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 horse whispering makes me feel.

I’ve been on a lot of airplanes recently.

I aspire to be one of those unflappable elegant travelers– you know the ones– someone who has mastered the capsule wardrobe, glides through the airport with one sleek bag, and always knows exactly where her boarding pass is.

But nope! Instead: my phone is dying, I’ve stuffed too much into my carryon, I’m trailing phone cords, panicked that I’ve misplaced my passport, frustrated that my online checkin didn’t work, looking for the bathroom, and usually nauseated on takeoff and landing. My packing style is “I’ve given up and just packed EVERYTHING, and now I shall bang my own legs on the suitcase that is so heavy I can barely lift it.”

Lest you think I’m being hard on myself, on my last trip I left my glasses on the plane, spilled orange juice on myself, and sprinted so hard to make my connection that I wheezed the whole second flight. What can I say? Elegant I am not.

I have other sterling qualities. Like anxious. If you got points for being an anxious traveler, I’d get them all.

To top it all off, my last few trips have been dramatic demonstrations of all the pitfalls of air travel: lost bags, planes that get out to the tarmac but turn around and deplane for maintenance, missed connections, delays, and all sorts of mishaps.

And the turbulence! Lordy the turbulence. I’m talking about the kind where the plane lurches and dips and the entire plane is deadly silent except for the gasps and moans. The hunt-for-an-airbag, regret-your-choices, swear-to-never-fly-again turbulence.

I’m not going to lie; this all feels like a bit of a metaphor for the past couple of years.

It’s been turbulent, my loves.

And I’m not just talking about the political dumpster fire that erupted in the US. It’s been turbulent in my own personal life too.

Five years ago when the universe shocked me with a true love I had never expected and wasn’t looking for, I said yes to that grand adventure.

I packed up my sweet beautiful life in Portland, took my daughter by the hand, and set off to a new land. (Called Canada.) I went overnight from being a solo city mom of one to a married suburban mom of five.

This is where most of our books and movies end: with a kiss, a swoon, and a fade-out. Happily Ever After.

And in so many ways, I AM happy! I adore my husband and our kids. I choose this life and this love, for ever and always and even after that (just like it says on our matching tattoos because yes we are those people).

And yet like every adventure, this one has had some turbulence. We’ve hit bits that felt choppy, times that felt like freefall, moments when everything that supported me fell away so steeply that I wondered how I would make it through. If you’ve been reading these weekly missives for a while, you’ve heard some of these stories: the learning curve of blending families and coparenting, an astonishing number of rejections and failures as I tried to get my memoir published, the rough year we had following Nick’s surgery while also having committed to making a documentary about our family, my inner struggle to find a spiritual connection in a land I can’t seem to energetically plug into, and needing to learn how to nourish and sustain myself without any of the spiritual sustenance I had gotten used to in Portland. So you know, basically just the perfect storm for a midlife crisis.


It hasn’t been an easy few years, bumping along through clouds that banged us around and obscured where we were going.

But then, near the end of last year, something shifted.

We came out of the cloud bank. Suddenly there was sunlight again, we’d broken through, and the sky is bright blue again. New horizons beckon.

And now that I’m out of it, while I have no desire for any MORE turbulence, I can begin to feel the gifts of it. It turned out that I was tougher than I thought. I am flexing new muscles I didn’t have before. I discovered a strength I didn’t even know I could draw on. I learned to manage a complicated household of seven people. I figured out how to make a documentary, much to everyone’s surprise including my own. I decided to publish my own damn book. I discovered a new stubbornness and tenacity and boldness beyond what I thought I could muster.

New coastlines curve ahead.

And oh, I am READY for them!

It turns out that we can do things we did not know we could do. It turns out that you can get bigger than you ever thought you wanted to.


On this last trip, a few days ago when I was flying from Alberta down to California, it happened again. Just as the flight attendants were unlatching the drink carts, the plane began to shudder and shake.

“Flight attendants, take your seats,” came the call.



I breathed, closed my eyes, and gripped the seat handles.

The plane jolted and dipped; the babies cried. I tried not to be afraid. It was just air pockets, right? It was just wind and clouds. But oh, it felt like something must be wrong; like our plane would just tip over or break open. I gripped and breathed and swallowed and counted: in-two-three-four, out-two-three-four.

Then came a voice across the intercom: low, calm, female, immensely reassuring.

“Well folks, this is your captain speaking. We were expecting some turbulence, and this turns out to be a little more exciting than we were expecting. We’ll be through it in another ten minutes, tops.”

I couldn’t believe she could speak so calmly when we were on such a roller coaster and my stomach was doing flip-flops. But she wasn’t done.

“Also, folks, I just wanted to tell you that it might feel dramatic back there, but in case anyone is worried, you should know that this plane is built for this. It can absolutely handle it. All is well.”

I leaned back and grinned. (And breathed: innnnn-2-3-4, out-2-3-4.)

This plane is built for this.

It can absolutely handle it.

All is well.

Oh hiiiii, universe; I like your little winks.

The turbulence of the last couple of years? Turns out I was built for it. I could absolutely handle it. It turned out that I had more capacity than I’d ever dreamed of. And it was worth it— every bit of it— for this thrilling journey I’m on. Because without the turbulence, I wouldn’t be headed anywhere nearly as interesting right now.

So listen, dearheart.

If you’re in the thick of turbulence right now—

It might be more than you were expecting.

It might get messy. (And inelegant.)

You might need to take deep breaths.

You might need to buckle in and hold on ’til it settles down.

You might need to close your eyes and pray to whatever you believe in.

But let me repeat the message from the great matriarch captain in the sky:

This turbulence is dramatic but temporary.

You’ll come out the other side.

Because you are built for this.

And you can absolutely handle it.

All is well.

much love,


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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.


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