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What My Daughter Taught Me About Courage


Do you consistently let fear and anxiety rule your life?

Most of us can answer this question without hesitation. 

If you’re not certain, here’s a simple test. 

Think of how you feel when you see others doing the very things you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t.

Do you feel envious, nauseous, awash in hopelessness, or depressed? 

Do you get down on yourself for not having at least tried?

I get it. 

I know all too well the sickening feeling of repeatedly letting yourself down.

I used to beat myself up every time I could’ve attempted greatness, but chose instead to hide behind the status quo.

In May, my daughter had the opportunity to give into fear and self-doubt. 

Instead, I had the privilege of watching her lift herself up and blossom in the process.

As a parent, it was magnificent to witness.

We can learn so much from our kids. 

On that day, my daughter taught me that our minds are far more powerful than our fears.

Here’s her story:

“What My Daughter Taught Me About Courage: Sasha Fierce, 45 Seconds of Courage, and Looking in the Mirror the Next Day”

Thank you for reading.

Kari

Why Is It So Hard To Move Forward?

How much time and energy do we spend so focused on the past that we’ve no idea where we’re headed in the life?

Dwelling on all our missteps and mistakes does nothing but keep us stuck in feelings of shame, embarrassment and failure. 

So why do so many of us insist on staying in the past, rather than going forth confidently toward our future?

Is it possible that deep down we feel we “deserve” the emotional suffering? That by repeatedly reliving our worst moments we can somehow right the wrongs? Is it our penance for not being “strong enough” to get ourselves together?

The problem with always looking back is that you lose sight of what’s in front of you. You can’t imagine a new and different way if all you can see is only where you’ve been.

So, turn around, lovely.

Feel the sun on your face. 

Take what lessons you needed to learn from the past, thank them, and give yourself the gift of compassion and move on.

It’s okay.

Moving on doesn’t mean you’re absolving yourself of responsibility or accountability, or that you’re running away from your problems.

It’s the opposite.

You’re taking control of your own story. 

You’re finally captaining your own ship. 

The ripple effect of this simple, loving gesture might just blow your mind.

How Tidying Expert Marie Kondo Declutters Her Mind

I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo. 

For those of you who don’t know, Marie Kondo is the ultra-petite, impeccably dressed, world-renown tidying expert from Japan. She’s the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and star of the popular Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. 

Kondo teaches people how to tidy their homes and keep them that way using the KonMari method of decluttering. The KonMari method, created by Kondo herself, gets people to reduce their possessions by touching each item to see if it “sparks joy.” If yes, the item is kept. If no, the item is thanked for its service and discarded or donated. 

Critics poke fun at the notion that everyday objects can “spark joy,” or that thanking the butter dish you got for your wedding will make you feel less guilty about donating it to Goodwill. 

What many don’t understand is that Kondo’s methods are, in part, influenced by Shintoism. Expressing gratitude is a way of treasuring and honoring the object for its intrinsic value before letting it go.

Despite the critics, Kondo has legions of fans, myself included, and the KonMari credo, “Tidy Your Space, Transform Your Life,” has inspired decluttering movements across Japan, Europe, Australia, and the United States, leaving a surge of thrift store donations in their wake. The net worth of the KonMari empire, which Kondo’s husband helps run, is estimated at $8 million.

It’s easy to look at Kondo and wonder how she keeps it all together. At 4 foot 7 inches, Kondo has the gentle grace and demeanor of a delicate flower. Make no mistake, though, her skyrocketing notoriety stems from her ability to firmly and confidently guide overwhelmed homeowners through one of the toughest transformations of their lives.

So how does Kondo, now also a mother of two young toddlers, keep all the balls in the air? 

I was fascinated to learn that she also applies KonMari principles to managing and decluttering her mind. Here’s how:

Dump all the feelings onto paper

If Marie Kondo stopped by to help you declutter your home, she’d have you start with your clothes. She’d instruct you to gather every stitch of clothing you own and place them into one big pile so you can see what you have. Most people are amazed at the mountain of clothes they’ve acquired over the years.

Kondo goes through a similar process when decluttering her mind. She pours all her negative feelings onto a large sheet of paper. Similar to the pile of accumulated clothes, the process of getting all her feelings out of her head and onto paper helps her to clearly see what she needs to address.

Address each feeling individually

Once you’ve gathered your clothes, Kondo instructs you to go through the pile, one article at at time. As you hold each item in your hand, you must decide whether it “sparks joy.” If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you toss or donate it without guilt. You repeat the process one by one until the pile is clear. 

This can be overwhelming and time-consuming if you have a ton of clothes, but it’s actually quite liberating. When you take the time to make a decision on every article of clothing, you’ll be surprised to discover 1) how much you’ve been holding onto that you don’t even want or need; and 2) how happier and lighter you feel after letting the excess go.

