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No matter how scary it is, there comes a time when you can’t NOT do your part



Last week I wrote about how I was feeling terrified about publishing my book (The Peaceful Daughter’s Guide To Separating From A Difficult Mother) and how I coached myself out of the terror so I could move forward. I didn’t want to get caught up in my story that would keep me small and hiding…the story that maybe I shouldn’t publish my book because, well, people might not like it and they might get mad.

Here’s the thing: it’s gotten to the point where I can’t NOT do my part. Wayne Dyer knew that. Oliver Sacks (whom I quote in my book), knew that.

At some point we have to take responsibility for creating and sharing what we know is a good thing.

It’s both exciting AND scary. I spent the day on Tuesday feeling ALL the feelings.

Yesterday I chatted with a woman who read my book and booked a mini-session with me. She said: “I started reading your book last night and I’m kind of nervous and kind of excited because, even though I’ve had years and years of therapy, and have read all the books about bad mothers, I can tell yours is going to be the one that really gives me a handle on how to move past it.”

The unspoken part: “But I am not sure I want to or can.”

I sooooo get that.

As my friend and fellow author Caroline Greene says, “I was much happier when I was miserable.”

That’s what happens when we push ourselves into places we’ve never been.

On the one hand, it would be kinda nice to just shrink back from the glare. But I have to own the fact that I can truly help others (as evidenced by the fact that my book hit international best-seller status on Amazon over night, even though it is free), just like all the people who, because they stepped outside their comfort zones and chose to become visible enough for me to find them, truly helped me.


I believe in myself.

I belong here.

My work is important.

I’m an orator in service of the world.

Clarity rises from deep inside of me.

~ Maggie Huffman, author of Whoops, I Forgot To Achieve My Potential (see below)


P.S. Below are non-affiliate links to the 13 other books that were published by The Difference Press alongside mine on September 1. I believe all of them will be available for free throughSeptember 5! These authors have also chosen to become visible and to make a difference!

The Well-Crafted Mom: How to Make Time for Yourself and Your Creativity within the Midst of Motherhood

No More Drama: How to Make Peace with Your Defiant Kid

Farm Girl Leaves Home: An American Narrative of Inspiration and Transformation

Reclaiming Wholeness: Letting Your Light Shine Even If You’re Scared to Be Seen

Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated

The Nurse Practitioner’s Bag: Become a Healer, Make a Difference, and Create the Career of Your Dreams

Matter: How to Find Meaningful Work That’s Right for You and Your Family

The Inside Guide to MS: How to Survive a New Diagnosis When Your Whole Life Changes (And You Just Want to Go Home)

Whoops! I Forgot to Achieve My Potential 

Lifestyle Design for a Champagne Life: Find Out Why the Law of Attraction Isn’t Working, Learn the Secret to Lifestyle Design, and Create Your Champagne Life

Lee & Me: What I Learned from Parenting a Child with Adverse Childhood Experiences

Am I in the Wrong Marriage?: Get the Clarity You Need to Make a Decision to Stay and Re-commit or Lovingly Leave Your Relationship and What to Do Next

Only 10s: Using Distraction to Get the Right Things Done

No feeling is final


According to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, here’s what God says to each of us: “Go the limits of your longing . . . Flare up like flame and make big shadows that I can move in. Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” Whether or not you’re on speaking terms with the Creator, this is excellent advice. It’s time to give everything you have and take everything you need. Hold nothing back and open yourself as wide and wild as you dare. Explore the feeling of having nothing to lose and expect the arrivals of useful surprises. ~ Rob Brezsney’s Freewill Astrology for Scorpio (but seriously, take this advice no matter what sign you are!)

Last week I felt both beauty (which isn’t really an emotion, but let’s pretend it is) and terror. Beauty for having completed my book (and the accompanying workbook!)…and, oddly enough, terror for the same reason.

Here’s how it went down:

Circumstance: I got the final manuscript for final proofing, and some favorable advance reviews.

Thoughts: How exciting…and how wonderful that people like it and are getting something out of it! My words will help others!

Emotions: heart-swelling gratitude, pride, and excitement (“beauty”).

