’s great, I love it.
Wendy Cole ** 32:51
Well summarized very, very briefly, it’s 80% of all life change begins and is between your ears. It’s in your mind. I really, truly believe that. And I’ve actually live live it now. Yes, there is a physical reality. But our reality is actually determined in our minds, our bodies, our brains take in through our senses of vision, sight, vision, sound, smell, touch. And that’s how we form our reality. And those senses get processed in our minds. And that’s what we see, touch, feel and experience from the outer world. And so, your reality, my reality, can be very different and very similar in many different ways. It depends on our senses and how we perceive the world.
Michael Hingson ** 34:06
Well, so, you know, if we talk about fear, for example, there are any number of experts who will tell you that we create most of our own fears, they’re unformed, they’re unfounded. And they’ll never come to fruition. And the ones that are legitimate, that we should really be afraid of, also, oftentimes by using mindfulness by using meditation by using introspection and so on, they are also fears that I hate to use the word can be managed, but rather they can be understood and you can use the fear to help motivate you to do whatever you really need to do rather than being as I love to say blinded by fear.
Wendy Cole ** 34:57
Exactly. I I would totally agree with that, Michael, when, when I first started doing this, to become who I really am, I really had to get past a lot of fears, and change a lot of my thoughts and shift a lot of my emotions around so that I could actually enjoy becoming mate. In the real world.
Michael Hingson ** 35:37
You, you mentioned before about life, being very much involved with possibilities. And you said that our beliefs often keep us from dealing with and essentially mass possibilities. Tell me more about that? Well,
Wendy Cole ** 35:53
I’ve had people tell me that I couldn’t have done this transition from male to female in six months. And my question to them is why. If you believe it takes longer than it will, whatever you believe is what it’s going to be. And that applies to everything in life. If you believe that you can’t successfully you wanted to try skydiving, you wanted to go up in an airplane and jump and experience skydiving, but you don’t believe you can do it? Well, as long as you believe you can’t do it, you never will get up and go up and do it. But if you shift that belief, change your emotions about it, overcome the fears of it. Then, at some point, when you feel you’re ready, you will get on that plane, you will go up and you will jump and experience skydiving.
Michael Hingson ** 37:08
Which doesn’t mean everybody has to test themselves by going up and doing skydiving. But that’s an example. That’s just a hypothetical. Yeah, there’s so many things that that one deals with, but we do lock ourselves into the way we operate by what we believe or don’t believe. And we, we tend not to be nearly as good collection of explorers as we ought to be.
Wendy Cole ** 37:39
One of the things that I learned is that the human mind is designed to resist change, change equals risk. We tend to want to stay in known situations and routines. We get up in the morning, we do the same things every morning to get ready for work, we go off to our jobs, we take the same route to work every day. We do everything as routinely as possible deviations from routines, and deviations from our weekly routines. These can be potentially stressful situations.
Michael Hingson ** 38:28
But do you think that’s true? Because the mind is really designed that way? Or that’s what we’ve been taught. that
Wendy Cole ** 38:36
I believe is what we’ve been taught. Because when I I’ve put myself into so many different situations. Especially since 2015. Where I enjoy taking on new situations going into new environments, doing things that I’ve never done before, or, or first time experiences. It makes life so much more fun.
Michael Hingson ** 39:10
Have you done skydiving yet? No. Just checking.
Wendy Cole ** 39:14
I’m not willing to jump out of a perfectly good airplane quite honestly.
Michael Hingson ** 39:19
Yeah, you know, I know people who have and I don’t I, I have no problem with that. But I have just never had an interest in skydiving just like I’ve never really had an interest in skiing, but it’s not a fear of it. I’ve done other kinds of things. But I love to tell people that you know Sonny Bono got hit by a tree because he was skiing very kindly and peacefully in a tree jumped out and grabbed him. So my my brother in law who’s an avid skier says well then just don’t ski near the trees and I said don’t you don’t understand whether you like it or not they come out and get you. And it’s funny to joke about that but I just have never had an interest in ski but I I believe I know myself well enough to know that if I had to go out and do it, or if somebody really wanted me to go out and ski with him if Gary, my brother in law came along and said, Come on, would you just come out with me? I’d go. But it’s much more fun to joke about it and blame the trees. Exactly. But But I agree with what you’re saying. And I and that’s why I asked the question, because I think that we oftentimes hear well, we’re resistant to change, because that’s what our mind is, is all about, we don’t like change the brain is, is resistant to change, and I don’t buy that. I think that that’s what we’re taught.
