"Breaking Up is Hard to Do" - Neil Sedaka

The last time I broke up with someone was more than 14 years ago and it still sucked.

Literally, it felt like the breath had been sucked out of me.

I have never been comfortable being the dump-er. Acting on my own behalf for my own best interests, taking my power back, always felt overwhelming and like I was the bad guy. It’s so uncomfortable for me that I have even cried handing in my two weeks notice for jobs I can’t wait to leave. It felt like I was giving up. Could I have done more? Could I have given more? Was I not enough? What could I have done differently because I was feeling like a huge failure.

Knowing that the music industry wasn’t a true fit anymore didn’t make the decision any easier. Being a singer had been part of my identity for so long that ending that part of my life had me in tears - sobs actually. I loved being identified as a professional singer and how that made me feel. Singing on stage felt like the one place where who I am made sense, where I felt I belonged, where I felt safe, and I was reluctant to let that go. If I gave up that part of my life up for good, then who am I? What do I do? How do I express myself? How do I show up in the world?

The realization that it was finally over was staggering and had me reeling for a few weeks. I say finally over because I had been dragging this on for a few years already, almost like a trial separation. In 2016, I announced on social media that I was retiring from being a professional singer. But I still held on, accepting the odd small gig here and there, then setting up an e-commerce page on my website to sell my CD’s, and eventually promoting those CD’s on social media.

Even though I could feel that my path was shifting me away from my old life, I was still trying to fuse the two parts together, but I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile them. Trying to repurpose or revive parts of me that I loved from my past was’t helping me to figure out how to love who I was now.

So I let go.

I removed all of the links and cd pages, and felt relieved. I will always be a singer but it was time to break up with the industry for good. Really, all I want to do is show up and sing, feel good about my singing, and hope that it resonates with others. That’s it. That’s all I want for my singing. Singing is a calling for me and it shaped who I am but it is not who I am.

So who am I? And what do I do now?

Putting pause on my life for a few hours every day , I sat on the couch and got quiet, free from distraction, settling into my body to allow myself to feel everything I was feeling. UGH!!! I wanted to bolt and multi task and distract the hell out of myself, but I had to remember that the gold is in the process not the outcome, and I slowly let those feelings wash over and through me and let them become a beacon for guidance. (Please don’t believe that this was an easy “kumbaya” process - there was a lot of cursing and crying and EFT/tapping involved.)

Sitting there, I felt like I was 19 again, back when my first love broke up with me. I felt discarded, alone, unloveable, untethered, and restless. At that time I didn’t want to sit still, I wanted to escape! Jump on a plane to get away from my real life, lick my wounds, and process in private, away from anyone who knew me. Somewhere where no-one would know me or my story and I got to decide how I wanted to show up every day. Where I could write the next chapter free from concerned looks, questions, and advice about how I should be doing or feeling.

But I didn't.

I chickened out and ignored my gut and kept moving forward instead. I wish I had a present day, older and wiser me in my life back then to shake that girl’s shoulders and tell her to get on a plane and live in Paris for a year. Take the chance to get a new perspective on your life and see how it unfolds for you (uh…us). You have nothing to lose!

This time I wasn’t going to let an opportunity for significant growth and change pass me by. This time I was going to go for it. I was following my gut.

I was taking a sabbatical!

"The truth will set you free...but first it will piss you off." - Gloria Steinem

I got told.

I got tolllllllllllld!

Whooooo wow did I get told!

I got told so badly that I went through the 7 stages of grief (shock & denial, pain & guilt, anger & bargaining, depression, reconstruction, and finally acceptance & hope).

When the Universe has had enough, it’s had enough.

And the Universe had had enough with me.

Enough posturing.

Enough pretending.

Enough putting on a show.

Enough going through the motions.

Enough holding onto parts of myself that didn’t belong anymore.

Enough being in denial about what no longer fits.

Enough that we will burn this facade down to the ground so she HAS to start over.

The Universe was so done with me getting their message wrong, and I was so blithely unaware of just how wrong I was getting it, that it took a metaphoric mine to blow it all up in my face and get my attention because I was badly out of alignment. Sitting in my kitchen one morning last spring, scrolling through my emails and social media, I received a very kind yet with firm boundaries message letting me know that I was using content, that I had paid for, but not for the way in which I was using it.

OH NO!!!!! YIKES!!!!

Oh that felt shitty!!!! So shitty that I had a feeling of dread flow from the top of my head down to my toes. Noooooooo!!! Oh my gawd! What do I do??? How do I make this right???? I don’t know about you, but I take making mistakes HARD! The crazy thing is, making mistakes is how we learn! And, trust me, I got learned.

I immediately removed the content and sent a sincere and honest apology. “My mistake, truly not an intentional misstep. Thank you for letting me know. Won’t happen again!”

Continuing with honesty, because I’m human and inherently flawed, I’ll admit that I did take it personally at first. “I am a good person who made a mistake, thank you very much!” (Insert huffy voice here). Though deep down I knew that it wasn’t personal at all, that was just my ego lashing out, licking her wounds, and having a pity party. The email message was in the right, I was in the wrong, and now I can look back and say thank you to that person for standing firm in their boundaries. Really! I am so grateful because I had to take stock of what I was currently doing and what my options might be moving forward.

“So what do I do now?” Again with the doing Katrein????? Sigh…

“Maybe I could look into paying an extra fee to keep using the content, or a new contract, or even create new content!”

“Did I even want to?”

Whaaaattttt????????

As soon as that thought came into my consciousness I gasped out loud, because this part of me used to be my whole identity once and had significant meaning for me.

Whooo hooo hooo hoooooooooooooo! WOW!


If what I was doing didn’t have meaning anymore, not even enough for me to want to spend the time, energy, or the money to tend to it and keep it going, then - what? Was it time to let go and drop it for good?

WOW! Oh wow….

Huh.

You see, It didn’t matter WHAT I was doing, the WHY of it mattered and all of my doing for the past three months had nothing to do with the why the Universe had asked me to focus on - building up my inner confidence as a whole and not using the small parts of me that felt confident as crutch. Stubbornly, I had been dredging up pieces of my past and old parts of myself that had made me feel confident before, because I missed how confident I used to feel, even though I can look back at it now and see that maybe it was more bravado than confidence. At the heart of the matter I was scared to start over and the Universe knew that and told me in its infinite wisdom that being scared is no longer an excuse and I was no longer allowed to go down this road anymore.

Well shit.

You know that moment when you realize that what you believed to be true was no longer true and because you are now aware of it you can’t pretend anymore? I’ve had that with past relationships before - that moment when you realize this is just not working and we need to break up.

Yup.

It was time for me to break up with the music industry, for good.

Sometimes the Universe can be an Asshole

Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes the Universe just wants to face palm as a result of your actions?

I do, and I wonder just how frustrating I must be for the elements trying to work for my greater good. I mean, they had the grace and wisdom to share a very clear message with me, and yet somehow I managed to turn it into a cosmic game of telephone, because what I was doing was not what they told me.

Now, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, I am stubborn. Hell, even my own coach told me I am the rebel archetype as in I won’t follow blindly. If it doesn’t make sense for me I won’t do it, or I have to make it my own. But sometimes as a result of my stubbornness I will create a smoke show, a Wizard of Oz “don’t look behind the curtain” situation, and end up fooling myself in the process. Going through the motions with lots of action for distraction purposes but not getting to the real work.

After coming home from Paris with this new revelation, and after I got over myself and the disappointment of not getting what I had hoped for, I took some time to figure out how I was going to do this.

This is where I went wrong.

The “how” is none of my business. (I’ll come back to this again later, sometime, promise) The kicker is I know this. I KNOW THIS! But I keep forgetting that the only thing that is my business is the WHY - and I had my why!!! To be confident in who I truly and wholly am, in every part, faults and all. My ONLY job was to focus on my why and listen to my gut for guidance.

But after so many years of needing to be right instead of paying attention to what is true for me - being told the brain rules over intuition because logic & reason, I can lovingly look back at the me in January and think “oh bless her heart.” Instead of listening, I became determined to treat this like another “to do” in order to get to the good stuff.

NEWS FLASH: the process is the good stuff even though it feels nothing like that in the moment.

In January, I stood in front of the fabulous souls at Achievement Club (you can check it out here). and declared how I was going to create a Paris Inspired Life and show up as my authentic self on social media. Stretching out of my comfort zone to be “seen” again. I had my little speech which I delivered with flair and sass and I felt really proud of myself. “Yes”, I thought indulgently as I mentally patted myself on the back, “I’ve got this and I am going to rock at this because I am fabulous, and I love myself, and I am going to let myself shine again."

Smoke and mirrors ladies and gentlemen, smoke and mirrors.

Oh sure, my Instagram looked slick and pleasing to the eye as I celebrated the things that brought me joy. I even started to sing on my Instagram live feed. I felt great! “Yes! Here I am, doing the work! Look at how I am stretching my comfort zone. Yay me!”

This is where the Universe can be an asshole.

And I get it. I get it! I brought this on myself and I can chuckle about it now but when I “get told”, my first reaction is not “Thank you!”, even though I am doing the work to hopefully reach this level of grace and self awareness and have it be my go-to reaction one day. Nope, my authentic reaction is usually an indignant inhale with an “asshole” on the exhale.

Instead of gently, but firmly, intervening again, the Universe decided to grab some popcorn, sit back, and watch the show, thinking “this will be fun”, laughing occasionally (but mostly in frustration while shaking its head). Until eventually, after three months of watching me going through the motions of instead of doing the real work, the Universe finally had enough and said,

“Here, hold my drink. Watch this.”

"We'll Always Have Paris" - Casablanca

 

A year ago I was in Paris, hoping to reconnect with a part of myself that has been missing for too long. Since 2014, I have been struggling to find my purpose. Looking for inspiration but finding lots of false starts. I feel like my truest self in Paris and I thought, surely, I will find the answer there! The last time I was in Paris I had such a startling revelation and up-leveling I was certain it would happen again.

Strolling through the city, I revisited familiar places and discovered new favourites all the while being open to receive anything that Paris was ready to share. I should have known better than to place expectations on a place such as Paris. Paris knows who she is and will not be dictated to. She is willing to share her magic but she has boundaries and owes us nothing. Paris will give you the experience you need, not necessarily the one you expect.

Oh I found an answer all right, but not one that I was ready to hear:

You have small pockets of yourself where you are truly confident. And you try to focus only on those areas, ignoring the parts of you that need your care and attention. Until you do the work to feel confident in who you truly and wholly are, faults and all, we’re not sending you the big picture.

SERIOUSLY?!?!?

I felt cheated and pissed off! “I’m doing the work!”, I yelled in my head. “How dare you call me out like this! How am I supposed to motivate myself to allow change and growth when I have no clear picture of the end game?1?!?!?”

Faith, Love, Trust

That’s how.

When my gut starts telling me to get back to my blog, then starts screaming at me, and then starts messing with my sleep, all I can say is, "I have no idea why I am supposed to do this, but I gotta”. And once I do, at some point, the next step will be revealed. And it will! Since last November, every time I have made the choice to do what my gut tells me, every time I navigate through the discomfort of growth and the grief of releasing, the next step always comes. BUT it RARELY makes sense and I have NO IDEA WHAT IT”S FOR!!

Sigh… as a recovering control freak, this drives me bat shit crazy on a daily basis.

So at the request of my gut, I’ll be blogging about this new scenic route with no clear destination. How things have unfolded for me and are changing for my greater good in ways that make me want to say “I don’t wanna, but I gotta, and I don’t know why”. And when people ask me (and they have asked me) “What’s all this for?” all I can say is “I don’t know, but at some point I will”. Faith. Love. Trust.

The Universe is calling the shots and I’m just along for the ride.

Have I moved on from waxing lyrical about Paris? Never! I’ll always have Paris because she gets me in a way no other city has before. (Until now, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Next time… just when my stubborn ass started to think “I’ve got this”, the Universe throws me a curve ball.

 

My word for 2018

 
Paris is where you find yourself
— c.a.james (The Paris Darling)

Have you ever read The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte? It's a wonderful book/workbook that helped me understand that the way I want to feel is where to put my focus, instead of focusing on what I want to have or achieve.

If you're not familiar with the book, it asks the reader to explore the different areas of their life and identify how they want to feel. At the end of the process they will have 5 or 6 core desired feelings. Have you ever made a decision from a place of how you want to feel versus what you want to have or be? It's really insightful and even more helpful if you have already felt what you want to feel.

Unfortunately I have a hard time keeping track of that many core desired feelings - I end up forgetting half, or most, of them. To make things easier I chose one word, Paris, and lucky for me I already know how that feels.

 
A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life
— Thomas Jefferson
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Last November, I visited Paris for the third time (my last trip was 16 years ago - too long!) and I was reminded of the magic I feel - how magical I feel - when I am in Paris.

But, to be truthful, my first day in Paris felt like I was just in another city and I was worried that I had romanticized my last experience in Paris. Fortunately I realized that I was bringing who I was at home to Paris. I needed to let go, which meant surrendering to what I was actually feeling and let it come out. What came out was a lot of confusion, hurt and crying and after a couple days of tears and emotions, I was woken up at 4:00 am with this message from somewhere deep inside of me:

 

"I don't owe anyone - anything."

 

For a recovering people-pleaser this is scary and radical and my first thought was "Oh jeez, what are people going to think about that????"

But it wasn't surprising, or the first time, that Paris challenged me to raise my standards in the way I want to feel and how I want to be treated. After that morning, I started to have glimpses of how I really wanted to feel and the magic I had previously experienced in Paris returned.

 

Composed, self assured (confident in my own abilities and character), celebration (for who I am, my choices, and accomplishments - no matter how small), enjoyment, fun, pleasure, surrounded by beautiful things, living with a sense of occasion and style, elegance, manners, being present, slowing down, ease, abundance, and knowing that the universe is working for me.
 


I ended the trip knowing I had to figure out how to experience these feelings at home. The first step was believing it was possible without having to move to Paris in order to feel this way. 
 


Paris is my word for 2018 - my touchstone.

My reminder of how I want to feel.

 

Why the Scenic Route Life?

 

"If I keep going like this I am going to burnout. "

About a year ago I started a new business venture, but I wasn't feeling joy or pleasure. Instead I was feeling stress and pressure and that what I was doing wasn't enough. 

"I need more time, if I could just..."

If I could just. Those words were a signal that what I was doing wasn't working for me. Those words were an indication that what I was doing for my business wasn't in alignment with my life, with who I am. I was doing everything that the successful business coaches were telling me to do but nothing felt right. Everything felt like a fight - a struggle. I must be doing something wrong.

But there was nothing wrong with me. I was just making the wrong choices and not listening to my intuition, my inner voice. My body knew the answer but my brain wasn't paying attention.

Having enough of being ignored, my body woke up in the middle of the night in order to be heard, to write my truth. 



I can't do this anymore. I do not need to constantly set goals in order to be a "success". Success, for me, is time and breathing space. Joy and fulfillment. Feeling safe to express my truth. Celebration and enjoyment of my efforts. Free of stress and pressure.

The ones who go, go, go exhaust me. I am happy for their success but if I use their methodology I end up feeling like I am not enough and not doing enough. The Type A coaches that I follow and respect encourage me to go hard, crush my goals, push through the fear, don't lose momentum.

I thought I was a type A because I am good at working hard and being productive and they are so inspirational and I wanted to soak up their magic. But I am not like them. It's not who I am.

I am a scenic route kind of gal. I like taking my time, enjoying the view, making pit stops, savouring the journey, following my curiosity, rolling down the windows and breathing deeply. On the scenic route, I am grateful.

The fast lane, or freeway, makes me impatient, frustrated, angry, and nothing ever ends up feeling good enough. Go, go, faster, faster, get to the destination, keep your head down and ignore the distractions. Keep the eye on the prize. Hustle, crush, slay, nail it!

Ugggghhhhh! I crave 3 hour lunches and to end the work day when I say it's done. I want to create space for enjoyment and pleasure without the judgement of "must be nice". Sovereign boundaries and no more people pleasing. When I am sitting, not looking productive, please do not ask me what is next. Leave me alone. Let me be.
 

I didn't heed my inner voice because I didn't trust myself and I didn't know anyone who was successfully living a scenic route life.  I did end up eventually burning out and it took me a few months of doing as little as possible to recover.

A year later and here I am, once again, starting something new. Smarter and more aware this time. Following my intuition and making choices that align with my desire for a scenic route life. It will be a process of trial and error, of curiosity and discovery, and I am looking forward to the journey. It might take me longer, but I will reach my destination, in my good time.

 

Katrein