Comparing Yourself To Others (Or, It’s Funny You Think That I Know What To Say.)

Comparing Yourself To Others (Or, It’s Funny You Think That I Know What To Say.)

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

Recent Question: “Katie, as someone who writes as a profession…do you ever sit down some days and feel like you don’t have anything to say?”

Recent Answer: “LOL. Try almost EVERY WEEK.”


The comparison trap – ie comparing yourself to others – is one I know well. When I’m feeling good, I can look at comparison and self-doubt and see how pointless and counter-productive it is.

But when I’m in it? On my best days, it takes a lot of work to talk myself out of that place of “what do I even have to say.”

On all the other days, I completely check out.

There’s not really a middle ground: I’m either aggressively talking myself out of self-doubt or I’m voting myself off the island by not doing ANYTHING whatsoever. I think maybe it’s because I know how exhausting the pep-talk can be.


Doubt-induced inaction is a frightening place to be. You stop creating, stop participating, stop BE-ing who you are because you look out and don’t know if you really add value to what you see. And that fear isn’t fun, so a lot of times we’ll just decide we don’t want to deal.

The thing with checking out, however, is that our feelings of doubt, envy, and fear are still lighting up a big ol neon NO VACANCY sign in our minds. We might be dissociating mentally…but those doubts and fears are growing like weeds in the meantime. No wonder we feel anxious when we’re triggered and lash out at other or push the blame on something else – those overflowing feelings have to go SOMEWHERE.

For me, this happens when I sit down and think of the MASSIVE PROBLEMS I care about and how the hell I’m going to help fix them…and then for some reason I think it’s a really good idea to just go down a big long rabbit hole and see what everyone else is doing.

You know.

“For inspiration.”

Lol again.

I’ll save you some frustration and let you know that comparing yourself to others and looking to them to inform what you “should” be doing pretty much never works. You either end up feeling like everything has already been done OR start comparing what you do/who you are to everyone else OR maybe on the off-chance you actually get inspired you make like me and tell yourself you’re not allowed to be inspired by someone else’s work because that’s being something that’s way too close to a copycat. Yeah. You read that right. I look at others for inspiration and then talk myself out of it when I actually get inspired.

The thing is, I KNOW I’m not a brain-box of empty thoughts. I KNOW I have something to say…it’s just that my intentions don’t always line up so nicely in sentences. Sometimes I have just the right words…and sometimes, the above box of vintage Scrabble letters is my spirit animal. Somewhere between my brain and my lips (or fingers, if we’re going the writing route), the lines get all crossed and I end up with a bunch of gibberish. Worse than gibberish. What’s worse than gibberish, you ask? Fake wisdom. Fake fake fake. I can feel it in my bones. Nothing sounds right; nothing is what I really mean.

And that…that can SCARE THE F outta me if I let it. Because then I start to doubt I have anything new or interesting to say, and then I start looking at what everyone else is doing, and then I wonder if what we REALLY need is just another essay, just another tip or trick, just another podcast episode.

And that’s when I check out. Except you can’t check out when it’s your job, your calling, your through line to stay in it. So all that happens is that my anxiety mounts and my points of comparison multiply.


What helps me is to identify when I am most likely to get into this shithole of a headspace.

It’s usually when I’m home sick, when I need to take it easy, when I’m bored with the status-quo I’m stuck in…basically, whenever I am NOT acting on my desire, either by choice (laziness) or necessity (circumstance), to do one of three things: move, learn, or create. And when I am not acting on my desire to move, explore, or create, I get out of integrity* with what I say I value or what I know I care about.

(*Integrity, for the record, is different than character or values. Character or values are your ethical/moral code. Integrity is adhering to that code. So if I’m out of integrity with my values, I’m thinking a lot about things like gender equality, reprogramming self talk – i know, ironic – race relations, teaching empathy, etc etc etc, but not DOING anything about them. Doing things like exercising, reading, or journaling help me get back in alignment with who I am and what I stand for.)

That’s not to say a run or watching a documentary or painting a picture (or a table, as I did last weekend) can or will fix everything. But little by little, it can be the start. One walk around the block might not seem like much, but after a few days of walks you might find your mind drifting off into places it hasn’t been in a while. Reading one night a week instead of scrolling through Instagram might not stop the comparison (and oh, does that Insta-comparison sting), but once you get in the groove, it just seems way more interesting to feed your mind than it does to feed your fears.


But also…and here’s where it gets really real…it’s not just when I’m home sick or I’m stuck in a loop of sameness that I doubt my value.

It’s when I find myself trying so hard to explain myself over…and over…and over to those I love most.

That’s when I really want to check out.


And that’s a harder one to admit. Because it can’t be solved by the habit a run every morning or a doodle-in-your-notebook break. Because it doesn’t just make you feel like you have nothing important to say, it makes you feel like the things you DO have to say are wildly inefficient. If I can’t get through to them, then who CAN I reach?

