a simple shift

Earlier this week, we ran the washer for the first time and something criss-crossed somewhere and a sewer line backed up and a toilet in the guest house, out behind the main house, backed up and overflowed. (By the way, I know it sounds all “English countryside” to say “the guest house,” but this is more like a converted garage than it is something fancy-schmancy. But it does have a little cubby with a toilet, and this has been the source of some distress these past few days).

So, okay, the toilet backs up and so we call to get it repaired but this takes a few days and we’re still kinda-sorta in the process of getting the last of it cleaned up, the carpets cleaned, etc.

Well, then this morning I was loading up the dishwasher in the kitchen for the first time (we’ve been in that mode of just dumping stuff on the counters) and was going to run it while I went out for coffee. I pulled out the top tray and the entire dishwasher leaned forward. It isn’t properly settled into the cabinetry and would easily rock out of place if we ran it. 

I had woken up this morning feeling more recovered from being sick–tired, but not so achey and not in such a bad way. And then this frustrating thing happened with the dishwasher–yet another thing needing repair, and this time something that (in my opinion) should have been noticed and taken care of prior to us moving in–and I felt white hot pissed off anger coursing through my veins.

I put in a call to the rental agency for this to be fixed, too, and then headed out for my coffee. I got into the car and noticed that in the past ten minutes since that anger had coursed through my body, I was suddenly feeling really, really run-down and far more sick than I had felt when waking up.

It was this little reminder that ANGER IS TOXIC

So this is becoming a theme that I keep repeating, and I think it bears repeating–I don’t believe that it’s healthy for people to just repeat affirmations trying not to feel their anger or frustration or sadness or whatever negative emotion comes up. Anything that we cannot sit with will run us. My ideal for myself and my hope for the world is that we learn to embrace everything that comes into the circle of our existence and to process it out without hurting others.

But it really, really hit me how when I carry around anger and frustration, this stuff is just toxic sludge. 

So as I drove to Peet’s, I played my theme song–the song that is my ring tone, the song that is my life’s theme song–“Golden” by Jill Scott.

I played it twice.

I felt immensely better (and less sick).

Then I had the lucky duck experience of running into my dear friend Laurie Wagner at Peet’s. Laurie is the talented force behind Wild Writing classes. Some of you may know her from Sabrina Ward Harrison’s second book. I know her as someone who I met because we were in a mutual circle of friends and I have been attracted to her honesty and authenticity. She is someone who does not indulge in a lot of idle chit-chat; when I talk with her I always sense that she is going to ask real questions and give me real answers. We sat down at a table and did quick catch-ups on life. She’s hosting a trunk show this upcoming Sunday in Alameda, at which the wares of Andrea Scher and another friend of mine, Amy MacClain, will be featured (among others). Another dear friend, Valerie, had emailed me earlier this week to ask if I wanted to go to that since we would be hanging out this upcoming Sunday. (If you want to support local artists while you do your holiday shopping, please contact me via email ( kate -at- thiscourageouslife -dot- com) and I can send you the deets.)

And the long and short of all of this is that when I started with the conscious choice to shift myself–playing a song that lifts my spirits–that was enough to start digging me out of the hole that had begun. And when I made yet another conscious choice to take some time to connect with another human being, that was another piece.

And not a damned thing has changed–the dishwasher isn’t fixed and the rental agency has yet to call me back–but I don’t feel particularly frustrated by any of it. I just feel ready to get on with my day.

I wonder–if I had not been sick, and had not thus been inclined to check in with my body a lot when I woke up, would I have even noticed how the anger went through me? Would the effect have been too subtle on a basically healthy body for me to have fully “seen” how much of a difference it made that I got angry/frustrated?

I cannot know, but I like how it is sitting in my consciousness, now. I love these little reminders that life brings that everything that comes into my path is an opportunity to open up more or to close up tight like a fist. I like the opening up far better.

And I’m going to play “Golden” again a few more times, just for good measure, while I unpack my office today.

hail to the good things

I was thinking about how something that could be really positive (New Year’s Resolutions) often just becomes a measuring stick for self-hate, for how we could do it better, or as evidence for all the ways we’ve “failed” already.

I was thinking that this is bullshit (because it is). I was thinking that what I really wanted was just to tear up/do away with all of that old negative stuff and instead step into something new.

