How can positive psychology help us grow and flourish through adversity in transformative ways? What is the “building effect” that strengthens our adaptive coping capacity when we face challenges? In this WBI/JCC webinar, Kara Colemen, MA, SC, shares stories of her journey and inspires us to define our own roadmaps to resilience, through practices for cultivating a spiritual growth mindset that enhances grit and grace.

Kara is the Director of Member Success for Hello Insight, which helps organizations integrate and evaluate positive youth development practices that enhance social-emotional learning. She is also a certified coach and Interspiritual Counselor who has been working since 2010 with individuals seeking to align inspiration and inner wisdom with empowered action. 

Highlights from the Conversation

Kara Colemen: As a coach and a counselor, I often find myself Googling and researching different topics around resilience, and what it is to maintain a positive outlook. Probably three or four years ago at least, I had a happy Google moment of coming across Wholebeing Institute, and then I just started investigating and reading all about the program and was so impressed. Even having had many certification experiences, it just resonated so deeply at a heart level. And so finally, I had the opportunity this year to move forward. And it just is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I am a recent graduate—I completed the CiWPP program this past August, and this presentation is actually an extension and expansion of my final project. 

Today’s topic is very personal for me, because I feel like it really encapsulates my experience of the last few years, particularly the last seven years. And my hope is that in sharing my journey and experience, that you too, will find wisdom, in walking your own path, in living life, and in those moments of facing adversity, that would be beneficial to you in moving through those moments and finding a deeper sense of grit and grace. 

I wanted to invite us into this space and time with a reading that I dearly love, from Morgan Harper Nichols’ “All Along You Were Blooming,” which feels very appropriate for these times, and certainly this topic for today. So I just want to invite you to settle in to your seats, and really take a deep breath. And just allow yourself this moment to acknowledge that this is time for yourself. This is an opportunity to be still, to take in insights, new awareness, and to really care for yourself in a way that you’re being, you know, a really conscious support around all the things that are a priority for you, right? And so just even having this opportunity to set down the to-do lists and just say this is my time to take something new in and be nourished by it. So with that, I just want to share Morgan’s words. 

If you are swimming in a sea

of unanswered questions,

may you find courage to be silent.

And while the waves

fall over one another

in a splash of black and blue,

slowly drowning out your thoughts

leaving you with nothing else to do

but fall helplessly

under the body

of rolling water,


do not think you must rush on.

It is okay to spend some time here.

It is okay to be the only one here.

The shore is calling, but today, you’re in this water.

Find its purpose,

its substance.


Wait in silence.

Fall into a place of listening

and surrender,

and trust that even here,

these whirling waters

will not carry you on forever.

And when the current comes

you will be lifted up,

carried to the shore,

and you will be better

for having been here,

embracing silence amidst

the water’s roar.

I love these words so much, they felt so deeply appropriate for today’s conversation, this idea of being lifted up in a way, by life, that allows you to look back over the stormy seas, the rough waters you have come through in a way that you can appreciate having been there, and what you have gained from it. To recognize that even in the most challenging times, there is an opportunity for learning and growth. And so our conversation for today is going to be guided by the exploration of four questions.

When I was considering, what does it mean to flourish through adversity, this is the inquiry that really arose for me. And so one question, what does it mean to flourish? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Secondly, how does positive psychology help us grow and flourish through adversity through those rough waters and stormy seas? And what are the personal strengths and practices that are ability that contribute to our ability to flourish? What keeps us afloat, what serves as those life preservers, that allows even the current to find us and carry us right to shore? And what insights and motivations enable us to embody grit, and grace? 

I always find it helpful with this question to just begin with a place of seeking shared understanding around what does it mean to flourish. And many of you, especially being CiWPP alums, are probably very familiar with this topic. But I would say even being an alum, or even prior to being an alum, the question of what is flourishing is so helpful to explore again, and again, to come back to as a remembrance and a reminder, and an affirmation. And so I started with your basic Webster’s Dictionary definition of flourish: to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way. I love that the word vigorous is included in the definition, it just feels vital and vibrant. And I love the synonyms for flourish—to thrive, to prosper, to blossom and bear fruit. I love the metaphor of tending your garden—how do you tend your inner garden in a way that helps you thrive?