Kondo does the same with her negative feelings. After unloading all her feelings on paper, she studies them one by one. Understanding the reason behind her feelings allows Kondo to quickly identify problems or underlying issues and set clear goals to resolve them so she can move forward. 

“Going through this process helps me realize very clearly what I need to do to cope with my negative feelings,” writes Kondo in this essay for TIME magazine.

Discard what doesn’t “spark joy”

Sometimes our negative feelings stem from events or circumstances beyond our control. So many of us live bound to our past, and yet the past is immutable — all that exists now is our thoughts about the past. The rational part of our brain knows this, but the irrational part likes to keep us beholden to certain moments — usually the ones we wish we could change. 

When our past no longer has a stranglehold on our happiness, we’re free to discard any negative thoughts and feelings we choose.

This was an important realization for Kondo. As she explains in her essay in TIME, “I come to realize what I can forget: Negative thoughts, especially those that are related to situations or events from the past. By focusing on positive solutions, I can forget or at least minimize these pessimistic emotions.”

Transform Your Life

Marie Kondo’s tips for decluttering her mind are not unique per se. Many have shared similar strategies for managing their minds to cope with the demands of life.

The beauty of Kondo’s process lies in how seamlessly it fits with the KonMari way of keeping a tidy home. 

As Kondo writes in TIME, “I promise that once you do, you’ll have much more clarity and will be in a calmer place — similar to how people say they feel after they use my organizing methods on their homes.”

Both take time to learn and implement, and upkeep requires daily practice, but the reward of having both a tidy house and tidy mind…well, that’s priceless.

Have a great week,

Kari 

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Quote: Pharrell Williams – Life is Like a Carousel

Today’s quote of the day was selected by my 12 year old daughter, Kate. 

In her own words: “Life is like a carousel means you have good times and bad times, and you just have to accept that. When you’re down, remember that you won’t stay down. Everyone knows that the ride will be over soon, so remember the times you were up.” 

Plus, because she’s 12, she buried a hidden Easter egg in the image. 

Can you find it? 

Kari (& Kate)

Quote: Dale Carnegie on Inaction & Fear

What prevents so many of us from taking the action we need to accomplish our goals?

We know what we need to do, but yet we consistently push off the very things that will get us the results we want. 

I did some research into the psychology behind inaction and was surprised at what I learned. Read the blog post, “When You’re Not Taking Action” here.

When You’re Not Taking Action

I was on a productivity tear. 

I started using Google Calendar recently to schedule and monitor my writing-related actions, including content creation and social media posts. 

I wrote blog posts, upped my posting and engagement on Twitter and Medium, and set up a business Pinterest account which I hope will eventually drive more traffic to this website. 

I brainstormed ideas for a content calendar to start batch writing posts and systematize my writing process.

I set up a spreadsheet in Google Drive to keep track of publications to pitch, ideas, writers to follow, inspirational articles, and any tools, tips and resources that I may not need now but don’t want to forget. 

I set monthly income goals and plans for how to reach them.

I mapped out possible ways to diversify my services, even if I wasn’t sure yet how to make them happen.

I even set stretch goals — you know, the goals you dare not say out loud but secretly long to make come true.

Then, I hit a wall.

Sometimes when you hit a wall, you feel guilt or shame about not doing the things you know you need to do. 

Other times, you don’t feel anything, like nothing. And that’s right where I found myself recently.

What is apathy?

Merriam-Webster defines someone who is apathetic as:

1: having or showing little or no feeling or emotion : SPIRITLESS

2: having little or no interest or concern : INDIFFERENT

Of all the unpleasant feelings, I am most afraid of apathy. It’s an insidious, dangerous emotion that often leads directly to mediocrity.

Brooke Castillo calls apathy one of the biggest stealers of dreams. 

I know this to be true because I’ve seen it time and again in my own life.

What does apathy look like? 

Apathy looks like laziness

Let me try to explain, although even as I write this I’m aware it looks like a bunch of excuses:

  • The goals I’ve been working toward? So what.
  • The relationships I’ve been nurturing? No one cares.
  • The step-by-step plan on my calendar? Big deal. 

To the outside person, it looks like you’ve given up, again, on yet another dream — that you’re all talk and no substance.

And if you’re not careful, they’d be right. 

But this time, you catch yourself. You know you’re not lazy. You’re not giving up on your dreams. This is not the end all be all.

You’re just feeling a feeling.

Apathy is a temporary feeling, not a life sentence

Humans are complex, emotional beings. As such, we get to experience a wide range of feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, regret, elation, fear, compassion, apathy. 

Brooke Castillo calls this the privilege of being human. There are pleasant emotions and not-so-pleasant emotions, and the ability to feel them all is the beauty of the human experience.

I’ll admit it took a bit for me to see the beauty in fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt.

But with privilege of experience comes the privilege of choice. 