But here’s the thing.

And I want you to read this a few times over and let it sit.


Those are not the people who need to learn the lessons you have to give.


They are here to learn those lessons on their OWN time, from someone ELSE and some OTHER experience. And just because your words aren’t the ones they need DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE NOT IMPORTANT.

Just because your words aren't the ones someone else needs doesn't mean they're not important. Click To Tweet

Someone once told me that public speaking is 10% what you say and 90% how you say it. Just because it’s been said doesn’t mean it’s been said by YOU. That’s how people actually hear things – when they’re being said by someone who makes it “click” for them. You can’t get mad at it, because it was never your lesson to teach those people to begin with. That’s why comparing yourself to others never works – they’re here to teach and learn in ways that are entirely different than your own. We’re all here to learn the exact same lessons, just not at the exact same times. So wouldn’t it make sense that we all have a different way of giving and receiving these universal truths?

Of course you have something to offer. Of course you have something to say. We ALL do. That’s what we’re here for, right? To teach each other and help each other grow. Just the fact that your ideas exist means they’re just as valid as what that best-selling author has to say – just the FACT that your loved ones learn from others MEANS that YOU are here to teach someone ELSE. The comparison traps and the deaf ears – they’re all just distractions that, when flipped on their head, can help you see how strong your voice really is.

So do I ever sit down and feel like I have nothing to say? The answer is: all of the time.

But my logical brain knows I DO have something to say – a lot of somethings, in fact. And if I can just *be* with myself long enough to listen, I’ll eventually start to find the words.



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Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Speak Your Heart: On Vulnerability.

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

I have a friend whose primary language has always been sarcasm. She’s always making a joke of sorts, always deadpanning her way through her day. Yet something has shifted in the last year: where she once would use her wit to mask her emotions, she is now listening more acutely, responding more personally, and opening up to others about how she feels – even if she doesn’t know why she feels the way she does.

What’s pretty incredible to watch is how this has caused a domino effect in her life. The “friendly”-ships she’s had, with me and with others, have started to turn into deep, personal, soul-ie bonds. Negativity doesn’t hijack her conversations anymore. Her sleep has gotten better. She’s mindful of her triggers and has left her “victim” mentality behind. She’s glowing like I’ve never seen her glow.

My friend has always had a bold, infectious personality and has always been one to speak her mind. But as I watch her navigate through her day-to-day interactions with the world around her, I realize what’s different: she is finally speaking her heart, too.


To speak your heart is your right, but also your blessing. We are all blessed with the capacity to feel an entire spectrum of emotions and formulate all kinds of opinions and, moreover, questions, based on those emotions.


So why is it that with this incredible blessing, so often we stay silent?

Why are we so afraid to be ourselves – all of ourselves?


Sometimes we feel so alone in our thought processes that it seems wrong to speak our heart. To “talk deep,” as some call it. There’s this notion that expressing thoughts, feelings, opinions, and questions of an empathetic, introspective nature is embarrassing and makes us vulnerable. And vulnerable, we’ve been taught, is being susceptible to danger; either physical or emotional attack or harm. I just looked it up to be sure – yup, you can thank Merriam-Webster for our warped relationship with the V word.

This perception is left over from our childhood, middle school, and high school years: the perception that speaking our hearts, being authentic and unique, and letting others know how we feel is a sign of weakness and just another chance to be teased or ostracized.

And so we stay silent. Of course we feel alone – we don’t have any proof otherwise.

“Mean Girls” don’t just exist in the 18-and-under set; they follow us throughout our young adulthood and into our lives. ADULT judgement and gossip, we forget, both have the exact same roots as their childhood origin: insecurity, myopia and a strong desire to remain top dog at any cost.

And yet with that desire to Top-Dog’it comes a loneliness; an emptiness, lack of connection, and a distance between the person we project on the outside and the person we are (or long to be) inside. It drives us farther when all we truly want is to get closer. We begin to say we don’t care. We make “Whatever” or “Screw them” or “I don’t give a fuck” the catch phrase that we tell everyone.

But the irony is that we do care. So. Much. In the words of one of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle, “No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck – no woman is that cool – she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up.”

No woman on earth doesn’t give a fuck-she’s just hidden her fire. Likely, it’s burning her up. - @GlennonDoyle Click To Tweet

We all have the capability to become that person. That woman who is burning inside with her hot vulnerability she’s locked up for no one to see. What ensures we don’t is how authentically we let our heart live out in the open…and (and!) with how much compassion we approach those who haven’t quite gotten there yet. Because the more we see others thrive in a space of authentic truth, the safer it can seem to follow suit.

