Ep.23 - Elder Wisdom: The Journey to Invisibility | Katherine Howells — Candice sits down for a heart-to-heart with elder and dear friend, Katherine Howells. The two discuss how a moment of shared transparency in their bi-monthly book club sparked an ongoing conversation around resentment and feelings of invisibility. Katherine shares her story of growing up on a farm and how conventional gender roles shaped her choices as a wife and mother. She speaks openly about 44 years of marriage, and about how life as a stay-at-home mom often resulted in feelings of invisibility and a yearning for something more. After her children left home, Katherine's identity shifted as she began reclaiming her inner authority and revising her approach to life. She shares how this new way of being has impacted her personal relationships and her approach to self-expression; and she explains how, now that she has learned to embrace 'invisibility', she feels more clearly seen than ever before. Candice shares how she has been navigating her own mixed feelings when it comes to visibility. Together, they explore a variety of tools they use to tap into deeper awareness when faced with strong emotions and/or difficult choices in life.

Ep.23 - Elder Wisdom: The Journey to Invisibility | Katherine Howells

Hello, and welcome back to The Deeper Pulse. I'm Candice Schutter.

I'm back once again in courageous conversation, this time with a dear and wise elder friend of mine, Katherine Howells. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, "as a woman gathers more years, she becomes more bold, which is not the same as brave. Brave is jumping in. Bold is jumping in, led by angels. In age, we learn to know the difference, for certain, older is bolder." In this conversation, Katherine and I explore feelings of invisibility, social comparison, and the often overlooked benefits of growing older. We're squeezing a lot into this hour, so I'd like to get right to it. Thanks for showing up today. This is Katherine Howells. Hello.

Katherine Howells: 1:23
Good morning.

Candice Schutter: 1:24
Good morning to you. How you feeling?

Katherine Howells: 1:28
Ah, scited. It's my new favorite word.

Candice Schutter: 1:31
Isn't it the best. Thank you, Glennon Doyle. Scared and excited. Scited!

Katherine Howells: 1:36
Yes. A little scared, mostly excited. And grateful to be spending more time with you, which I always find so in enlivening and enriching.

Candice Schutter: 1:47
Yeah. Right back at you. Of course. Thank you so much for being so brave as to say yes. Let's talk a little bit about how this came to be. We both lived in Portland, or the Portland area, for many years and have a lot of common friends. So it is possible that our paths crossed somewhere and we're just not able to put it together. And we were both invited to dinner at a friend's house, just this last summer. And I consider you and Mary Lynn, our common friend whose home we were invited to for this dinner party to be two wise, beautiful elders in my life. And it's just so wonderful, especially moving into midlife to have women that I can look to who are ahead of me on the path. And when I met you and got to know you and your heart, I just really felt the sense of just being held by that energy that only a woman who's ahead of you on the path can offer. So I appreciate you so much and our paths have been sort of crossing online a lot cause we dabble in some of the same circles. Of course, most everything's been online for the last however long, so that makes sense, right? And how ironic that I moved away from Oregon and now we're getting to know each other. But thanks to these online portals we are. And I was posting in my online Facebook group that I had just gotten Brene Brown's new book, Atlas of the Heart, and I posted something about it. And somehow it turned into you and just a handful of other women chiming in saying that you were planning to read the book and should we do a book club? And I thought, oh my gosh, how fun would that be? So we decided to do that. And we started up a few weeks ago and that's kind of how it came to be that you are sitting here with me today because we were in one of our book club meetings, and we were discussing, I believe it was a chapter on the things that come up when we are comparing ourselves to one another and the world around us. And you just shared so openly from the get-go about your experience in life and how it related to this topic. And I was so touched by it. And you said something along the lines of, and I'm, I don't want to speak for you. So I'm gonna let you chime in here in a second. You said something along the lines of having, which so many of us have, the experience of times in your life of feeling invisible. And when you said that it resonated so deeply with me as I'm sure it will many of our listeners, and I just decided to shift to this format of having conversations on the podcast. And when we got off of the call, it was like this little whisper in my heart that just kept saying again and again, reach out to Katherine. Ask her if she wants to be visible. Let her know that you want to see her and that you think that her being seen would benefit so many people. And so that's when I reached out to you and asked you if you wanted to do this, and I'll let you speak to, kind of, how that landed and where you were with that in a second. And, right now, I just want to celebrate how quickly you said yes, even though this isn't really your forte, that you just stepped right in and said, I'm willing to do this even though I'm feeling feelings. I'm willing to do this. And so tell us a little bit about how it felt to be asked and what came up for you and why you decided to sit here with me today.

Katherine Howells: 5:14
Yes. I must say, I was surprised to get your email. That was the first thing that came up was surprise. And then the bit of fear that came in and said, oh, do I really have anything worthwhile to share? And then, um, I had just listened to, I think it was James Hollis, talking about, yes, we all have fear. It's a part of our life. It's a part of being human. But what's not okay is to let that fear rule us. And that really struck me, because for a lot of my life, I have let the fear determine my direction. Many times I have stepped right through it and said, no, I'd rather take this risk. And this was actually one of those times when I, I realized if I said no, I would simply be allowing the fear to rule me. And I don't want that anymore in my life. And the whole journey of invisibility, I call it. My journey of invisibility has really become more like a journey to invisibility in terms of the part of me that used to rule my way of being, I'm releasing that, letting go and not being so concerned about being visible, because then I get to relax. And, um, trust and actually be seen much more.

