Sept. 22, 2021

Lady Sheepdog- Officer Autumn Clifford


Even professional life coaches once needed coaching. In this inspiring episode with Life Coach Officer Autumn Clifford, you will learn that bad experiences could mold you into a better person when you master to fail forward.

She rose back from the bottom of an emotional pit that threatened to swallow her very identity. She had put so much into her identity as a police officer that she couldn’t even image herself as anything else. She spent 6 months couch ridden and unable to do anything other then be on my phone or laptop. 

Her success as a podcast host in Changing the Culture for First Responders, being a life coach for over a hundred people, and her club Lady Sheepdog Club can attest to that. 

Transcript

Everyday Heroes Podcast Network

This podcast is part of the Everyday Heroes Podcast Network, the network for first responders and those who support them. 

Intro

Welcome to trials of first responders and their families aren't easy. Enduring the Badge Podcast is building a community to help them out. Introducing your host, back by 30 years of experience as a first responder, Jerry Dean Lund.

Jerry Lund

Hi, everyone. Before we jump into this next episode, I want to thank my sponsor, Patriot Supreme, a veteran owned company with products made in the US. Patriot Supreme makes the best CBD products I've ever used. I really love their CBD roll on, it's got a deep freeze feel to it. I use it in different joint areas when they feel a little tight or there's a little bit of a pinch. I also use it on my muscles when they're a little bit sore. You can use that up to four times a day for pain relief. Check them out at patriotsupreme.com. And be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook as well. Let's jump right into this next episode with my very special guest Autumn Clifford. 

How you doing, Autumn?

Autumn Clifford 

Good. Jerry, thanks for having me excited to be here.

Jerry Lund

Yeah, thanks for being on. I got a lot of things going on in life. And I'm glad I can steal an hour of your time. 

Autumn Clifford

Thank you.

Jerry Lund

Tell the audience a little bit about yourself.

Autumn Clifford

Yeah, so hey, everybody, my name is Autumn Clifford, I am a podcaster as well. And so this is really exciting to be here. So brace yourself, because we might go for a little while. That's typically what happens whenever I get to chat with a fellow podcaster. It's like we just go off together, which is really fun. I'm a police officer from Maine. I'm a life coach. I'm an adjunct professor, and I'm a police wife. I I'll tell you just a little bit about me as if that's okay. Jerry. 

Jerry Lund

Yeah, that's great. 

Autumn Clifford

Just to get going. So I've been a police officer since I've been 20 years old. But I believe I think I was like 26 and a half. So, six, six and a half years into my career, I sustained a career ending injury for full time. You know, I tell people, it's nothing cool. I don't have a really good story. I wish I was like in a pursuit of doing something I don't. I actually just have kind of what's typical for a lot of first responders is, um, I have a really bad back injury. And so that took me out of full time patrol. And when that happened, I went through a massive identity crisis. Maybe anybody listening can understand that is, you know, when you want to be when you want to be a first responder, and I'm sure my firefighters can relate to this, right? Yeah. It's all you think about, right? That's all like you're preparing for it. That's all you think about, you just can't wait, you know, you go to school for it, you do all these things. And so then you're in the job and you're doing it and that's your whole life, right? Like I married my police academy, sweetheart, our whole lives are just the job. And then, and then all of a sudden, like just literally within a course of a week, like my life went to hell. And my doctor was like, No, no, you can do dispatch, but full time patrol isn't gonna work for you anymore. And I'm like, "Does this b*tch look like a dispatcher? I am not a dispatcher." And no offense, but what's your what's your Oh, on the road that you don't want to come and sit behind? No, no, you get that?

Jerry Lund

 Yeah.

Autumn Clifford

So anyway, so I want and I, I just faced such adversity, it was very depressing. I was very depressed. I got diagnosed with PTSD and anxieties, an anxiety disorder. I was literally couch ridden for six months, I felt like I was gonna go be the Walmart greeter because of my education, like I'm educated, but my master's is in criminal justice. And so I was like, What the hell am I gonna do? Right? That's all I ever want. You know, I thought I was gonna go and be in the administration. And from there, that was my low I would say that was my rock bottom really bad. I'm making a sound short and sweet. Really good. But truly, it was it was devastating. And from there, I said, Okay, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna after, after months of, you know, going, we all go through that whole, like, Woe is me. So I had my woe is me. My husband sat me down and was like, I don't know where at the time I was his girlfriend, and he's like, I don't know where my girlfriend went. But we need to find her. Because you are not being you. And this is fucking scary. And so I am I decided to be a life coach. I've been life coaching for the last seven years. I started that's when I while I started my podcast like three or four years ago, and I've been able to help people based on what I've learned in my life. You know, I'm not certified. I'm not anybody special, Jerry I just, I just, you know, I took my training, education and experience and I said, Hey, I could I'm one step ahead of somebody, let me help them. And that's what I've been doing. 

Jerry Lund 

 I love that I love that I love that you've taken your own thing and created it. You know, being a first responder and being able to relate to other versus other first responders is amazing. You know, my story a little bit, I had a really bad injury and almost lost my job and went through 500 days out of work. So I think that is something that many of us can relate to, is like, anytime you get hurt on the job, you're like, Okay, Is this it? Is this the end? Man, I'm not gonna be able to go back and do and be and everything I was we, we fall into the trap of like, our identity, like our job is our identity. That, that six months, I would be curious, like, what, like, what was going on for those six months? Let's not be short and sweet about let's just dive down into this a little bit. Cuz I know there's something in there, that's gonna help somebody else.

