J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 67.
K: Strategies are awesome, but if we're relying on the strategy to ‘fix us’, quote-unquote, we're constantly looking outside of ourselves. But when we realize that it's actually us within us and then it's just a daily showing up. And then when we get that it's us, that is our own solution, yeah, we can use strategies, we can use things, but they're tools that we get to use.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Hey there, my friends, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women. I'm Dr. Jen Riday, woman's happiness expert, and I am so glad you're here. So this week, Time Mastery for Women, my online time management course, is open for enrollment. This is essentially a collection of everything I've learned about managing my life and time so that I have time for myself and my passions and living my purpose, which is helping women like you to do the same thing; it's shift out of that place of burnout and to live in alignment and to find and live your purpose. So if you would like to learn more, simply go to timemasteryforwomen.com; enrollment closes Friday, the… June 23rd and it won't open again until the fall. So, again, that's at timemasteryforwomen.com. On our last episode, I spoke with Sandra Bernstein and Wendy Rappaport all about their 40-year friendship. If you want to learn more about the art of friendship, then you need to listen to that episode. Today, I'll be talking with Kate O'Brien. She's a transformational leadership coach who lives in Bali; isn't that so cool? And she tells her story of growing up in a toxic environment and completely changing her life and learning to exercise self-love and self-compassion. And it's an important message for all women because we all can work a little bit on loving ourselves more. So let's go ahead and dive into this episode.
I'm talking with Kate O'Brien today and she's a visionary and global voice for bold leadership transformation, playing a big and living from truth. Together with her husband, Henare, they hold the space of Australasia’s number one transformational leadership couple and produced the world's biggest personal development summit, collaborating annually with over 100 of the greatest thought leaders of our generation; Jack Canfield, Gregg Braden, T Harv Eker, Brendan Bouchard, Marci Shimoff and more. I could go on and on, but they're great; wow, that's impressive. Well, so Kate and her husband live in the coolest place ever, and that's in Bali, with their 2 kids. So welcome to the show, Kate.
K: Thanks so much for having me, Jen.
J: Yeah, I'm excited you're here. And tell us your favorite quote and then we'll talk about your low point.
K: (Laughs). Oh, it's my own quote, it's just this, “One day, we're going to be dead. The rest is a game so we may as well just play it; enjoy it?
J: So how have you applied that one in your life?
K: Off and on as well I would say. You know, it's… I think, for me, that's an inspirational reminder because I get lost. I forget about it. I get significant about s*** that doesn't matter and then I remember, “Ah, it doesn't matter!” you know?
K: And… and I'm constantly on a daily basis, like every other human being, popping in and out of that, but that there is just from my reminder. In fact, I was lying in people with my hubby last night and we were just like really going into a conversation around, “We're just here lying in a bed looking in each other. Nothing else at the moment actually exists.”
K: “And there is life, you know, like right now, you and I are talking.”
K: “I'm just here.” And… but most, like 99.99% of my life, I'm in my head of, “What happened 5 minutes ago? This interview, what I'm going to do after the interview?”
K: And we just get so bloody significant with a whole lot. So, yeah, a reminder that, you know, one day… I mean, who knows, 100 years’ time, maybe this whole planet’s gone.
J: Right, right, maybe we're all going to be dead. (Laughs)
K: We just don't know.
J: Yeah, right.
K: And, you know, this 80 years touchwood we get, you know, blessed with 80, 90 years, but we're really just like… this is just like a 4-dimensional reality; we just get to play.
J: Mm-hmm, exactly. And do you find you're happier when you're living in the moment like that?
K: Oh, 100%, 100%.
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
K: The biggest shift I’m making it… at the moment is the shift sort of from enduring to enjoying.
J: Ah, yeah! (Laughs)
K: And, you know, my sort of like default makeup has been, “I’ll get it done. It's all up to me. I can make it work.” And it's kind of like a real push survival sort of instinct in there, whereas now, I'm sort of really looking at, “Well, what does it actually look like to not come from this space? And what does it look like to actually just enjoy the moments?” like, “Hey, I'm sitting here talking to Jen, this is fun.”