We also have the five elements of human flourishing that the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, offered for us. When we think of human flourishing, we think of enhancing and increasing the sense of positive emotions, our sense of well-being and excitement and joy and happiness, our sense of being satisfied with life, and our way of engaging with the world through our passions, our work, our interests, our hobbies, and the opportunity to forge and enjoy deep and meaningful relationships with with others, and also find meaning and purpose in life, as well as the opportunity to think about accomplishments, but in a way that really connects us to how are we embracing and expressing our gifts and talents.

I love this definition from Dr. Lynn Soots: Flourishing is the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings inner joy and happiness, through meeting goals, being connected with life’s passions, and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life. There is so much I love about this definition, so much. As someone who from the time I can remember, from very young, has always been really committed to honoring my passions as a guide, I love the idea of honoring what resonates with us, and really honoring who we fully are, our authentic selves, as a guide for steering us towards life experiences that we can truly relish, that give us joy, that fuel or happiness, even through the peaks and valleys of life. No matter what comes our way, you still have the opportunity to flourish. 

As I was thinking about the definition of flourishing, of course, you begin to reflect well, what does that look like for me? How do I experience flourishing? Am I experiencing flourishing? This collage of moments really represents that experience in my own life. You see a lot of smiles, right, so this sense of happiness and optimism and feeling connected to a genuine positive outlook, a sense of vitality, and feeling energized and passionate about opportunities and what I get to experience within myself and with other people, [making a] meaningful contribution. I told my folks at Hello Insight, my lovely team of collaborators, every day I’m so thankful to be connected to doing work that I truly love around social-emotional learning and positive youth development. And I work with a wonderful team, who I enjoy, and so we talk about positive relationships and meaningful contribution. In this moment in my life, I feel very much like those are so prevalent for me. And you see family, you see friends, my son, Isaiah, who’ll be eight in December, my parents—the relationships that are central in my life, and really helped me stay connected to hope and to the commitment to flourishing. 

One of my real drivers and motivators is the opportunity not just to learn, but to apply that learning in ways that are beneficial. So understanding that every opportunity, every experience, offers something that I can take with me and carry forward about what’s working well, or even not so well. There’s something that’s being offered that I really appreciate, and laughter and fun. Humor is one of my top signature strengths. So if I’m not laughing or having fun, I’m probably not gonna be doing it for long. And then also gratitude, having a sense of the good, appreciating the good. All of these things encompass so much of what flourishing looks like for me.

I think it’s important to begin with what is flourishing and what does it look like? Because as we’re thinking about it, the journey towards an optimal state of being is a process, it’s not a destination where you just get there and end. It’s an ongoing experience. But if you’re thinking about where you want to go and what you want to achieve, in terms of feeling your best, experiencing life in a way that feels good, what does that state really looks like for yourselves? As you think about your flourishing, take a couple minutes to journal in considering a couple of questions. One is, what feelings and experiences do you associate with living the good life? Two: what gives you a sense of fulfillment and meaning? What are those things that, when you have the opportunity to take part in them or experience them, you really find yourself relishing and savoring them in a way that is significant for you?

[Participants journal and then share.]

Now that we’ve had this opportunity to really think about where we want to go, the state of being that we want to cultivate for ourselves, the topic at hand also encompasses what it means to flourish even in the face of adversity. And so when we speak of adversity, again, as the definition says here, we’re speaking about a state of hardship and experience of challenge or affliction, what we associate with as misfortune. I think it’s so important to acknowledge that each and every one of us as human beings, at some point or another, encounters challenges that are not only difficult, but in some instances knee-bending, and disrupting our sense of well-being, safety, security, right? All of us, in some points in life, experience varying degrees of disappointment, loss, and trauma. Sometimes, those experiences of challenge or misfortune, what I refer to as a dark night of the ego, breaking down some things that are in need of release, can go on for extended periods of time—months, and sometimes even years. And I speak from personal experience. 