Autumn Clifford

 Yeah, it was bad. It was bad. You know, to be honest with you. I didn't do a whole lot. I remember being on my couch. And like, I'm not a big TV person. I grew up being able to watch unlimited amounts of TV. Okay, so then, like, when I started, you know, when I became an adult and into my professional life, I just was like, I don't die just wasn't my thing. Right. So when you know, I that was this that was since I've been like, honestly, I don't know. 16 years old is kind of stopped watching a ton of TV. But I'll tell you, 10 years later, here I am, I have nothing but time. And I'm binge watching Netflix, and I'm like, depressed as f*ck. And I'm sitting on my couch, like, all day laying because sitting was killing me. Because I was going to the chiropractic neurologist and the PT, and my doctor's appointments. And I'm sure you can relate to this, but I was going anywhere from three to five days a week. So and that can be depressing. Because you go there. And you're like, my fix, like, I'm good. Like, let's do this, you know, and, and, you know, like with anything, oh, well, we think this is going to be good. But we can't guarantee it. And that that that and right? Yeah, I couldn't work out. The only workout I could do was at PT, which is not really worked out. Or I could walk. I spent, you know, I spent a lot of time walking because I was going crazy. I was because I'm, I'm not a person to just do nothing. And so I was going a little crazy. I was grumpy as all get up. Here's what happened is my agency turned their backs on me. The whole agency, there was actually an email, I found out this later, there was actually an email that got put out telling everybody not to talk to me. That came from the chief. Okay, I worked on a 50 part person department not very big and like, I was best friends with like one of my partners. A guy wasn't he uninvited me from his wedding. Oh, I spent? Yeah, I spent like four years me and my husband spent years with him and his wife. Like, we did everything together. And we were best friends. Like, honestly, I remember when we bought the house that we're in because it's it was a it was a fixer upper. He was painting my f*cking walls. Like, you know what I mean? Like, yeah, yeah, who does that? Nobody does that. Unless you're

Jerry Lund

Right. Yeah, nobody wants to paint. 

Autumn Clifford 

No. And, you know when and and he and for some reason, you know, he just uninvited me from his wedding and then stopped talking to me. And it was everybody stop talking to me. And I think people don't understand the power that had in my mind that made me feel like, Oh my god, I could have prevented this. I'm making it up. I'm a piece of shit. Like, I really am. Nobody. I'm you know, and so I sat with those thoughts. I'm sure you can relate. If you were out of the job for 500 days, like you had days where you're just like, I don't know. Nothing.  What am I doing?

Jerry Lund

Oh, yeah, yeah, for sure. And oh, no, somebody that's listening in. It's been hurting. Listen to that. I think that now that you said that as like those feelings are bad. Those are spot on. I guess maybe a few people go through an injury like that and can bounce back but don't have those thoughts. But I sure did being out that long. Especially when people stop talking to you. And then when you think that people are thinking, oh, they're just making this up. Like they just don't want to work. I'm like, last thing I want to do is be home, you know, not being able to work.

Autumn Clifford

Let me tell you a story. I don't even know if I've ever told this story before. So let me tell you it is. Um, so you know, when you're doing PT and what PT is right physical therapy and so what you're doing is you're building muscles to become stronger, or fixture fixing postures or whatever, so that you can no longer be hurt, right? But part of that is like doing a little lifting, you know, doing some workouts right? Not like f*cking CrossFit high intensity workouts here, right? So my PT, I was going to him five days a week, and then he put me down to three days a week and he said to me, You need to go to the gym for two days. Here's what you need to do. You need to work out. I said, Okay, so this is while I'm out of work, okay. And workers comp is going crazy. And everybody I'm, I'm the worst person in the world. Right? Right. I go to my gym, and I see my old FTO get this. My old FTO who happens to he worked in like, like an undercover Task Force. My husband, my boyfriend at the time, but now husband, he is a pretty well known canine handler and our dog he was he's retired now, but he was a drug dog. So this guy would call my husband all the f*cking time. Okay, like all the time, and be like, Hey, can you come help us? Can you help us dah-dah-dah-dah Right. So they had a good working rapport? He was my prior FTO underlining. So then he sees me at the gym. Oh Clifford. Hey, what's up? What's up, bro? We're talking and I'm doing a little lifting. I'm doing everything that I'm supposed to be doing. The next fucking day he lands in the chief's office. And you know what he does? F*cking Clifford who's making this whole thing up. She's faking she I just saw her at the gym. She's faking. I get a fucking call that day from my attorney. And he's like, Hey, what are you doing? I'm like, exactly what my f*cking physical therapist told me to do. What what you know, and that crushed me. 

And and I guess basically, Jerry, what's important for people to know is that it crushed me because I didn't have anything outside of the job. I didn't know who I was if I wasn't in uniform. Right? Right. And, and we and we take on these first responder careers, we completely self identify as this is who I am. And so then what happens is everybody else's opinions of us are matter to us. Here's what happened. So that was really bad shit rolled downhill. And it took me years. Now, let me tell you where I'm at now. I'd say it's been what, five or six years? I'm 31. And that and so yeah, but five years. So now, I don't self identify as anything but me. And I honestly do not care. I'm good with who I am. And to some people, you're going to get offended by that. But that's just your own sh*t. If you're getting offended, because I'm cool with me. Go get cool with you. But that is what saved my life is when I started being like, Okay, wait a minute, this is I can't live like this. And in let me just say this, and I'm sorry. I'm on a soapbox. So and I want to hear everything you have to say obviously, but I know you're good. You're doing great. I want to say this is I remember sitting like I'm gonna just say this to like, my career wasn't easy. Okay, my career was not easy. And, and a lot of people like oh, here she goes. She's gonna you know, play the female card, but it's true. I was sexually harassed. I went through a lot of sh*t a lot of trauma right? In the beginning of my career. I didn't know I just didn't know things. But when you're when the people you're working with are like, fooling around in front of the sergeant but they're like telling you how sweaty you are and that you're a fucking whore and that, you know, you've you're like the neighborhood tricycle, and like, that's what they're saying to me, like trying to bust my balls.

Jerry Lund

Alright, everybody, let's take a little break in the action. I want to thank one of my sponsors, responder wipes. They make an incredible wipe and can quickly and easily remove contaminants from your skin. They come in three amazing sizes and they can be used by firefighters, law enforcement, military, anyone that just wants a quick cleanup the wipes are aloe and alcohol free because both of those ingredients are penetrant enhancers. These are the thickest wipes on the market. They don't shred or tear on your five o'clock shadow maybe like those crappy baby wipes that you've been using. And throw those out and get some responder wipes. They leave you feeling clean and invigorated. You can also use them as a cooling towel around your neck on those really scorching days. But most importantly about this product is you need to use them after all types of exposures to help reduce the risk of occupational cancer. Be sure to check out their website responderwipes.com and follow them on Instagram. Let's get right back into the actual.

Autumn Clifford

You, I was in a relationship with my husband the whole time, so I wasn't a bad bunny. Like, I don't, I don't understand. But they were saying things like that to me the sergeant's letting it slide, he's kind of in on it. And I and I tell them to knock it the f*ck off go in my cruiser and cry for him. And it because I'm like, wait, I'm supposed to want to take a bullet for the for the, for these motherfuckers No, I don't. You know, so I can relate to that sh*t too. Because you get into this career. And you're like, Okay, like, it's a brother and a sisterhood. But, but it's not. It can be. But a lot of times it's not. And anyways, and so I, you know, my career wasn't easy. And I remember, I remember sitting on my cruiser, working the overnight, so laid out, and which was a really hard shift for me, I would always fall asleep by like, 3am. I was like pass it out somewhere. But um, I remember sitting there going, there's got to be more, there has to be more than this. I see my Sergeant who's all my sergeants overweight. You know, faces are red, because they drink too much. You know, their relationships are on the fringes or whatever, you know, how much are they really in their children's lives? They're miserable. Like, I just see it through the ranks. And I'm like, "What the fuck, I don't want to be like this, right?" And so I saw a lot of turmoil. And I knew I didn't want I don't want to I didn't want to be like that. Jerry, I didn't want to be like everybody else. I just, I'm like, and I would sit there and I pray to God, and I'm like, God, there's got to be more, there's got to be I can't do this. Pulling up car to car and listening to what everybody had to say was never positive. I was always like, oh, let's redirect because I'm gonna get negative, but you can only redirect so much. And then and then they like, gotcha hook line and sinker because you agree with them, but you just might not always want to talk about it. You know what I mean?

Jerry Lund

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. How did like? How do you get out of that, that trap? How did you find yourself in it? What's your advice to get out of that trap? Because it happens to every single one of us. Anybody that works any job. If you're you try to avoid redirect and continue on in a positive manner. But you get sucked in at times. 

Autumn Clifford

Truly you do. You know it's two things. Because of course, you know, now I coach a lot of people, first responders, but people in all walks of life, and they all have different jobs. And a lot of them asked me this, I think I've two pieces of advice. The first is physically remove yourself. I can't tell you how many times I'm like, Oh shit, my husband's calling ago and like, I'd like drive off. He was never calling, but I'm like, I just can't be around this. You know, I physically would remove myself. But the other thing that I would do is I just I make it like so obvious that I just can't hear what they're saying. Like, like when somebody's like, Can you believe this guy? I'm like, Yeah, I can. What? Because you have to understand negativity. They're just misery loves company. That's all people want. 

Jerry Lund

Yeah.

Autumn Clifford

It's not really about anything other than they feel like shi*t. And so they want you to feel like shi* with them. And guess what? When you don't feel like shi* with them all the time. They're gonna stop coming to you. You know? 

Jerry Lund

Yeah. 

Autumn Clifford 

The more you agree with people, the more they're like, Oh, yeah, yeah, Clifford, she gets it. So I'm gonna go talk to her I show cuz, because she makes me feel better. She makes you feel better. Right? I was making people feel better. Because I wasn't doing that I wasn't diverting as much. I wasn't being like, You're full of sh*t. Or you could look at it this way. But I'm choosing to look at it this way. I didn't do that. I would just go Oh, yeah, because it was easier for me to just, you know, go along with them. But in the long run, it made me depressed. In the long run. In the long run. I want everybody to hear this. My whole f*ckin agency turned their back on me and I'm the one who's still injured. To this day, my husband and I, we run like we run three to five miles three, three times a week. Okay. Like to this morning, we just got back on a run back home from a run and I go, holy hell, my back is killing me. I'm still dealing with this injury. But yet these motherf*ckers think they're gonna just turn their back on me. Right? Like, yeah, just try to remember that too, is like, ah, like, how much are you sacrificing for people who literally don't, they don't really care about you. That's a hard thing and no one's talking about the brotherhood. But it's the truth.

Jerry Lund

There is a lot of truth to what you're saying. There's a lot of truth. I don't know if it's like our perceptions maybe a little bit different because this actually has happened to us and so right, other people like not, it's not going to be that way if it happens to me. You're not any different honestly. I mean, It's chances are it's gonna happen to you. If you go out on a work related injury.

Autumn Clifford

I think you and I can agree we pray that is different because there are there instances, you know, there's different agencies that handle things differently. Sure, straight up. By and large, it's the same. But there are those anomalies, right? Like, you hear those stories. Yeah, yeah. No guys or girls have gone out. And it's been great in the department sending them f*cking flowers and whatever, and no, whatever you need, take your time. But but the majority of us aren't going to

Jerry Lund

face that. Right. Right. I totally agree with you. You do with your coaching and stuff like that? I'm assuming you're coaching some younger female officers getting into, you know, into these positions as police officers. And then like, what kind of tips you have for them? How do you build up some mental resiliency and maybe thicken up your skin? I don't know if that's probably not the right word. But you know, because there's, they're gonna face a lot of things that maybe I wouldn't face as a male.

Autumn Clifford

Yeah. So it's really I'm glad that you brought that up. So what I have is I have a I call it a club. It's called the Lady Sheep Dog Club. And the sheep dog, if anybody's not familiar with it, is it's a term that Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman, the author of On Combat, and he talks and he's got a book called on killing anyways, he's a huge law enforcement and military advocate. Anyways, he came up with the term sheep dog, okay. And the reason I'm explaining this because there could be somebody on here who's like sheep dog, like a f*ckin Sheltie, like what like Lassie, like what are you know, and basically what it is, is, the whole idea, right is that there's the sheep dog, which is the protector of the pack, you have the sheep who's just, you know, civilians and society. And then you have the wolves who are always feeding on the sheep. And so the sheep dogs are the first responders are the people, the warriors who are out there looking, you know, for the wolves to protect the sheep. Okay, so that's what it is. So I created what I call what it's called the Lady Sheep Dog Club. And basically, it's exactly that. So I help new office, new female officers, I have a lot of officers who've been been in the game too, for a while. And then I love taking brand new or future ones, and kind of taking them under my wing. And what I tell them, Jerry is I'm like their real life FTO. Because I'm going to tell you things that are not politically correct. And I'm going to tell you how to survive because even if you're getting on the job, and there's other female officers, they don't like you. They most of them, they don't if you're a female, they don't. 

The thing is, is when we all get on the job, doesn't matter what job right firefighting, EMT, dispatch, correction, it doesn't matter. We're looking at that those motherf*ckers like, they better be able to do this job. Right, you better be able to do this, right? Because a lot of you there are backup. You know, it was Yeah, when sh*t goes downhill. You're my lifeline. So you bet your ass I'm going to be hard on you. I'm not just going to be so happy that you know, just shut the ragman decided they're going to come and be a first responder, right. So what I teach, you know, I teach, I teach my lady sheep dogs. You know, you asked about the resiliency and stuff. I just I just lay on the I just there's no sugarcoating like, right from day one, this might not be the job for you, you know, I just tell them like this, this is what you're going to be dealing with. If you have never been punched in the face, you bet your ass you need to go box kickbox go and get punched in the face. If you don't know how to throw punch. If you you know, you can never really prepare people for the things that they're going to go through. But I provide a realistic platform for them to come in. Talk to me here at real life. I've got a ton of training. Right? So it's not such a smack in the face. It's like, "oh, Autumns told me that before. Oh, okay, that's what she was talking about". And for me, it just seems to lighten the blow a little bit, right? Because I can see that. Yeah, cuz I can't, I can't really, I mean, I don't even know them like in person. Right? But like I so I can't really mold them the way that I would if we were in person. You know what, I need these things, but I do the best that I can. Because I feel like the type of woman that's coming to me is like, No, I want to be squared away. I want to be looked at as damn good backup. I want to be looked at like I'm an equal. I am not looking to be better than anybody or less than anybody. I just want to be like one of the guys so what do I need to do? And I'm like, Alright, here we go.

Jerry Lund

Yeah, no, that's that is awesome because when you have a little preparation and you don't get taken off guard, you know by everything that happens you're able to think function at a higher level. So I think that's great with that. Yeah, the with your experience, and people probably don't know that you're a second degree black belt too?

Autumn Clifford

Yeah, no, they didn't know I gotta tell. I'll tell you a really fun story is in the academy. Nobody knew. I kept my mouth shut. 

Jerry Lund 

And that's why.

Autumn Clifford

I kept my mouth shut and and then I'll never forget to two stores is this female she's a state trooper now and we were friends but she pissed me off. She called me out. So what we were doing is we were doing the circle drill and I went to a live in Academy was paramilitary style and, and I was one of 60 cadets. Okay, I was one of eight women out of those 60. And she calls me out, mind you, she doesn't know who the f*ck I am. Right? So she calls me out in front of everybody. And she's like, "Clifford, you and me. Let's go!" in front of everybody. I looked at her and I said, you really don't want to do this. And she's like, Yeah, I do. Okay, and anyways, that was probably the shortest match she's ever been in shortest fight. Really short fight for me. And it was it was just like, I just I'm like, come on, like, what are you doing? Stop trying to call me out. Right. But there was another situation where, which was awesome was we were doing boxing. And again, the whole It was a whole circle, the whole Academy members are they all in a circle, and then it'd be you know, the instructor would tap your shoulder and then go tap another shoulder and you got to go out and you got to box and you know, everyone's shitting their pants, not me. Because I'm like, Alright, here we go. Cuz like, in here's what I just want to say is like, by the time I was 13 years old, and my karate dojo, when I say karate, we trained Judo and jujitsu, and boxing kickboxing it's mixed martial arts, we did it all. And by the time I was 13 years old, I was in the black belt class. And I had these six foot, six foot two motherf*ckers, you know, 200 pounds beating the sh*t outta me, like by, you know, I would see the light and if anybody knows what that means, I mean, I've seen the light all the time, like I was getting the stars knocked out of me constantly. But it made me tougher, and it made me not afraid to fight, you know, so. So he my strawberry taps, my shoulder taps this other guy's shoulder. And this guy just starts throwing haymaker after haymaker, because of course, he doesn't know how to box and I'm like, I'm gonna kill you. I stomp kicked him in the chest and threw him across the the gymnasium, you should have heard the uproar. And my, my instructor was like, "Clifford, you can only use your feet, you can't use your hands". So next thing, you know, he's boxing me, I'm using my feet. It was just so fun. But yeah, I and I highly recommend that to anybody and everybody. And in fact, on my podcast, changing the culture, I talked about this, Jerry is that if you're a first responder, you need to be in some sort of martial art, you need to have that experience. Because then you're not afraid to get punched. And people think, Oh, she thinks she's so tough. No, no, I don't. Okay, I just know that I'm not afraid to get punched in the head. And since I'm not afraid to get punched in the head, I don't have as many problems on the street. But if you're afraid, you're gonna have problems, because people can smell that a street guy or girl, okay, who, you know, Ben, like living on the street, you know, that they know, they can smell fear a mile away, right? Just so they can smell it. And if you, you know, if you're a cop, and you're, you're gonna have given that off, you're gonna get eaten up. And so that's like, my biggest piece of advice.

Jerry Lund

I don't think the academy really, I mean, it teaches at the very, very, very, very basic levels, how to handle yourself and how and handle some, someone that's just, I don't feel like right is enough to cut it out on the street. And you see it all the time, without saying I am any different. But you see it all the time where people are out there having a hell of a time with someone they're trying to arrest and it's like a little more hands on training could really change the way the outcome of this incident.

Autumn Clifford

And truly, it could change everything from the officers attitude, because in this like in this group, like online or whatever on Instagram, like you can just see they are the ones who the ones of us who've gone hands on and know what we're doing. When we go hands on, we're not stressed out. I must stress I must stress out it's fine. Everything's gonna be fine. Yeah, of course, like deep down I'm stressed right but like we but when you're a fighter, you know a couple of things. One, you need to be breathing and you need to be working through all of this because, you know, a two minute fight feels like a two hour fight. You know, it's how it is. So I just feel like if we had officers that were well trained, you know, purple belt in jujitsu, or even in boxing and kickboxing and people are all big on jujitsu, I am too. I'm not taken away from that. But I'm gonna tell you right now, if you don't know how to throw a punch, and how to take a punch, you have no business being a cop that I'll be honest, I stand by that. And it's not because I want you to go out there and punch everybody. It's you just don't know what's going to happen. You don't. I know. I know of a young woman. Her first week on the job. She's with her FTO she gets knocked out cold, cold knocked out. She doesn't work in law enforcement anymore.

Jerry Lund

Yeah, yeah, I could write that's a career ending for many.

 Autumn Clifford

Well, that's scary. That's scary. You know what I mean, but somebody who who, who knows a little bit,  You know, might have fucking gone under that punch and came back swinging. And that motherf*cker won't know what hit him right? Punch, but maybe knew enough to move your cheek just a little bit. So it doesn't hit the button right here. So you don't get knocked out. And then the fights on right. But she didn't know. And I'm not I'm not making her wrong. I respect her. But I'm just saying that is scary. And I don't want that to happen to people. Anybody male or female. 

Jerry Lund

Yeah, I'm gonna throw this out there. Probably shouldn't, but I will. What do you think potentially that that could be a reason where some officers may be quick to I'm not gonna judge them quick to fire or whatever equipped to draw their weapon. Or do you think that just being a little bit uncomfortable would make it right, take out your weapon a little bit sooner or do something maybe a little you wouldn't normally do? If you felt more comfortable about being hands on with someone? Every situation is different. But you know.

Autumn Clifford

Yeah, I think I think there's a tower. That would be a totality of the circumstances. Yes, sir. Okay, because I've there's been times where I've had to draw my weapon. I've drawn my weapon not like I've had it out of the holster in the back of my leg. And I'm doing and I'm, I remember doing a vehicle stop. And there was nothing going on, other than the hair on my back was standing right up. And it's like, did I have any reason you know what I mean, all these things. And I could tell you all my hunches, and the indicators and all these things, and I was like, Oh shit, like they're squirming, they're moving around a ton. And there could be drugs, but it could be a gun, like, I don't know what's going on. So even though with even with what like my 20 plus years of, you know, martial arts experience, there are circumstances where officers are going to be scared. However, you give me an officer who has been training for five years, or even three years, or how just one year that officer is going to be far more comfortable to go hands on. And probably depending on the totality of this, you know, circumstances is going to be more apt to go hands on versus grabbing a tool. Yes, sir. Gone, me, they're probably going to be like, Oh, f*ck all that sh*t. You know,

Jerry Lund  

I know what works in my hands. Other things that might not work might not work. So even your through your coaching and stuff like that. I know you had one more one statement in there that really kind of stuck out to me and you said, you find yourself falling forward, like you're always failing forward. Thank you. Yeah, failing forward. So explain that a little bit. What's that? How did you get to that mindset?

Autumn Clifford

Yeah, well, so you know, those people who just kind of seem like they always like have it all together?  You ever go to high school, like with these people who like A+, and they are like, amazing athletes. And they get all the guys where they get all the girls or whatever, right? And they just got it going on. They just shit just seems easy for them. Right? That wasn't me. Like, I'm, I wouldn't say like, things things will flow for me. Right? But like, I, I failed a lot. Okay, like, I just, I don't even know, like, right out of the womb. Like I just fucked up a lot of shit. Like, I was like, the second person in my entire dojo, my dojos been been on since the 1960s. I was the second person in my dojo to fail f*cking a belt test. I failed my green belt test. I was like, 12. Like, what? How does that happen? I was crushed. The whole dojo was like, Oh my god, you're a piece of sh*t. And, you know, I'll tell you, Jerry. I think that that was one of the times in my life that was that defined who I was. And my mother looked at me and she said, Well, you can quit which I come from a very Italian family. I was actually never gonna quit. She'll tell you, oh, no, you were never gonna Yeah, I had to make you think this was your decision. And she looked at me and she said, Well, you have two options, you can quit. Or you can go back and you can train harder. And you can get your belt, like, what are you going to do? And I just was told her as I know, I'm going to get it, and I'm going to get it. And that to me was failing forward from that point. Okay, let me just tell you about this. From that point. Not only did I get my green belt, I went on to become one of the best competitors in the entire State of Maine, in kata. It's like a form and fighting, I won several national titles, and won, you know, several, I was the, I had like three years in the row. I was the main state grand champion. 

Jerry Lund 

That's incredible. 

Autumn Clifford

Thank you. And I was second in New England. And then I you know, and then I met Chuck Norris and I won big titles at these huge tournaments. And it was all because of that moment where I had to develop True Grit, right resilience, like at its finest. And from there, I could tell you more and more stories, you know, I've I have done, I have failed more times than I haven't. Let me just tell you, let me tell you, I'll just relay it back to the job really quick. My first FTO. So in main, you have two FTO phases. I don't know about you, but so we have two FTO phases. So you have you have your first eight weeks with one officer, then you have your second eight weeks with another officer. And that's after the 18 week Academy. And I my first officer, he was great him and I jive. We trained jujitsu, we worked out, like we would work all day. And then I would go meet him and his girlfriend, and we would go all work out at this gym together. And like it was just he really was he just was one of the rare ones, you know, one who just he just cared. He was like, Alright, we're getting you in shape. Like we're, we're doing everything and it was just awesome. And then I get with a second FTO. Who I don't know, to this day, he really doesn't like me, because I don't think you'd like strong women. And four weeks into it. He goes in and has a sit down with my Lieutenant is like "F*ck, I'm done. I can't do this with her anymore". And so what happens is my Lieutenant pulls me in. And he says, All right, you're sure to get off the pot. You're all by yourself starting tomorrow.