Candice Schutter: 6:55
That's so beautiful, the way you just said that letting go of this desire and attachment to being visible is how you become seen. I just got goosebumps all over my body, even just repeating it. It's... this is exactly why I wanted you here. And, well, I want myself and the listeners to hear your story. If you don't mind giving us just your background, what led you to this moment that you're in, and how you are learning and growing into this paradoxical understanding. What does it mean that the less we're concerned with visibility, the more we're seen? We can demonstrate it through story, I think much more potently. So I would love... and I'm super excited for this, cause I'm so curious to hear your story. Would you tell us a bit about Little Katherine and how you came to be who you are?

Katherine Howells: 7:49
I will. Little Katherine didn't really exist. I was called Kathy growing up. I grew up in a farm family with my mom and dad and three brothers. I was the only girl and the second oldest. And, in my family, this goes back generations, they were farmers. And it seemed to me that boys were held in higher esteem than girls. And I had lots of evidence to that it seems to me. One time, my paternal grandmother decided to gift some stocks she had to her grandsons telling me that I wouldn't need those, because I'm a girl and I was just going to get married and my husband would take care of me. And the boys seemed to... a lot of resources and time and energy seemed to go in their direction. And I remember, at times, being glad that I was invisible in my family, because as I said, a lot of the energy went toward the boys and mostly my older brother. And I remember listening to my dad rant at him really for hours because he didn't play the ball game the way my dad thought he should. Lots of criticism and I thought, "oh my God, I'm glad I'm a girl. I'm glad I'm invisible. I don't have to put up with that. It's not directed at me."

Candice Schutter: 9:24

Katherine Howells: 9:24
So there were some benefits to being invisible as a young girl. And I also remember, a real specific experience. I was about 10 years old, and I was out in the backyard, and it seemed like my brothers often got to go with my dad on errands and around the farm in his truck. And he was leaving from lunch, heading toward his truck. And I got up the courage, I remember it took courage, and I said, dad, can I go with you? And he just glanced over his shoulder quickly and said, "I don't have time for you." And, at that point, I remember two things. One is I made a vow that I would never need anyone else to make me feel okay. And I also had this vague, but pretty strong feeling that, it didn't matter what my dad said, I knew I was loved. But there's no doubt that, that comment and those experiences growing up made me feel like I needed to build a wall around my heart, really.

Candice Schutter: 10:40

Katherine Howells: 10:41
And keep myself safe. So that went on through my childhood and teen years and I left homeless as soon as I could, 17. Went to school and was basically on my own.

Candice Schutter: 10:57
Tell me a little bit about, first of all, I want to comment on this commitment that you made to yourself at age 10. It says so much about you and, who you were, and the sense of self-reliance that you had created. And also, the ways in which we create these adaptations to protect ourselves, and for you to say that you wouldn't need validation from anyone at age 10, you and I both know of course now how unrealistic that is... that of course the child, as a child develops, continually needs validation. Of course, I know that you have strong spiritual framework in your life. So on a certain level, there is a reassurance that no doubt you could lean into, even at that age, not to say that, that wasn't there. And also you live in the world of humans, and you have human needs and a human heart. I feel like highlighting that in earnest hope that we have when we're young, that we can take care of ourselves and the ways that we armor in order to prove that. So I love that you have this really specific memory of a moment when pieces of that armor were created. I know that I can relate to that. And I think a lot of people can relate to that. And that feeling of being on the margins within one's own family, that's, that's not an easy thing. It's not an easy thing because we bring that with us into every relationship moving forward. Tell me, before we go further in your story, tell me a little bit about your mother.

Katherine Howells: 12:28
Yeah. That's probably part of where that inner strength is probably mostly where it came from and the fact that as a young young child, I was out in nature all the time. So I had this deep connection with the natural world early, which was a blessing.

Candice Schutter: 12:50

Katherine Howells: 12:50
And my mom, you know, in, in the family, men's work is men's work and women's work is women's work. And I remember my dad saying to my mom, oh, your work is around the house. I don't have time for that. I have the farm. Well, in this case, not only included the cooking and the cleaning and all of that, but she did all of the landscaping, the gardening, the repairs on the house. And at one point she wanted, we needed, a new roof. My dad wouldn't take the time, so she reroofed the house with the help of us kids. Um,

Candice Schutter: 13:29
That's so great.

Katherine Howells: 13:30
She was strong, capable, and much more emotionally available to me than my dad was for sure. And though I won't say we had a close relationship in the way I define it now that I I've had, really wonderfully deep relationships with sisters and my own daughter, not that kind of relationship, but I always knew that she loved me, even though she didn't say it.

Candice Schutter: 14:00
I remember you describing, in some ways, what she brought was very feminist. And it's sort of, what defines a feminist is so relative to the point you're looking at in history, right? I mean, the fact that she reroofed the house is most certainly... and the way that she raised you to be self-reliant. Most likely, she thought it was the best chance you had in terms of your path forward, if you were adhering to certain social standards, based on what she thought was available to you at the time. Even though she was adhering to those guidelines, she was also empowering you at the same time. And what an interesting, and maybe sometimes confusing, mixed message to get growing up.

Katherine Howells: 14:41
Yeah. I don't really remember being very aware of that. I was just in it. I couldn't see it very clearly. In fact, there was a time in my teens when I really didn't want to be like my mom, because I felt like my dad had all the power, and the masculine is where I directed my self in my early... through college, I majored in business because I knew that I could support myself. I could always get a job. I like my business classes in high school. And so I went to Oregon State, and I majored in business, and I took my first French class as a freshman, and I loved it. I loved it. That's all I wanted to do. So did I say, oh, I think I'll become a French major. No, how impractical is that?

