Nothing’s Changed…

Except my perspective…which is to say, everything has changed.

This blog post has been excruciatingly difficult to write. I’ve been trying, in my head, since I returned from the What If Conference in the Dominican Republic over a week now to actually begin to explain what all has transpired for me in the past two weeks. I don’t want to get it wrong…lest you, the reader, misunderstand any of it. Though, maybe the harder part of this (and quite possibly the more important part) is, I don’t want to misunderstand it either. And, in the future, I don’t want to look back upon this log and be mislead or have it cause me to misremember.

Already in the past two weeks, I feel as if my memory of it all has faded too quickly for comfort. There are days when I discount the entire experience as “a nice little time away and nothing more”. In fact, I know it was anything but that…


We sat in a circle on wicker furniture, the yellow-painted patio still slick from the mid-morning downpour. I couldn’t shake that feeling…it was just stuck there…in my chest…a tightness. No matter how deeply I tried to breathe, I couldn’t seem to get a full breath. It’s been like this for ages now. An anxious feeling that just remains. It remains, it burns, it takes over and fills me with doubt, fear, jealousy, unhappiness. Why? My life is AMAZING! I get to do what I want, when I want almost without limit…

Yet. It remains.

We were in a small circle, sharing how we were feeling right then and there. We went around the circle and I told them that the first thing I had written in my notes at the beginning of the conference was that I am seeking “freedom”. What I meant when I wrote it was, “financial freedom” so that I could then do passion projects and give freely without want. The conversation moved toward what we were feeling. Tamara asked us specifically, “Where, in your body, do you feel?…When you’re stressed or frustrated or angry, where is it that you feel this?” It was like she just knew…my chest has been tight since who knows when…It’s causing me to feel sick, I feel it so deeply. She asked us to think about a specific occasion where this feeling was really pervasive and to write about it. We did. I won’t talk about what I wrote about here, but it was an instance where I felt dejected, frustrated, guilty, unsure. Needless to say, that tightness in my chest was even tighter.

We were then asked to think about the situation again, only this time, imagine it going perfectly….what would you do differently? I imagined the scenario again and tears washed down my face…I breathed deeply…maybe for the first time in months, my shoulders relaxed, I felt open…and in that moment, I thought to myself, “I feel free”…and it hit me so so strongly in that instant: THIS IS FREEDOM. AND FREEDOM IS A CHOICE. MY CHOICE. As that thought entered my mind, something truly beautiful happened. A sharp wind swept across the courtyard from left to right, moving the palm fronds as it passed. The sun shown brighter than ever, the sky bluer than ever. The greens, the yellows, the red…truer than ever. It was so clear to me: Every moment of every day we make a choice to listen to the voices in our head, to give into the doubt, to compare and wallow. OR, to breathe in, acknowledge that voice, the feeling in our body, then breathe out…and let go. Let go. It is my choice. It is just that simple. And yet, that complex.

I now know this. And this has lead me to is a place I never knew I could reach! It is a place that has allowed me to let go of so many feelings (voices): “I am not good enough.” “I am not smart enough.” ” I don’t deserve it.” “I will never be successful.”

Oh yeah…those voices are still there…big time…HUGELY in my ears. But, this exercise of simply noticing these voices or thoughts, has given me the ability to move past them and see who I, Kathryn Denelle Stevens, truly am…and what I can truly achieve in this life! No more comparing. No more caring about what others think of me. No more belief that success is for others, not myself!

As I write this, I imagine some of you are thinking, “Sure, okay…good for her…we’ll see how long that lasts.” Or whatever judgements you may have of me…in times past I would have been exceedingly concerned that people would judge me. This has stopped me from doing SO much in my life…it’s insane! In fact, as much as this new perspective feels like it’s a 180 degree departure from reality, it’s the most sane feeling I’ve ever had!

This new place is allowing me so much more than peace-of-mind or contentment…I now see things more clearly. I am aware and listening to conversations around me. I see moments, beautiful, tragic, tender moments happening all around me now. I know it sounds super crazy, but I can even smell better (there are studies that show stress causing our sense of smell to diminish, so maybe?) For so long I’ve been consumed by this self-doubt, fear..blocking me from my authentic experience of life. I (sometimes purposefully, sometimes subconsciously) deadened myself to a situation, a conversation, friendships, the food I was eating…and the images presenting themselves all around me…My creativity stifled. As I write this, it brings tears to my eyes to think about living this way. In fact, this is not living. This is just waiting to die.

There is so much more to be said about my experience, and I will share it another day, but for now… know that things are different from here on out. My choices are mine…I must own them, but I do not need to hold onto them. In this moment…right now, I have the ability to start new. To breathe in…acknowledge the judgements, the frustration, the stress, breathe out…and let go…

It may seem as if nothing has changed…but know, because my perspective, my reality has wholly been altered, truly everything EVERYTHING has changed.

SOOO, I realize these images may seem to be trite after that long and heavy blog…but to me they represent something…I took these images the first day I arrived at the Melia Caribe Tropical in Punta Cana…these images to me are superficial, artificial. They’re funny too, and they still make me laugh. I guess it’s more difficult to explain than I thought, but what I mean to say is…. if all I ever accept in people are the masks and plumes they present, and I never even attempt to see people for who they really are, how can I create my true vision of life in my work? The reality…with all of the beauty and pain that that entails? How? I must be willing to go deeper…I owe it to everyone. I owe it to myself.



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