From there I took action: I went over the manuscript to make sure it was complete, I tackled some technology that needed to be put into place prior to the book launch, emptied the dishwasher (with a smile on my face), prepped dinner, danced around the living room, held a one-minute plank (you get the idea).



Actions: I know better than to do anything important when I feel terror (or dread), although I briefly considered canceling publication of the book. I sat down at my computer and started scrolling endlessly through Facebook. I shut myself down.

At first the thoughts weren’t available to me.

I took a deep breath. Unlocked my shoulders. Softened my eyes. I let the terror vibrate in my body.

Thoughts (which are very, very old): I’ve been a very bad girl and I’m going to get into BIG trouble.

The circumstance was the same and yet I had such conflicting emotion. And isn’t THAT fascinating?

The only difference between beauty and terror were the thoughts I was thinking. 

Since then I’ve chosen myriad other emotions because, as Rilke so aptly put it, “no feeling is final” and I am going to keep on going.

You have that kind of power too. You have the ability to choose thoughts that create beauty or terror in your life. In any given moment, you can choose to feel any emotion, simply by choosing thoughts that create that emotion.

This is what it means to create your life.

What are the top three emotions you choose on a regular basis?

P.S. The Peaceful Daughter’s Guide To Separating From A Difficult Mother comes out NEXT WEEK!! Would you like to join me for the book launch party on September 1 at 6 p.m. (EST)? In addition to being able to download the book for free, there will be other authors with other free books, as well. Even if you can’t attend the webinar, you will get a recording and a bunch of extras just for signing up. Click here to register!

An excerpt from my upcoming book…

The Peaceful Daughter’s Guide To Separating From A Difficult Mother:

I had a mutually abusive, toxic, enmeshed relationship with my mother and as a result of that, I told myself a whopper of a story about me, a story that stood on me for years. 

That story went something like this: I am pathetic. I am bad. I am unworthy. I can’t trust myself. I can’t take care of myself. I should be ashamed of myself. 

As a result of that story I was miserable, reactive, resistant, and scared…I was an underachiever, I was a binge eater, and as I got older I started sleeping cover1around thinking it was the only way I could get a man to love me. I even married a guy so he could get a green card. 

I spent way more money that I made and ended up declaring bankruptcy. 

I lashed out at people I loved. 

My life wasn’t a complete disaster, but I was asleep at the wheel and I had no idea what was possible for me. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know how to desire something for myself. 

Having goals and “being responsible” scared me. My anxiety went through the roof (and, funnily enough, it manifested in a severe fear of other people throwing up. It almost paralyzed me, especially in the winter months. There were times when I thought I’d become one of those people who couldn’t leave her home.) This lasted for years. 

It’s only been recently that I’ve started to understand that I had some PTSD going on, as well. 

Through various therapies (traditional and not-so-traditional), not to mention reading books about narcissistic mothers and mothers who can’t love, I started to wake up. And while the therapy and the books explained a lot and helped me feel that I was not alone, they also provided an excuse. 

The story that stood on me turned into this: because my mother was and is the way she is, I’m screwed. It’s too late for me. 

I was most definitely not impressed with myself. 

Sure, from time to time I would experience the real, powerful essence of myself, but the stories I’d been telling myself felt permanent and more potent, plus they were familiar. 

Not to mention that more than anything else, I unconsciously feared that if I was my real self, my mother wouldn’t approve of or love me. I certainly had proof of that…and man, if your mother doesn’t love you unless you contort yourself to her desires, who will? 

Through a combination of powerful coaching, writing, and Emotional Freedom Technique (aka “tapping”), over the course of a couple of years I disentangled myself from my mother and from the stories I was telling myself about myself and her. I’ve come home to myself as a powerful, autonomous woman who understands the nature of true creativity.

P.S. Would you like to join me for the book launch party? It will be held via webinar on September 1 at 6 p.m. (EST). In addition to being able to download my book for free, there will be other authors with other free books, as well. Even if you can’t attend the webinar, you will get a recording and a bunch of extras just for signing up. Click here to register!