Wendy Cole ** 40:38
Exactly. I think it starts from childhood with our parents. It begins there. It’s continued through especially the early grades of school, you know, doing things outside the box, as it were, are discouraged more often than not? Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 41:05
We just don’t do it that way. Well, but why? Exactly.
Wendy Cole ** 41:11
So I, I really have enjoyed the last going on nine years of my life, far more than a lot of the aspects of my previous 60 some odd years,
Michael Hingson ** 41:30
will tell me what are you doing now? So So what have you been doing for the last nine years?
Wendy Cole ** 41:36
Oh, well, once once I did become authentically Wendy I just about every daily activity, everything in life was a brand new experience. Because I was experience it from a completely different perspective. The first time I ever signed my name is Wendy Cole. That, that was that was a really felt good. It was a and that’s what I really believe that’s what life is all about is feeling good. And I, the first time I got my driver’s license, the first time I did my changed my name. And then all the way through everything on an everyday basis was a brand new experience it to one degree or another. And 2017 I had surgery. As I like to put it, I got my birth defect corrected. And that was at NYU Medical Center. And I met a lot of really great people there. And I met people in the city in New York City. And I had a wonderful time I had a lot of experiences there. My mail facsimile would never speak publicly. And I was invited to talk to a group of people, probably about 300, I think or so. About my life. I didn’t know I was gonna, that was going to happen to me. And I was given the microphone and said, Go talk about what you’ve been through. And I did, and I enjoyed doing it. That was a brand new experience.
Michael Hingson ** 43:55
And that’s the really cool part about it. You enjoyed it.
Wendy Cole ** 43:58
Yeah, this was all so different to me and also knew it was like, almost kind of almost like a rebirth. My psychiatrist and my, because I got a new psychiatrists thanks to my therapist. My therapist, and my new psychiatrists told me a couple of years after I’d been living as myself full time that they couldn’t get over the personality change. They’d see me one week as my mail facsimile, and the following week in would walk Wednesday, and totally different personality, very outgoing, very social, and very open. And whereas I wasn’t before, I had a secret to hide that I hit it.
Michael Hingson ** 45:03
So, but you understand that now? Yes, I do.
Wendy Cole ** 45:08
And that has really helped immensely in how I feel and how I live. After my surgery, I decided I wanted to help other people go through this. And I started helping people go in through the NYU organization to have their surgeries and things like that. I would talk to girls night before surgery. And I enjoyed doing that. So that’s when I decided, well, I’ll start actually coaching people and helping them do this. And in 2020, I spent the entire pandemic year developing my coaching business, and started doing that. And then I found that when I was working with people on helping them change their mindset, and how they approached life, so that they could do this and actually find joy in doing it. I found that the things that I was working with people in that regard, applied to everybody, to one degree or another, it all works for everyone.
Michael Hingson ** 46:38
So it gets far beyond the whole issue of transgender exam is really about life in general and recognizing that, as I would say it, we’re always in transition.
Wendy Cole ** 46:54
Oh, absolutely. The other thing that I do want to point out is that this has done wonders for my physical health. So I believe that the mind, the human mind, and all interacts with our body through the chemicals that the mind forces the body to produce the neuro peptides that get produced by the hypothalamus, the hormonal production and everything. So if you’re in perpetual state of stress, and anxiety, perpetual fear, you’re doing harm to your body physically. You might not eat healthy. I did all of these things. I weighed 70 pounds more than I do now. My blood work was horrible. And I was type two diabetic from age 39 on my doctor, my primary care doctor I was about I was about 6869 at the time looks at me and goes you’re no longer diabetic. I’m taking you off the meds. What do you attribute this to? And all I said to him was it starts with being happy. I had I had I’ve lost 70 pounds I’m not I no longer have the cholesterol issues that I had, I no longer had the triglyceride issues that I had, and I’m no longer diabetic. And I exercise I take care of myself I eat properly. And I enjoy life now. I’m not producing the internal body chemistry that causes that that tells my body that I’m having anxiety
Michael Hingson ** 49:06
what what cause you to use or decide to use the name Wendy? Ah
Wendy Cole ** 49:14
she was a girl in one of my grammar school classes I think around fifth or sixth grade. She was the prettiest girl very popular. Always look nice. And I I wasn’t interested in interested in her as a girl. I wanted to be her. So I liked that name. And I adopted that name at that age that if I could ever actually be the person that I knew I was.