J: Yeah, yeah, this is. (Laughs)
K: And then… you know, and then later on doing something else that's fun; like just really the enjoyment of things.
J: Yeah. Well, I have to talk a little bit about where you live because everyone who ready ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert knows she went to Bali; the third thing she did in the book. And you live there, so tell us where you were born and how you made your way to Bali, and also how you became this transformational leadership couple. I mean, that's all pretty huge and amazing.
K: Yeah, absolutely; given that we were the toxic couple.
J: Oh, really? (Laughs)
K: Yeah. So I mean, we both grew up in New Zealand and we grew up just actually down the road from each other and never met until I was in my mid-20s…
K: … or early 20s. And we had a similar upbringing in a lot of ways; a lot of violence, a lot of alcoholism in our families. It's a real set up in our early years to be a real reaction to people in reaction to life. I grew up with the conversation, “I'll never let a man treat me like that,” and guess what? He grew up with a mirroring story, “I will never let a woman treat me like that again,” because his mother…
J: (Gasps) Ooh! (Laughs)
K: And so, thankfully, the universe works that just banged into each other randomly only one day. And…
J: (Laughs). I love it!
K: Yeah, and it's funny because we're so… we've been so magnetic for each other.
K: You know, and 10 years later… sorry, well, actually 14 years later (10 years of marriage), we still are, but at least now in a healthy way, whereas we've had so many years of having to really unpack our stories and not be such a train crash together. So, you know, our earlier life was really hard. I had anorexia, I had a drug addiction, I had depression. He had an eating disorder and depression. And, you know, it was around that time we actually met.
K: So to individually grow and shift our stories and like constantly go to the depths and shifter… (unclear) [06:36] shifter, do it individually, but also a couple as… has been one hell of a ride. And I'm really proud of what we've created, you know? Now, ugh, look, it's different; it’s lifetimes away from where we were. But I think, for me, it just goes to show like what is actually possible for humanity, what's possible for each of us. And sometimes we can easily write ourselves off, we can write each other off by what we're seeing, showing up at the moment, not realizing that we've actually got a huge capacity for change and huge capacity for love and huge capacity to evolve.
J: Mm-hmm. Well, take us a little more into that nitty-gritty of your real low points. And I know people are dying to know, how do you see what's there and shift it like you repeat it? How do you do that?
K: Yeah, look, I made it sound so easy.
K: The reality is, this was… I'm 35 now, my last low point was 22.
K: So, you know, that's taken all of that time.
K: And so, you know, often when people are doing so like work on themselves for 6 months and they say, “I'm so frustrated I'm not there.”
“Yeah, you're joking me”
“Of course not!” You know, this is like, we're alive for 80 years for a reason.
K: Because we come here with lessons that it takes often all of that time to learn some of the core ones.
K: So, you know, for me, that really, really getting to a point where it was like no deal, was total rock bottom on the floor and my bedroom; unable to stand up, unable to walk, unable to speak. That night, I thought I was going to die. And, you know, being faced with my own mortality, I really got present to like, “What the hell am I doing?” And, you know, it was interesting at that point, I just… something else came through it. It was like, “Wow, you really could do anything with your life. If you get through this night, you can do anything with your life.” And it was like a little door was; it was actually quite a big door then. But I think that's the thing is, sometimes also when people hear stories like that, they think, “Wow. Well, I haven't had such a rock bottom so I don't have anything to pull me out of whatever space I'm in.” But I think the thing is, we're getting little doors all the time, we're getting little openings, but we have to step through it. See, it took my courage to keep stepping through that door on a moment-to-moment basis for the following 5 years after that.
K: To keep choosing something new. That gave me a one then and sure, I took it up, but, you know, it's been on a daily basis. And I think the thing is, yeah, my life's extraordinary now and also, I think my biggest thing I've learned is that, it's okay to feel like a total human being while you're also being extraordinary.
J: Ooh, yeah. So do you have moments where you kind of feel like you regress or you have mini rock bottoms and you pull yourself right back out of those as well?
K: Yes, but I wouldn't feel like I ever regress.