An open letter to your difficult mother

Dear [insert your name here]’s mother:

I’m betting that no matter what your daughter says or how she says it, you interpret it to mean that she thinks she is good and that you are bad.

Here’s the thing: she’s just different.

Because she has needed and wanted your love and approval her whole life, she has sometimes contorted, changed, and hidden herself. She did this not because she thought what she was doing was bad or wrong (because it wasn’t) – she did it because she was afraid that if you knew the real her, you would withdraw your love.

And so now that she’s being her true self, it seems like she’s changed! She’s not as pliable and malleable. She’s not as easily manipulated, and it’s caused some friction, or maybe even estrangement.

Here’s what you need to know about your daughter: she needs and wants to feel good about herself and her life, but she didn’t have the self-discipline to do that when she was enmeshed with you.

Because you were so big and so important to her, she gave you an inordinate amount of her attention. And in so doing, without meaning to, you trained her to separate herself from herself. She loved you so much and stayed enmeshed with you a long time because she thought she might be able to find herself anyway. But it turned out, she couldn’t.

She couldn’t not be herself (for you) and be herself (for herself) at the same time.

So she figured, at a minimum, that she needed space because of her lack of self-discipline. She needed space so she could retrain herself back into alignment with who she is…and who she wants to be.

She loves her life. She feels good about herself. She likes to wake up every day and feel alive and on purpose. She wants to talk about happy things and she wants to see the best in others. She wants to feel good about what she gives her attention to.

And for a while, when she was with you, she was still able to do that. But the longer the two of you were together the less able she was to do that. It became a struggle and the struggle sucked the life out of her.

So here’s the plan. She is going to choose to feel fabulous. And she is going to do everything in her power to envision you feeling fabulous, too. She could write pages and pages about all the things she loves about you, but she is NOT responsible for how you feel…and you’ve tried to make her responsible for that every damned day. But that’s not her job, it’s yours. 

Her promise to you is that she will be as happy as she can and will never hold you responsible for the way she feels.

(The gist of this letter is based on the work of Abraham-Hicks)

P.S. Want to know more? Book a free mini-session with me. I’ll help you solve a very specific problem and tell you more about my programs.


SAVE THE DATE: My book, The Peaceful Daughter’s Guide To Separating From Your Difficult Mother (P.S. There’s Nothing Wrong With You!) releases September 1 and my publisher is throwing a virtual party. I’d love to have you attend (there will be prizes…not to mention my book will be available for free for a short while). Stay tuned for details!

The miraculous power of pain and discomfort

Many of us have a superficial notion of the nature of healing, writes Peter Kingsley in his book In The Dark Places of Wisdom. We think that “healing is what makes us comfortable and eases the pain.” 

But the truth is, “what we want to be healed of is often what will heal us if we can stand the discomfort and the pain.” I invite you to experiment with this theme. See if you can stave off your urge for ease as you marinate longer in the aching confusion. 

If we really face our sadness,” says Kingsley, “we find it speaks with the voice of our deepest longing. And if we face it a little longer we find that it teaches us the way to attain what we long for.” ~ Rob Brezsny

Back when I was dealing with my frozen shoulder (four months of extremely painful physical therapy to see if it would fix itself without surgery, then eight months of extremely painful physical therapy after surgery), I longed to be healed and free of pain. 

An insight I had in the midst of it all is that I was making the pain mean something bad about me. I hated that pain because three times a week (or more) I was reminded that I was a bad person.

When I told myself, “It’s just pain” – without all the extra drama – I actually looked forward to my physical therapy and was more motivated during my sessions.

I recently decided to start eating in a new way in an effort to lose a few pounds (and if you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you know what kind of drama I used to have around that). I choose to eat between the hours of 12 noon and 8 p.m.

For me, hunger used to be like pain: when I felt hunger, I made it mean something bad about me. I couldn’t stand to be hungry because it was a reminder that I was a bad person.

Now, it’s just hunger. 

What I have learned is that any pain or discomfort (physical or emotional) you experience will be magnified by what you make it mean – the story you tell yourself about it. Your story has the power to hold you back and keep you stuck. It also has the power to release you into your magnificence. 