So not only are we dealing with the everyday human realities, where curveballs can come, the twists and turns, the ups and downs, as Dr. Soots said, but we’re also still in the midst of a pandemic—the last 18 to 20 months have been like no other. But even before COVID, if we can remember back before then, we were already overloaded. Many of us were dealing with what I consider to be the hamster wheel syndrome—just trying to keep up with life, multitasking, scrambling, trying to stay afloat with multiple demands in our life from work, family, and so forth. And then COVID came, and it was a tipping point for so many of us, having to multitask and cover the bases, while also feeling like the rug had been pulled out from under all of us, contributed to a collective sense of not only high levels of stress, but exhaustion, which we’re still grappling with, even as we talk about the hope of a return to normalcy. I hear that, and I say, honestly, it’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the container after it goes out. I don’t think we’re going to get back to what we thought of as normalcy anytime soon. And I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, either, given where we started. But we’re still dealing with uncertainty and all the anxiety that that brings. So we need to build strength in a way that is evolving with our daily reality. So, even in a moment where we are feeling stretched to the limit, we are being asked to find deeper levels, deeper reserves of courage and flexibility, and resilience, and empathy. Many of us who are on this call are in a profession of service, right? So we’re not only doing that for ourselves, we’re doing that for others. And it is a tall order, right? No one is denying that. Most people are saying, Oh, I’m trying to tread water, I’m trying to stay afloat. And yet, how are we talking about thriving? How is that feasible? Is that realistic?

The good news, the short answer is yes. And there’s good news in relation to what we’ve come to know about the benefits of positive psychology, and how it serves us in the face of challenges and stressors. There was a fantastic study done by Barbara Fredrickson, Kristin Neff, and many other well-known names in the field of positive psychology and mindful-self compassion, where they looked at positive psychology and a pandemic, and what effects that has around facing difficulty in dealing with the new reality that we all individually and collectively face. One of the ways that they understood from their research that positive psychology helps us is a buffering effect, right? It’s providing a buffering effect in the sense that it shields us, even when we’re going through hard times and crisis, from experiencing even more significant emotional and psychological harm. There is a buffer that protects us from teetering over the edge. Secondly, it serves as a bolstering effect. If you have things that are working well and going well in your life, positive psychology helps us maintain our ground and momentum around those things that are working well, so that we can continue to at least experience the benefit from them, and not have that disrupted. And thirdly, positive psychology helps us experience a building effect. This is my favorite, we’re going to talk so much about this. But the idea that we can move through crisis, not only in a way that we’re protected, where we’re able to experience stability, but we’re able to move through that moment in a way that actually transforms us for the better, that we’re able to develop knowledge and insights and strengths that propel us into greater experiences of well-being. And I read that and I said, Yes, yes. It resonated so deeply with me, because of my own experience again of the last seven years.

I think this quote sums it up: When we long for life without difficulty, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds, and diamonds are made under pressure. And I read this and I thought, Oh, my goodness, I feel like a diamond in the rough. I have arrived at a moment in my life where despite having had an incredibly challenging several years, dating back before the pandemic, I have arrived at a moment where I feel so strong within myself, so appreciative of who I am, and competent and expressing who I am, and optimistic about the opportunities for the future, and optimistic about the opportunities to really enjoy life in its many forms. Even with whatever comes, I believe that I’ll be able to move through it, somehow someway. And I said, Oh, my goodness, how the heck did I get here? How did that happen? How did that happen? What contributed to my building effect? Because when you’re moving through life, and having intense experiences, you’re just trying to move, right, you’re not pausing to reflect, you are in flow, so to speak. So the big inquiry for me was, what helped me transform through crisis for the better? And to begin to answer that question, I want to talk a little bit about what those crises were. And again, I know we all have them. 

My story is probably not unique. I had a series of years, that seven years, going back to 2014 up until the beginning of this year, where I was moving through the last phase of resurgence that really buckled my knees. My son was born in December 2013, and within a few months of his birth, my eight-year relationship with his father ended, in the midst of me trying to figure out brand new motherhood. He had gone through a series of setbacks and personal losses, family losses, and I’ve come to understand, with compassion, that sometimes you just hit a wall and you retreat into yourself. And it became very apparent for me, with little baby in hand, that the support that I desired and envisioned was not going to be available, and I needed to figure out very, very quickly how to make sure that my son, and I were going to be okay. And around that same time, literally, simultaneously, my mother went into a period of great struggle after having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and fell into great depths of depression and anxiety and a sense of pessimism about what that meant for her over the long term. At the time, I was living in Los Angeles, and my family’s rooted on the East Coast, so I was trying to grapple with that and encourage her through that from 3,000 miles away while navigating single motherhood and working full time.

All of that happening at the same time was not something that I anticipated and was, again, a very tall order. In addition to that, within that same five-year span, about a year or two later, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thankfully, it was at a stage where it didn’t require full-on chemotherapy treatment, the cancer levels were such that they could do alternative methods and I’m happy to say, as of today, he is cancer free. But my parents had been married 54 years, he is my mom’s primary caretaker. There was a moment back in 2018 when he had complications from surgery, where I got about 48 hours’ notice that I needed to arrange for my mom to come be with me in LA for about four months. So I went from trying to support from afar, pretty proactively, to becoming for a time a primary caregiver, in addition to caring for my son, in addition to working full time. About two months after my mother was able to return and be with my father in New Jersey, and about three, four weeks after I finished up a very intense five-year contract—like I got all of the heavy lifting off my table—my body just almost gave out. My lockstep focus on just keeping things going, keeping the engine running, came at such a cost and a toll. My blood pressure went haywire, became completely erratic and unpredictable. That led to a whole bunch of other serious symptoms that made it so hard to do basic things and function. And yet, I had to find a way because when you’re a single parent, there is little to no fallback. And I had been on top of that, a consultant for 10 years, self-employed. So for the six to seven months that I was trying to recover, I could not work and in fact, my doctor said, please stop working. The personal and financial implications of that were so significant, so scary. It was overwhelming, but somehow I knew that somehow, someway, I was going to find a way through. 

So, by 2020, when the pandemic came, honestly, so much had happened … I had just relocated back to the East Coast to be closer to my family and I had found a great opportunity. And then COVID hit like two months later, and trying to deal with the ramifications of that, once again, work going by the wayside and finding my way through. But I was like, You know what, I’ve been through enough, somehow, someway, we’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out. I said let me just take a look at the research—what do we know about positive psychology when it comes to promoting adaptive coping and flourishing through adversity? And there were five main factors that really rose to the surface and looking at that pandemic research study and other findings, one is having a sense of meaning—the degree to which you make sense of your life and you perceive your life to have value. And I have to say, I was so lucky being a social worker being a coach, being a counselor, because I had the opportunity to support and serve every day almost, to experience and witness and observe, contributing to someone’s growth and stepping into their own power and sense of what they’re capable of. And that really bolstered me. So I didn’t have to wonder about meaning or whether my life had purpose. 

Also, positive interpersonal processes, everyday experiences like sharing laughter, being kind, gratitude, being loved. So, even as my family was going through so much, never a question, never a doubt that I am blessed to have their unconditional love and support. And I have the best friends, I have been blessed, many of my friends go back decades from childhood, high school, college. And we have grown and evolved and moved through life together, and to be going through something of that level of difficulty and having friends who could relate from their own experiences on some level, or even more so, that we could just be honest and vulnerable. And yes, find opportunities to laugh through the pain, honestly. It helped me so much, it helps me to this day. And high-quality human connections. I think one other saving grace for me was that at the time, I had started my interspiritual certification program, a two-year program at the time. My son was two years old, I was the only one in the program with a school-aged child, let alone a toddler. I don’t know what possessed me. But I’m so glad that I didn’t quite know what I was signing up for. It was an East Coast–based program so I was getting up at the crack of dawn, getting the sitter up out of her bed so that I could be on these weekend seminars. But it was so worth it. Because I was part of a program and part of a community where I got to really dig into the idea that everything we go through has meaning and value and provides an opportunity for growth. It was again, a blessing. 

So what did I truly gain from my adversity experience? Grit, and grace, right? The courage and resolve and strength of character to continue to pick myself back up after every speed bump, hiccup, curveball, every moment of falling down, and needing to get back up and grace, just even in those moments that were excruciatingly difficult, finding ways to get some semblance of peace within myself to say, even as I’m going through all of this, I’m trusting that there’s a reason, and there’s new understanding and insights that will come that are going to serve me somehow. And that gave me an inner sense of peace. When I think about the character strengths that were really important for me—having a sense of purpose and meaning, no matter what I was going through, having a sense that I’m here to contribute something that is unique to me, that I’m here to make a contribution that’s meaningful. So whatever I’m going through is not going to take me down because I have a destiny to fulfill. And it doesn’t have to be a grandiose destiny, but I am here to offer value. That helped build my sense of trust that I could keep going. And to be brave and hopeful that there was better around the corner, just having that perspective of, this may feel awful but there’s an opportunity here, even if I’m having a hard time grasping it, there’s an opportunity to learn, there’s an opportunity to let go of something that’s not serving me. All of those things helped me persevere. 

Someone asked me, when we were we were having a conversation about this topic, well, those strengths are great, they make so much sense. But how did you steady yourself? How did you gather yourself around all of that? How did you even get to a point where you could think through the pain and comprehend? And,I want to say that the root of my integrity is that I am a truth seeker. What does that mean? That means that I am someone who really values being able to understand and know and reflect what is accurate, even if that means upsetting the apple cart, even if it means holding the mirror up and holding myself accountable, even if that means reassessing and reevaluating my life and having to change it. Because the alternative is living life according to a myth, or a lie, and being out of alignment with who I really am. And I probably have been like that since birth, if you ask my family, I think they’d agree. Some of us are born BS detectors, right? We just have an innate sense. 

[There’s] this idea of embracing Pandora’s gifts when all hell breaks loose. We think of Pandora and curiosity getting the better of her and all kinds of things going awry with that mythology, but I love this quote from Alana Fairchild, who says Pandora lives within us as our curious nature. She is the hopeful voice of our soul that asks the questions and in doing so triggers the process that brings the answers. Sometimes it’s through uncomfortable learning that we find our treasure. Pandora reminds us that the process of learning can take us places that seem like the end of our world, and yet all is not lost. Even now, the light within you is stirring for new revelation, new life and new adventure. So just honoring that stirring, that desire for new life and new adventure and revelation. And I also want to say, parenthood absolutely changed my perspective about everything, but certainly my ability to tap into deeper levels of strength. And the primary motivator for me as relates to [my son] Isaiah is the understanding that he’s paying attention to everything I do. He’s going in so many ways to emulate how I live life, how I walk, how I talk, how I engage, but he is also going to emulate me in my ability. If I can learn this for myself, to live fully and freely, he’s going to emulate my ability to be resilient, and really stand up in the face of challenge and say, Okay, I can keep going, I can grow from this. And that’s what I want as much as anything in the world, I want that for him. And so you see my roadmap coming together here, right? 