J: Oh, okay. You're just learning.
K: My experience isn't that… yeah, my experiences like, I'll just get stuck in something or, you know, “This week, what have I been facing this…” Like, so really like what I'm really going through at the moment is, I'm really shifting one of the… just the most core pillar of, “Life is hard.”
K: Now, though when I say that, like life is actually really easy and great, you know? We have… we’ve got a full-time employee team. I've… we've got 9 team members. Like, life is really quite easy, but this the sort of sense underneath that there's still like a push; does it make sense?
K: Like, I have to kind of grab. And I've just been really noticing in the last couple of weeks like really where that's showing up. And up until a couple of weeks ago, I hadn’t even seen these finer elements. And now that I've seen it, I'm seeing it everywhere.
K: I'm like, “Ah!” So when I said earlier like making this shift from enduring to enjoying…
K: … I'm really starting to see it. And it's kind of like almost like the central pillar that's almost like held up my identity and held up my world, which I would call ‘doing it hard’.
K: And I had to do that as a kid to survive, and I had to do that in the environment I grew up. And I'm taking that pillar out, but these only 2 other pillars left and I'm kind of feeling a little bit wobbly with it, right?
K: So there are parts of me that want to keep me safe to kind of keep going and grabbing that pillar and putting it back in place.
K: So that's really my experience at the moment is just on a moment-to-moment daily basis, just like, “What would it be like to enjoy rather than push in this moment?” And I also get… and this is what I want everyone to hear is that, when we go through changes, whether they're more surface level changes (which is what a lot of people do) or whether they'll really cool identity people shifts (which is what I'm interested in doing with myself in facilitating in others), is that, in that process, we also have to allow space for the wobbles of these changes. And just like the weirdness is like literally how we are and how we see the world is starting to alter. And I think what of… what happens a lot of the timers during that wobbly weird period (which is what I'm experiencing now) is that, people will go back to what they know because this part feels… and knowing this part feels then unsafe. And so let's go back to safety, even though it doesn't fully work,
J: Yeah, that makes sense. Well..
K: Sorry, I'm just going to trick jump this one thing in. So that's why when I say like, just being really okay with feeling human is, I think, the biggest part of it. So it means we can just ride out all of the feelings that come with being human while we just keep growing, expanding, and remembering to enjoy life.
J: Yeah. Well, so obviously, we've made a lot of growth and transformation, tell us more about the practices you use in your daily life, maybe your routines, morning routine or other things that help you to shift the most fluidly and easily. And, you know, 14 years…
J: 14 years is still a long time to make that amount of change in your life, so I'm impressed.
J: And we'd love to hear kind of how you've done that.
K: Yeah, definitely. Unlike… so I want to talk on 2 things; 1 on sort of like an environmental, easy sort of like basic level.
K: And then I want to sort of just drop down a level. So on a basic level, here's the things that really support me, and they are ridiculously simple. It's things like water…
K: … rest, movement, and a bit of space.
K: And those are the 4 things that, if I'm not effective, I'm dehydrated, lack of sleep, I've been congested because I've been around too many people and I've been sitting in my office chair all day, I just feel… I feel like bunged up or constipated in my energy.
K: And so, you know, like nothing like really great creative and juicy can really flow from there and often I can't lean see stuff. And I think that's the same as all of us. And sometimes, it's as simple as, “Alright, what do I need to do to put some basic things back in place?”
K: So then on, a… some things that we really do is, so once a month, I go away for 4 nights on my own to a hotel, and I call it ‘Kate's cave’. And it's, I just go and cave myself in for 4 days.
K: And I just choose some beautiful hotel, close the curtains, and I just really sleep and read and eat for 4 days, and I come back so charged from there; it's lovely.
J: Oh, that's brilliant. (Laughs)
K: Oh, it's so good. It's non-negotiable; totally non-negotiable.
J: How long have you been doing that?
K: Hmm, for about a year or 2, but the… you know, in the first year was probably a little bit ad hoc and a little bit negotiable. So something would come up with the kids and I would cancel myself.