Candice Schutter: 15:35

Katherine Howells: 15:36
I dropped French. I went back to business, which was not exciting and enriching and enlivening to me at all. So I bought into that for a while in terms of seeing my mom not standing up to my dad so much and being, um, weaker really. I couldn't see her strength like I can now.

Candice Schutter: 15:58
So you went to college and did you graduate with a degree in business?

Katherine Howells: 16:03

Candice Schutter: 16:04
And then where did your path take you?

Katherine Howells: 16:06
Went right to work, entry management position. Worked there for a couple years and then married my high school sweetheart, which is also the family script. All three of my brothers have done so.

Candice Schutter: 16:21
Oh, wow. Wow.

Katherine Howells: 16:23
I know. And this was after four years of college and two years of working, we were still together. So we got married, and two years later, I said, who am I and what am I doing here? I just had to get out. So I did, I left the marriage. And put a backpack on my back and went to Alaska and hitchhiked around and explored, shall we say, in many different areas. Something I'd never done really.

Candice Schutter: 16:57
Good for you.

Katherine Howells: 16:59
Yeah, it was good. It was very good. And, after about a year and a half, I came home and decided it was time to be a grownup, and got another job. And a man walked in one day to see my boss, and I looked at him, and I thought, I know you. It was this connection that seemed to go way back. Deeper connection of I know you at a deeper level. And we started dating and, um, three months later bought a house together and decided after two years, we liked being together. We wanted to start a family. So we got married and had our daughter a year later, and our son couple of years after that. And that's been a second part of my invisibility story starts there, really. We decided that I would be a stay at home mom and he would be the bread earner, and he was very good at that and received a lot of, acknowledgement, recognition, experienced a lot of success in his work. And I was in this place of still not really knowing who I was and then her mother. And he traveled a lot, so I was kind of like a single mother, much of the time, cause he was gone all week oftentimes. And I remember times when we would get together with people that we were just meeting and they would ask him what he does and then talk about that, and they'd turn to me and say, "and Kate, what do you do?" And I remember dreading those moments, because I would have to say, well, I'm a mom. Not that I didn't love being a mom. I loved being a mom, but I didn't honor Myself for that work at that time. It was just what I did. And it didn't seem to be, you know, in my own eyes and in society's eyes, worth much.

Candice Schutter: 18:54
Would you say that the reactions that he would receive based on his answer to the question and the reactions that you would receive would be different, in terms of social capital? When you answer that question, which is the dreaded... I feel similarly about that question, no matter what I'm doing at any point in my life, that 'what do you do?' question and how unique it is to our culture. This question around... what is your vocation and where do I place you on the social hierarchy in terms of your level of productivity or contribution or how much money you make, or... right? I appreciate, in a way, you owned it and said, I wasn't valuing that role in the same way at that time. And also, I would imagine you and your husband were getting different feedback when you answered the question, right? So,

Katherine Howells: 19:40

Candice Schutter: 19:41

Katherine Howells: 19:43
I would say that and usually the conversation would go somewhere else. We were out and about and meeting new people connected to his work. I mean, I had my friends who were also mothers and a couple stay at home mothers, and I don't really remember conversations about feeling less than because we didn't have a job title that society viewed as valuable. I have to say, I feel like I was fairly asleep, kind of going through the script, this is what you do. You stay with the kids and the husband earns the money and that's what we did. We just played out that script until the kids left home. And then things really started to shift for me because...

Candice Schutter: 20:31
Once your nest was empty.

Katherine Howells: 20:33
Right. Okay. Well, there's my identity.

Candice Schutter: 20:37
Right out the door.

Katherine Howells: 20:38
Right out the door. So it was a huge opportunity for me to say, wow, okay. Well, one thing, I realized the resentment that I was carrying toward my husband. And I realized that I didn't want to do that anymore. So either I was going to have to leave him, or I was going to have to grow and heal those parts of me that I was still carrying. The armor, the wounding, being less than because I'm a woman. So I started being much more transparent in our relationship about what was really going on.

Candice Schutter: 21:18
How did he receive that?

Katherine Howells: 21:20
All hell broke loose for awhile, really. It was tough. We went through a couple of years where we were really struggling, um, and both of us trying to decide whether we wanted to stay together or if we were just done. Fortunately, when one wanted to leave, the other was wanting to stay. There was not a time when both of us said, I'm out of here.

Candice Schutter: 21:49
So you took turns holding it together, holding the relationship together. Yeah.

Katherine Howells: 21:52
Yeah, we did. And I think at some level we saw that this relationship had a lot to teach both of us. And we looking back now, we both can see wow, how much we've learned through this relationship. And that's what relationships are about, right? They're, um our greatest teachers.

Candice Schutter: 22:15

Katherine Howells: 22:16

Candice Schutter: 22:17
Particularly, I find, when there's that sense of immediate connection that goes deeper than the physical, there's usually something there. There's some medicine to be tapped, whether it's super long-term... I've had instances like that where it was a short term and yet profound learning, right? And sometimes it's long-term, but the potency and the potential for that, hopefully, isn't ignored because there's so much opportunity for both people. So that you two keep walking through it is very inspiring. Yeah.

Katherine Howells: 22:47
I think we both knew that we could leave, but we'd just be taking the stuff with us to the next.

Candice Schutter: 22:56
Yep, that's generally how it works.