Generally we’re unconscious to our stories until we ask ourselves, “What am I making it mean?”

If you can face your pain and discomfort without drama, it will teach you how to get what you really desire, not to mention it will positively transform your experience.

Are you aware of what you make pain and discomfort mean about you? Tell me all about it!

P.S. SAVE THE DATE: My book, The Peaceful Daughter’s Guide To Separating From Your Difficult Mother (P.S. There’s Nothing Wrong With You!) releases September 1 and my publisher is throwing a virtual party. I’d love to have you attend (there will be prizes…not to mention my book will be available for free for a short while). Stay tuned for details!

How do you remind yourself…

…of what’s important to you?

How do you spur yourself to action?

What rings your creativity bell? (thank you Rhonda Woodward, Kaizen-Muse creativity coach for that brilliant phrase)

I usually put it on my bulletin board.

Check out these photos of some of my favorites and the stories behind them.

[caption id="attachment_5756" align="aligncenter" width="640"]4 As much as I love writing and expressing myself this way, using my actual voice is important and I need to be reminded of that.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5753" align="aligncenter" width="480"]This photo reminds me of who I REALLY am, at the very core of my being. This photo reminds me of who I REALLY am, at the very core of my being.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5758" align="aligncenter" width="640"]6 How will I know what I really stand for if I am not willing to take a stand?[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5755" align="aligncenter" width="480"]3 Simple elegance or refinement. Seemingly the opposite of the previous sentiment, but not really. Contradiction is okay. Both/and, baby![/caption] [caption id="attachment_5754" align="aligncenter" width="640"]2 This one is huge. It’s a quote by Lisa Nichols and I use it to remind me of what’s important when I am taking a stand.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5763" align="aligncenter" width="640"]11 Self-explanatory. I can do things my way, easily and naturally, without suffering.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5759" align="aligncenter" width="640"]7 Why yes, I do. This is always a good reminder when it comes to taking care of my physical self…[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5766" align="aligncenter" width="640"]14 From a recent Free Will Astrology horoscope for Scorpios.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5764" align="aligncenter" width="640"]12 I’ve had this one for a loooooong time. From Marianne Williamson’s A Return To Love[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5765" align="aligncenter" width="480"]13 This one too, from The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz[/caption]

Reminders are good, because sometimes we forget.

Last week I did something I never thought I’d do. I got a small tattoo. It’s on my left arm, just below the inside of my elbow. I did it because I wanted a permanent reminder.

It’s just one word: autonomous.

10Autonomy literally means regulation by the self.

Upon seeing it, Tim, my left-brained engineer husband said: Autonomous? When I think of that word I think of factories and non-human interfaces, robots without identity. That is so not you!

Me: For me, being autonomous means self-expression without fear, the freedom to be who I am without worrying what other people think…not in rebellion, but in regards to self-governance and self-responsibility. It took me a long time to claim it.

Tim: That makes sense. I like it.

So how do you remind yourself? What’s on your bulletin board? Do you have a tattoo? What’s the story behind it?

Messages From Our Mothers…About Time

choosestimeMy friend Amira Alvarez runs a Facebook group called The Posse for women who want to “rock their businesses without contorting their souls.” What I love is that pretty much every day she asks a thought-provoking question. 

Recently she prefaced her question by saying that she was taking her first sips of coffee while chilling in bed with her laptop. She went on to say that this is her morning routine…the way she likes to segue into her day…“no alarm, gently coming into contact with the world on my own terms.”

She related that she didn’t always do this. In the past, upon hearing the alarm she would, “…go ugh, jump out of bed and race around to get things done, feeling the pressure of the day smack dab in my heart and head. I thought this was how to be productive and responsible.”

She recognized that this was totally counter to her energy style and rhythm. It took her a while, but over time she made “little choices and shifts to test and tweak what worked for me, lead by my desire (and commitment) to feeling good.”

So her question that day was, “Where could you move toward ‘better’ in your life? Where? What? How?”

I immediately responded and said,

“I have a very similar morning routine (except that I don’t do the laptop and coffee in bed, I sit in my sunroom-like office). When I embraced that I do better when I don’t have to rush in the morning, and stopped ‘shoulding’ myself about what a morning routine is supposed to look like, everything changed.”

Then I sat there and read what I wrote, thinking about where I could move forward, better, and my mind went into “should” mode without me realizing it…well, actually I DID realize it, and quickly! 

Then came the ah-ha: I could move forward – better – in my life if I embraced that I do GREAT when I don’t have to rush, EVER, and when I stop “shoulding” myself about what my day is supposed to look like. 

Rushing has been a theme for me throughout my life and this isn’t the first time I’ve acknowledged it. I used to think I had to rush, even if it wasn’t necessary. I was unconscious to this for a long time. The messages I got about time were that it is limited, I must use it “wisely,” not waste it, and I must be “productive” with it.

I used to beat myself up because I believed I had TOO MUCH time on my hands (which meant I must not be productive, constructive, or contributing enough…I must be wasting time).

The ah-ha came from realizing I was giving myself permission not to rush in the morning, but was then focused on how I could “fix” rushing throughout the rest of the day. 

All I needed to do is give myself permission not to.

Since then, I have become a woman who not only chooses to have plenty of time, but who also chooses not to feel guilty for it.

What do you choose? Do you need permission to choose it? What’s stopping you?


Never underestimate the power of writing down your thoughts, especially if you can do it with someone (like me) who can “hear” what you’re really saying and ask if you if that’s what you really mean.

That’s why the programs I offer include e-coaching. Writing helps you:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings
  • Know yourself better (what makes you happy and confident, what situations and people are toxic, etc.)
  • Reduce stress (writing about uncomfortable emotions is the beginning of being able to release them)
  • Solve problems from a more intuitive, creative place (writing unlocks creativity and intuition and unleashes unexpected solutions)

Want to know more? Book a free mini-session with me. I’ll help you solve a very specific problem and tell you more about my programs. Who knows, you might become a woman who chooses to have more time!

Messages from our mothers: modesty or humility?

I am betting that when you were growing up (and maybe even once you were an adult) you got conflicting messages about ambition and modesty.

Messages like:

Be yourself (but not too much)!

You can be anything you want to be (as long as it doesn’t embarrass the family)!

Try hard (but don’t show off)!

Deep down inside is that desire to create and share ourselves with the world in a way that feels natural and right to us (which sometimes means exuberantly) and yet we’ve been told, both directly and by example, that women have to walk a fine line between being powerful creators in our own right and not being “too much” while doing so.

And so we find ourselves contorting and molding ourselves based on those conflicting messages (because we want the approval of our families…so we can continue to belong to them). 

We also marvel at (and are sometimes jealous or downright critical of) women who seemingly didn’t get the same message, or who did and chose to ignore it…women who are living their lives, not in reaction to others, and not perfectly, but on their own terms.

Here’s what I figured out: those women know the difference between modesty (having a limited overall opinion of themselves and their abilities, or pretending to be less than they are) and humility (an acknowledgement of their limitations).

(I am usually all about the both/and but this time I’m supporting an either/or.)

I choose humility over modesty.

I am aware of my gifts, talents, and abilities and I like to acknowledge and share them. I am also aware of the areas where I have flaws and weaknesses and have no problem admitting them to myself and others.

Being humble is being authentic to self. Being modest is being inauthentic to others.

C.S Lewis said, “Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.”

So aim for perfect humility.

Maya Angelou said true arrogance lay in denying one’s own specialness—and denying the specialness of others. “Modesty is a learned adaptation. It’s stuck on like decals. As soon as life slams a modest person against the wall, that modesty will fall off faster than a G-string will fall off a stripper.”

modestyhumilityWhat do you think? Did you get conflicting messages from your mother (either directly or by what she modeled)? Have you chosen to take those messages on as your own truth? Tell me about your gifts, talents, and abilities. What are your flaws and weaknesses? Can you proudly own both?

(Check out this blog post by my friend Meegan Dowe, which was inspired by a conversation we had on Facebook about this very subject.)