Michael Hingson ** 49:50
That would be my name. When nothing to do with Peter Pan huh? Nothing. Second star on the right straight on till morning. Oh, that’s good. Thank you. Well, it’s it’s interesting, those in all seriousness that the way you you talk about this and the whole issue of transition, it goes far beyond. And I’m glad that you do it this way far beyond any kind of gender transgender issue, right? It’s recognizing that it’s something that we all are constantly going through, I know that, for me, doing this podcast, although I was interested in doing the podcast from the beginning, I wondered what it would be like, and, and it has been absolutely fun. And as I love to tell people, if I’m not learning at least as much as anybody else who listens to or is involved in this podcast, I’m not doing my job well, because I love learning new things. And I love exploring. And I’m glad that so many people have blessed me by coming on and are willing to tell it and talk about stories like, like you’re doing.
Wendy Cole ** 51:03
Oh, I agree with you, and I love doing this. It’s, it’s also part of sharing my life with people so that they can see that. In reality, I’m not that much different from a lot of other people. Right. And there’s so many times that people like myself are talked about by politicians by so called religious people. And all these really outrageous comments are made, or they treat us like that psychiatrists treated me and like the seventh day. And I, I really started doing this as a as a way of showing people that I’m not that much different from anyone else. This is how I was born, I finally had the opportunity to do something about it. And I did. And I am grateful for my mail representative, my mail facsimile for not making me a drug addict, not making me an alcoholic, like so many. Go through, unfortunately, and definitely not killing myself, even though I thought about it a lot at times, and went through some very dark times during my life. So I got to a point where now I can enjoy it.
Michael Hingson ** 52:45
Well, you talked about self love and self acceptance and self awareness. And that’s clearly a really significant part of it. And, and self love is not an ego thing at all. It’s appreciating who you are.
Wendy Cole ** 53:00
And we all have doubts as to what we can do, and what we are able to do. And just shifting your emotions and changing your beliefs will get you past so much of that. And that’s what I’ve learned to do over the years. So
Michael Hingson ** 53:21
what what kinds of basic things do you teach in your different coaching sessions for for people? Since you do talk a lot about transition in You talk a lot about change. I assume that one of the things that you do is that you talk about transition, in terms of saying it’s more than changing from what you weren’t to what you are.
Wendy Cole ** 53:53
But when we’re talking when I’m talking to a person who was born transgender. I like to shift that around to it’s less about transitioning and more about more about correcting a condition you are born with, so you can be who you always were.
Michael Hingson ** 54:26
But extrapolate that out beyond transgender to other people in dealing with change.
Wendy Cole ** 54:32
There are okay I’ve had people that had issues with abandonment parental abandonment, abandonment by a spouse, whatever. And what we need to do in those situations is talk through their beliefs and their their emotions associated with their thoughts, and change those thoughts so that they are creating a pot more, a more believable thought that they can get past that issue of band of abandonment. Look at it differently, change the perspective, change how you look at it. And I’m also a believer in journaling, and writing down all your thoughts, no matter how negative no matter how horrible, they might seem to you write them down, document them in some way that you can go back and look at them 234 days later, and read what you wrote. And when you do that, that’s when you start to realize how you were thinking and how you were feeling. And you actually come to the conclusion, I don’t want to feel that way anymore. Why am I thinking that? Let’s change that thought. So that’s when I teach them how to shift that belief that that shift that thought into a new thought, that’s a little more supportive of where they need to go and what they need to do. And this can go fairly quickly if they’re willing to do the work. And just start to shift all those thoughts, learning how to block thoughts. I’ve used personally techniques where I have a rubber band around my wrist, and I start thinking, I realize I’m thinking all this, this fall, that makes me really anxious, really upset. I don’t want to feel that anymore. Snap the rubber band. It’s a way of learning to block the thoughts. It’s it’s our thoughts that drive our emotions. And the two combined if they persist, form these beliefs that we’ve got to overcome. You know,
Michael Hingson ** 57:23
I hear a lot of people when they talk about being gay or being transgender or whatever. And they, they tell others about it. They say they’re coming out. But I’m wondering, to again, extrapolate that, do you ever encourage people like you’re talking about whether it’s dealing with abandonment, or whether it’s dealing with any kind of life change? Do you is part of the coaching program that you do? Do you encourage them to go out and talk about it?