Katherine Howells: 22:58
Yeah. That doesn't sound like something either one of us wanted. So yes, we stayed and worked on ourselves. And what that meant really for both of us... what's going on inside, started looking at that more deeply and owning it, not projecting it on the other person. And that's been a long time coming. But we're both to this point now where we're really knowing that, um, well, it's interesting to think about that 10 year old's vow that I wouldn't need anybody to make me feel okay. And here I am in this place where I know that I don't need anyone to be different from how they are or anything to be different from how it is in order to feel secure, safe. Ya know, to know that I'm okay.

Candice Schutter: 23:59
Yes. And crossing through those, the many passages along the way of those paradoxical moments of relying upon to become self-reliant. Like how, our relationships actually give us the opportunity to come back to ourselves. Isn't that interesting, right? That your marriage is such a beautiful example of that for both of you.

Katherine Howells: 24:23

Candice Schutter: 24:24
I circle back to the moment when you said that you realized you had all of this resentment that you were carrying and I'm remembering now kind of the foundation that led us to this conversation and the circle we were in and we were talking about Atlas of The Heart and these different emotional experiences. If you're not familiar with Atlas of The Heart, listeners, it's a book that Brene Brown wrote where she through tremendous research, she created this resource book of, I believe it's 87 emotional experiences, and defining them... the premise being that if we have language around our experiences, if we can name what we're feeling, then we can more consciously respond to what's happening for us. And when we went into the chapter we were exploring on comparison. One of the ah-hahs that many of us had... and I think it kind of led into this conversation was how many times, because of the way resentment shows up, a lot of us think that resentment is in the family of emotions that is anger. And that, in reality, it's not about anger at all. It's in the family of emotions that is envy. And how, how powerful I found that as a tool in terms of looking at myself and realizing... around the time that I read that I was having some experiences where I was feeling resentment and one of the ways resentment shows up for me in its sort of sideways presentation is I become very hyper-critical of that or those whom I resent. And I was feeling very judgy and critical of certain individuals out in the world expressing themselves. And I realized when I read that... I call it a highlighter drop moment. I read that... yeah. I read that and I thought to myself, oh, right. Like this... because if if I really ask myself the question, why these people? Why are you feeling critical? Why are you micromanaging what they're doing and their expression and whether they should be doing it differently? And it really came down to, I was envious because they had the courage to express themselves openly in the world, even if it was imperfect. Which is the very thing that I was dragging my heels on. That I was so afraid of expressing myself... or I was feeling a lot of fear because I was beginning to express myself more. And I was so terrified of getting it wrong of not doing it perfectly enough, that I was continually pulling the reins back. And I felt very creatively constipated, if you will. I wasn't allowing myself to express openly. And the way that it was showing up was judgment and resentment towards people who were allowing themselves to just do it no matter what. And I shared it in the group. And I remember you speaking to something similar. Can you describe the resentment you were feeling toward your husband and how you think... maybe it's the same, maybe it's different, but did that resonate for you? This idea of resentment being connected to envy? Was that part of what you were experiencing, too?

Katherine Howells: 27:28
Absolutely. Absolutely, I could see that the minute I read that as well, that it was all about looking at my own fear to be fully expressed in the world, to take the risk of being imperfect out there. One of the ways it shows up in my life still is... let's call it performance anxiety, even though I am not a performer. But I love to sing and play the guitar a little bit and, so I have this envy, I don't have resentment towards them, but I have envy of people who can do that comfortably, even when their voices aren't, what we might call, you know...

Candice Schutter: 28:16
Pitch perfect.

Katherine Howells: 28:17
Right. But I so admire them for being willing to express through song. So I look at that often. With my husband, I had this envy for the way he was expressing himself in the world. And then after he retired and he left his work, he and I have a very strong spiritual practice. It's not together, we do our own things depending on what's lighting us up at the time. And, I would see him getting clearer, and his heart opening, and all these beautiful things. And I would feel some resentment or envy. And so I really started looking more and more at what's going on inside? What am I holding back? Looking at the fear, facing the fear. It's interesting because the more that I am willing to really look at what's going on, whatever's coming up resentment or fear, anger, the more that I'm willing to sit with it, be with it, instead of saying, oh, I shouldn't be feeling that... It loosens its grip on me. It doesn't feel like I'm being controlled by that, that emotion, and the more it loosens its grip, the more I relax. And the more I relax, the more transparent I'm able to be. And the more I'm able to be seen. And, it feels good to be seen. And so I open up more and be seen more. And I just feel so blessed. You know, people say I won't ever see the good in this experience. I can't imagine what the good would be in this experience, but one of the benefits of being 71 is that I can look back and see all of those experiences helped me get to this place of greater equanimity in my life. And, I wouldn't give them up for the world. Yeah.

