Overwhelmed? Ask yourself this question

Ever have one of those days when you don’t know where to start, when you feel overwhelmed, when you ask yourself, what should I DO today?

Luna under blankets 900 x 600

There are so many conflicting priorities and you just wish a big, fat genie would hand you the answer. Or do it all for you.

I woke up that way the other day. But when I asked myself what I should do I felt worse — more unfocused and overwhelmed than ever.

So, I started asking myself what I really wanted to do instead.

That’s when the magic happened.

The answer was writing a blog post about how women should never let themselves be limited by age, labels or society’s expectations.

Writing it allowed me to share something I feel passionate about. And that meant I was being fully myself as I wrote. It was what I wanted to do.

After I finished the post, I was energized and much more productive for the rest of the day. I even got some of those “shoulds” accomplished because I was feeling strong, centred and positive.

What do you really want to do today?

If you are feeling overwhelmed ask yourself this question: What do I really want to do? What do I want to do right now? What would make me feel good?

If you can’t act on your answer right away, make note of it and do so the next opportunity you get. Even better, create that opportunity by scheduling some ‘me’ time into your day.

Your answer may be nudging you towards taking a risk — changing jobs, ending a relationship or moving in a direction that you’re not sure about.

Or it may just be reminding you that you need to write a blog post.

Go where your answer takes you

If your answer makes you uncomfortable don’t come up with a million reasons why it won’t work. If you do, you will just stifle yourself and feel even worse.

See where your answer leads, instead. It will help bring you clarity and probably improve your mood.

Call to Action

Whenever you get sidetracked by obligations your heart just isn’t in, ask yourself this question because none of us has time to waste.

Why spend today doing something that doesn’t serve you?

Make 2014 the year you finally own it – who you are, what you are good at, what you want to do, what you don’t want to do, what makes you feel good and what you want to contribute.

You have a lot to offer and it’s time the world knew it!

c 2016 by Kathy Barthel

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Transforming loss into gratitude this Thanksgiving

This is my first Thanksgiving without my mom but as the holiday approaches I feel such gratitude — not only because she was a wonderful mother but because of how I believe she’s doing right now.

As I’ve mentioned here before, my mom’s last couple of years weren’t her best. She would tell me all the time that she just didn’t feel like herself.

As it turned out, some of that may have been because her cancer had returned, even though none of her tests had shown it. But it was more than that; my mom didn’t feel like the person she’d been all her life.

Anxious days, restless nights

Her resilience, humour, even her faith, seemed to have deserted her. In their wake were anxious days and restless nights full of worry and fear.

That is not to say that my mom didn’t experience moments of joy with family or friends, but something in behind that temporary happiness, was missing.

After I returned home from her memorial service, I thought about how upset she’d been and I prayed that she was feeling better.

Then one night as I was doing that, I had a very strong sense of her calm, secure and confident presence. I knew that she was content and happy. The stress of the last few years had evaporated.

Temagami Trail, c. M. Romig Dawson (my mom) pastel, 1997

It seems incorrect to call this my first Thanksgiving without my mom because in some ways it doesn’t seem like she’s gone. It seems like she moved and lives somewhere else, some place I can’t reach by phone.

But I know she’s fine and that’s why I’m grateful. My mom is herself again.

In fact, that is the idea that drives BrattyKathy — to really live is to be fully yourself, no fear, no apologies, no holding back.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mom.

c 2014 Kathy Barthel

What your shopping quirks reveal about you

Ever notice the quirky little things you can’t resist doing in a store?

You know, obsessively alphabetizing the DVDs in the sales bin. Or neatly folding — in thirds — all the jammed up jeans.

Shirt buttons

I am a compulsive shirt un-buttoner.

I have to undo the first two or three buttons and loosen the shirt up a bit, right there on the hanger. Can’t help it. 

My coat buttons in the dead of winter, are another story. I do not like being cold. But shirts are made to be undone.

Those first few buttons are meant to weigh down the shirt just enough so that each side falls away from my neck.

I can breathe, the shirt can breathe, everybody’s happy — except the scowling sales clerk behind me, buttoning up the rejects.

I’m glad I am not a guy; I’d never have mastered that buttoned up shirt and tie thing.

Touchy-feely books

When I see raised words on the cover of a book, I have to touch them. I cannot resist. And, if those words are in a metallic colour (sigh) like gold, copper, silver, blue or red, I am a bee to honey!

Perdita book cover

Books are a tactile experience. People who love books will tell you this. Feeling real leather, raised type, the texture of the paper — these things are as much a part of the experience of buying a book as the words inside.

What are the things you can’t resist doing in a store?  They reveal a lot about you.

If you’re feeling stuck in your life or career, think about those quirky little habits of yours. They offer clues to your personality and even aspects of your work style.

I’m not a buttoned-up sort of person. I thrive in open, creative environments where there’s lots of collaborating and brainstorming going on.

Being a brat is about embracing your quirks and having a little fun with them.

When people tease you about your shopping habits, tease them right back. They’re probably closet DVD straighteners.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

The secret to your success is in your childhood

If you want to know what you should be doing for a living, look at your childhood.

Back then you knew what you loved to do and you did it. You didn’t need to take a course, survey your friends or consult a career coach.

Everything was clear.

I was an instigator. In elementary school I got other kids to follow me around the yard at recess, singing songs I had chosen and written out on long sheets of paper.

I came up with new painting techniques or created completely new kinds of paintings — and became very annoyed when other kids copied them. I loved performing and collaborating on plays. I got great marks in English class.

The things you loved to do as a kid reveal your talents and personality and they provide the clues to what you were meant to do in your career.

Think back to elementary school:

What were you always doing every chance you got?

What did you get in trouble for?

What did you excel at?

What did you hate to do?

Doing what you’re good at — or what you love

You were yourself back then, the same self, with everyone you met. You hadn’t learned to suppress some of your personality to please others, to make them feel better about themselves or to fit in.

Back then, you didn’t just do what you were good at, you did what you loved!

I knew the difference between the two when I was 10 but I only discovered it years later. I remember the year and even the restaurant I was in when the ‘revelation’ occurred to me.

The full monty

Being a brat means defying any social convention that tells you it’s too late to reconnect with who you really are.

It is never too late to make a change — if you want to.

Being a brat means giving the world the full monty! No holding back, no excuses.

Don’t compartmentalize yourself, don’t keep those aspects that are most truly you from the rest of the world where they could do so much good.

They are connected to your strongest talents and gifts.

If you’re not doing what you love for a living, what did you love to do as a kid?

The secret to your success is there.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

How Katharine Hepburn changed my life

When I was a kid I lived in the country, far away from the big city.

I knew that if I wanted to go to university — and get away from my current circumstances — I would have to make it happen myself. I would have to organize it and finance it on my own.

But sometimes when you feel you’re on your own, you’re not. Often there is someone whose example gives you the courage to make a major change.

For me that person was outspoken actress and icon, Katharine Hepburn (below, in a 1940 still by Clarence Sinclair Bull, for The Philadelphia Story). She played feisty, independent-minded women in films and was much the same off-camera.

Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story, 1940 by Clarence Sinclair Bull

“That’s all there is to life, being part of it.”

I read those words of Hepburn’s and I never forgot them.

As a teen I desperately wanted to be part of life — a richer, bigger life — which to me meant going off to university and living in a big city. There was energy there, intellectual stimulation and fresh, new ideas and ways of looking at the world!

I had outgrown my circumstances. I needed to stretch and grow and learn, to be challenged. I was hungry for it.

Hepburn’s independent spirit reinforced my resolve. I watched her films and read everything I could about her. Her passion for life and her view that you must take responsibility for your own destiny inspired and empowered me. It made me feel bold and strong.

Where would I be without Hepburn’s inspiration?

How I could have changed the course of my life without her inspiration is something I won’t allow myself to consider. Altering my circumstances was so critical to my well-being and to my future, that I cannot imagine what would have happened had I not done it. I won’t let myself imagine it.

Feeling inspired gives you courage and reinforces the courage you already have. It helps push you to make the changes that will move you forward and into a healthier place.

Katharine Hepburn’s advice for living:

  • “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around.”
  • “Without discipline, there’s no life at all.”
  • “The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.”
  • “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

But don’t forget your sense of humour. This quote inspires Bratty Kathy every single day:

“If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.”

