You need a refuge…inside yourself

Tell me something.

Over the past couple of years, have you ever felt the immense awfulness of the outside world pressing in on you? Have you felt it pierce through all the healthy boundaries you’ve ever set up for yourself and trickle in? Has it perhaps soaked in so deep that sometimes it feels like it’s saturated your very bones? Leaving you heavy and exhausted and hopeless and OH DEAR GOD?

Well NO, I didn’t THINK so, because you are a titanium human and you would never let that happen.

Yeah, uh, me neither. (Nervous cough.)

Okay but let’s just say hypothetically!!! That you are a human whose heart is tender, and the last couple of years have been rough, and the bad news has been unrelenting, and the horrors of the world have stolen some of your joy.

In that case, what you need, my dearest darling…is a refuge.

A place inside yourself where the world cannot get at you. 

No no no! We must not turn away from the suffering of the world! That is the most rank and vile privileged callousness! 

I know. I have that voice in me too. It isn’t wrong.

But if you listen deeper, you will hear another voice. And it is saying,

To bring hope into the world, you must first HAVE hope. To bring light into the world, you must remember what light FEELS like when it twinkles in you. To bring justice into the world, you must have a healthy sense of righteousness indignation coupled with– and this is the important part– the STAMINA to stand your ground against oppressors and bullies and general jerkfaces without becoming one. 

To do these (superhuman) things, we need to create a mighty refuge inside ourselves.

We need a place where only you and your tender heart and your spirit and your dreams and your grief can go. It is a sacred place. It is a quiet place. It is a deep place of rest and compost and alchemy.

You are not weak for needing a refuge. You are just human. Beautifully human, in fact; it means you are still whole and soft and awake and therefore vulnerable.

I realized at some point that the kindred spirits have basically been worn raw by LO THE MANY relentlessly terrible news cycles.

***Which, by the way, is an insidious and highly-effective and historically-proven technique for making the good people of the world look away from important things, not with apathy but with exhaustion.***

So do not let yourself get exhausted.

Do not let yourself slide into it’s-so-fucked-it-doesn’t-even-matter.

Do not roll your eyes at the utter absurdity of it all and drink a bottle of wine.

We need safe places inside our own bodies and homes and minds and hearts where we can curl up and rest. Where we can deeply replenish the inner resources that make us strong and fierce. And where we can heal the places where the world has hurt us.

I have been thinking about the paradox of being very very fierce and very very tender, and if you want to read more deeply on these topics I recommend these missives:

On holding your own rage, power, and dignity

On being a fierce mama bear to the scared parts of yourself

On reeling it back in when you’re stuck in endless crisis mode

On not drowning in your own empathy

(And, watch for something utterly new– something startlingly different than anything we’ve ever done around here– early next week. Yeeeeeeep is the secret sound of my excitement and glee about this!!!!!)

But first, for right now, here is my charge for you this weekend:


Create a refuge for yourself. This can be physical, mental, energetic, emotional, logistical– ideally all of the above. In practical terms, it might look like:

  • ​A secret journal
  • A long, long shower
  • An ecstatic dance practice
  • A sacred circle of energy you draw around yourself
  • A pile of blankets and the Harry Potter books
  • Enforced nap times for you AND the children
  • A media blackout for the weekend or evenings
  • Mystery appointments on your calendar just for you
  • A walk or a snuggle with your favorite furry friend
  • Unfollowing horrible people on every platform and device in existence
  • Setting boundaries on your time, availability, and accessibility
  • Going to a beautiful, serene part of nature and glorying in it
  • Having someone screen your calls or inbox

If you’re panicking about becoming an ostrich who’s woefully uninformed about the goings-on of the world, breathe with me for a sec, because it’s going to be OK, I promise you. You aren’t supposed to hide away in the refuge forEVER, tempting though that might be.

Monday morning, you’ll forge back out into the world like an epic fucking badass– clear eyes, full hearts, can’t put up with bullshit (that’s how it goes, right?).

But before you can do that, before you can go be your fiercest boldest bravest brightest kindest bossiest funniest biggest-hearted version of yourself, you could probably use a little tenderness. Or a lot of tenderness, like a deep-down-dose.

So let yourself sink into the hidey-hole of refuge you’ve deliberately created for yourself, like Mole in Wind In The Willows. Close your eyes and let its restorative power sink into you. Let it soak away some of the ick that’s found its way in, bring tender merciful balm to the raw parts of you, and let yourself fill yourself back up with possibility and twinkles and healthy dragon fire, which is your truest natural state. Go deep into that refuge and find what gifts it’s been hiding because pssssst– that’s where all your superpowers live.

And then watch yourself emerge, dearheart; because you will. Oh, you will.

much love,


Liked it? Take a second to support Katherine on Patreon!

Hey there, I'm Katherine.

 I’ve got five kids, I’m a queer feminist, and I just might be the only life coach in the world who doesn’t believe in the Law of Attraction.

I write things for women with big, gorgeous, COMPLICATED lives.

I help women become epic fucking badasses… but I still retain my right to cry at every diaper commercial ever made.


No story from me this week

No story from me this week

I’ve been grappling all week with what to write you. Last week’s note ended with one heck of a cliffhanger: would we get the house? would we not? if we got it, would we have to wait six more weeks to get in??? and if so, where oh where would we stay??? (quick update:...

read more
When you hit turbulence, don’t panic

When you hit turbulence, don’t panic

I’ve just wrapped up two days with a beloved client. We were in California for a private retreat, spending time with horses and doing deep neurological repatterining. It’s so delicious and magical, I truly wish I could take you too-- this photo is exactly how glowy...

read more
When and how (and why) to trust yourself

When and how (and why) to trust yourself

Let me ask you a serious question. Are you drinking enough tea? Because January and February require extra tea: I consider it a vital nutrient. If you're new here, welcome! I'm Katherine North, that's me in my sweet husband's office getting my earl grey fix, and this...

read more


A weekly story from Katherine to make you strong, fierce, tender. They’ll make you laugh, maybe cry, and get you moving. In your inbox every Saturday morning.

Success! In a few minutes, you'll find a confirmation email in your inbox. Make sure you click the button to complete your signup!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This