We started with thinking about flourishing. And then we talked about what what are the strengths that really rose to the surface around embodying grit and grace, and what that means for me, the ability to pick yourself up, the ability to find a sense of inner peace and trust, and calm and harmony, that allows you to have the clarity, the courage, the compassion, to move through hard moments in the way that you would hope. I want to highlight for you for continued reflection, when we talk about building your own roadmap, the questions: What strength contribute to your grit and grace? What rises to the surface for you, that you rely on again and again, that not only keeps you afloat, but allows you to move to that shore through those rough waters? What inner motivations fuel your strength? What are the things within you that maybe have always been a part of you, or that you’ve grown into, because certainly inner motivations can evolve over time, that propel you forward? And you can take a look at the VIA character strengths as a reference, there are so many that stand out—bravery, kindness, social intelligence is one that has served me very, very well. It’s one of my top signature strengths, as well. Teamwork is very important to me, having support. 

To wrap up, I want to highlight just a few personal practices that have helped me build critical strengths. Because we talked about the inner motivation, but then there’s, how am I showing up? What am I choosing to do every day, or most days, hopefully, that builds me up? The primary answer for me is what I refer to as cultivating a spiritual growth mindset. What does that mean? A fixed mindset relates to a sense of stagnancy: It is what it is, right. So when you’re having challenges and failure it’s viewed as a result of lacking something within you—you don’t know enough, you’re not smart enough, you don’t have that skill, and you can’t grow into it. That’s fixed mindset. On the other hand, growth mindset, which we know very well through positive psychology, is the optimistic view of focusing on not only what can be achieved, but just really having joy and appreciation for the process of learning, whether things go as anticipated or not. Challenges are embraced as opportunities, as springboards that propel you to further growth. Now, for me, especially being a spiritual counselor, there’s a little twist to the growth mindset for me. I’m rooted in embracing challenges as a springboard for growth. But I’m also rooted in the belief that I’m living life according to a higher plan, a higher purpose, that we all are. So yes, we face challenges, but we’re able to face them with a confidence that it’s not just about overcoming them or learning from them, but they are leading to blessings, new insights, new awareness, a release of what has weighed us down in a way that helps us move along a purposeful path. That level of confidence, I wish you could bottle it. It’s a foundation of bravery and just trust to move forward. And I’ve had lots of instances in life. I was going on halfway through my spiritual counseling certification and one day, I got another call about a health crisis from my parents. And it was, again, a tipping point. I said, I can’t do this anymore. I was behind with my studies, struggling to catch up. I was having great experiences in the program. But just keeping up with everything felt impossible, as much as I loved the program. I said, I can’t do this anymore. I was ready to give up. And I went to sleep, and the next thing I know, I heard a knock at the door. It’s like afternoon, the sun is up, I opened the door and what I see is what can only be described as an elder, looks almost like a tribal shaman, [who] grabs my arm and pulls me forward out of the door. I was living at the time with my former partner and looking for a place of my own, which was very slow going and frustrating. As I’m pulled out of the door, I wake up. It was the most vivid dream I have ever had. It was like it was like waking life. I’d never experienced anything like that before. And I woke up and immediately said okay, maybe I should rethink quitting the program. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. And I remember a couple hours later relaying this to a friend and how it reminded me of a poem I’d read about a month prior, about the voice through the door or listening to the voice through the door. As soon as I said those words, I looked down and the poem that I’d printed on a piece of paper was sitting under my right foot. So when I talk about a higher plan and affirmation and what’s available, I could go on and on about those synchronicities—tuning into those moments where we are spurred on, when we have guideposts. 