We get to choose our feelings. Most people take this to mean if you don’t want to be sad, you just choose to be happy. 

While that might work temporarily, the feeling doesn’t last. Why? Because everything we feel is caused by a thought. 

Remember the self-coaching model from this post

Your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions, and your actions create your results. — Brooke Castillo

If what we’d like to feel is at odds with the thoughts we’re thinking, our brains will catch on and put the kibosh on the whole thing and we’re right back to our original, unpleasant feelings.

The good news is, although it may seem our feelings happen to us and are outside our control, the opposite is true. 

Our thoughts, feelings, actions, results — these are the things that we can control. 

But if we want to feel differently, we have to first notice what we’re feeling, and then look backward to find the thought causing our feeling (in my case, apathy).

Uncovering the thought behind the feeling is everything

The title of this post is very similar to the title of the podcast episode that blew my mind.

This is the podcast that exposed me to a new way of thinking.

In this episode, Brooke Castillo shared the story of a client who desperately wanted to exercise so she could lose weight and start living a healthier life. 

The client planned everything out, wrote the workout days on her calendar and knew what she had to do, but when the time came to work out, she just couldn’t bring herself to go. She had started off so motivated, but when it came down to actually doing the workout, it was like a physical resistance. She could not get herself to take the action she wanted, even though she knew it was the path to her ultimate goal of losing weight.

This client couldn’t understand why she would do this to herself, and she turned to Brooke Castillo for help.

Brooke asked her to remember the self-coaching model:

All of our thoughts drive of all of our feelings which drive all of our action, reaction or inaction.

In her client’s case, she was struggling with inaction (not exercising).

And this is where my listener ears perked up, as I could so relate to struggling with inaction as well. 

Brooke then asked her client to describe what she felt immediately before deciding not to exercise. Her client said, “Right before I decide that I’m not going to exercise, I just feel apathetic. I feel no drive at all.”

Brooke then asked her client what she was thinking that caused her to feel apathetic (remember, what we think creates a feeling (in this case, apathy), and it’s the feeling (again, apathy) that drives an action, inaction or reaction (in her case, not exercising).

It turns out the client was thinking exercising wouldn’t matter anyway. She had exercised before, she hadn’t seen results, she was telling herself she had to exercise to get results but deep down she didn’t believe it would work. 

It wouldn’t matter anyway created a feeling of overwhelming apathy toward her own goals. 

The feelings of apathy and indifference drove her inaction, the result of which meant she was no closer to her dream of losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

When she uncovered the thoughts behind what she was feeling, she could see clearly why she wasn’t taking action. 

Examining your thoughts with compassion and curiosity

Like me, this client had been stuck at apathy and inaction. Like me, she had been completely unaware of her subconscious thoughts or their devastating ripple effect on her life.

When you realize that you’ve caused your own pain, your first instinct might be to beat yourself up. 

But that’s not what we want to do here.

In order to access our deepest, innermost thoughts, or explore the feelings we’re too scared or ashamed to admit, we need to trust that once we lay ourselves bare we’ll treat ourselves with compassion and grace.

We want to develop the skill of detached curiosity. 

We want to understand, without judgment, why we do the things we do so we can see which part of the model we need to work on. Almost always, it will be our thoughts that we need to tweak.

In my last post, I talked about trusting our ability to do hard things. 

As we get better at noticing and working through our feelings, we’ll gain confidence in our ability to feel hard things. 

Thinking new thoughts to get new results

Though my issue wasn’t weight loss, I could relate to every other aspect of Brooke’s client’s story: the inaction, the apathy, the belief that my actions wouldn’t matter anyway, the lack of hope.

In the past, apathy was pretty much my last line of defense before giving up on a goal or dream altogether. Apathy always led to inaction, and inaction always led to nothing changing, except maybe added shame at yet another goal unrealized.

With the self-coaching model, I’m learning how to get to the root of my inaction. 

Remember: 

Our thoughts create our feelings, and our feelings are responsible for our actions/inaction/reactions, and our actions/inaction/reactions are what create our results (or lack of results).

Let’s take a look at my old model:

Old thought: Nothing I do matters anyway.

Old feelings: Apathy, Indifference

Old action: Inaction

Old results: No new content, no pitches, no new brainstorming, buffering with excessive social media (mistaking it for ‘action’), no income generation.

Now let’s take a look at my new model:

I’ve replaced my old thoughts with more positive thoughts that I believe (this is important) which create new feelings that spur action instead of inaction which will lead to results that are in alignment with my goals.

New thought: I’m in it for the long game. Each step I take on my calendar will get me closer to my goals. The strength is in the process. 

New feelings: Excited, Determined, Disciplined, Proud

New action: Writing new content, brainstorming new ideas to pitch, setting dates on Google calendar when to pitch what to whom, along with dates to follow-up.

New results: Momentum, new connections, new opportunities, confidence in myself.