Wendy Cole ** 57:58
Yes. Because once you start talking with sharing your thoughts and sharing your feelings, with a really good friend. And I actually did this with people that were, relatively speaking complete strangers. I would meet people in a social setting and a bar, go to a restaurant where there’s a bar sit at the bar, and you wind up talking with somebody. And, you know, sharing soda or something at that point that is highly personal and somewhat stressful or anxiety loaded. And hearing what the how they respond to it. That can be very helpful. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 58:55
Well, and it can be anything. Exactly. I’m really afraid of not having money, or I’m afraid of a job change or any kind of change. And you coach people through that and get them to the point where they can say, you know, it really wasn’t what I thought at all. No. And I want to tell the world about I mean, I’ve asked that because of the fact that you so eloquently talked about how you then started speaking publicly and talking and speaking right to 300 people right off the bat, which is pretty cool.
Wendy Cole ** 59:32
That was that was something that I would have. I would have had it for the door before.
Michael Hingson ** 59:40
Yeah. It’s, it’s something that you never thought you would do. But you, you did it. Well, I understand that you’re now writing a book. Tell me about that.
Wendy Cole ** 59:50
Well, yes. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple of years now. Good for
Michael Hingson ** 59:58
you. And And I,
Wendy Cole ** 1:00:01
I started out by writing what turned out to be a 36 page life story of my family and my life. And that that story is the first post in my blog on my website now. And one of the things that talks about is my father, my father was a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, RPI in Troy, New York, research chemical engineer, work for Texaco research labs for I think it was almost 45 years,
Wendy Cole ** 1:00:44
over 100 patents, and his name was a lieutenant commander in the Navy during World War Two, my parents were products of the early 20th century, group lived through the Depression, lived through World War Two.
Wendy Cole ** 1:01:07
My father was very conservative. And he has my story on the on the blog post details. He wanted his son to continue the family name. And so he wound up with his first marriage having two daughters, and then with my mother had me. So that that was quite quite a significant thing about it for my life at age 10. When I said, Hey, I’m a girl, and insisted on that, that didn’t go well, I’ll bet it and no. And that was in a late 1950s, early, very early 60s. So in my book, what I’m doing is focusing more on my life. And what I learned as a result of it. One of the chapters that I’m working on now is having to do with parents who find out their children are transgender. Another one I thought that I’m working on is, has to do with the Wendy’s 80% rule. So I also did, I also have been working on another chapter of where I highlight and go through all the differences between men and women. Other aspects of what I’ve learned. And a lot of it has to do with the whole issue of mindset shift, mindset change, and how we treat each other. Like, with the parents, so many, that’s that’s a really big problem in some areas of the country now. People find out their children are transgender, they throw them out of the house. There’s a program here in where I’m living now. It’s a it’s a home. It’s a facility where they take in kids who have been thrown out of their homes. That
Michael Hingson ** 1:03:48
because it happens for more reasons than just transgender. But, ya know,
Wendy Cole ** 1:03:52
it used to happen a lot for gay, but they don’t do that so much anymore. That’s become a little bit more acceptable.
Michael Hingson ** 1:03:59
It’s maybe not as much in this country as in other countries. But yes, yeah, there are a lot of reasons why things happens to kids, because it’s not what the parents expected, as opposed to what is
Wendy Cole ** 1:04:11
Michael Hingson ** 1:04:14
But it’s really unfortunate. Now,
Wendy Cole ** 1:04:17
and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve had quite a few experiences in doing this writing that I’m working on. I never thought of myself as having been abused as a child. Now it was perfectly normal in the 1950s to get spanked. And the way my parents treated me as a result of all of this back then, I didn’t think twice about it wasn’t something I was would, would have considered or thought of as being abused or being abused by A psychiatrist or somebody like that. But yeah, by standards, it’s abuse. Does
Michael Hingson ** 1:05:08
your book have a title yet? No, it doesn’t. Okay,
Wendy Cole ** 1:05:13
I’ve got a collection of, I’m working with an editor and I have a collection of what we call rough titles, or chapters. And I’m going through working on each chapter as I feel the inspiration. When
Michael Hingson ** 1:05:33
do you anticipate the book being published?
Wendy Cole ** 1:05:37
Definitely next year. And definitely, I hope to have it in the, into the publisher by no later than the first half of next year.
Michael Hingson ** 1:05:51
Well, they will, they will, I’m sure have other edits and other things publishers do. Although it happens, that’s okay. We’re writing live like a guide dog right now, which is the book that I’m writing all about learning to be able to control or use fear in a positive way, rather than being blinded by it. We expect that out next July. So that’s getting pretty exciting. We, we still get some things from the publisher about well, now we’ve got this, we saw this error, or we saw this, but it’s gotten to be like, only two or three little minor things now. So we’re getting pretty close to I think the publisher being totally happy, but also what they’ve been doing lately. Were good catches. So it’s okay. Yep. Well, that’s exciting.
Wendy Cole ** 1:06:45
That’s the job of the editor. As I understand it, it is
Michael Hingson ** 1:06:48
as long as they don’t try to change what you are and who you are and what you wrote. Right. Which is, which is good. Well, I want to thank you for being here. We have been doing this now for well over an hour. And it’s been fun. I know time flies when you’re having fun. Right? Well, I guess Thank you. But I want to thank you for being here. And I want to thank you for listening to unstoppable mindset, wherever you may be. We’d love to hear your thoughts about it. I’m sure Wendy would if people want to reach out to you maybe talk to you about coaching and so on. Wendy, how do they do that?
Wendycolegtm.net/connect. Do that once more, right? My website slash connect when they call jpm.net/connect. And GPM means GTM GTM gender transition mentor got
Michael Hingson ** 1:07:42
it? Okay, well, let’s go jtm.com/dotnet. Right, cool ash
Wendy Cole ** 1:07:49
connect slash Connect. The domain name was the name that I picked in 2020 When I first started,
Michael Hingson ** 1:07:59
but you don’t need to have a gender issue to talk to Wendy about transition. So please, reach out. She’d love to communicate and talk with you and assist in any kind of dealing with life changing and transition stuff. And I want to encourage you to do it. You can also reach out I’d love to hear from you and hear your thoughts about unstoppable mindset. You can reach me at Michael m i c h a e l h i  at accessibe A c c e s s i b e.com. Michaelhi at accessiBe.com. Or go to our podcast page, which is www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast. And Michael hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n so Michael hingson.com/podcast. Wherever you’re listening, we would appreciate it if you give us a five star rating for the podcast. We appreciate your comments and your ratings. And when you’re writing please write your comments. We’d love to hear what you think and and love your your thoughts. If you know of anyone else who want to be a guest on our podcast and Wendy same for you. We’d love to hear from you. We’re always looking for guests, and more folks to come on everyone I believe has a story to tell. And we’re always interested here I am interested in hearing your stories and, and giving people the chance to to help us learn more on the podcast. And also as I’ve mentioned, I am a speaker and travel and do a lot of speaking. So if anyone wants to reach out to me and learn about speaking again, feel free to reach out we’d love to talk with you about that as well. So one more time, Wendy, I want to thank you for being here and thank you for taking all this time to be with us today.
Wendy Cole ** 1:09:41
Thank you Michael for having me man. I love being here.
Michael Hingson ** 1:09:50
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com . AccessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for Listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.
As a Transition Mentor, Wendy Cole helps her clients face any significant life changes. I help others identify, explore, and eliminate the stress of being themselves and facing life changes. Since 2017, Wendy has guided others through transitions. Her life experiences are the tools she uses. She believes in the mind’s powers; she practices mindfulness, shifting her beliefs and energy to support herself going forward, making profound changes in her life, health, and finding joy in being.
Knowing who you are, and not BEING who you are: this is the starting point of every Transitional situation. You KNOW who you truly are, in every aspect, but the outside is what matters. That is what people see. Taking that first transitional step is TERRIFYING. It’s the stress: stress of the journey, stress of the mental weight, stress of worrying about the outside world… The physical transition is the easiest part; it’s getting through the mental transition that holds us back.
Knowing from childhood she was a girl, Wendy yielded to familial and societal expectations to fit in. At age 67, Wendy changed her life with her transition. Beginning in January 2015 she focused internally: accepting who she really was, confronting fears, doubts, and anxieties that held her back for decades. She took the leap of faith to find freedom and joy in being herself. By July 2015, Wendy was living as a woman. She had her long-awaited surgery at NYU Medical in 2017. Wendy knows by focusing inwardly to find freedom and joy will benefit the rest of your life.
Ways to connect with Wendy:
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About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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