I feel the need to explain because you’ll see things in this video like, “Lose 10 pounds,” and the thing is, I think that it’s totally fine if someone wants to lose 10 pounds (ever notice how there’s this weird backlash now against working on yourself, like the most evolved place one can be is to be “above” working on themselves? I’m all about accepting myself as-is while also acknowledging that there are spaces where I want to grow, spaces where I default to old habits that no longer serve me).

It’s fine if someone wants to lose ten pounds or forgive their mother or find more time to exercise–but I continually like to ask whether there are ways of stepping into a bigger or more authentic vision around this, one that brings into the circle the idea of PLAY, and keeping things loose, and self-care.

The be kinder, be more patient, be more be more be more messages…I just loved tearing it all up. It was deeeeeelicious to tear up those messages–I highly recommend it. Just write down all of the messages that you feel yourself pressured to live up to, and then let them rip!

(don’t worry; I purchase 100% post-consumer content recycled paper, and all of this paper was recycled after I made the video!).

So that’s my explanation for all of that–now I commence with showing you the video!


Click to tweet: Don’t turn resolutions into self-hate.



This piece was written in October 2009, and documents my transition from part-time to full-time coaching. 

From the first time I ever went to Cafe Gratitude, I really fell in love with the place. I love that they ask a question of the day when you come in; I love the atmosphere. I even love the food, though I no longer subscribe myself to a raw foods lifestyle.

On my most recent visit, I indulged in a book I’d noticed on several occasions and had wanted, but had been holding back from: Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening.

Stepping out on my own with my own business, I wanted to see what they shared about their model/philosophy. There is so much that I am finding to be tender about stepping out there as a business person. I’ve noticed how a lot of my defaults are stepping out these days–defaults of doing, doing, doing, trying to fit in one more thing in a desperate effort of feeling in control by doing.

It is at these times that I am reminded that what I work on with clients, what I want to share with the e-course, with all of it, is that this is a practice. It’s not “finished” at some point. Life is always bringing in new challenges to look at and turn over. The practice becomes noticing and choosing what I want to think about those challenges–are they burdens, or opportunities?–and then going with a certain course of action.

Although the book is really designed to be for business owners who have employees, I am finding that I can use whatever they say about an employee as a model for how I would treat myself.

And I really loved the authenticity that I found here, because basically the #1 problem I’ve had with every job I’ve ever worked is that I was supposed to put aside who I was in service to something else, usually with an expectation of showing up in a fake way in order to be “of service.”

“The traditional model of wage-employment is one in which alienated employees force themselves to suppress their beckoning stream of personal anxieties, obsessions, and desires long enough to do the work for which they are receiving a wage. This often leads to customers receiving service that is not really service, but rather acquiescence to the necessity of the worker to earn a wage by minimally fulfilling the needs of the customer. The customer almost always senses this perfunctory level of interaction, which lowers the level for everyone, giving the customer the devastating impression that they are not really cared for; rather, they are on the receiving end of a kind of prostitution.” — from Sacred Commerce by Matthew and Terces Engelhart

So what we need to endeavour to give to ourselves is this same space for our “personal anxieties, obsessions, and desires.” Inspiration can go–very quickly, if not monitored–into overdrive mode. 

Before I know it, the day is gone and my wrist is hurting from being on the computer and I’m going, “Whaaaat…?”

Any time you notice a lack of abundance, one of the first places to look where you might be grasping, holding on tight, not allowing something to breathe. If it’s a lack of abundance with friendships–where am I placing expectations on others? If it’s lack of abundance with money–where am I tight, constricted, not fully breathing around money? If it’s lack of abundance with time–where am I most likely to start chanting in the back of my head, “I don’t have time, I don’t have time, I don’t have time”?

One of the first things that “rights” us again is the experience of stepping straight into giving.

Give my friend space to be where she needs to be.

Give away money or treat someone to something.

Give myself more time by canceling something or arranging to arrive later than planned.

This isn’t so simple as it sounds–it is a choice to step into living this way. Of course I have my judgments about how people “should” spend their time or the money “should” be coming to me or how I “should” be better at arranging my schedule. 

The choice becomes noticing the “shoulds” and not buying in.

“This is the true joy in life. The being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole of the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” –George Bernard Shaw