What was blocking my summer joy

photo by Krista Welch

I had an odd entry into summer this year.

All around me I saw photos of glamorous beach trips, gorgeous parties, homey barbeques and picnics, frolics and fun and frivolity. Usually I enter into this season in a kind of fevered glee, trying to squeeze every bit of goodness out of the short and intense Canadian summer.

But this year? My soul wanted none of it.

All I wanted was to be sooooooo quiet. To cocoon. To get really, really still.

I was disconcerted: because what about fabulous new swimsuits and fun family trips and striped beach towels?!?!? What about ice cream and sprinklers and popsicles and lemonade? Why didn’t I want those things? (My children definitely still wanted those things. I would be doing many of those things no matter what. But they were as appealing as sawdust to me.)

I didn’t know. I just knew that something inside me was calling to me, intensely, to attend to my spirit. It told me to dwell in my inner world and get really strong there; to pour my attention and care into my soul; to fortify the inner sanctuary of my heart, even if my mind thought I should be sipping umbrella drinks by the pool.

This inner urging was so strong that it moved me to launch a special summer session of my most mystical program, Practical Magic for Secret Mystics. It’s sort of an odd time of year to be talking about magic, to be honest, but so many of you kindred spirits have told me that you too were feeling this inner pull: that something inside you was giving you very clear instructions a lot like the ones I was getting. And so next week we will dive in to the deeps (and etheric heights) together, and I could not be more elated.

I know that this inner pull can be disconcerting. It comes in the troubling guise of exhaustion, a yearning for stillness, an inability to bear even for one more day the oversaturated too-muchness of it all. But I also believe that these things are pressing us to find a different way to move through the world, and that they have treasure for us, mysterious gifts we’re going to unwrap over the coming weeks. I can feel them, glinting in the dark, waiting for us.

And so I made another promise to myself. In addition to going through the 7 weeks of the Secret Mystics process, I promised myself that I would take time in July and August to just PONDER things. What things? Oh, little things, trifles, you know, like what I want to be when I grow up, and what I want to make with this one life, and how I might want to rethink and reinvent tiny little things like, oh, my business and creative life and my contribution and what I might want to leave as a legacy. Tiny ponderings like that.

This permission to PONDER is an almost scandalously decadent gift to myself.

Because here’s the truly scandalous part: I haven’t committed to having ANSWERS to these big questions. I just gave myself permission to actually spend time and energy PONDERING them. (This makes my inner overachiever develop immediate and acute poison ivy all over her anxious self. But my soul??? Oh, she is just over the MOON about it.)

Almost immediately, after I made these commitments to myself, an interesting thing happened. It happened the very moment when I wrote in my journal, “Ok, dear soul, FINE. Oh-KAY. Convenient or not, I give you these next two months, with no agenda and no required outcome, and I will also commit to giving you what you need during that time.”

Well don’t you know.

A little sunflower sprouted in my heart.

Just like that.

It was as if suddenly, my spirit opened the door that was standing between me and all those summer joys. I’m pretty sure that she was like, “For fuck’s sake! Great. Thank you. That was harder than I expected; sometimes you’re a real jerk, you know that? Sheesh. But anyhoo, now that we’ve gotten that taken care of, I can stop holding you hostage and shaking you every few hours to try and get your attention so you don’t starve me to death. So then! All right! Bygones! Now. How would you like to feel ENORMOUS JOY bloom in your heart like sunshine? Why don’t you just go and have the BEST summer, dearheart?!?!?”

And that, friends, is my exact plan.

I’m a little flabbergasted, to tell you the truth. This was not what I expected.

I expected the summer to be a little bit somber, to be honest, with all this spiritual contemplation and practice and introspection.

But instead, there are peonies blooming in my heart. They are bright pink. They are in love with the whole world.

I bought a giant new hat.

I painted my toenails wine red.

I cut the white roses growing in my garden and they smell like heaven.

I’ll be making a donation to Together Rising next week, sending 10% of my Secret Mystics sales to #endthecamps. This small but concrete act has reminded me that taking action is always the way to feel more alive, no matter how small our little contribution might be.

I made up a bucket list with my kids for all the little things we want to savor and enjoy this summer: roasting marshmallows, riding bikes, making lemonade, eating watermelon and filling up the little pool. These tiny treats feel like the most sacred of riches– because they are.

So here is my question for you. If– perchance– you’re having trouble enjoying the bountiful things in front of you, if you feel cut off from all the things that usually give you joy, if you feel out of sync with all the blooming ripe gorgeousness happening on the earth right now, try this little experiment: ask your soul what she needs.

She just might surprise you.

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.