Vulnerability, at its core, is nothing more than honesty. Vulnerable is being truthful; saying I am raw, I am flawed, I am crazed, I am bare, I am on a journey and I am urging you to join me. Yet this idea of vulnerability is so often met with trepidation. Can I be vulnerable? Should I be vulnerable? Doesn’t that mean I’m in harm’s way? Because true vulnerability isn’t just expressing joy or loving feelings. Vulnerability also means looking inside to find the cause instead of looking outside to fix the symptoms. And who knows what causes lurk beneath the surface…

Dr. Seuss got it mostly right when he said “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” I’d like to add: Those who mind – the Mean Girls of our adulthood – probably feel envious that you have the self awareness to be honest. Those who matter will “be who they are and say what they feel” right alongside you. And aren’t THOSE the people we want to be surrounded by anyway? They’re the ones who treat others like equals, the ones who can empathize because they’ve been there too. They’re the ones who can show compassion to anyone, even the Mean Girls, because they know what it is to feel things deeply.

They are the ones who thrive in the space of being…dare I say it…vulnerable.

Vulnerability means looking inside to find the cause instead of outside to fix the symptoms. Click To Tweet

Speak your heart and trust you are far from powerless. You might get a bit bruised, but by being authentic and true-to-you, there is nothing to fear. Because speaking your heart – even if you’re hurting, even if what it’s saying is somewhat unclear – is about Learning, Healing, and Giving. At the root of you and of me there is a pull to do all three. For others, for ourselves, for both at once.

We all have the ability to self-heal, it’s just about accessing that power – and being not only brave enough but self-trusting enough to do so.

We often view vulnerability as the danger from which we need healing. The barrier that prevents us from connecting.

Yet vulnerability and speaking your heart is actually the bridge that forms connection.

It’s the honesty that gives us the power to heal.


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Updos And Down Dogs: On Meeting Yourself.

Updos And Down Dogs: On Meeting Yourself.

Body Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power

“I can’t do that kind of yoga. It’s too slow.

She stared at me with an ice sheet over her eyes, a look that darted back and forth and when it hit me it seared right through and past me. If you do yoga every day, or every week, how is this kind of glare even possible? I thought. I always think this, because honestly, I see it a lot.

I lay on my mat today with my hair pulled up in a tight bun, a hairdo I hadn’t visited in years. I used to pull it up with my bobby pins and my baby hands, freakishly long locks still wet from my quick hop into the shower after my early morning workout before 8am ballet class.

Those tight buns and suffocating leotards killed me. They hugged everything.

We were forced to scrutinizingly stare in the mirror at not only ourselves but others, we were forced to do the same poses over and over and over and over until the combo was second nature.

I could not do most of them.

My legs were too muscular, my arches too low, and my knees ever so slightly bow-legged which is apparently something that could have been fixed when I was a baby but thankfully my parents opted to keep me just the way I uniquely was (I love you, mom and dad!). My lower back hyperextended naturally, which no one told me and no one thought to work with me on, so I was just ordered to tuck my pelvis more and more and more and my insides cried as everything just felt completely stiff and I looked at myself in the mirror next to the flat-chested straight-waisted kid bodies and my overdeveloped womanly self felt even less like a dancer.

And then I got skinnier. And my hair pulled back tighter. And I at least had that, I thought, at least I look the part.

And I felt so alone.


Everyone was extreme and extroverted and childlike in the way an undergrad should be, honestly, and I was so sad I did not fit in. I kept doing the battement tendus to the front, side, and back, over and over and over again.

I became so used to a heavy bias towards routine, no balance. I fell in and out of love with my body by the day, I would eat the same things over and over and do the same workouts over and over and wear the same clothes over and over, and when I fell out of order I would fall into such deep depressions I would close myself off from any sort of interaction with the world and I would just snap.
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Updos And Down Dogs: On Meeting Yourself. Click To Tweet

I know exactly when the turning point happened: it’s after I started doing yoga with mirrors in front of me. These mirrors, they weren’t like the ballet mirrors, forced upon me and picking apart my every move. These mirrors stood there with a smile, completely optionally allowing me to face myself and only myself with no outside dialogue to distinguish right from wrong.

I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s when I started doing yoga that was different each time. It’s when the cueing that was funny and personal if flubbed, sequencing that fit the mood and themes of the day, classes in which I was guided on how to work with my body to find my individuality, not against my body to conform to a molded chorus line of asana.

I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s when my eyes were opened to the fact that everyone’s hip joint moves differently, so not everything is one-alignment-fits all. It’s when teachers were allowed to ramble and quote and use phrasing unique to what resonated with their classes, use sanskrit if they liked (or not), use music if they liked (or not), sing if they liked (or not).

I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s after I was given guidance in kind words, in helping hands, in hundreds and thousands of poses and variations and modifications so I could be okay with both my strengths AND my weaknesses. Because how do we HONESTLY know that feeling of true triumph we can count on if we just homogeneously flow through it all; if we don’t know what it is to have those poses that are unfamiliar or change shape (literally and figuratively) day by day?

I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s after I realized that a lot of the trendy classes being offered were actually an exclusive “in-crowd” who constantly tried to top one another with their impressive balances and their superhuman-like physical practice, a crowd that talked at and not to you, a crowd that left anyone below them in the dust.