K: Something would come up in the business and I'd cancel on myself. But, you know, in recent times, it's just as non-negotiable. It's like, “If I care about my kids, I'll get myself out of here and fill my tank up.”
K: It's more like that now. So one of the other things we do on a regular basis is have conscious time away from each other within a couple, you know, in their relationship. So, for example, this week we… Henare was away, and 2 nights ago, we got back together, which was just wonderful, you know? I can see him fresh again.
K: And it's interesting, in that separation time, I get to appreciate him, I get to learn and grow on my own as a human being; which I think doesn't always happen as much as we're fully in each other's faces the whole time. And then he gets it grow as a separate human being, and when we come back together, we've got new growth, new eyes and energy to infuse back into our relationship; which is why, you know, after 14 years of being together, we're still… we still have a freshness, which I think a lot of people missing because they're not putting certain things in place. So there's one of the things I find really helpful. But then on another level, just like day to day basis, really being able to just have, I would say, 1, awareness for what I'm experiencing…
K: And 2, compassion for what I'm experiencing.
K: And what I mean by that is, let's say I'm triggered by something or if I'm getting pissed off, you know, (I’ve got a teenage daughter, this does happen at times).
K: It’s awesome, but that's just what happens; 14-year-old daughters and their moms.
J: I laugh because I…
J: … have a 16 year old son; I totally get it. (Laughs)
K: Yeah, yeah. And just to really understand and just be with for myself, whatever’s coming up. So, you know, just recently, we had… I think about a month, it was just really tender and she felt like an exposed nerve.
K: And the first couple of weeks, I felt like it could be really with it, and then week 3, I was… my new felt really exposed. (Laughs)
J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
K: And to be able to be with that and to be okay with that and also to have compassion for that, I think is something that I've come to. Because I think a lot of times in the world, we're trying to get rid of the things that don't feel good.
K: And particularly in this whole personal developments case as well, I've been through a lot of that myself as a coach with, for many years in the early years with coaching or with the stuff I put out on Facebook, you know, like getting to a point like, “Wait, you know, how can we make ourselves feel happy? How can we eliminate the anger?” You know, that's really kind of the space that I was looking at years ago.
K: And really now, the space I’m more in is actually reminding people that it's okay to be human.
K: It's okay to have all of these experiences, and it has absolutely zero reflection on how amazing you are or what you're up to in the world, and it has zero… it had zero reflection on anything. And when we can be okay with that and when we can choose those moments, just the resistance drops and we can have compassion for ourselves and we can usually shift out of it way more faster, get the lessons that are showing up, and divert that energy into other things rather than resistance.
K: But I think what's happening in the world often is that we're trying to like get… to get away from it. Like, “How do… oh, s***, I'm angry in the moment, how do I eliminate it? What are the 5 steps to moving out of anger?”
J: Ah, okay.
K: You know?
J: Yeah! I kind of like it; it sounds liberating.
J: I think you guys have gotten that message sooner. I mean, it's not quite in the US yet to a full extent, but I… it needs to come. (Laughs)
J: Well, so do you do meditation?
K: I would say not really. I like to think that I try at times, but not really.
J: (Laughs). Okay.
K: (Laughs). Ah, yeah.
J: And then you mentioned that you and Henare, you're a magnetic couple, what do you mean by that?
K: Yeah. I remember the time that I first saw him, he stood out.
K: You know, I just remember seeing him and he looked like he was 3-dimensional to the rest of the environment.
K: And it was interesting because he often tells a story. He said when he remembers when I turned around, it was like I was turning around a slow motion; a little bit cheesy, but he said it was like time kind of slowed down a little bit when I was turning around.
K: And he said, it's just out of any woman, he said it I really stood out and he, with… I felt like that ever since. You know, 14 years later, he walks into the room and I still get a lovely feeling on the inside.
J: Oh, that's great, that's great.
K: Yeah, yeah.
J: Well, let's take a break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk about how you're living a vibrant and happy life today.
(Interview resumes) [:]
J: Let's talk about the things that are exciting you in your life today; how you're living a vibrant and happy life.
K: Ooh! At the moment, actually, just today, we decided just recently, we're going to be putting on a huge big event in Bali. We did one last year, it was 5 days, and so we've just decided to put it on again. And as of right today, we're just about to announce, after I get off this call, about a scholarship, leadership scholarships. So we’re giving away a huge big scholarship for people to come to Bali and it's really fun. And I think what I like about the events that we're doing is that they're not your typical personal development events, they're not… people come and people have done all sorts of personal development, they've done personal development for years, they are self-proclaimed ‘I've done it all’ and they say it's like nothing else it's out there. So when we're in a room with people, we will literally go wherever is needed to help people crack open the parts of themselves that they're holding back. So it could be anything from martial arts and boxing.
J: (Laughs). Great.
K: We had a lady last year in the event who her son had drowned a couple of years beforehand and she had been just really holding it together ever since.
K: There was only so much talking that she needed. Like, him… when my husband went off into the backroom, grabbed some boxing gloves, brought them out and got… told her to to put them on, and for 5 minutes, she beat him up.
K: And don't worry, he's a martial artist, he could… he knew how to avoid and not get hit in the head. But, you know, he just said to her… and he was goading her the whole time. So it was pretty emotional actually.
K: So from there to naked workshops, which I facilitate in the space, depending if women ask, sometimes we can get so beloved and the experience of actually getting naked around others in a safe space is both terrifying and liberating. And it is not about the clothes and it's not about the body, it's about everything else that you're stripping back. So, yeah, when I say we'll go anywhere, we'll go anywhere. And that excites me; excites me, the potential there.
J: And if people want to learn more, where could they find you?
K: Yeah, social media, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. I put out really big videos on a weekly basis. So they may go to YouTube at Kate Maree (that's M a r e e) O'Brian. And actually, the other thing I'm interested in is, I've got coming up a series of mini films that are coming out; I think that's part of my favorite thing.
K: So we've just filmed a video the other day called ‘The Decisions We Make’, and it's a hard-hitting little number, but it's got a really beautiful ending to it. So definitely recommend going over to my YouTube channel so you can catch up with the regular mini short films; they all have powerful messages.
J: Awesome, great. Well, let's talk about a few of your favorite things; a favorite habit that has contributed to your success.
K: Connecting into myself, yeah.
J: Okay. How do you do that? (Laughs)
K: Yeah, writing. So I think writing is definitely one of my…
K: … big avenues. Sitting down with a really good cup of tea and writing.
J: Okay. And your favorite easy meal.
K: Ah, smoothies.
J: Mm, yeah.
K: Protein powder, make a powder, chia seeds.
J: Okay. And then favorite kitchen gadget.
K: My blender.
J: Oh, right, that makes sense. Favorite book.
K: Oh, what is it called? Sorry, it's going for my mind. ‘Spiritual Partnership’, Gary Zukav.
J: Okay. And the best advice you've ever received.
K: Be yourself.
J: Nice! You keep it really simple; it's so liberating and refreshing, good. And then… well, let me remind our listeners they can find links to everything you've talked about, including your book and the video you talked about, your social media, on our show notes page at jenriday.com/67. And then let's talk about your happiness formula and a challenge for our listeners before we say our goodbyes. So if you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of things that maximize your happiness, what would that include?
K: Mm-hmm. Passion plus truth…
K: … plus commitment.
J: Okay, good. What do you say to women who say, “I want to live my purpose, but I don't know what my purpose is,”? What's your answer to that one?
K: Yeah. I think sometimes, we're so caught up and we have to have this big highfalutin purpose and we go from sitting here going, “Oh, I'm a mom. I'm sort of doing things that don't fulfill me,” to, “I have to find the big thing that I'm here for!” I just…
K: Like in that, and it isn’t, that literally can just close off our creativity. What I would say is, go find the things that you enjoy doing and start also (Drumroll sound), drumroll, get into doing things that you enjoy doing.
K: And if you are a mom… or, you know, sometimes we've gotten used to putting everyone else first that you have to start with the basics, which is actually start doing s*** you love. And if you can't, if you don't even know what you love, then that's the issue.