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Negative self-talk: kick it to the curb

If you think you don’t deserve it, you won’t get it.

Do you ever tell yourself: I don’t deserve to have a loving partner; I don’t deserve to be financially comfortable; I don’t deserve a good job. In other words, I don’t have a right to those things.

If you’re guilty of that kind of negative self-talk, think back to your childhood.

Every child deserves to be nurtured 

When you were little, did you deserve to be loved, nurtured and cared for? Did you deserve to have your talents and dreams supported by the adults around you? Did you deserve to have friends to hang out with and fun things to do?

Of course you did.

Maybe you didn’t get what you deserved but that wasn’t your fault. It was the fault of the adults around you; it was their responsibility to provide those things for you. You didn’t have to “earn” them by being pretty enough or smart enough or popular enough. You just deserved them. Period.

Every child deserves to be loved and nurtured, made to feel special and to know that their talents and personality are unique and wonderful.

You deserve a happy life and a successful career

Now you deserve the adult version of those things — a good career that utilizes your talents and gifts, people who support and believe in you and financial stability. You deserve all of that; you never stopped deserving it.

You’re that same little child, just older. You still deserve a good life. 

Negative thoughts change your life 

But if you’ve adopted negative self-talk that says you don’t, then you are setting yourself up for struggle and heartache.

You may think, “Why should I try for those things? I’m not one of those people who has a nice home, a great job and a holiday every year.”

If you’ve been listening to that negative voice, that lie — and believing it, then you won’t create a life that makes good things possible. Thinking you don’t deserve them will remove the confidence you need to pursue them.

Being a brat means exposing anything false and being empowered by the truth — not choked by lies. The idea that you “don’t deserve” success is a lie. 

But changing your thought patterns takes time so be patient and keep trying.

Whenever you think, “I don’t deserve good things”:

1. Remember when you were a child. You deserved good things then and you deserve them now. That hasn’t changed.

2. Ask yourself: Do I feel better when I think this way? Do things improve? Are these thoughts helping me create the life I want?

3. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: I deserve a fulfilling career; I deserve a partner who will have my back; I deserve to be financially secure.

4. Be a brat. Rip the rug out from under any lie that says you’re not good enough. Smash it. Kick it to the curb!

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Coming out of the closet as a brat

For years I was in the closet; only my closest friends and family knew I was a brat.

In fact, this blog only came about because my inner brat decided to bust out a few weeks ago.

Bratty childhood

My kick-ass spirit wasn’t always hidden. When I was four, I scolded my beloved grandmother because she’d made my big sister cry. When I was 10, I wrote an indignant letter to the prime minister telling him to stop the seal hunt. 

Sometimes you have to stir it up, you have to pull the rug out from under things to make them right.

Adventures in bratty dating

The summer before university, I went out with my boyfriend at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, and returned home at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

My mom, bless her heart, was very upset and asked what the neighbours would think about me coming in at that time.

I said, “Well, if they’re peering out their windows in the middle of the night wondering where I am, I think they’re the ones with the problem, not me.”

As a parent I understand where my mom was coming from but being a brat means standing up for the truth, even if it goes against the status quo.

And the status quo is often covering up another truth.

Into the closet

I remember doing the dishes with my sister on a visit home from university and saying something typically bratty. She asked if I would say that to my boyfriend and I said, ‘Of course not! He couldn’t handle it.” 

It may have been during the dishwashing that my inner brat went into the closet. 

 Peeking out

This has been a year of change — being downsized, my only child moving away for school, becoming single again and more recently, the loss of my mom.

This post marks one year since that all began.

But it has also been a year of growth, creativity and new alliances.

Just over a year ago I was on my porch enjoying the summer night air and writing about how I wanted to do more public speaking, writing and videos. I wanted to inspire people to live more fulfilling lives by doing what they were meant to do.

I also wanted to move my own life in that direction. 

Busting out

For me that means being a brat — calling out hypocrisy, taking a strip off injustice and ripping the rug out from under my own thoughts or ideas when they get in the way of the life I want to live.

And of course, having a little fun.

When I launched this blog a few weeks ago I didn’t put my name on the posts, only my pseudonym, Bratty Kathy.

I told myself, “If you write about orgasms, you’ll never work in this town again!”

I got over it.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel