Moon Church Recap: October Full Moon in Taurus

Ladies! Thank you so much for joining me this past Tuesday for our second Moon Church! I have so much gratitude for all of you. As with our last celebration, your presence, willingness to share, and beautiful listening had me in awe. This month's Moon Church was all about body image, and I applaud each of you for being brave and sharing your vulnerabilities.

a photo from Amanda, one of the attendees

After our introductions, we asked an opening question: which of the 5 senses is your favorite? Simple on the surface, but we dove in and discovered a much deeper truth. Because for most people, the sense they most treasured was the one they associated with memories: be it smell, sound, or touch. We heard stories of dirt biking, fabric stores, songs that took us back to a certain time in our lives. Reminded me that our physical experience of the world is always replete with emotion.

Next, we listened to excerpts from Mystic Mamma and Chani Nicholas and discussed how the full moon, particularly in Taurus, resonated with us. Sturdiness. Slowing down. Being our own anchor. Digesting and enjoying that which we take in. Being a rock steady source of calm for ourselves.

I wanted us to get conscious of our bodies, so we got out our yoga mats, and did a soothing moon salutation. Stretching, bending, and twisting, we felt our bodies move and loosen. I had found this image a while ago, and really enjoyed it's non linear presentation of a position sequence. It's my favorite! Please feel free to do this yourself in the evenings, or whenever you feel stressed.

chandra namaskar poses

Next, it was time to go deeper, and dive into how we perceived our bodies. We started by contemplating a painful self criticism of our bodies (I know we all have our go to). We wrote it down on a scrap of paper, and held that pain in our hands. Here in our palms was what we most often berate ourselves for. We needed to stand up to that criticism. It was time to start letting it go. So we passed a burn bowl, and one by one set that scrap of paper on fire, letting the pain burn up into ash. Some flamed high, and some smoldered, but each of us started down the path of releasing the worry and the self berating. If we felt comfortable, we shared our difficulty with the circle, and realized that we weren't alone in our worries. What we were all feeling was heard and understood. It will take time to not use that 'go to' critique again. I've already had mine come up about 10 times in the past 48 hours! But each time the criticism surfaces, I'm able to catch myself, and say "I let that go", and not obsess over it as I have in the past. With time, that 'catch myself' will happen sooner and sooner, and eventually the criticism itself will fade away.

We had opened up a space in our hearts by letting go of the pain, so then we invited in gratitude. Paired up, we considered our favorite body memory, and mixed up clay face masks. As our gal pal masked up our faces, we shared our memory, how it felt and how it made us feel. We felt cared for by our buddy, as she tenderly spread the clay on our face, and strong and powerful as we remembered the great things our body is capable of.

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With our faces still moon-y from the clay, we shared our memories with the group at large, and made our own bespoke tea blend! This tea will be a tangible reminder to be grateful for our bodies: organs that do their work, legs that carry us around, hands that complete delicate actions, and backs that hold us up all without us really thinking about it. I invite all attendees to say "thank you body" with each cup brewed of their tea.

To end the night, we joined hands, and thanked each other for the presence and spirit.  It was another lovely event, so thank you so much ladies I cannot WAIT for the next one!!

UPDATE : Moon Church - Full Moon Celebration!

So happy to announce that the 2nd Moon Church is scheduled. And this time, it's a Full Moon Celebration! The Full Moon is a reminder for creation, self care, and reveling in your body, so join me and 15 other mad formidable, rad, bad ass babes for October's Full Moon on Tuesday, October 27th for a night of nourishment, creativity, and body positivity!  We'll be outside in the night air, enjoying simple yoga, drawing tarot cards, exchanging massages, working through body image exercises, and talking till our hearts are full.

This event is free, but is capped at 15 people. I've already had 10 women sign up (!!!), so please click the banner image below to register for the last 5 places! We will have a wait list once the 15 spots are taken.

Full Moon Church - Oct event cover If you can't go to this event, but don't want to miss out on future ones, please join my fun weekly letter: Circle Time.

Looking forward to some great women power spirit sharing!

UPDATE! We have reached the 15 person limit! You can still sign up for the wait list by following the banner image above! LOVE YOU GUYS!

Tackling Self Confidence - The Impostor Phenomenon

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Two weeks ago, I asked each of you to complete a poll about what topic you were most interested in for future events, worksheets, blog posts etc. The results rolled in, and the big winner is:

[polldaddy poll=9021746]

Self Confidence and Self Advocacy!

The risk of reaching out and asking for feedback, is that the one thing that you're most vulnerable about, might take the cake. And look what happened! One of the biggest things that I struggle with got 40% of the votes. Looks like it's time to take the plunge and be vulnerable.

What I'd like to talk about today is 'The Impostor Syndrome/Phenomenon'.  It's feeling like a fraud, like sooner or later people are going to 'find out' that you don't really belong in your job or graduate program or skill set. That you're only pretending to be competent, smart, or successful.

About the Impostor Phenomenon

It was first described in the 1970's by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD. In the original paper, published in Psychotherapy Theory, Research and Practice Volume 15, #3, Fall 1978, they write:

The term impostor phenomenon is used to designate an internal experience of intellectual phonies, which appears to be particularly prevalent and intense among a select sample of high achieving women.* Certain early family dynamics and later introjection of societal sex-role stereotyping appear to contribute significantly to the development of the impostor phenomenon. Despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the impostor phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise. [my emphasis]

This phenomenon plagues successful/high achieving women, and is particularly rampant among women of color (WoC). Even Maya Angelou said "I have written eleven books, but each time I think, 'uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'"

I have felt this in my professional adult life at an alarming rate. At work, when I get promotions or raises and here on A Road of Your Own. Even writing this own post I've questioned myself. Who am I to speak authoritatively on this? All my readers will recognize I'm a fraud. I literally gasped aloud when I read the following in an article published in the American Psychological Association publication "GradPSYCH Magazine" in 2013:

The impostor phenomenon and perfectionism often go hand in hand. So-called impostors think every task they tackle has to be done perfectly, and they rarely ask for help ... An impostor may procrastinate, putting off an assignment out of fear that he or she won't be able to complete it to the necessary high standards.

Whoa there inner thoughts. What are you doing standing on that page, shouting your truth?! That's one of our secrets! You climb off that webpage and sit back in my brain where you belong, right now! 

Except, it can't be a secret. Because as author Kristen Weir continues in the GradPSYCH article:

Though the impostor phenomenon isn't an official diagnosis listed in the DSM, psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.

By definition, most people with impostor feelings suffer in silence, says Imes, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Georgia. "Most people don't talk about it. Part of the experience is that they're afraid they're going to be found out," she says. Yet the experience is not uncommon, she adds.

We need to raise our hands, and say "I feel like this. A lot." Because I'm sure a very large proportion of my readers do feel like this. Because silence only hurts us, and makes us believe that it's 'just me'. Because I feel like this. A lot.

My anxious face

Let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time there was a young woman who had a very important project. She was going to fix the town clock. It had so many different moving pieces and everyone used it. She had found the perfect clock makers to help, and everyone in the town was very impressed, and they gave the woman a very heavy purse of gold. But, it hadn't been very hard to find the clock makers - it felt like luck instead of work. The young woman knew how important this job was, so she scheduled the clock makers first set of visits. They came, saw the clock, talked to everyone who used the clock, and came back with a long list of what needed to change and be fixed. "Hooray!" thought the young woman, "A plan! I will prove that I deserve my gold by fixing the clock!"

But the young woman looked at the list and became afraid. "There's so much on here. How can I get all of this done? I won't be able to do this like the company needs - I won't be able to do this perfectly." She had been told over and over again that she was great. That was who she was. What if she wasn't great fixing the clock? She began to avoid the list. "I can't make this just right today. I'll try tomorrow." she would say. The days moved on, the clock was still broken, and the plan became more and more frightening. The young woman would berate herself "Everyone will find out that I haven't fixed the clock! I MUST fix the clock now!", but it did no good. She would ignore the list, pushing it further and further down her daily schedule. "I just can't make it perfect right now. Maybe tomorrow."

One day, the mayor of the town spoke to her "Young Woman! The clock is still broken! We trust you and need this clock to work. You must make the clock makers focus and help us!". She tried to pressure the clock makers, but the young woman was ashamed that the mayor thought the problem was with them and not her. "She will find out it's me, and everyone will know that I don't know how to fix clocks by myself". More days went by the and clock was a little better, but wasn't fixed all the way. There were still so many moving pieces, it was such a puzzle! The young woman still looked at the list with dread, and tried to focus on other, simpler tasks.

Finally, the mayor returned and said "Young Woman. I have realized what is happening." The young woman trembled with fear. "She will tell me that she knows I am a failure and a fraud." thought the young woman. But instead, the mayor exclaimed "I have realized that you have no help! You have tried to fix this very complicated clock all by yourself - and NO ONE could fix it all on their own! Young Woman, you have put too much pressure on yourself, let us help you." "I don't have to do this alone?" thought the young woman. "But I am In Charge of the clock! Doesn't that mean I have to do the work?" As soon as she asked herself that question, she realized the answer was no. She didn't have to fix the clock all on her own. It was ok, in fact it was expected, that other people help. So she agreed, and the mayor introduced the young woman to three helpers. They talked, shared the list, and after a few months of hard, but communal, work the clock was fixed, and the town was happy.

The end.

Obviously, this is about me. Sub the clock for the complex property management database software my company uses, and there's the situation I was in at the beginning of this year. My impostor beliefs had shackled me into thinking I was solely responsible for our system overhaul and the results, and the ensuing procrastination had slowly eroded my credibility at work. Sharing the load and letting others in helped enormously.

Much happier!