It’s after I realized that absolutely NO yoga class is “too slow” if you are not afraid to sit with yourself.

No yoga class is 'too slow' if you are not afraid to sit with yourself. Click To Tweet

I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s after I quit going to places that forced the same sequences over and over and over again, the places I did the same set of poses over and over and over and over again in class. They argued it was a way to build confidence by developing expertise. I will always argue it was a way of developing and breeding addiction in addictive personalities.
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And so of course I understood the ice-sheet eyes. Of course those who are used to the same set of fast-paced frenetic sameness or competition based cliques “don’t like” other kinds of yoga. It’s addiction and fear talking. You genuinely cannot hold onto grudges or contempt when you have chosen to meet yourself.

Even the people who have hurt me, cheated me, taken advantage of me, situations that continue to cause me more stress than I feel I can sometimes deal with…I hold no lasting grudges, because I know that the only one who can keep me in that sameness is myself. I cannot control my circumstances but I sure as hell can control my level of awareness and my actions. Some people and occurrences drive me insane, sure, but I choose to see those instances as small dust speck under the blanket of a good heart or necessary hurdle or underlying loneliness and desperation.


I’ll shoot you straight: If you are resentful and do nothing to change either your exterior or interior, you have not met yourself. If you go back to the same coping mechanisms over and over again with the same results over and over again, you have not met yourself. If you keep opening the same doors over and over and OVER again, there’s a whole untouched hallway ahead of you – and you have not met yourself.

I sat cross-legged at the end of class, my elbows grazing the curves in my torso and my thumbs finding their way to my heart through the sweat and muscle and DD-heaviness of what my sports bra was trying with all its might to hold in place. I felt my arms at my sides, three times the size of my once wispy limbs; my legs muscular and probably even less ballet-friendly than almost a decade prior. I hadn’t felt so hot about myself all week, but I had reminded myself that being highly sensitive and proprioceptive is a good thing; I had not freaked out because I knew this too would pass.

I had trusted myself to not know everything that was coming.

I had trusted myself to learn, to listen, to be affected, I had trusted myself to cry and release when needed. I sat with my legs crossed in my skin-clinging workout clothes, ones that show every curve and every protrusion and every little dimple, I sat there with my hair tied tightly in that little tiny updo, and I trusted with all my might then let it go.

And I sit here now typing with my leggings still on and that bun still sitting atop my head, because I haven’t pulled it out, because it was never too tight in the first place. I sit here knowing my body will go through so many incarnations and I’m going to treat it like it’s royalty no matter what. I sit here thinking about the new quotes that were read, the jokes that were made, the funny analogies and the personalities in the room that were all of different levels and at times all did slightly different things.
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I smile because I have not only a yoga practice on the mat but off the mat as well (life, yo) that strives to be authentic, layer-peeling, free of addiction and crutches and sameness, and I feel as if I am gliding down the hallway, door by door.

And I realize I am free, I am whole, I am love.

And I am not afraid.


I am free, I am whole, I am love. And I am not afraid. Click To Tweet

cover photo by the beautiful caddie hastings

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My Journey, My Self.

My Journey, My Self.

Body Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

It was almost a decade ago but I hear the words like minutes have passed.

Sobbing on a friend’s couch, head buried into his sweatshirt-covered shoulder, after he called me up and told me I needed to take a second look at my life. I cried at the realization, I cried at the acceptance, I cried at the knowingness I’d buried and planted flowers over all along. I wanted to march over then and there, I said, and give an ultimatum.

The shoulder lifted and my friend looked me in the mascara-blurry eyes.

“We romanticize things in our minds. What it will look like, how it will be.

Don’t go over there now. Not like this. Romanticizing the drama always looks better in your head.

Sleep on our couch tonight so you won’t be alone.”

self love

I tell myself stories often, to my benefit and my detriment. It’s a part of me I’ve learned to work with, a part of me that used to take the reins. My storytelling can make proverbial mountains out of proverbial molehills if I let it. It can also make the little moments be the most life-changing. It’s the part of me that used to get high off of fantasizing about the wedding in the ranch, the full-time theatre career, two kids with my exact upbringing. It’s the part of me that now gets high off of small-but-huge risks, the stuff that might not look the most impressive but feels astronomical.

My entire twenties have seen social media morph from a way to connect and reconnect to a way to create and recreate. I’m of the very specific age group targeted in social media’s first boom: college kids in 2004. I can’t speak for my whole age group, but I feel as if we’re even more acutely aware than others of how much or not-much social media is playing a part in someone else’s life (and also more self-aware as to how much it plays in our own). Some older generations are trying to keep up even though they might not really care, and some younger generations have it as a crutch of what they’ve always known even though they might prefer to feign indifference. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum based on how much power we unknowingly give it. Even the nicknames used to describe our internet presence are rooted in our core desires to feel safe, sustained, and of lasting impact: Our feed. Our quilt. Our digital footprint or imprint.
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We’re all guilty, whether we’re posting or commenting. We’re telling stories; stories that sometimes get muddled up with the truths. We project what we want perceived, and we fashion stories out of what we see. Because what social media does is tell a grand story if you let it, a life verified by the scroll of a page and a slew of comments reading “GOALS.”