This guy's all done with you. And I'm like, I'm not even like what, like, I have another four weeks. He's like, No, no, this is it. And in to me, that was such a fit. Like that was that was a moment, right? Because a lot of people would have failed. But you know, what I did? Is I was smart. And this is some really good advice for anybody who's brand new and listening is I, I didn't like to burn bridges in my past. Okay, so I knew a lot of people prior to me getting on the road, I worked in court security. And so I knew a lot of veteran officers like real quick real cops. That's what we call robots. Those guys who didn't give a flying f*ck, 20-30 years ago, you know what I mean? Yeah. And I had this, I had this whole toolbox of people who I could call and I and I made friends, you know, with one to two people on my department and in different departments. And I, so when everybody thought I was going to sink, I just started thinking outside the box, I'm okay, if I can call you, you, were you I'm going to call this guy that I'm not failing. And I, I flourished. I was great. I was on my own six months, six to nine months before I even went through the Academy. Like I was just doing the damn thing. And, and he wanted me to fail. He was like, he wanted me to fail. Right. And so failing forward to me is we're all going to fail.  We all fail. So instead of just failing, fail forward, fail in a way that's going to make you better than you were before you fell. That's the way that I see. 

Jerry Lund

Right, right. Right, exactly. In that moment, when he's like, well, we're gonna be on your own for four weeks. Did you have a thought of like, at all? Did you like, I wanted to be done. Like, I'm like, do I have to like? Yeah, we're scared. Yeah.

Autumn Clifford 

I'm scared shitless. I mean, you have to understand, like the agency that I went to, and I list anybody in the big cities that doesn't really compare, but I, my agency at that time that I was working was in the city, the capital of Maine and Augusta and Augusta happens to be the like mental health crisis capital also of Maine. What happened was they had a big mental health hospital. A big one, okay. And then all of a sudden they reformed to only having 200 beds at this hospital and then everybody went and lived on the street or in halfway houses. And so any police officer firefighter knows this too. That becomes our problem. And so we have a huge mental health population. And we don't have enough officers period. So even when I was in the academy, I handled more calls than officers at bigger agencies, more busier agencies. But anywhere we were the busiest, so I knew what I mean. I'm going to tell you my shift was six p to six a, okay. I was busy. There was there was no shodai there was no none of that you would say I was busy from the time I signed on to the time I signed off, we were f*cking balls to the walls every day all day didn't matter. And it's because of all the reasons I said to you. So was I intimidated? Yeah. But, but at the same exact, yeah, did I, I probably felt like, Alright, like, this isn't for me. Like, I can't do this, right. But at the same time, I was like, What the fuck else am I gonna do? I can't do anything. Yeah, you know, it's like, right when I was like, I got it, I got to be able to do this. And and then I did it, you know? And then I did it. And, you know, I mean, it was bumpy. And I made mistakes, and you know, had Sergeant's Remi new ones. But it all made me better because I had the mindset of I wasn't a know it all. And this is the biggest thing I could tell anybody, at any stage of your life never become a know it all. And even as a coach, you know, I, you know, been coaching for seven years. I'm very proud of that. I'm proud of my wisdom. If you go to any of my social medias, I'm, you know, I'm I'm very much it's very much for my people. It's really not about me. Of course, there's photos of me on my Instagram, of course, is my Instagram. But if you go and actually read the captions, it's actually very much for my people, right? And I'm very proud of that. But here's what I'm most proud of, is I still have a coach. I'm still being taught. I just humbled myself within the last nine months. And took my my crazy Malinois, a Belgian Malinois and we started training to compete competitively. I'm gonna tell you right now, Jerry, holy motherf*cker, like, that took me back. Like, I was like, I know nothing. I still know. I still only know. Like, nothing like barely anything, you know, I mean, but the thing is, is I never stopped being taught. I never stopped with that. And I think it's just so important as anybody because I, I never became the know it all. I just always would listen. And I would soak up what everybody has to say. And of course, we have to filter what works for us and what doesn't, right. But the fact that I still to this day, I'm not a know, it all. Makes me makes people want to help me. And that's key.

Jerry Lund  

Yeah, yeah. I think you're, you're very genuine and authentic. I think that that makes it easy for people to to want to help you. Right? It's just like, you don't have a barrier up to being like, yeah, I'm open. I'm willing to learn. Yeah, like, I'll take it. I'll leave it. Yeah, yeah. Roll the punches.

Autumn Clifford

Well, thanks. I try to be like that. Yeah.

Jerry Lund

You know, we all have our are certain senses and different times where we have things that happen. What other advice will make you from like, we as a police officers wife? What advice do you have there?

Autumn Clifford

Oh, I have tons.

Jerry Lund

All right, let's get to the top three.

Autumn Clifford

Um, our man, let's see, you know, I guess here's the thing. It comes down to a lot of it comes down to a lot of different things. But it comes down to this is it comes down to your relationship. If you are with somebody who shows a lot of signs of not being loyal to you, this job isn't gonna help. Okay, that's straight up. And that's, that's really hard for people to hear. But I mean, women now we're not f*cking stupid. And men know, you're not stupid. We know. If we're with somebody who we got to worry about or not. Okay, whether you want to know it is in the front of your mind or whether you know it, it's in the back of your mind. I think no matter what, we all kind of have that question. But the reason I'm bringing this up is because people always say to me, Well, the divorce rate is extremely high. Well, I don't know. I used to think so too. But then my friend. Her name is Cindy Doyle. And she has the code for his code for couples podcast. She wrote a book and she actually with facts demystified that because I was like, Cindy, like, you know, and she's like, no, automats actually bullsh*t. But the divorce rate for you know, first responders isn't as high as everybody says that this just feels that way. And she was telling me why. What you have to understand is that we as first responders, we face what's called hyper vigilance, the emotional rollercoaster firefighters face it to write with police officers, we don't get the time the downtime that you guys get, right, because our shifts, our schedules are just more crazy. And we don't get the downtime of being able to be together on a truck and like shoot the shit or go back to the a lot of agencies, a lot of stations don't want anybody going back to the station, they want the cops out there. So we don't have that luxury of debriefing and processing any trauma. 