Implications/Sources

A lot of the impostor syndrome comes from family and education dynamics in the woman's childhood. As written in an article on the CalTech Counseling Center website

"Families can give their child full support to the point where the family and girl believe that she is superior or perfect.  As the girl grows up and encounters challenging tasks, she may begin to doubt her parent's perceptions and may also need to hide her difficulties in order not to disturb the family image of her.  As a result of these normal difficulties, this girl may come to believe that she is only average and even below average."

I'd also throw in Gifted & Talented programs in the mix too. Not to say that if you feel these impostor feelings, you need to go shake your finger at your folks while shouting "You ruined me!" Because another contributing factor? That nobody really knows "how to be a good adult". We're all pretty much just winging it as we go along. And the high achievers in the world are winging it even more. Which is scary as hell.

But I believe there's a more hidden reason too. It's particularly telling that women, and especially WoC, are exponentially vulnerable to the impostor phenomenon. That makes my inner alarms ring the 'Patriarchy BS is Afoot' alert like crazy. (It sounds like this fyi). Because if you live in a culture where your professional success is subtly (and not so subtly) devalued, you're going to subconsciously believe/fear that you're a fraud. That everything you've achieved is luck, instead of your own hard work. The culture that tells young girls that they are special beautiful princess snowflakes, watches them smack up against difficulties, and pats them on the head and says "Aw sweetheart, well at least you tried. There there."

Dealing with Impostor Feelings

The CalTech article has amazing suggestions on how to deal with your own impostor phenomenon.

  • Support and sharing - TALK ABOUT THESE FEELINGS. I'm not alone, and you're not alone.
  • Identify - Know when you're feeling the feelings. Point it out and say "I SEE YOU FEELINGS"
  • Be aware of and respond to your automatic thoughts - This is EXACTLY what my free self care worksheet is about. It's a spreadsheet I adapted from Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. In the book, he calls the document a "Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thought". I talked about my first time using the approach here. Since then, I've updated the spreadsheet and used it whenever I started to feel 'off'.

Do you want that worksheet? Click below if you don't already have it!

I Want that button

Good luck out there my dears, remember - you are worth your success. It's not your charm, it's not your family, it's you (and sometimes privilege). Remember that even if something is easy, it doesn't mean it's luck. And even if something is hard, it doesn't mean you can't conquer it.

much love,

ktk

*since then, additional research has shown that men feel this too, but not at the same high rates

Mid-Week Links

There is some amazing stuff online this week! "How Makeup Got Me Through My Darkest Moment" by Sanam, published on Refinery29 - A bad ass Desi writer and artist, Sanam talks selfies, self love, and depression.

"The Sliding Scale: A Tool of Economic Justice" by Alexis Cunningfolk, on Worts and Cunning - A great guide to understanding the sliding scale, why you should use one with your products, and how to implement one. Will definitely be doing this when I start offering products and for my paid events!

"10 Habits of Self-Made Female Millionaires" by Paige Brettingen, on Refinery29 - I haven't talked about it much yet, but I'm really passionate about women having financial independence and stability. There are some great tips here: especially slide 7.

"You Want Me to Do What? Four Things to Know About Your First Turkish Bath" by Beth Santos, on She's Wanderful - Two things: I love cultural travel tips (waves *hello* to my fellow Anthropology majors), and the second to last paragraph makes me so happy!

Also, I went for a nice walk yesterday, and found a lovely sidewalk rose bush.

vscocam-photo-1 have a happy day y'all,

ktk

Moon Church - New Moon in Leo Celebration!

Hello, hello! This past Friday, I was grateful to host a very wonderful event: a New Moon Celebration.

moon church event cover (1)I had been inspired by a post on Mystic Mamma, where she writes the following:

A New Moon marks the beginning of a new cycle, a fresh start in it’s cycle of waxing and waning. During this time the Moon is empty and receptive and full of potential. This is an optimum time to plant seeds of intentions for what you wish to manifest in your life ...
There is something so powerful when women come together to support each other on their journey, in the hopes and dreams. We are healed, we are nurtured, we feel comforted and understood. Moreover, when you share sacred space together you magnify the power of your intentions and you energetically create a web of support for not only your circle of women friends but with women everywhere.

First time I read that, I thought, Healed, nurtured, comforted, and understood. A web of support. YES! How wonderful! I want to get me some of that! So, as the event planning junkie that I am, I decided to have A Road of Your Own put it on asap.

As I've said before in my horoscope post, I don't really believe that the location of the planets or the state of the moon affects my life. But I wholeheartedly believe in the values of stories and symbols. The emptiness, and thus receptiveness of the New Moon is a beautiful metaphor for emptying your own life of something undesirable and welcoming something new in. Then, as the days go on, and the moon grows, you tell the story of your new intention flourishing and growing as well.

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So, surrounded by candles and perfumed by incense, a group of Austin women gathered on my porch and felt community. We most assuredly "created a web of support". We talked about the women we admired, how we felt about the Leo moon's implications in our lives, carving gems out of our stone hearts, and the pain and stress we'd each been going through recently. We each chose one thing to let go of. One thing that had sapped our energy, and used up too much valuable real estate in our hearts. It was time to say goodbye to letting it live in our lives. I'd provided a tear away portion in the program, and in that space, we wrote down what we were letting go of. One by one, to the extent that we were comfortable, we shared what we were surrendering, rolled up the scrap of paper, and burned that pain right up. They flew away as ash, no longer using our energy. moon-circle

Then, we were ready to devote that freed up energy to what our hearts really wanted to focus on. We set new intentions for ourselves. Everyone had been asked to bring an herb or an essential oil that they most loved, and I had provided extra oils, and a whole basket of lavender, mint leaves, and flower petals. We passed around a big bowl of bath salt crystals, and when the bowl got to each woman, she shared her intention, and added her flowers and herbs and oils. The smells wafting from the bowl and the determined smiles from around the circle were heavenly.

custom bath salt crystals

Next, we focused on how to make that intention a reality. I had decided to demystify tarot readings a bit further, so I split the group into trios and had them draw one card from the major arcana one at a time thinking about this question "What do I need to focus on to help my intention flourish?", and the other two women in the trio would interpret it for the seeker. To help them out, I had created a quick reference guide, primarily depending on (and at times directly quoting) Little Red Tarot's meanings. Click the image below for a printable PDF version of the guide!

tarot card reference guide

But I wanted everyone to work on their own intuition and symbolic thinking, so I encouraged the 'readers' to go with their gut: what did they see on the card, and how did they think it applied to the seeker's intention beyond what was printed in the guides. Sounds of laughter and insight swelled through the groups. After returning to our large circle, we talked about what we'd found out about ourselves, and the symbols that would remind us to hold true to our intentions. Suns, swords, balances, and wild strong women. We had actions to work on: jumping in to new adventures, stepping into a changed life, and diving into studies.

tray of new moon ritual items

Finally, sadly, we reached the end of the night. We stood around the table where the unmixed bath salt crystals festooned with flowers, herbs, and oils waited for us. We plunged our hands into the salts and stirred and stirred, feeling our neighbors hands and their dear hopes mix with our own. The intoxicating spicy floral aroma billowed around us. Joining our gritty crystalled hands together, we stood in a circle and I expressed my gratitude.

I'd like to do that again.

So thank you so much to everyone who attended, and to those who sent intentions and well wishes from afar. It was exactly what I needed, and perfect for the group. As one attendee said afterwards

You all are helping me in my journey of strengthening, self awareness and happiness. I felt it was a safe environment filled with love and respect. I hope that each of your find the strength and patience to continue to let it go so much so that it never comes back.

And she is so right. Your presence, your depth of sharing, and your support, filled my heart up.

I'd like to do this again.

moon circle

love always,

ktk

 

Giveaway Winner!

Good morning friends, It's time to share the winner of my giveaway last week! We had 4 lovely ladies comment on the post: Erin B, Sarah K, Jillian N, and Tawny. I went to my favorite number randomizer website and put in 1-4, and got ...

numbers generator

So congratulations to Jillian N! You won the newest edition of Vagina :: The Zine (Austin based bad ass feminist zine), a postcard of a super tough vintage tattoo lady, Magic Garden: Fantastic Flowers to Color, and a super cute squirrel pencil sharpener! Jillian, please let me know if the comments if you'd like me to mail this to you, or if we can hand off in person. Thank you to everyone who entered - I look forward to more contests in the future!

giveaway gifts

Mid-Week Links

There was some seriously great stuff around the web this week - "Navajo nation declares state of emergency over 'tragic' spill" by Tristan Ahtone, published on AlJazeera America - THIS 'Meanwhile, the Gold King Mine continues to leach contaminants into the Animas River.'

"Tina Brown Talks Sexism, Power, and Women's Careers" by Tina Brown as told to Jennifer Vineyard, published on The Cut - great piece on a magazine editrix's story of climbing up the media ranks as a woman

"How to Align your Budget with Your Goals" by Blonde On a Budget - Definitely going to give this a try! Excited! Plus A WORKSHEET!

Feminist Sticker Club - this is a thing that exists and I've already signed up - cannot wait! 

Don't forget, if you want to win a SWAG BAG of goodies, check out yesterday's post!

bouquets of wildflowers

An Announcement, A Poll & A Giveaway!

Friends, I'm going to share a secret with you, one that only a few folks know.

I've figured out what I want to do with my long-term career.

This idea has been sitting in my heart for a long time, glowing on and off, scaring me with its intensity, warming me with its truth.

ET with glowing heart

It's scary to share because well, what if people don't like it? Don't get it? This idea is so close to my heart, that I'm very much identifying with it. If they don't like the idea, do they like me? Which, I recognize, isn't a very healthy response. But it's the truth.