Candice Schutter: 30:31
Yeah. It's beautiful. It's interesting, as you were speaking, I felt... I always know, I'm really close to a deep truth when I feel that beautiful tension inside where there's sort of two truths that are right next to each other. And I'm feeling that a little bit as you share this story around your marriage and coming to terms with some of your feelings and how it has served you to have had the experiences that you've had in terms of your growth and your development. And looking back, how you can see the gifts in that. And also I have this part of me that that's pulling at the part of the story where you began to own your feelings, your resentment, you became more transparent in your marriage. The way that you were basically defying the script as it was laid out, in terms of the role that you had been playing for however many years in the relationship prior to that. And then suddenly you're letting your needs, your desires be known. Which we know, generationally speaking, that there's not... I mean, even as you spoke as a child, there's not as much room for girls and women to name their desires openly. And you have that experience growing up, it makes perfect sense you would bring it into your marriage, regardless of your husband's intentions. That that would be how you'd show up. And then the moment you chose to shift the narrative. I think it's important to name the reality that gender privilege plays in a moment like that. And that, even if you and your husband are on the same trajectory, the terrain is different, that you're navigating, right? So when you begin to speak your desires and your needs... I have met your husband, and I know how open and wise he is particularly for a man his age. And I also know from being in a relationship with a man who's very evolved, as far as that goes, he also has certain blinders because of the privilege that he has being a white man in the world. And sometimes the response we get, despite the intention, the impact is it reinforces the invisibility. Right? And yes, and this is where I say the both-and is so critical because it's like, yes, we can fortify a strength in us to show up despite that. And also, as we talk about you being a mother and particularly having a daughter, how we shift that so that the terrain isn't as bumpy so that when she speaks to her needs and desires, she's still in a world that is male dominated, unfortunately, for now, things are shifting. And she's up against real societal barriers to that. When we, as women speak up and name our desires, particularly if we do it in a way where we are standing in our inner authority, it's disarming to some people. So in some cases it works. And in other cases, it's seen as confrontational, even though it's not. If we speak in a manner that a man speaks, it's heard differently, just the fact that it came out of a vehicle that is so called woman. It's heard differently. And so, I want to celebrate that you were able to shift the narrative of your marriage, that you were both able... as uncomfortable as it was for both of you, because you've both been conditioned by society... that you were able to shift that. I love that you're able to own your feelings and I hear you taking so much responsibility and I feel it's my responsibility as the one, putting these words out into the ethers to say to everyone, it's not all of your responsibility. Right? And you and I both know that. It's like, how do we own what's ours and also seek to change the structures that are reinforcing the fact that the terrain is different for you than it is for him. You've had an opportunity to look back on how you were raised and live inside of a marriage where you were both free and caged at the same time, as every woman is. And then you flung the door open. And I know that you have a really close relationship with your children. What has this journey of invisibility and being seen... how has it shaped the way that you mother your children? Do you see the path before them is different? Like, what are your thoughts around all of that?

Katherine Howells: 35:01
Yeah, well, my daughter and son witnessed their parents for years and years and years living in this script. which included a lot of indirect communication, some passive aggressive stuff. They didn't witness parents who are communicating transparently and openly and working their conflicts out. So, I think both children would agree that they are conflict avoidant and rightfully so, they didn't get a model for that. So, um, I've been aware of that as we all get older, we grow more and more and I've been making a concerted effort to not avoid conflict with them. So when something comes up, I really want to work it out with them. I want them to know, first of all, that they can tell me anything. If I'm really annoying them, or I'm saying something that's not helpful, or doing something that doesn't feel good in relation to them, then I want to hear about that. So we've been communicating more transparently. I think they would both say, yeah, that's true. You know, for me, it just comes to this choice point. You referred to that time when I just said, okay, it's gonna either shift or I'm out of here, where I made the decision to start voicing what my needs and desires were. It felt like I really didn't have a choice. I mean, it felt like I knew that if I didn't take this on that, I would be a very unhappy person and maybe check out, because I knew there was a lot more. I wanted more than that in my life. And I think that, that when we really look at that, all of us, at any point where we're feeling like we want more than what we're giving or receiving that, for me, I'm just not willing to stay. I'm not willing to stay in the situation that doesn't lead me to my full expression, to my, experiencing my full essence of why I'm here on this planet at this time. So, I hope my kids are experiencing that with me, in me, through me, they're seeing that that desire to be in full expression is so important to me. I think they see that.

Candice Schutter: 37:56
I love how you're describing that choice point and this idea of staying or not staying. And what I love about it is that you are not speaking to me about the narrative. It's the voice of wisdom that only comes from maturity and time on the planet, right? Of understanding that when you say the choice to stay, a lot of folks think about the drama on the surface, the situation. So they think in terms of this black and white scenario of either I stay in this drama of the situation, or I leave the drama of the situation. And I hear you describing it as the choice around, I am showing up in a certain way. I'm playing a certain role. Am I going to choose to stay with that role? Or am I going to become more of myself and see what it does to the drama on the surface? It's not this... it's so, this is so important. I'm so glad that you said it the way you said it. Cause I think this is so critical. It's something I've definitely learned where, you know, in my earlier years, should I stay or should I go was always about what was happening? The narrative on the surface. And early on, I didn't think of it in terms of who I was choosing to be in that situation. And can I become more of myself here and then see what happens? Versus I have to go somewhere else to become more of myself, which is the great lie, and you're naming it so beautifully. And to demonstrate that to your children. And then, it's not to say that we should stay always and stick it out. It's let's show up authentically and see what it does. In your case, you moved forward. It could have gone differently.

Katherine Howells: 39:39

Candice Schutter: 39:40
And yet, your children are seeing you bit by bit stepping into more of your expression and authenticity, even with them in terms of transparency, and seeing what it does to the relationship rather than bailing on the relationship.

Katherine Howells: 39:53

Candice Schutter: 39:54
So beautiful.

Katherine Howells: 39:55
And I don't pretend to believe that we should stay in all situations, certainly.

Candice Schutter: 40:01
Right, of course.

Katherine Howells: 40:03
There are some situations where I would know that, no, I can't be my full essence in this relationship it's not safe or whatever, so, yeah. Yeah.