In the name of humility, I’m excited to share the link to a podcast I did with the fabulous Brooke Castillo, my mentor, master coach instructor, and founder of The Life Coach School.

Strengths: I was honest, real, knowledgable, and fun.

Weaknesses: I wasn’t prepared to talk about the definition of narcissism (and I should have known better!). I was also a little nervous and thus a little intense.

It’s all good.

Check it out…we’re talking about some of our favorite subjects:

  • What it means to be a child of a narcissistic mother.
  • The work I do with my clients on the topic of boundaries.
  • The issues that arise with staying in an enmeshed, conformed relationship with your mother.
  • Why ending a relationship with a person in your life might not solve your issues related to them.


What’s NOT okay

Check out last week’s post for context.

This week it’s about what’s NOT okay (for me personally, although some of it may be true for you, too):

It’s not okay for me to:

  • believe it’s my responsibility to fix my relationship with my mother (which isn’t to say that I’ve slammed the door shut on our relationship).
  • live my life for my mother. 
  • stop expressing myself because she has told me she doesn’t like it when I do.
  • place any “shoulds” on my mother.
  • expect my mother to change.
  • blame myself (or her) for what has happened in the past (although it is okay to acknowledge it).
  • hide my light because I’m afraid she might feel threatened by it.
  • choose to feel “less than” because of what my mother has said or done.
  • beat myself up, emotionally or otherwise.
  • binge eat, binge drink, binge shop, or binge-anything-else because of the pain I feel when I chose to beat myself up.
  • be boundary-less.
  • continue to think I am a victim and she is a villain.
  • think of her as a victim and myself as a villain.
  • think that either one of us need to be rescued.
  • think that I am not okay.

Love, Karen

What’s not okay for you?

That’s not a rhetorical question, I really want to know, so hit “reply” and share what’s in your heart.

P.S. Tell me about it? Bring me your most pressing “mother” issue and I’ll coach you through it in a free mini-session and share information about what it’s like to work with me.

P.S.S. It’s fun. It’s not like therapy where you dredge up old crap and cry your eyes out. You’ve been there and done that, and are ready to have fun while moving forward rather than feeling like crap while looking back.offthehook


It’s not your fault…

One of the most insidious things adult daughters do is beat themselves up for not having a “great” relationship with their mothers (even if they are no longer alive). I put the word “great” in quotation marks because what “great” means to you, me, or the next woman might be different, but for the sake of this conversation, let’s say it looks like this: 

Mom and daughter are close, warm, and supportive of each other. Daughter is able to lean on Mom. Mom loves daughter unconditionally. Daughter lovingly helps Mom out when she needs it. They have separate lives, but make it a point to get away together for “girl time,” to bond and strengthen their relationship. Daughter adores Mom and tells her friends how lucky she is to have her. Mom is proud of daughter and praises her to all her friends. They genuinely respect each other. 

And if it doesn’t look like that (or whatever your version of “great” is), then it’s your fault, and as a result, you have a constant, low-level feeling of guilt because you haven’t been able to fix it by now.

rainbowI am here to witness you, represent you, and tell you:

That’s not the truth. 

There is nothing wrong with you. 

It’s not your fault.

You are not to blame.

You’re not the only one and you do not have to suffer alone, in silence.

All mothers are not loving and buying into the idea that they are (so it must be your fault) only isolates you.

You don’t have to live the rest of your life feeling guilty.

There is no such thing as a perfect mother-daughter relationship.

No matter what Hallmark says.

No matter what you see on Facebook.

No matter what “they” say you “should” think/feel/do.

Mothers do not automatically and instinctually love their daughters unconditionally (no matter how our culture portrays them) and it’s not taboo to acknowledge that.

Please do not shame or guilt yourself. 

It’s not on you.

I am taking this stand for you.



P.S. Tell me about it? Bring me your most pressing “mother” issue and I’ll coach you through it in a free mini-session and share information about what it’s like to work with me.

P.S.S. It’s fun. It’s not like therapy where you dredge up old crap and cry your eyes out. You’ve been there and done and are ready to have fun while moving forward rather than feeling like crap while looking back.