So what allows us to do that? For me, there are five things that rise to the surface. First and foremost, mindful self-compassion. If I am not being kind to myself, if I’m not tuning into my own needs, I am going to have a hard time tuning into anything else and being of service in the way that I want to to anyone else, right? Conscious humility—I’ve had to really learn how to evaluate not only what was mine to do, and what wasn’t, but to say, Oh, my goodness, this is too much, I need help, I need support, and I needed a lot of it. So receptivity was also very huge for me, from friends, family, co-workers, and so on. I felt like I had a team at one point, my own Avengers, assembled. And I wasn’t shy or shameful about asking for it. And benefit finding—I feel like this has become one of my superpowers, for everything that comes up that feels like it’s going wrong, being able to find the silver lining. Being here with my folks again was not something that I ever envisioned at this time in my life. But you know, my decision to come back home came at the perfect time, right before the pandemic hit. It positioned me to have the support of my family and to support them in ensuring that we move through this time safely and securely. And helping out with caregiving gives me the opportunity to really be there for my mom, who has been so wonderful to me and continues to be. It’s a divine reciprocity. And again, appreciating the good and mindful self compassion, that is the core. It’s the engine that makes all the other practices and strengths run, because being understanding and supporting towards ourselves, not overreacting or judging ourselves when we’re having a hard time, when life gets hard, or even when it doesn’t. Things come up, feelings arise, and embracing yourself as you would a friend, a dear friend, and knowing that you’re not alone. Yes, it’s okay to be alone. But you’re not alone in the experience of trying to move through mistakes and difficulties. We all know what that is.

So what I’ve gained, to close, I learned to honor my right to feel truly good and choose accordingly. Because, when your life implodes, when you go through hell in a handbasket, you really do learn to appreciate goodness, and feeling good and choosing from a place of what feels good. over this last year especially, has led to some of the greatest and best blessings in my life, including the job that I have now, which I didn’t even see coming. But when it landed, I said, Oh, my gosh, this feels good, I’m gonna go with it. And it’s been the best, the best. And I came to genuinely know, love, and appreciate who I am at a deeper level, unafraid, unafraid. I really do love myself, I love myself for who I am and my strength. And discovering that just being myself is enough. It’s again, one of the greatest gifts in life, just to show up as you are, in all your wonder and all your vulnerability. And that’s what connects with people, that’s what resonates, and helps people know that it’s safe to do that for themselves. So letting go of the need to be perfect, when my life was feeling like it was a complete mess. A lot of my stress was about feeling like I couldn’t live up to an image of having it together, especially with some of the roles I was playing, and people depending on me and leadership, and it didn’t feel safe at the time to say no, I’m having a really hard time, and not being authentic about that was draining. But I’m no longer afraid of things going wrong or of challenge or vulnerability or struggle anymore, and I feel empowered to create healthier boundaries. It’s just again, choosing from a place of what feels good. It’s the bookend to honoring my own needs, and what allows me to move through life in a way that I can not just exist, but I can relish my experience, savor it. 

And last but not least, I became even more of a badass and transformative presence. I smile when I say it, just owning up to being a leader and a trailblazer for my family, my son, anyone I might engage honestly, because when you have a certain freedom of energy and spirit, people can feel that, whether they name it or not, there’s something catalytic that happens. And I’m not afraid of that either anymore. So, thank you, Pandora. When we think about the roadmap, this is where we find ourselves. My roadmap looks like this: cultivating a spiritual growth mindset helps me embody grit and grace. And that helps me flourish through adversity in all these different ways. It’s just been so wonderful and affirming and liberating to even come to this clarity about what helps me flourish because this is my toolbox. And the hope is that, in reflecting on this conversation, you’ll be able to define your own toolbox, right? How do you build strength, what gives you the energy and clarity needed to tend your inner garden? Give yourself the opportunity to think about all of these questions and how you support yourself. That’s my hope for you. That’s my offering for you through this conversation. Never forget how far you’ve come, everything you’ve gotten through, all the times you’ve pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t, all the mornings you got out of bed, no matter how hard it was, all the time you wanted to give up but you got through another day. Never forget how much strength you have developed along the way.

Kara Coleman

Kara Coleman, MA SC serves as the Director of Member Success for Hello Insight, which helps organizations integrate and evaluate positive youth development practices that enhance social emotional learning.  Kara is also a certified Coach and Interspiritual Counselor, who has worked with individuals seeking to align inspiration and inner wisdom with empowered action since 2010.