Candice Schutter: 40:15
And you did that with your first marriage?

Katherine Howells: 40:17

Candice Schutter: 40:18
Right. So, you know, you've been down that road.

Katherine Howells: 40:21
Yes. Right, right. Yeah. It is really looking at when you talk about the narrative is okay, well, if I leave, am I going to just bring this with me? Likely yes. Sometimes no, I'm leaving behind whatever, but most likely yes, it's coming with me.

Candice Schutter: 40:42
Yeah. It's that both-and again, right? It's that I am committed and I'm not staying because I'm committed. It's not that simple, in terms of the relationship itself. I'm staying true to myself, and as I stay true to myself, that's the real staying put we're talking about. I'm going to show up with this in relationship to the world around me and how beautiful that they have a father who's willing to do the work and adjust as well. And they get to watch and witness that happening on both sides, even as it is a work in progress as it, as it should be. And that's one of the things that I love about you so much. Coming from a lineage of women who, for understandable reasons, resigned to themselves at a certain point in their life. I think a lot of it has to do with... it's part of the reason I'm so adamant about access. Because I think when we have access to certain tools and we can start the process of self-development as early as possible. For most of us, it doesn't happen until adulthood, because we don't have those systems in place, but when it happens, then we can continue that until the end of our life ideally. And the family that I grew up in, you know, on both sides of the women didn't have access to any of those resources at any point. And there was a point of resignation is the best way I can describe it, where it's just the sense of we get to a certain age and it's just, that's it. I'm just sort of living out the rest of my life and finding joy where I can. And I don't know this for a fact, I'm projecting a little bit, but it feels like a sense of defeat almost. And to be so committed to staying curious. To me, that youthful innocence that w e can always have access to. It's that thing that makes me look at someone like you and say like, 71? What? You seem so ageless to me. And I think it's that light from within of I'm nourishing and nurturing my ageless self, and it shines through. And then people seem so much younger than they quote unquote look. And I think we feel that. We feel that and that you are demonstrating that as well to yourself first and foremost, and to your children, like you're not fully cooked ever.

Katherine Howells: 43:01
No. Won't be, uh huh, this is what you get if you hang around. Mom is cooking, in process. Tara Brach talks about the process of courageous presence, which we have been talking about, but she goes into it more specifically about the steps of courageous presence. And the first thing she says is to notice that we've been triggered, that something has hooked us and rather than denying it or avoiding it, or pushing it down, we just let it be there. She says, that's the beginning of freedom when we're able to just sit and be with those emotions. I think one of my favorite Rumi poems is The Guest House.

Candice Schutter: 43:52
It's so beautiful. Yes.

Katherine Howells: 43:53
Yes. So fling that door open and invited all in.

Candice Schutter: 43:58
All of the emotions are welcome.

Katherine Howells: 43:59
All of it, all of it. Yeah. The second step is to be willing to directly contact and feel the vulnerability or the fear to feel what's present. To really sit with it and to have a conversation, a curiosity. What are you here for? What do I have to learn from you? Because there's a reason this stuff comes up, and when we pay attention, listen, there's a lot to learn. And third step is being willing to respond from our hearts, from our wisdom, but we can only get to that place, she says, that heart place, if we go through the first two steps of recognition and acceptance. So that's really been powerful practice for me and not just about accepting what's coming up from inside, but accepting the what is in the moment.

Candice Schutter: 44:58

Katherine Howells: 45:00
That's always been a hard one for me because, you know, how can I possibly accept many of the situations in the world right now? Or how can I possibly accept that person who is raging at me or someone else? I've really contemplated that deeply. And what I'm learning is that I have preferences that the situation isn't happening, but I, first of all don't have any control over it. And secondly, I have no idea what the story is of that person who's raging or what's behind the scenes, basically in a particular situation. And so I spend a lot of time relaxing my heart and allowing those feelings that come up of helplessness or frustration or upset to be there, sit with them, offer compassion to myself, to others who are going through very challenging times. And do my best to keep my heart open and, you know, see that raging person as my brother or sister, and that we're all in this together sort of thing. So it's been challenging as I know it is for so many of us to, to walk this challenging path in these times. But I, I absolutely know that the most beneficial thing I can do is to not close down my heart or shut off the love. That this situation, whatever it is, needs as much love as we can shine on it. So that's been the work for me.

Candice Schutter: 46:53
And it's just yet another, yet another paradox of, in order to change the unacceptable, we must learn to accept it first. Accept it for what it is, and meet it where it is, respond to it how it is, and that's where the, what you described that, that ability to self-regulate and ground, and to return to this space of the heart and to stay open, even as your desire is to create change. Yes. It's that funny little paradox. It's the core of all these truths.

Katherine Howells: 47:37

Candice Schutter: 47:38
is paradox. Yeah. And that's really why I wanted so much to talk with you because I find that my elders who are on spiritual paths have an embodied understanding of paradox. You know, in the last episode I did with Erica Ruber, we talked about when we go to a healer that has like a transformative effect on our being, it's not so much that they have some magic it's that they have done a certain amount of work and they are settled in a certain way in their nervous system. And we can entrain to that, and it's medicinal to be around that. And I find that in a culture that runs away from the idea of aging and that devalues particularly women as they get older.

Katherine Howells: 48:18

Candice Schutter: 48:19
I feel it is so important to center women's voices who have lived and have the ability to hold these complex, paradoxical truths to the light for us, and to say, here's how I can stay grounded in love, even though the shit is hitting the fan, because I've lived through so many times that the shit hit the fan. I know how this goes, and I'm holding this. Yeah, I'm holding this space. And I guess I'm urging all the listeners out there... If you have individuals in your life that have lived more than you have, regardless of what story you might have around that person, they have a wisdom of great value that you can tap into. And I know that you have that. And I just so appreciate that, even though visibility isn't your thing that this was a yes for you, that your deeper pulse led you here makes me so happy. And I'm just so grateful to be able to connect with you and share our connection with others in hopes that it will inspire similar conversations. We've talked about you as the child, the wife, the mother, and this reclaiming of the woman, or even maybe even just the soul beneath all labels, that is taking authority over her life and taking ownership over her experience and stepping into this beautiful space that is being seen versus being visible. What currently motivates your expression, if it's not a desire to be visible? You have this experience of, the less attached I am to being visible, the more I am seen. And perhaps that drives your expression. I'm curious, how do you see all of that now that you've taken back your rightful place to live at the center of your own life, what's that look like for you now? And where are you at with that?

Katherine Howells: 50:19
We're talking about authentic self expression. So one thing I've been really focused on, I would say the last couple of years, is really looking at my motivation behind why I want to say something or express myself in some way. And it's clear to me that sometimes I'm motivated because there's a feeling of lack that I want to fill. There's a fear, or I'm feeling envious, or the motivation comes from my ego's desire to receive recognition, to receive acknowledgement. That I'm perhaps feeling, I am feeling invisible, and it's uncomfortable, so I want you to see me. And when I express myself in that way, I have learned over quite some time that that doesn't really benefit the relationship or the situation. So really learning to pause more has been helpful to me in terms of, okay, so why do I want to express right now? What's calling me to express right now? And when it truly feels like it's something my heart wants to say, that I feel like it would be beneficial to myself, to the situation, then I express, and it most often enriches the relationship, connects me more deeply to whomever I'm speaking with or whatever the situation is. So motivation is really something that's important for me to pay attention to. My motivation for expression.

Candice Schutter: 52:11
Yes. I love that. And you mentioned early on in our conversation, the work of James Hollis, whom both of us really appreciate as a teacher and author. And I hear very much, sort of, that lens that he looks through as you're describing this and this question that I'm sure I've mentioned it in earlier episodes that I just carry with me everywhere I go, that came from his work. Which is continually asking the question, what is this in service to? This that I am about to do, this that I am about to say, this expression that I am about to create. What is it in service to? And it's really... when that question is asked, I think a lot of people read it without knowing the context that it's about... Is it helping other people? And that's not really what the question is meant to tap into. It's really about what is this in service to internally for me, the fact that I feel this impulse? Is this in service to an insecurity that I have? Is this in service to role that I've been playing for as long as I can remember? Is this in service to, as you said, this need for validation? Or is it in service to something that's more meaningful to me? Does this have a purpose and a meaning to me? And who I am, and what I feel here to express in this moment in the world? My values, for example. Or the relationship as a whole. Cause sometimes it's, we want to express a really difficult truth. If we ask the question, what is this in service to? And again, we're only looking at the surface narrative and we think of it in terms of, well, if I tell this difficult truth to this person, it might hurt them. We might shut down our expression. If we only ask the question that way. But if we ask the question, what is this in service to in terms of my authenticity? Is this me trying to get one up? Is this a mean girl moment? Or is this something that genuinely is true for me that needs to be known and needs light shown on it. And it's that moment that you talked about the pivotal moment in your marriage, where you say, I'm not going to hide from myself anymore; and therefore, I can't hide from you. So I just, I love that you framed it in terms of motivation. Like, what is motivating this expression? I think that's a great tool for all of us to remember. I think about social media a lot when I think about being visible. And I know the difference between when I post something from a place of being visible and I post something from a place of being seen, I can feel the difference in my body.

Katherine Howells: 54:58

Candice Schutter: 54:58
And sometimes you don't know till after the fact, right?

Katherine Howells: 55:03
Yes, unfortunately.

Candice Schutter: 55:04
Yeah, you look back and you're like, oh, that was eight year old me standing on a park bench, waving her arms around. Okay.

Katherine Howells: 55:13

Candice Schutter: 55:13

Katherine Howells: 55:14
Yeah, for sure. Well, in a way, when I think about it and James Hollis, I'm looking for that quote because... he asks, "what is wanting to be expressed through me? In order to go beyond the fears that arise, we need to pull ourselves out of the picture. We are a vehicle for life. Life asks us to serve it, and we don't serve it when our life is narrowed down to fear-based responses." So I think about that in terms of, what is it I really care about? What is really important here? If I'm talking about something that again is coming from a lack, then my heart is not the one that's involved. It's my fear that's talking. And when I set myself aside and say, okay, it's not about you, Katherine It's about expressing life through me. What is wanting to be expressed through me? And when I think about that, well, it's not a thinking, it's a knowing, right here in my center. I know what my soul wants to express. I know why my soul is here. And when that's all there is, that's the essence and that's what's driving me to say 'yes, Candice, I'll talk with you on a podcast, to step beyond the discomfort of that. You are providing an opportunity for all of us to let our life shine through this mechanism, this vehicle. And it's a huge gift. And, I mean, that's why we're here. That's simply why we're here is to let our life shine our light shine. And I'm just done with not doing that, with staying hidden, keeping the light small as I can keep it.