So what's going on is we're facing all of these very high stress situations, and then you become used to that adrenaline rush, right? And then what you're trying to do on your off time, because it feels so good. And then when the adrenaline when you come home, you have that adrenaline dump and it doesn't feel good. So what you're doing in your off time is you're trying to make that adrenaline go up. That's why you see officers have drinking problems. That's why you see them speed. And you know, why you see them like and what I mean speed is like they will get motorcycles stupid, no offense, I hate that. They'll go get motorcycles, they'll go like really fast, or they'll get boats and like they'll go make big purchases, and they'll go cheat and they will do things to you know, satisfy their the adrenaline hunger, right? instead of actually just processing what's going on. And so you'll see, you know, you'll see the the, the flirting of the is the grass greener over there. And that's just another way for these people, men and women to cope with the fact that they don't know how to deal with the adrenaline going everywhere. Okay, so, as a spouse, it's important to understand that hyper vigilance pattern, people don't know it, there's a book if you're a spouse, and you have not read the emotional survival of law enforcement, go get it. It's like $11 on Amazon, in you need to read it and so that you can understand what your spouse, your first responder or military officers going through. And I think the biggest thing for me Jerry is like I I just because because I am a cop, like I know what my husband's going through, right? I don't I don't walk in his shoes. You know what I mean? I don't walk in your shoes, but I can I can relate to you guys a lot better than let's say, you know, somebody who has never done the job. Never been around what you guys do? Right? Yeah. And I think that's really, really important. I think that the whole in the in the second thing that I would say is this whole, like worrying your f*cking face off about your significant other, you need to put that in its place, because they're gonna go do this job. And the last thing, they need you up their ass. I'm in some of these, you know, I'm in some of these Facebook groups of these women. And they're like, "Hi, mate. My husband texted me, you know, every minute, like, every time he hears a call, and I make and all this stuff",  and I'm like, does he really need that on his brain?

Jerry Lund

Like, no, no, no, that's stressful. Yeah, that's for sure.

Autumn Clifford 

Times more stressful. Yeah. And the job and that's what I tell them. I'm like, stop with the bullsh*t. Like, just stop, like, you know, just you got to put it in God's hands. Like you just have to, and and in there's, I'm gonna be honest, there's some women who cannot deal with that. And know yourself. If you can't deal with it, then have real conversations with your husband, your spouse, you know?

Jerry Lund 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I do, I do see that in a lot of people that through all right, trying to keep that thrill, even, you know, off the job on the job, or doing doing things to keep that thrill to keep that high. And it's hard to find that spot where you're like, peaceful, you're just feeling at peace and stuff like that. drives my wife crazy, because I am a doer. Like, I just like, Oh, I need to vacuum. You just need to do this. Like I don't sit down and very often and take that time to just enjoy the peace and quiet and that adrenaline dump and be alone with my own thoughts.

Autumn Clifford

Yeah. Well, so sometimes you got to do that though. Right? 

Jerry Lund

Yeah, yeah, definitely. 

Autumn Clifford

And the reason why I just want to throw that out there for everybody is, is a coaching moment. But the reason why is because if we don't do that, now, retirements not going to be good for us, right? Because, you know, as I've gotten older, I'm spending more time with friends and family who are actually retired. And we all think we're going to be so busy in retirement, and that's all well and good until our bodies literally won't let us be good. And then, and then our minds go fast. And when as soon as your mind goes, your body goes and then you're gonna go and so I guess it's just so big for me, and I'm going to be honest and tell you like, I quote like, I sit down with my husband very often and we're like, Hey, what's going on? And like, and you have to understand is like the spouse to was like, I don't make him feel anything. I don't really care. Like it's not that I don't really it's not that I don't care how he feels. Of course I care but I don't care. As far as just tell me how you're feeling? Oh, you had this situation? Because what would what would trigger me? And what would trigger you might not trigger this person or that person. Right? I agree. Yeah, we have different triggers, like we'll be talking about. I'll talk to any one of my clients we'll be talking about, like, let's say they go to this really bad crash. And they're like, well, the crash and bother me. And the dead bodies everywhere didn't bother me. But it was this, you know, it was this person who came up and saw it and the way that they acted like, F*ck, yeah. And that's what spouses don't understand is the things that we think would be very triggering. As first responders, we have a checklist, I know you can relate to this, you go to a scene, you have a checklist, the checklist keeps you from getting emotional about things, right. Something occurs, that's not typical, right? We all know what's going on, we go to a crash, we don't we're going to see him for the most part, we know what we're going to hear what we're going to smell. But when there's something that's a little bit off, that's what will mess with us. And that's what people don't understand. And a lot of people don't want to talk about it because they're like, Oh, I'm weak, or I, you know, I'm going to be people are gonna think I can't handle this. But it's like, No, that was just weird. That was off. Let's just talk about it. And the more you can just talk and process things, the easier, the easier things become to deal with. You don't have the pile growing. Does that make sense?

Jerry Lund

Yeah, no, it makes perfect sense. So where can people find you to sign up for these classes or coaching and all the stuff that you're you're doing?

Autumn Clifford

Thank you. Yeah. So you can find me on the social medias @officerautumn so I'm on Tiktok. I'm loving Tiktok recently, and so come hang out with me on there @officerautumn Instagram @officer autumn you can find me on Autumn Clifford on Facebook. My podcast is called Changing the Culture. I love for you to come on and so it's a little different than Jerry's podcast but it's um I have a very different you know way about me. You can tell um, but if you jive with it and you need some good you know a mindset reset I offer a lot of that or you can come to my website autumnclifford.com right now. Jerry, when will this air?

Jerry Lund

It's gonna air in two days.

Jerry Lund

Awesome. So when you hear this, my Lady Sheepdog club will be open. If you know if you yourself are a female first responder or you know of one, you want to come into this this this is really is something different. It is something that I'm extremely passionate about. I've been doing I've had the doors open, open and close. Like I've I've run this program since 2017. So the results have been spectacular. You know, we've got women in all sorts of different first responder agencies. You know, I've got dispatchers I've got I had a couple firefighters come through for a lot of cops, right? Um, and it is just different. It is it is training. It's a course. But then it's like this family that you don't have on the road, trust me. And then it's it's also this, like, it's mindset. It's like a mindset reset. So if anybody's listening to this and are slightly interested, just come to my website, it's autumncllifford.com and you will see the Lady Sheepdog group where you can just message me, I'm pretty reachable. Anybody can message me on the socials? Thank you for asking Jerry. I appreciate that.

Jerry Lund

Yeah, yeah, of course. I'm gonna ask my very last question of you. And it's what impact do you want to make in the world?

Autumn Clifford 

Hmm. I want people to know that they are literally unstoppable. And it sounds a little bit cliche, but let me just explain. It's it's like this is when I anytime I've ever fallen, right. I felt like a f*cking piece of sh*t truly. And I've, you know, I get really down on myself. And I would be like, what am I doing? What am I doing? And people have tried to stop me. You know, I've told you some stories today. There's obviously a lot more people are always looking to see you fail, right? Yeah, yeah. But if you if you can align yourself with who you actually are. Okay, now with who people want you to be okay with who you actually are and who you're actually meant to be in this world. Because I really believe that we are all vessels for the universe. And we all have reasons and purposes to be here. And if you can align yourself with that, and then you become good with who you are. Remember I talked about that in the beginning, I became a really good with who I am about trying to improve myself. If you can do those two things, you're going to literally be unstoppable. And it doesn't matter how many times you fail because you will absolutely fail forward. You will get up and I just want everybody to know that like, No, it's okay. We're all gonna fall we're all gonna gamble. Shit happens.

Jerry Lund

Shit happens for sure. 

Autumn Clifford

You've experienced it, I've experienced it. You know, our listeners have. But the difference the only difference between a successful person as an an unsuccessful person is a successful person just keeps getting up, that's it. Like, that's it. I, you know, I study the most successful people in the world. One of my favorite people to study is Michael Jordan. And that's a story. I mean, yes, the man has unbelievable talent. But that was he knew what his purpose was basketball. He knew he knew he knew it didn't matter. He knew. So he aligned himself with that. But every time we stumbled and fall, he picked himself back up. Does everybody want to see that guy fail? Right? Yeah, yeah. And he'll and he'll tell you. The only thing that makes it made me better than anybody else is, I didn't stop. I just never stopped working. I never stopped and that can be you, you can become unstoppable. If you do those two things that I just said.

Jerry Lund

I love it. I love it. I love the enthusiasm. And I, I know autumn, she'll coach you right up on that and get you in the right places. I can definitely see that. And I'm sure as they've listened. Today, you can definitely get that from her. I really appreciate you being on and taking the time out of your day.

Autumn Clifford

Absolutely. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited about this. Yeah, yeah, I am too. 

Jerry Lund

And we'll get it uploaded here in a matter of hours.

Autumn Clifford

Yeah, that's awesome. Well, thank you, Jerry. I appreciate this.

Jerry Lund  

You're welcome.

Outro 

Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show for wherever you access your podcasts. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our hosts, Jerry Dean Lund through the Instagram handles @jerryfireandfuel, or @enduringthebadgepodcast. Also by visiting the show's website, enduringthebadgepodcast.com for additional methods of contact, and up to date information regarding show. Remember the views and opinions expressed during the show solely represent those of our hosts and the current episodes guests.







Autumn Clifford

Coach/Officer/Speaker/Professor/Sensei/ Business Owner/LEOW

I’m Autumn and …
I am the queen of BREAKING THROUGH all the barriers put before me. I have dedicated my life’s mission to Changing the Culture for First Responders. I have been coaching professionally for the last over 7 years and have been focused on first responders for the last 4.

I have never let someone tell me I can’t stop me from doing what I wanted. Instead of following paths set before me, I have forged my own way because I don’t want to be hindered by the expectations of others.

I’m master of failing forward and never quitting.
I am the most resilient person I know; not because I wanted to be, but because I had to be.

I learned that resilience as a child, one of my biggest teachers being martial arts. I earned my 2nd degree black belt at 20 but competed in both national and international competitions for many years. I taught martial arts for over 10 years and ultimately developed my own self defense practice teaching women to defend themselves and build confidence.

I earned my B.S. in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Then went on to become a police officer. I worked for 3 agencies in different capacities, and focused my efforts on learning the profession and earning various certifications. I became a certified instructor at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and a defensive tactics instructor along with several other certifications. 6 years into my career I injured my back while on the job and was told by doctors that full time patrol would not be an option anymore. To say this was devastating news would be an understatement. I faced an emotional roller coaster over the next couple of years as I reassessed my life, goals and purpose.

I rose back from the bottom of an emotional pit that threatened to swallow my very identity. For awhile I had trouble getting out of bed because I felt like my entire purpose in life had been stripped away from me. I had put so much into my identity as a police officer that I couldn’t even image myself as anything else. I spent 6 months couch ridden and unable to do anything other then be on my phone or laptop.

I began to study the coaching industry as I realized I had been coaching people successfully for most of my life. It was in my lowest moments that I quieted the voice in my head that told me I could not achieve my dreams and I went for it. I have been coaching hundreds of people from across the world since.
I finished my Masters in Criminal Justice degree, started teaching college level criminal justice courses, and began mentoring other first responders from all across the world on stress management and officer well being. I know what it is like to be in a very low spot, to go through traumatizing situations, and how to bounce back quickly and stronger then before. This is what I teach; a holistic approach to reducing the stress in first responders lives so they can be happier and more productive both on and off the job.

My tenacity and ability to control my mindset is what has brought me to where I am today. Not only have I helped myself but thousands of people who consume my content. It is my mission to help first responders and their families to survive the job on duty off both mentally and emotionally. I teach all the stuff we wish academies and departments taught their first responders – not just mental and emotional tactics that will change first responders lives while on duty, but the strategies and techniques to use off duty that will save marriages and encourage a healthy work life balance.

I am a speaker, coach, soon to be author and podcast host. If you are here reading my content because you are stuck, please go to my podcast to binge the over 125 episodes I have created for you there or go to my “free shit” tab where you will have access to some of my free courses.
If you are looking for a dynamic, fun and attention grabbing speaker on your podcast or in person to give your audience a new perspective on first responders, mindset and failing forward, email us: autumn@autumnclifford.com

I now certify people to be life coach for first responders with my unconventional coaching system.