* * * * *

When I learned I could reverse engineer the results I so desperately wanted by being super intentional with my thinking, it was like being given a magic formula.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the work is challenging. It requires enormous discipline.

And, frankly, half the battle is remembering to use the model. 

Our brains are so quick to go into default mode (negative thinking, reactive feelings) that, when left unsupervised, we’re often led astray and we forget the very tools that can help us.

Am I doing the steps exactly right? Maybe not. But that’s okay. 

One of my goals is to invest in a life coach to further develop these skills. I’ve done the math and decided I can do this once I reach a specific monthly income goal three months in a row.

Thinking with intention is a life-long practice, but so important. I write about it so often because I’m working hard to learn the process and develop this skill. 

With the the model, I can see possibilities I never let myself see before. 

To some, I know this may all sound crazy. 

But to those of you who can relate, who’ve been where I’ve been, who’ve longed for something more and, like me, could never get out of your own way—

Use whatever concept or tool works for you. The important thing is that you and I keep moving forward.

But if you’ve tried other things and nothing’s worked, give the self-coaching model a shot.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Until next time,

Kari


Resources for this post:

Brooke Castillo’s The Life Coach School Podcast (hover to click link):

Episode 1:  Why You’re Not Taking Action

Episode 154:  Apathy 

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

Ira Glass On The Key To Success

The Value of Persistence and Producing Volumes of Work

If I could summarize this post to the tune of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s epic musical, Hamilton:

“Giving up is easy, sticking it out is harder.”

(Hamilton fans, I know you just sang that line in your head.)

Today I share with you a motivational excerpt from Current TV’s 2009 interview with Ira Glass, host of the popular public radio show, This American Life

In this interview, Glass speaks candidly about advice he wishes he received when he first started out in radio. 

His message transcends all mediums and serves as an inspirational reminder that mastery, or the art of really honing your craft, requires practice, patience and persistence.

Here’s Ira Glass:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish someone had told this to me…all of us who do creative work…we get into it because we have good taste.

But it’s like there’s a gap.

That for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. Ok? It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making…is kind of a disappointment you.

A lot of people never get past that phase.  A lot of people at that point, they quit.

And the thing that I would just like to say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting, creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. It didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have.

The thing is…everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase, you gotta know it’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story.

It’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you’re actually going to catch up and close that gap, and the work you’re making is going to be as good as your ambitions.

In my case, I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I’ve ever met.

It takes a while. It’s going to take you a while. It’s normal to take a while.

And you just have to fight your way through that.”

Ira Glass, 2009
Excerpt from Interview by Current TV (via Public Radio International)
“Ira Glass on Storytelling Part 3”

. . .

Most of us start off excited and full of passion about our goals and dreams. 

But the moment we hit a snag or failure, our excitement melts into hesitation and self-doubt.

We start questioning our abilities and whether we have what it takes to succeed.

We start saying things like:

  • Be realistic…
  • That’s not practical…
  • I don’t know what I was thinking…
  • It’s a pipe dream…

Rather than keeping our eyes on the prize and just doing the work, we focus our precious energy on all the ways things could go wrong.

We’re so convinced of our eventual failure that we quit, thinking that doing so will spare us from future pain.

The danger of quitting is that it gets a little easier each time.

When we consistently quit the moment things get hard, it’s difficult for our brains to trust that we’re capable of seeing anything to fruition. 

And so we keep quitting.

Our actions become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ira Glass tells us that excellence takes time and a lot of work. Too many of us expect greatness without putting in the effort, and when our work fails to live up to our own expectations, we get discouraged and quit.

The sad thing is we often quit right before a breakthrough.

If we can just hold on, keep working and fight through the desire to retreat, we will find success. 

Most importantly, we will begin to trust ourselves. 

When we know in our hearts that we can do hard things, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.

Have a great week.

Kari

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Quote: Maya Angelou on What Unites Us

Happy 4th of July! Now more than ever, we need to focus on what unifies us, not what divides us. Today’s quote is from the poem “Human Family” by the incomparable Maya Angelou.


You may recall this poem from one of Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaigns a few years ago. In this popular commercial, Dr. Angelou can be heard in the background reciting her poem, “Human Family,” while pictures of people from all over the world (shot by iPhone users) fade in and out of the background. The message is clear.

To see the video, click here.

To hear just the audio of Dr. Angelou reading her poem, click here.

Quote: Henry Ford on the Power of Perspective

Before he could revolutionize the automotive industry with mass-produced cars that every day people could afford, Henry Ford had to first battle Goliath-sized odds just to set his plan in motion.

If you’re interested in learning more about Henry Ford’s rise to industry titan, I highly recommend the History Channel docuseries, The Men Who Built America. Ford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan, were pioneers of their respective industries whose legendary vision literally laid the foundation for this nation.

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