K: Just start. Do things that feel good; just start. And I think, here's the thing is that… so, for example, if you feel like, “Oh my gosh, I've always loved to go dancing,” start going to dancing. Because here's the thing, when you're at dancing, you might meet someone that then opens a door that leads you to another door that leads you to another door. So it's just about getting back into life, and I think a lot of times, people are… are in other people's lives, not their own. And that would be my recommendation.
J: Okay, that's great advice. And then a challenge for our listeners.
K: Yes. After this, press ‘stop’, close your computer or your phone, go and walk into your bathroom and look into the mirror. And when you're looking into the mirror, just notice what's in you. So you feel really comfortable and friendly with that beautiful person there or do you feel a bit awkward or do you feel a bit resistant or do you feel judgemental? Do you feel guilty? Whatever there is showing your barometer. And my invitation, the invitation is this, is just, whatever comes up, if it doesn't feel loving, is that is the place to go to, to bring the love.
J: Okay, perfect; that is great advice. How would… I guess I'm going to push you a little bit further.
J: How do they go to that place where it doesn't feel loving? (Laughs)
K: Over time, over time; totally over time.
J: Get a hotel for 4 days, right? Cave up; go to Kate's cave. (Laughs)
K: Can I share this quickly, Jen? Do we have time?
J: Yeah, yeah.
K: So, for example, you know, like been over that really quickly. So like anorexia, it was so debilitating. To go from there to where I am today is just lifetimes apart, and it really has just been each day, each day, each day. There's no… yeah, we can find strategies and you can, you know, get coaching and training, and I do recommend all of that, but we also have to make that shift and realize that actually, we are the solution, it's not the strategy. Does that make sense?
K: And so strategies are awesome, but if we're relying on the strategy to ‘fix us’, quote-unquote, we're constantly looking outside of ourselves. But when we were realize that it’s actually us within us and then it's just a daily showing up. And then when we get that it's us that is our own solution, yeah, we can use strategies, we can use things, but they're tools that we get to use; it's a very different shift. And I feel like, when we make that shift, we're okay with the over timeness that it actually takes to make those shifts.
J: Okay, that's really empowering; I love it.
J: Well, Kate, this has been amazing, I appreciate you being on the show. And I'll remind listeners that they can find everything we talked about it jenriday.com/67. Any last thing you want to say before we say goodbye?
K: Oh yeah. Just enjoy your journey and trust your journey. It's so freaking easy to look out and look at someone else that you either feel inspired by or in awe by and think that you've got to be more like them in some way. If they inspire you, realize that that inspiration is actually pointing to something that's with a new lying dormant ready to be expressed, but it's not theirs, it's actually yours. And when you really get that, then once again, you come back to yourself, you come back to owning your truth. And the only power that you'll ever find is actually when you connect back into you. The power is not on the outside.
J: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for being on the show; this has been amazing.
K: Thanks, Jen, lovely to meet you.
J: Take care.
Thank you so much for joining us today. And don't forget, Time Mastery for Women, my online time management course, is open for enrollment. This is the perfect program for you if you feel like you've kind of lost yourself in mothering and life, if you feel like you're meeting everyone else's needs, but never quite finding time to meet your needs, or perhaps you feel like there's something more you should be doing with your life, but you don't know how to make time for it. Time Mastery for Women is a collection of all the things I've learned about managing my life and time with 6 kids and a business and still finding time to take care of myself in the process. I know for a fact that every one of you listening has a purpose, something that only you can do on this earth, and it's so important that you find it. When you feel that dissatisfaction and those cravings for something more, that's your intuition telling you to go grab life by the horns and make that happen. You don't have to be at the mercy of everyone else's schedules and urgent requests. Sometimes you have to take a break and make time for what's truly important, and that's what Time Mastery for Women is all about. So I would love to see you there; you can go to timemasteryforwomen.com to learn more and to enroll. Be sure to come back next week when I talk with Danielle LaPorte, author of 3 fantastic books, ‘The Desire Map’, ‘The Fire Starter’ sessions and ‘White Hot Truth’. She talks about really listening to your intuition and doing what feels right for you. So I will see you next week, and until then, take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.