So here goes:

I, Katie Kronbergs, am creating an organization that hosts and coordinates empowering events and workshops for women in Austin, Central Texas, and online. Topics would include (but definitely aren't limited to) career/life goals, self awareness, stress management, healthy relationships, finances, body image, and advocating for yourself. Name? A Road of Your Own Events

Through volunteering with GENaustin, I realized there was a huge opportunity to create something similar, but for adult women. This was my jumping off point. My wellness workshop last year really brought it home, and showed me that I could do this successfully AND that there is a huge need for an organization like this. Each event will have expert speakers, concrete takeaways, and a fun and supportive environment. Eventually, I'd love to get a physical event space.

I've already decided on my second event (the Wellness Workshop being the first), taking place this Friday night: Moon Church! The New Moon is a reminder to let go of the past and rebirth your passions, so we'll be gathering this upcoming New Moon for a night of introspection, intention setting, and releasing past pains and stresses. Attendees will be outside in the night air, enjoying exercises, drawing tarot cards, making yummy custom bath salt soaks, burning things, and talking till our hearts are full.

moon church event cover (1)

If you haven't already been invited, and would like to join us, please leave a comment! I will get you the address location asap.

For future events, I want to make sure that I'm offering the kind of workshops that you folks want and need, so please answer the poll below!

[polldaddy poll=9021746]

Finally, as a thank you for voting in the poll and for supporting me in this new endeavor, I want to give one of you an awesome set of goodies: the newest edition of Vagina :: The Zine (Austin based bad ass feminist zine), a postcard of a super tough vintage tattoo lady, Magic Garden: Fantastic Flowers to Color (because coloring is really soothing) and a super cute squirrel pencil sharpener! To win, just leave a comment below. Thank you friends!

giveaway gifts

much love,

ktk

Vanity, Confidence, and the Friday Quote

Hi lovelies. Been hibernating a bit this week, as I was feeling very 'Lumpy' Monday through Wednesday. Worrying about my future, my purpose, career path. Plus, I'll be turning 30 in three months. Which good god, seriously? I feel like I was just recently wearing a jean vest with sunflowers on it and reading about Narnia for the first time. FYI, I also had a jean bucket hat with matching sunflowers. Basically, my 4th grade fashion was on point. But 30? Yikes. I've alternated being excited about it and dreading it. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and my fretting was running myself into the ground. But, I recognized what was happening, and practiced some self care on Wednesday evening: phone call with one of my Sisters to talk about her recent birthday, followed by a nice shower, then watched Blue Crush (because I still privately am in 4th grade). That helped to calm me down a fair bit. Yesterday, something had shifted. I felt competent and ready to tackle the world again. I felt bold. A big part of that? Reading through my little collection of text message screenshots from Randall (yes I save the best bits).

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I read that and thought Hell yes. I AM those things. Next thought: Oh. I haven't recognized this in me in the past two weeks. That's why I've been feeling so rough. I had forgotten these truths about myself. Because they are true. Yesterday, I remembered. I read some other screen shots, and went through my "bad ass Katie" photo book I had made a few months ago (also a thing that exists). It's pictures of mostly me, with some friends thrown in, when I'm at my strongest or happiest (this one is in it).

Going through past compliments and selfies is, I admit, a little vain. But as Molly Soda said in a recent NPR interview:

"I think a selfie is a really, really positive thing, whether or not its art, it's super positive affirmation of self-love. And taking your photo and putting it on the Internet for the world to see is an act of positivity."

"I don't think there's anything wrong with being a little bit vain. I think we all are," she says.

"When I'm scrolling on my Instagram and I see a photo of a girl that she took of herself and I know she's feeling really good that day about herself, that makes me feel good and that makes me want to photograph myself, and I think it's a chain reaction."  http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/07/27/425681152/narcissistic-maybe-but-is-there-more-to-the-art-of-the-selfie

Have a great weekend my dears, look through your own bad ass proof, and remember: you are all formidable as hell!

Mid-Week Links

Howdy friends, Time to CELEBRATE some bad ass writers from around the internet. I've been loving all of these articles and posts this week. Thanks for sharing your awesomeness guys! "Anti-Choice Crowd Perverts 'Black Lives Matter' on Twitter" by Imani Gandy, published on RH Reality Check - terrific piece about how people who oppose abortion on twitter have co-opted the 'Black Lives Matter' statement.

"I Read the '4 Hour Work Week' So You Don't Have To" by Beth Maiden of Little Red Tarot - taking down smug white dudes, one post at a time.

"A sweet deal: The royal family of cane benefits from political giving" by Amy Bracken, published on Al Jazeera America - very touching investigative article about the relationship that the sugar bosses of America and the Dominican Republic have the US Govt.

"I Am A Cyclist, And I Am Here to Fuck You Up" by Kelly Catchpole, published on Thought Catalog - SO FUNNY. YES. It's all I hope and wish for as I ride my own bike.

Finally, if life is still getting you down, like mine was this past weekend, check out this cockatoo sharing his inner thoughts:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRsfOGJ5lZg

 

I (basically) Invented Inside Out + A Free Self Care Worksheet

joy-and-sadness-inside-out.jpg

This weekend, especially Sunday night, "Pumpkin time" reared it's smoking dragon head. I got all up in my thoughts, questioning the motivations of people close to me, my future goals and my ability to handle challenges. Where are my friends? How come no one's texted me today? Does Randall really *actually* love me? My family's a mess. I'm never going to figure out what I want to do in the future, on and on ad nauseum. As a surprise to no one, this questioning diminished my ability to handle day to day life. There's not much room for laundry or cooking dinners when you're wrapped up in refining your perfect "What is my PLACE & MEANING in this UNIVERSE??!" moan. Mild depression? Extra wild PMS? Too much sugar? Venus all retrograded to hell? It's probably a combination of them all (maybe not that last one). This is part of who I am, and every 3-4 months I have a couple days where things are just ... hard. I don't want to put a value judgement on the fact that these slumps happens. Very rarely is it truly debilitating. Generally, it means that I don't go out to see friends in the afternoon or evenings, eat a little too much, and then get weepy and anxious between 11:00pm and 1:00am. I try to value these times as a reminder from my body and heart to be gentle with myself. I think that these quarterly (or monthly) vulnerability times are important for us to express. Sometimes we just gotta let it out! Unfortunately, our vulnerable times get denigrated like crazy in our culture (read: Patriarchy). Particularly for women. As Anne Figert (Dept Chair of Sociology at Loyola Chicago), says:

"I looked to my PMS archive to see how women and PMS fit together and tried to find some common themes. These themes are at the same time shocking and funny or not shocking and not funny. What did I find? A wide variety of images of women as subject to their raging hormones, engaging in 'abnormal' behaviors, and jokes that portray women as 'bitchy,' 'mean,' and 'illogical."  Figert, Anne E. Women and the Ownership of PMS: The Structuring of a Psychiatric DisorderNew York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1996

You can easily replace PMS with 'depression' or 'mood swings' and get the same results. It's behaviors and attitudes that we've all been trained to look down on. Weakness, low motivation, overeating, crying. Every time, I have to fight back against this ingrained attitude. I'm not 'less than' because I'm feeling shitty today. This is me, right now, and it doesn't mean I'm defective. 

But friends, sometimes 'The Slump' does take over. In early 2014 (my recent lowest point), I had pictured that there were two Katie's: Star Katie - who was bright, bold, and cheery and always threw her arms up in the air (ala star shape) - and Lumpy Katie - a roly poly sad girl who didn't get motivated. Side Note: pretty sure Pixar needs to be paying me royalties.

I was so afraid of when Lumpy Katie would 'take over'. Star Katie was who everyone wanted to be around! Hell, I sure *liked* Star Katie better. Lumpy Katie was vulnerable and slow. Star Katie had ENERGY and IDEAS. The further I divided the two, the more upset I became when Lumpy Katie predominated. Star Katie became a reproach. But you've been her before! Be her now! What's wrong with you?? Predictably, this wasn't a good approach to feeling better and breaking 'The Slump". I needed to bring the two back together. It wasn't two separate identities, it was all just ... me. Slowly and surely, I chipped away at the distinction. How? By loving Lumpy Katie. I pictured her, all sad and flabby, and sent her love. I imagined hugging her, bringing her things, smiling and holding her gently. Valuing her vulnerable input. Result? Happier and shorter slumps! Which again, Pixar, you can send those checks whenever you'd like.

This is something that I am still working on today. I catch myself remembering Lumpy Katie, and have to remind myself to love her. Basic self care helps, a lot. Here's a really good checklist. Showering, hair brushing, sitting outside? All wonderful. But, hands down, the best strategy I have found is a spreadsheet I adapted from Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. In the book, he calls the document a "Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thought". I talked about my first time using the approach here. Since then, I've updated the spreadsheet and used it whenever I started to feel 'off'.  It reminds me to be gentle to Lumpy and respond to the reproaches with honest yet kind truths.

Now, to you guys. I know more than a few of you have your own "Slump" times.  So, I would really like to share the edited worksheet with you! If it's helped me this much, I hope it will do the same for you. If you'd like to get your own blank copy please click the button below!

Have a great day friends!

ktk

worksheet button

Friday Quote - Toni Morrison

"A world deprived of male sensibilities is an incomplete world. So it's very delicate. It's not a line. It's where two things come together and touch... What I'm trying to say is that white feminist views are in some areas so problematic for me... The hierarchy being established is what's problematic. So there are those who want to accommodate themselves into a man's world, those who want to take over the freedom and access of a man's world, and those who want to exclude men entirely from the world that they live in. They run the gamut, it seems to, all based on some hostility. Not that they're not legitimate complaints. The enemy is not men. The enemy is the concept of patriarchy, the concept of patriarchy as the way to run the world or do things is the enemy, patriarchy in medicine, patriarchy in schools, or in literature." Toni Morrison: Conversations. Jackson: U of Mississippi, 2008.

Happy Friday - fight the system y'all!

Yeah, I Read My Horoscope

aroyo blog header (1) You might not think to look at me, but I can be surprisingly 'woo-woo'. By that, I mean I read tarot cards (currently, just for myself and for friends), keep an eye on current moon phases, and wore a rose quartz necklace when I was going through my heartache last summer. I'm writing a tarot based 'cross worlds' fiction novel. I even say 'hi' to the little things I can't quite see out of the corners of my eyes. It's probably bits of my own hair or bugs. But it might be fairies, and I'm not taking the risk of pissing them off. Piskies seem crazy annoying if they don't like you. I tend to blame C.S. Lewis and Marion Zimmer Bradley for these tendencies, as I read the Narnia and Mists of Avalon books at very impressionable ages, and from then on, I've never ceased checking the backs of my wardrobes (it'll be there one day goddammit) or trying to 'summon the power of the earth'.

Water sprite/priestess costume in 9th grade!

I've also recently started paying attention to my horoscopes. Chani Nicholas in particular. In the past, I dismissed them. This is silly. How can a system created by the ancient Greeks have any bearing on my day to day life? I still have those thoughts. In fact, I do not believe that horoscopes or tarot cards tell the future. Oracles and prophesies only come to a very select few folks throughout history, and I'm pretty sure none of them work at The Austin Chronicle. (But if so, please introduce me!) I've heard similar dismissals from other people: Of course folks like horoscopes and tarot, card readers and astrologists only tell you what you want to hear! My answer? Well, duh. You do hear what you want to hear. But the magic happens when you add an extra question. I ask myself 'Why is this what I wanted to hear? Why is x the first thing I thought of?" When I ask myself that question, it transforms my card spread or my horoscope into a deeply introspective tool. Each reading becomes my own personal therapy session.

Overall, I've never felt connected to my Scorpio sign.  In the standard definitions, we're described pretty negatively: Machiavellian despots, power hungry, jealous, manipulative and full of forceful determination. That didn't feel like me. But yesterday morning, I read a post on Little Red Tarot talking about the Cups suite in Tarot. The author focuses on the water symbolism in a way I hadn't heard before:

"As someone with a lot of water in my birth chart and as a creature who grew up in coastal cultures, I’m always surprised by the overemphasis in tarot of water’s “wishy-washiness” and lack of ability to set boundaries or be tough. If you have ever been bowled over by a crashing wave and feel the force of our ocean planet slam you down into the sand, you have experienced the fierce strength of water.

Water is formless and therefore has the freedom to make many forms, whether that be the hammering might of a waterfall, the soft gurgling of a brook or hot, angry tears. [author's emphasis] Now, there are certainly moments when cup cards come up because someone has become too diffusive and need to set up firmer boundaries in their life, but they also appear to signify stagnation (where the emotions are not flowing and being released with ease) as well as emotional intelligence and strength."

I immediately thought of myself as a Scorpio (a water sign), and the notion of emotional mutability. Yes, formlessness! I thought. That is so me. Which pulled me up short. Why is that what's resonating with me? Why is that the word I latched onto? I think it's because, right now, I don't know which way my life is flowing professionally. Yes, I'm studying. Yes, I'm dreaming about possibilities. But I can see myself in so many different fields and paths. Like the water that molds itself into any crevasse, I picture myself easily sliding into different potential lives. Which tells me that I need to work on focusing in on what I really want.

All that from water imagery.

And that is the beauty of 'oracle' style practices. You get presented with these deeply meaningful symbols, and see what 'sticks'. These archetypes: the Empress (mother), Water (emotions), Hierophant (hierarchy and 'the Man') etc., are symbols for what's going on in my life and how I feel about myself. It's the semiotics of the self. These supposedly woo-woo practices give me tangible tools to self reflect. 

Often, these oracle practices are presented as traditionally feminine. I try to stay away from 'Essentialist Feminism' (pretty rampant in the Mists of Avalon to be honest), so I'm not going to say that tarot and horoscopes are for women, while psychiatry and other hard sciences are for the dude bros. What I do believe though, is that we're culturally conditioned to view hard science as 'Masculine' and the ideal, and to reject introspection based on feelings and storytelling as being 'Feminine'. So, there's something deliciously transgressive in turning away from the scientific/rational approach when I reflect on my life. When I do a reading and feel that rebellious frissant, I put each tarot card down with glee, silently chanting hey ho hey ho the patriarchy's got to go! It's a rejection of the dominant culture, and more importantly, might one day open the door for me into a land where:

"Instantly she joined hands with two of the Maenades - fierce, madcap girls - who whirled her round in a merry dance and helped her take off some of the unnecessary and uncomfortable clothes that she was wearing... Everyone was awake, everyone was laughing, flutes were playing, cymbals clashing." pg 277

Hopefully I'll see y'all there.

Gear Shifting - Being Honest About the Blog

I was looking through my old posts and found one that made me cringe a bit: Mindfulness Monday in November of 2013. In writing these past couple years, I've realized that a 'how to' tone isn't quite right for A Road of Your Own, not for me and probably not for any of you. There was a forced quality: me trying to be the 'teaching expert'. As a big sister and a generally kind, yet persistent know-it-all, it's an attitude that comes easily. But I'm not an expert on mindfulness or peacefulness. I'm muddling through just like everyone else. I get stressed as f*ck and worried, and eat my way through pints of Ben&Jerry's (WHEN WILL BLUEBELL BE BACK?!). I procrastinate at work and ignore family phone calls and feel like crap while I do it. So why did I think I needed to use that 'I am now giving Advice!' mode? Because I thought that that was what 'real' bloggers did. They say "here's 10 Ways to be a Better Friend", or "5 Strategies towards Peace". I'm sure it gets them a ton of clicks and traffic. But it seems like they're going through the blogging motions without much heart. When I really consider it, the bloggers who impact me the most write about themselves and their own struggles. They don't give tidy tips or list strategies. They say "here's a thing that's happening to me. It's a pain in the ass/it's awesome. Do ya feel me? Let's share together."

I think that's why my 'authenticity' posts always feel strongest, and always get the biggest response. Case in point. These are the posts where I'm actually an expert on what I'm writing about: my own life. I know what I'm going through, experiencing, feeling. I am my own best expert. I sure as hell am not an expert on what I should or ought to be doing, but forget should's and ought to's. I need to be in the now.

derp alert

With that, I'm going to adjust the blog a bit. I'm going to keep moving forward with the "Here's this thing. Ya dig?" format which has resonated so well with myself and all of y'all. I'll still keep the Interviews, and the weekly(ish) link sharing (because I love supporting my ladies), but I'm going to take out the clickbait listicles. Let me know if that's a problem, but I feel like it won't be. I'm really pumped for this change, and excited to see what happens!

much love, ktk

EDIT TO ADD: Whoa. Brain wave. "Authentic Lady Tribe Living". Because that's the best stuff. It's "here's me and this thing." BUT ALSO "and here's how the women in my life are the most rad". Feel pretty awesome about this.

Mid-Year Check In & NYC Photos

Yesterday was the Summer Equinox, and it's got me taking stock of how my life has moved forward this year. When I reviewed my 2014, I noted that this year's theme was "enrich". On the whole, I feel like I've been true to that idea. I've turned and nurtured my soul soil with friends and family, my own internal work, and so much love with my man. We sit and talk for hours about our stressors and relationship, and dreams for the future. It's real, deep and meaningful communication. Our home feels lovely and welcoming; a comfortable place to snuggle down into. He's even helping me learn how to cook! But here's the thing. I still get bogged down in feeling like I haven't accomplished everything that I wanted to by now. Working out, dancing on the regular, writing my novel, sleeping under the stars, gardening.  I've kept putting these things off and off during the past three months. "Oh, I'll start after Randall moves in and get's settled", "...after I get back from my work trip", "...after my ankle feels better", "...after I watch this Netflix episode", "...after I'm back from my vacation." All the while, those intentions are camped out in my brain like big fat pigeons, pecking me with guilt. Procrastination is not a happy campground y'all.

Ought I just strap in, and get it done? Galvanize and go?

But, enriching takes time. Hard pack dirt can take months, years even, to become pliable and healthy soil. I was nowhere near as sealed off as that analogy implies, but it's good to remind myself of the time needed. My 2015 theme wasn't 'action' or 'accomplish', it was 'enrich'. As such, I think I have to give it more time. I can't rush it. I have to dig in with the nutrients and be peaceful with myself. Beautiful things have happened so far, and I know there's more to come.

Anyone else feeling this way about their 2015?

In the meantime though, feel free to check out some of my favorite photos from my trip to NYC to visit my sister - an enriching experience for sure!

Mid-Week Links

Here's what's tickling my fancy on the internet this week! My friend Emma talking about the importance of World MS Day (last Wednesday) and awareness of neurological conditions.

"He know that his “success” does not depend upon whether he lands some job or not. He knows he’ll be a success if he continues to practice kindness and courage wherever and with whomever he finds himself." Momastery  Yes please!

The BBC is making a movie about the Bronte sisters!

Mad Max: Fury Road. So. Much. Love. Something else I love? How much the internet loves it too. Exhibit A: Kiss My Wonder Woman's review "Mad Max: Fury Road is the Feminist Rage Movie we Deserve". Exhibit B: this tumblr

tumblr image with MadMax feminist meme

Friday Quote

“You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn't nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.” -Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

juicy pomegranate with seeds