This isn’t a post about social media, it’s a post about self-love. But I do think social media can be used as a vehicle for discovery, if we choose to see it that way. I do love sosch’, but I’ve found the way I’ve utilized it in the last couple years has greatly shifted from even a couple years back. I find that when it comes to social media, I learn the most about myself now not by posting, but by listening. I find the more I listen, the more I can self-regulate. Am I sharing because I have something to say – or because I feel uncomfortable not being a part of the collective noise? Am I posting because I am what I say – or because I am scared, lonely, or just got into a fight with someone and portraying otherwise helps me fake it till I make it? Do I need a reaction from anyone, or is this truly, honestly, just for myself? Am I opening up because I feel I must to fit in – or because it’s a small overflow of the gargantuan self love I’ve built within?

self love

Going into a new phase in life – a new year, a new job, a new relationship, a new decade – it brings up a lot. How honest have I been with myself along the way, and how have I risen from my own ashes? Have I addressed my underlying imbalances, or have I mistaken band-aids for white blood cells? Am I interested in lasting change, or am I just convincing myself I’m doing something to get there? I’ve never fully understood until now why New Years Resolutions and traditional goal-setting tactics never resonated with me, let alone worked. But I’m starting to think it’s because, deep down, I’ve always known that the mere act of checking something off a list will never get me that feeling I so desire: that feeling of being more full of life than I could possibly imagine.

Danielle LaPorte recently wrote a beautiful piece on self-love, saying that sometimes we “act” like we love ourselves so that we don’t have to change. A harsh reality to face, but one we must nonetheless (I urge you to go and read her words over here, they’re brilliant). Fake self-love can turn into a cop out for truly growing into the person you are meant to be to this world.
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I’d like to add my own spin onto what D said…although it might not be the most flowery thing to read and definitely not the easiest. True self-love can only come when we lean into those areas of ourselves that make us uncomfortable, when we take full responsibility for the problem and full responsibility for the solution.

True self-love can only come when we take full responsibility for the problem + full responsibility for the solution. Click To Tweet

Sure, it’s easier to blame shit on your parents or exes or that punk boy in 7th grade gym class who told you to shave your legs. Sure it’s easier to find someone who will clean up the mess for you so you don’t have to touch the grime: friends, mentors, boyfriends, girlfriends, a book you read over the weekend and can quote ad-nauseum and leave it at that. “They say” that it’s important to spend some time learning who you are in this life. But what if that never happens? What if that time is spent lonely and longing, coming out on the other side no less answer-filled and no more yourself? It’s easier to place blame and agree to solutions someone else has outfitted.

But doing the work of living means doing the WORK. To not is to catch yourself in a booby trap. The bait is there, disguised as aid or sweetness or ease or love. It takes a strong will to resist, because man does it look enticing, and not at all dangerous at that. I used to think that the best things in life SHOULD be the easiest, the most carefree. Signs of struggle or lows were warning signs to get out. And, you know, sometimes they are. But it takes true exploration to be able to distinguish between red flags and the gifts of hard work and that special hybrid of both.

The best things in life, I’ve found, are never really easy. But what they are is right. Like the evening on my friend’s couch when, against my will, I came to the realization I’d been living with my eyes in the future for far too long. How things would be when XYZ happened. Checking off boxes and rushing to fill the next. Reveling in the comfort and ease of the familiar, too scared to venture into the unknown of what it would be like if I spent some time by myself – even though I was altering my needs to fit someone else’s, or altering someone else’s needs to fit my own, even though my belief-set was based in stories.

It was easier to stay where I knew I was loved enough. Because, you know, answers are never guaranteed – and fulfillment is less than a speck on a hazy horizon. Why venture toward something you can barely see?


I’m not of a religion that was brought up with the new testament, nor am I even slightly religious to begin with (spirituality ≠ religion, in my book)But religions are collections of stories, I’ve realized, and boy do I love a good story. One of my favorites…I can’t tell you where this appears or in what context. I can’t tell you the players and I can’t set the scene. But I know the lesson, I know the epiphany, and it’s what I love most. And when it comes to the words, I say it’s not just about the love we give and receive to and from others, it’s about the love we show ourselves.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Sometimes, to protect, trust, and persevere means to forego what is applauded for what is true. Sometimes it means to let go of what is easy for what is right, even if it includes the tears, the loneliness, the confusion, and the doubts; especially if it includes the tears, loneliness, confusion, and doubts. It means going through those moments to realize you wanted the ranch wedding because of the story it told of what was on the outside, not what is on the inside – and the inside is SO much better. It means going big and falling flat on your face, or actually succeeding and having the epiphany that you’ve been tied to a former version of yourself all along.

It means going on a wild, wild ride of brilliant colors and moments all sewn together by a ragged, sturdy, tear-stained thread that makes us whole and creates our real quilt and footprint. It means being brave enough to walk towards the hazy speck, and to unearth what’s underneath the flowers, and to know you are never and will never be alone, no matter what you find.

Sometimes, to protect, trust, and persevere means to forego what is easy for what is right. Click To Tweet

I tell myself stories often, to my benefit and to my detriment. It’s the part of me that gets high off of small-but-huge risks, the stuff that might not look the most impressive but feels astronomical. Resolutions and goal-setting are secondary – always, always secondary to the quest for fulfillment and self-expression. This year, let your lists and checkboxes come to you, magically appearing and checking themselves off along the way. Trust that the journey to self-love will bring you more than you could ever imagine – and the story it tells, I promise, will be a good one.
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Openness: On 29.

Openness: On 29.

Body Community Love Motivation + Inspiration Shift Of Power Work

I’ve always done pretty well with expected change. You know, the kinds of life shifts and milestone moments that are “supposed to happen,” and usually happen to big groups of people at the same time. Elementary to Middle to High school to College, ends of classes or completions of projects and beginnings of new ones.

It’s the more murky, vague change I’ve always been hypersensitive to. The kind of change you don’t know to expect, or the change that’s a slow gradual build instead of hard and fast shift. Mostly, the change that’s in my control. Writing it out, I think it’s more about the fact that I have a choice in the matter that unsettles me; that they’re very well might be a right and wrong and I might have chosen wrong. The fact that I could’ve done things differently, and that the responsibility is all on me.

This week, I celebrated my 29th birthday. So very young in the grand scheme of things – in the words of my friends, still such a baby. And yet this space in time feels so old and young at the same time.

The last few birthdays of mine have felt a touch melancholy. It’s a hard sort of unexpected melancholy to explain, really, as I don’t feel any more impermanent on birthdays that I usually do and certainly don’t feel the least bit sad. It’s not me getting a “sense of my mortality” or “feeling old” – it’s just been a soft nagging in the background that maybe I should be doing things differently, or maybe where I am is not enough. A nagging that decides to show up on this one day of the year, just for me alone.

I’m being honest with myself, it’s probably been rooted in expectation: the expectation that the amount of direction and focus I appear to have on the outside should be matching the amount of direction and focus I feel on the inside. The expectation that with each passing year, I should be older, wiser, more certain. Instead, there’s been an unclear curiosity lingering, a question-marked Ellipses.


This year feels different. We all go through these moments, usually many times in our lives, in which we’re certain that THIS shift is the one that will change everything – only to find out later that all along we really knew nothing. And in this moment, I’m feeling this is one of those shifts.

Each birthday in my adulthood, the feeling of “something more” has loomed over me; faint glimmers of a new chapter showing themselves in those quiet moments when I’ve thought that “something more” could be “something now.” In a sense, I’ve been waiting for a next chapter to begin without even finishing the last.

Today, however, feels like I am reading the final page in the chapter I’ve been reading for so long; finally hitting that half-blank page that signifies it’s time to start a new one.

“Openness” is the word that keeps coming to mind.

I left the gym the morning of my birthday after being showered with such love – more than I could wish for – and almost instantaneously, started to feel that perfunctory, dull melancholy sit in, like sugar crash after too much frosting.

And just as it was beginning to get settled, I shook my head like they do in cartoons when someone “snaps out of it.” What are you doing, Katie? My internal voice said. None of that today. You know better. You don’t need that.

And I smiled and I thought – well that’s never happened on this day before.

Opening to the joy. Opening to what Is. 

Happy birthday to me.

Open to the joy. Open to what Is. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we need those moments of despair. If you know me (and if you’re reading this, you certainly do), you know I’m a fan of that emotional swimming pool. But sometimes we fabricate those moments for ourselves simply because the strong emotional weight feels strangely good resting on our chest. It’s taken me a while to learn this, and even longer to be able to distinguish between true lows and the lows I’m fabricating for myself in order to latch onto something strong. Trial and error and awareness. Over and over and over again. Training myself to be unafraid to dive in and examine the Whys behind each What.

Sure, the day-to-day still affects me on a very deep level. But on this birthday, I feel there’s a sense of what’s bullshit and what’s worth it that I’ve got a handle on now…a sense of how completely stupid and time-wasting some of these micro-worries are.

[Like the fact that I forgot my windscreen for my spin class microphone and my manager reprimanded me and is now disappointed in my lack of professionalism (spoiler to self: she’s not). Like the fact that I didn’t let the guy who was trying to cut me off weasel his way into my lane and he gave me a rude honk and now I’m a horrible person (spoiler to self: I’m not). Like the fact that I don’t fit into those dresses I’ve been hanging onto for a decade now under the assumption I’d fit into them as a not-19 year old and if I didn’t there’d be something wrong with my body (spoiler alert to self: there’s not).]

I am still abnormally sentimental, of course – but there is an openness now to letting go of what no longer serves me. The self-reprimanding. The clothes I haven’t worn. The body hangups. The questioning if everything will all go away. To me – today at least – it all feels so juvenile.

I know I’ll always be nostalgic and I’ll always question if I did the right thing. I’ll always go through waves of feeling great and feeling lousy, because I’m only human, only a set of atoms and chemicals that have their own delicate balance. 
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But the way I’ve attached it all to my ego in the past – THAT’S what feels so stale. None of that’s about me, really. None of that is my character. It’s the role I’ve chosen to play and the script I’ve given myself to read. And none of it is permanently etched into my story.

I am open to the expansive openness ahead of me, even though I haven’t a clue as to what it looks like. That’s part of what makes this birthday different, I think. The lack of expectation and the lack of ellipse’d question marks. Instead, this birthday feels like a string of commas that’s about to begin – a huge run-on sentence ended with an exclamation mark, maybe two, until the next warped sentence structure comes in.

Living in the constant, hesitant question mark has become exhausting. I’m just tired of it. I know what it’s like now, and I’m so happy and grateful for that…

…But oh, am I ready for that big run-on sentence.

I’m ready to say Yes to what the universe throws my way as long as that Yes resonates with my heart. I’m ready to teach and be taught, internalize but watch from the outside too. I’m ready to plow forward into life like one big experiential experiment, because really, why not? I am so confident in what I know but I think I’m even more confident in what I don’t. The pressure I used to feel of needing to inspire or lead has slowly fallen away over the last almost 3(!) decades so much so that now it’s just a few flakes barely on the surface. Trial and error and awareness. Over and over and over again. Training myself to be unafraid to dive in and examine the Whys behind each What.

I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to just Be, and that to just Be Me is more than great. That I can trust what I’ve been given to do its thang while I’m merely its vehicle for transportation. All of this, I’ve happily found, takes away the questions of if I’m choosing wrong, or if I’ve got it together, or if I’m enough or not enough.

What I’ve learned is that there isn’t “enough” or “not-enough.” There’s just the now, the mix of knowing and not knowing, and the choice of how to place that within my ego. Beyond that, it’s only about being open to what is yet to come, and letting my heart turn the page.
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I’m very happy with where and how I am, and that is more than I could ask for. Onward, 29.

I've learned that it's okay for me to just Be, and that to just Be Me is more than great. Click To Tweet

pose: fish pose (my favorite throat/heart opening pose)
photo: corntnee loren brown for the chalkboard mag
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What Teaching Fitness Has Taught Me.

What Teaching Fitness Has Taught Me.

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration

EVERY day, I “brave” the 10 (the freeway or I-10, for those who don’t speak L.A. Transit fluently) heading from the Westside to Downtown Los Angeles. And while I always get met with trembling voices and wide eyes when I casually mention this, I actually love that time in the car. But that’s another post for another day….

I’ve started teaching a new class, one that begins at the bright n’ early hour-ish of 6:30am at Equinox DTLA. Apparently, my first class sold out by noon that previous Thursday. And as I approached the overpass at Crenshaw Blvd the following Friday morning, I let the beachy vibe take a backseat and really sat with this kind of crazy notion from a city girl perspective. I’d never taught there before, nothing more than a one-time sub slot with ten people in the room. I’m going to be transparent here: while I know it’s a popular time slot, I was also receiving comments about how “excited” people were to have me on the schedule there, regardless of time. Which was flattering, but confusing. They don’t even know me, I thought…

The reason I got certified had less to do with a love of RPMs and more to do with a loathing of the classes offered at my then-local 24 Hour Fitness. There’s an audience for everything, sure, but for this here audience – it was horrendous. Like, musical-theatre-dance-remixes horrendous. The sculpt class I attended religiously was no different. Enough house beats to give you a migraine, coupled with coaching that might as well come from the mouth of Small Wonder.

Yet despite uninspired coaching and musical blasphemy, I was there almost every week – along with 50 others. No one particularly loved these classes. But still, they came. And then I’d go to the class of an incredibly talented teacher back at home, or I’d experience a sub who blew me away, and the classes would be empty.

This begs the question: if it’s not the music, not the innovation, not the inspiration, then what is it?

group fitness teaching

 Quick note, I’m not saying those things are not important. Opposite, really. They’re some of the most important factors.

But none of the innovation, inspiration, or ingenuity will even be registered if there is no trust.

I’ve been doing a LOT of creative business research lately, and there is this age-old debate of Content vs. Design as king. The Contenters (as I’ll call them) argue that what hooks an audience is above-average content – what is actually being said or presented. The Designers (as I’ll call them, obviously) argue that what hooks an audience is stellar design – the look of what is being presented. I argue that what hooks an audience – or gets them staying put, actually – is trust. Content and design create value, trust creates dependability.

When you consistently deliver, you create trust.

When your playlist is consistent, you create trust.

When you set the stage and stay true to you, you create trust.

The reason I and so many others kept going to these sub-par classes was not because they were off the charts life-changing, it was that they were reliable. The teachers almost never subbed out. The routines were different enough to keep us from checking out but similar enough to be somewhat familiar. While the music was not preferable, it was predictable. Basically – we knew what we were getting ourselves into. When the act of taking a class is “risky” enough as is (elevated heart rate, getting to a vulnerable emotional state, possibility of a rogue fart), we as teachers must serve as an anchor.

Trust is underrated in business and art. But just like in a relationship – if you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything.

I used to teach at a studio with my friend, let’s call her Long Legs McGee. At this studio, we were required to theme every single class. Each would be different. LLMG knew that in order to hook people and allow them to open their eyes to the passion and professionalism with which she taught, this policy was not going to make her anything but expendable.

And so she found a way to beat the system: every Friday, she picked the same theme and delivered week after week. Hip Hop Friday became the most popular class at the studio, and the attendees became like family. She was always a brilliant teacher, but once hip hop friday became official, LLMG’s classes skyrocketed and stayed there. People knew what to expect. All hip hop, all the time. Questionable language. An outgoing personality. The same tone and vibe every time. A dancing toy snowman in Hammerpants.

I am certainly not the most talented, the most knowledgeable, or the most innovative teacher – and frankly, I love that. I love learning and I love that there is someone for everyone. Not every party is mine to throw, and I celebrate that we are all so very different in our styles and our approach. There are people who love my class, and people who have blocked it from their minds. But the classes that have really worked – the ones in which people not only show up in person but more importantly show up mentally – have always been rooted in trust. We all know what we are getting ourselves into. We depend on it.
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I know what I like. Or at least what I like to play in class. Lots of people love all Top 40 all the time, but if I started playing hit upon hit I’d bet money that people would stop showing up. It’s not that I play one genre all the time – I mix it up, everything from classic rock remixes to hip-hoppy rap. But my through line is that every song evokes a certain feeling, and the 10-12 song compilation takes you on a very specific, very intentional journey. I throw in some Maroon 5 because I love them and some P!nk cause she’s a badass. But my own personal rule is that if it’s being played at the gas station or in a car commercial, it’s not touching my class with a ten foot pole. Does that mean those kinds of songs are crappy choices? Not at all. Different strokes for different folks. If you’re a pop junkie, let it rip! And that doesn’t mean you can’t throw some hip-hop or alternative into the mix, either. That leads me to my next point…

I acknowledge the curve-balls. Class is not a quiz or a practice in reactivity. It’s not my job to surprise my class members or throw them off, it’s their job to take what I’m giving as a guide and use that to surprise themselves in a way that feels authentic to them. Even if I don’t want to give away all my class secrets from the get-go (leave something to the imagination, heyo), I give them an offhand heads up that there will be a curve-ball thrown in. Whether that’s an out-of-character song or a “surprise” breakaway at the end of the hill, I try to let them mentally prepare for something different. Give them armour, give them the reassurance of knowing that you see it too, let them know that no matter what happens, you’ve got their backs. You’re in a secret-free zone.

The easy thing to say is “I don’t sub” – but that’s only step one, and SO not true. Obviously if you’re never there, you can’t build trust. But when I do sub, I sub only when it’s absolutely necessary, and give them heads up as soon as possible. If I have enough advance notice, I announce in my classes, and let them know who the sub will be. Students don’t usually like to see subs (unless it’s a trusted instructor), so put them at ease that they’ll be taken care of, then let them know when you’ll return. Furthermore…
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I celebrate my colleagues. My opinion is that if they see you’re a team, they trust that you’re a team player, not just some rando on a bike on a stage. This is exactly why I created my Woman Against Negative Talk series on WANT and my Yoga Matters and Class In Session fitness profile series’ on The Chalkboard Mag: I LOVE celebrating the people in this industry who are doing something unique and authentic. People who are setting a positive example that goes way beyond marketing or class format or how chiseled their abs are. There are so many teachers I admire for so many different reasons – but at the end of the day, it all comes back to camaraderie and authenticity. And I think class members pick up on that. The more you can show you are a team player, the more they feel as if they are on that team.
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As teachers and as creatives of any kind, we focus so much on the nuance and look. It’s in our blood. We love what makes us feel, we love the intricately woven details. Yet sometimes we get so caught up in them that we forget that any worthwhile relationship is based on trust. It’s based in that inexplicable feeling of safety, the soft-shoe dance between knowing what to expect yet not knowing what that will look or feel like. The unspoken knowing of yes, I am taken care of, yes, I am wanted, yes, this is familiar.

I hope you will trust me.