Candice Schutter: 57:29
Yeah. Well, I think it's really tricky, which is why the spiritual path isn't necessarily an easy one. It's sort of, as they say, simple, but not easy. I think part of where we get tripped up is around, the limitations of language and words. And this is sort of one of the problems we're facing culturally right now is people can take sound bites from things and they can frame them however they want, because words are limiting by nature. So in the same breath and description that I understood entirely and resonated with completely, you said, I have to set my self aside and let life come through me, and I'm stepping into more expression of this self that I am. It's this strange paradox that we're always faced with of... well wait, she said she set herself aside, but she said yes to the podcast. It's like, yes, exactly. Exactly. It's this understanding that we are not who we think we are.

Katherine Howells: 58:26

Candice Schutter: 58:27
We are not these roles that we play and these personas that we've developed. And, you know, I'm of the camp that the ego is in no way the enemy, that a strongly developed ego is, in fact, one of the greatest tools we can possibly have. And when we confuse ourselves with it, with said identities, then we become lost from that soul self, what I call the deeper pulse that you're describing that flows through us and wants to express itself. And really is not at all in any way interested in the role that we play. So what it wants to express may align with it, and it might not, and we just have to get out of the damn way essentially. And that's what you're describing. I just really want to underscore that for everyone listening out there. I think we all struggle with that confusion around, well, I need to stand for myself. I need to show up for myself and it's like, yes, you do, and not for the self that you think you are. You're standing and showing up for the self that you actually, in some ways have no control over. That's the real kicker, right?

Katherine Howells: 59:32

Candice Schutter: 59:33
It's all the selves that we have created that get in the way of that deeper self coming through. And that's what I hear you describing is saying I'm tired of spending all my energy keeping track of all of these persona selves, whether I'm visible or invisible. I'm interested in being seen as who I really am. Doing that instead. And that's gotta feel really liberating.

Katherine Howells: 59:57
Absolutely. And it's truly what the world needs right now. Especially us women, stepping into our power as a loving, compassionate, uh, willing to go into those dark places, willing to shine the light on those dark places in ourselves, willing to call it out when we see it out there. It's so critical right now. And I say women, it's true for men as well.

Candice Schutter: 1:00:29
Or however, people identify. It's really not about that as we know. Which is, which is part of the point that we're making is really that none of that ultimately... we know that it tremendously matters in terms of social construct, so no making light of that. We've got a long way to go. And ultimately, if we want to get to the space we're talking about, we have to make it so that, that doesn't matter... that life is flowing through us as it is, regardless of if somebody wants to label it, man, woman, whatever. It's the fixation on all those labels that's holding us all hostage. And yet some labels carry a greater burden when it comes to self-expression. Like, the terrain is different, depending on who you are. And those of us who have a certain kinds of privilege, it's all the more reason for us to step into that fullness and make room saying, I'm standing up, and against, and for this, and it's not about me. I am, like you said, the light in the room, and it's coming on and you may or may not like what you see, but there it is.

Katherine Howells: 1:01:36
Yes. And we are all seeing now more clearly than ever before what needs our light. A lot of our light right now. So that's been a huge motivator to me. The question we are all asking ourselves, what can I do to make it a better world?

Candice Schutter: 1:02:03
What do you feel is the greatest benefit making the shift from concern with your visibility to sort of landing in this place of being seen as you are, what do you feel like some of the greatest benefits have been to you?

Katherine Howells: 1:02:18
Well, one of the biggest benefits is that I don't take myself nearly as seriously as I used to. So I don't really care so much about what people think of me or how I'm coming across or whether or not I'm acting like a goofball at the moment, which my daughter calls me frequently. You're such a goofball, mom. So just a lightness of being is more prevalent in my life now, which I'm really enjoying. A deeper peace, for sure. And a connection with the love that is I believe the essence of who we all are.

Candice Schutter: 1:03:11
Yeah. Beautiful. You know, I decided early on when I shifted to this format that I wasn't so concerned with, who can I get that will get me the most visibility... that I was going to make my choices based on something else on the feeling of connection and who are people that I can connect with that I know I will feel that sense of being seen and that I can see in return. And I'm just trusting that these types of conversations are of service in some way. I just love you so much.

Katherine Howells: 1:03:47
I love you too, Candice. And that's really all we can do, right. Is put it out there. We don't have any control over what happens to it once we let it free. Exactly, and that's the beauty of expression and why it's so scary, you know, why it takes so much courage to let life pass through us, as us, rather than conform... as it is, rather than conforming to some persona of who we should be. Just to say, I'm just going to show up here with a few ideas and then I'm going to put it out in the world and I'm going to trust that that's enough. That me just being me is enough. And that's what you're reminding us. I just love that. And I just love you. Thank you so much for being willing to do this with me. Oh, it has been a huge pleasure. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to show up. I knew it would be uplifting to my spirit to spend time with you. And you're right. I forgot that we weren't just having a conversation in the living room over a cup of tea. My heart's just really open and lots of gratitude. This called me to step up and I will look for more and more opportunities to just step into it, as you said.

Candice Schutter: 1:05:09
I love it. I love it. And I will champion you every step of the way.

Katherine Howells: 1:05:13
And I, you. Lucky us. Okay. Well, I will let you get on with your day. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Candice. Have a glorious day.

Candice Schutter: 1:05:24
You too.

Katherine Howells: 1:05:25
Bye. Bye.

Candice Schutter: 1:05:34
Thank you for tuning in, and I hope to see you next time on The Deeper Pulse. Keep on moving toward what moves you. Big love. Ciao.

© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter