Kristine Carlson is a New York Times best- selling author, inspirational speaker and leader in the field of transformation. She has sold over 30 MILLION copies of her books. Her message is so inspirational and influential that she has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, Good Morning America and The View. Her wise new book called FROM HEARTBREAK TO WHOLENESS: THE HERO’S JOURNEY TO JOY helps a reader who has experienced loss or hardship of any kind to awaken to a deep love affair with life.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- The tragedy that inspired Kristine to begin her journey to wanting to serve others.
- How FROM HEARTBREAK TO WHOLENESS: THE HERO’S JOURNEY TO JOY helps a reader who has experienced loss or hardship of any kind to awaken to a deep love affair with life.
- What our soul is calling us to do when we have a brush with death.
- Choosing to be either the victim or the hero of our own life story.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS KRISTINE:
- What is better vs. bitter healing?
- What is the misconce
- ption about meditation?
- How does mindfulness open us to kismet miracles and grace?
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Kristine Carlson— Author, Coach, Retreat Leader, Inspirational Speaker, Teacher of Online Courses and Workshops
Before we begin, I want to remind you that you can see all episodes on www.IreneWeinberg.com, and make sure to follow us on social at @IreneSWeinberg. I’m also loving all the feedback you have been sending me about the show. I want to start sharing some of your amazing stories of grief and rebirth on the show. If you email me your story at Hello@IreneWeinberg.com, I will share it on an upcoming episode.
We can surely help each other by sharing our own stories, and I want to hear from you. Your story can be anonymous if you don’t want your name out there. Our truly extraordinary guest is Kristine Carlson. Kristine is the personification of the show’s mission to educate, enlighten, and present uplifting healing choices.
She is a New York Times bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and leader in the field of transformation. Kristine is also a coach, retreat leader, and teacher of online courses and workshops. Her mission and message are built upon the tenets of joyful and peaceful living, mindfulness, meditation, and self-discovery in the face of grief or transition.
Kristine has sold over 30 million copies of her books. Her message is so inspirational and influential that she has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today Show, Good Morning America, and The View. Kristine, it truly is my pleasure to welcome you to the show. Please begin what is going to be an amazing interview by sharing with our readers what inspired you to begin your journey to wanting to serve others.
I want to say what an honor and a pleasure it is to be here on your show. Already, your spirit is so alive and breathtakingly beautiful that I’m excited to be here. Thank you for the work you are doing. I’m sure it’s an incredible inspiration to readers ongoing. To answer your question, how did I begin my journey? I’m probably most known for my work with my late husband in the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book series.
Richard and I had a long marriage. Ten years into the anniversary of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard was promoting another book. He got on a plane to fly to New York to do some publicity, and on the descent of the flight, he died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism. People always say, “Was he ill?” Not really. He had a few complaints the days before he died, but it was nothing. He was tired. Only some basic complaints. It wasn’t a long illness. It was quite sudden, and that catapulted me, my daughters, his family, and everybody who knew him onto the grief and rebirth path.
That’s what started our journey. I always say that when you lose somebody that you love, there’s a part of you and your life that dies with them. There is a rebirth. I love the name of your show because that, in essence, is the name of the journey. There is grief, and yet, the hope and the beauty of the journey is that there is rebirth.
If you do the healing work, if you have the courage to go through your healing process, not to avoid and not try to set it aside for a later date, as you go through it, you are geared toward healing. It is a journey. That’s why I named my book From Heartbreak to Wholeness because the rebirth part is very much about taking that broken heart and allowing that broken heart to heal, expand in love, and rebirth into wholeness and into a new life.
Did you use some of your own experiences of healing and rebirth in the book to guide people and inspire them?
I did. In essence, what I did for years, I have been doing a lot of writing, speaking, and teaching on resiliency, how to overcome change and transition, move through it, and move into that ability to dream a new dream. Like many people, I’m the consummate wounded healer. I observed my healing and I healed beautifully. I have shared how I have done it with other people. This book is a nine-chapter book. I don’t want the nine chapters to be missed because there are nine months of conception of rebirth. This book was very much a download for me.
I had been writing and speaking for a long time. It was the tenth anniversary. Many of my friends said, “Don’t write another book about grief and loss.” I was like, “I have to write this book,” because I wanted people to know that it is a journey. My book is a transformational journey in and of itself for anyone who’s gone through anything.
It walks you. It takes you down a step-by-step path to healing and into what it means to be wholeness. What’s beautiful about the book is at the end of each chapter, there’s what I call Soul Mantras because I’m a big proponent of meditation and guided meditation to take you inward on the inward journey. There is a list of questions that helps somebody to write their own hero’s journey. One of the things that I identified in the people that healed better versus bitter. I identified that those people who healed better had decided and chosen not to be a victim of the circumstances of loss, transition, and change but to instead stand in their journey, accept it, and move through it as a hero would move through it.
Joseph Campbell’s archetypal work in The Hero’s Journey is powerful. It’s archetypal. It’s in our DNA, but we have to make those choices along the way. We have to see that, at certain points, we do have choices. Our choice is not that these circumstances that we have faced are with us. That’s already happened. Our choice is not that we can avoid that. Our choices that we have and how we decide to move forward.
That’s what From Heartbreak to Wholeness is the guide for. It’s how to move forward. Also, like you and I, we have this great awakening from our horrible circumstances, but why do some people have that and why do others not have that? Everyone can have an awakening, but some people are more primed for that awakening. This book will prime you to be awakened in life. I always say, “If you got to go through this suffering, this misery, and these horrible times, let’s pray, hope, and know that they are grist for the soul that our soul is calling to develop, grow, and be present in this life, for all of it. Not just the joy but also the other stuff.
The stuff that causes us to feel and makes us feel alive. You have these brushes with death, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. The result or the result of awakening is that you feel more alive. One of the things I realized early on was that my husband’s death breathed new life into me. It was because it woke me up, and that’s what death does. When somebody we love dies, it reminds us how precious this time is, and we have to make the most of it because ours is going to be over that fast, too.
I can completely relate. We are sisters in the same truth. It’s wonderful. What is this online course you have called What Now? That sounds like something that would be so helpful to people. How often do you have it? Tell us all about that.
What Now is an online course that can be purchased as an online course. The way I utilize What Now in the course is I have a retreat. I do this retreat 3 times a year for only 10 participants. We use the course as a bouncing-off platform for the retreat. If you come to the retreat, you have to do the course. I usually offer the retreat and give the course, but somebody can also do the reverse. If they want to do the course first, then they can go on the retreat.
It is to leave people through that corridor of change and transition to help inspire them to dream a new dream. It’s for people who have faced some devastating change and transition. That could be the empty nester or could be somebody who has gone through loss or breast cancer. It’s anybody who faces something where their identity is in crisis after.
Our identity goes through crises throughout our lifetime. Our life shifts. We suddenly don’t know who we are for a time. This course is perfect for you to take a deep dive into you. It has a 137-page workbook. It’s a very deep dive. It’s six audio course work with a workbook, and there’s the retreat that you are qualified to go on once done with the first three calls of that course.
That sounds so helpful for a person who is struggling to move through, get support, guidance, and learn. It’s marvelous. You are a teacher in the areas that matter most to the human heart, how to heal and how to love. I’m sure you have many inspiring stories. I can’t wait to hear them. Can you briefly share a few with our readers?
Probably one of the most profound stories I love to share with you is one where the point of it is that I feel that we are held in grace when we are going through loss. Especially when we show up in a way that invokes grace. If you can surrender to the healing process and learn how to allow your feelings to be present and to be present with your feelings. I call it feel to heal. Allow yourself the space and the time to heal.
Also, becoming very present moment-oriented. There’s nothing quite like grief to bring us into what is truly mindfulness. I describe mindfulness as our ability to be present in our bodies in a kind, loving, and compassionate way with ourselves and others. That, to me, is at the very heart of what mindfulness is. There’s nothing quite heartbreak to bring us into a place in ourselves where we are very present with what we need.
We are very mindful of what it is that can come into our path. One such story of true mindfulness and presence for me happened a few years after my husband died. My girls and I were flying back from Eugene, Oregon, on a very small commuter flight. It was a 50-passenger plane. We have been to visit my parents, and it was after the second anniversary of Richard’s death.
We got to the airport and we went up to the ticket counter and the ticket agent. He looked at us, and he said, “Do you realize you are not seated together?” I said, “It’s a short flight. My girls were in high school. It doesn’t matter.” He said, “It matters to me.” He took it upon himself to arrange our seats so that we were seated together. We went and boarded our flight. As I said, it was a very small plane, and the girls were in the window and the aisle. I was in the aisle, and the seat next to me was open.
This man walked up to sit down, and when he stood in front of us, my girls started laughing, which was odd. I got this chill run up and down my spine. It was a weird feeling, and I was like, “Something just happened.” I got up and let him sit down. I wanted to talk to him. As the plane took off, he pulled his laptop out and was working. I quieted down and tried to engage him in conversation. As soon as he put his laptop away about 40 minutes later on the descent, I still felt this strong urge to talk to him.
I said, “Is it a work day for you?” He said, “I’m sorry, I would love to chat. I have a meeting this afternoon. What about you? I noticed you have your computer with you.” I said, “Every day is technically a work day for me. I’m a writer, so I keep my computer with me because I never know when I might need to write.” He said, “Are you a published writer?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “Anything I might know of?” I said, “You might be most familiar with my late husband’s work, Dr. Richard Carlson. He wrote Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”
The man sat back and shook his head. He looked upset, and I said, “Did you know him?” He said, “No, I didn’t know him.” He goes, “I know of him.” I said, “What?” He said, “Did he die on a flight to JFK a few years ago?” I said, “He did. How did you know that?” He said, “I was seated directly behind him on that flight. I assisted the crew in lifting his body out of the front seat. I always wanted to tell you that your husband died peacefully. He had a peaceful look on his face.” I burst into tears and I said, “What are the chances of this?” He said, “There are no chances.”
That’s amazing. There are no accidents.
It’s such a story of grace. It also is such a story. My husband was present for that. In the orchestration of the seats, the man at the ticket center had to receive the strong message to reconfigure or me to be seated next to that man. For me to have that strong feeling and for my girls to giggle. They felt their father, I think. For us to have all that happen and for me to be driven to that conversation. It was a miracle. I have to say, I have been blessed by having these kismet miracles happen throughout my entire life.
It always told me that grace is present. If I’m present, tuned in, mindful, and I’m aware that’s what’s got to happen. I have got to notice these things. I have got to notice the feelings and follow the feelings. These are at the very hard of what it means to awaken and to arrive at a place of wholeness love, and to be able to accept that love and invoke that love is powerful. Those are the kinds of things I want people to all feel in their lives, especially as they are going through a horrible time in their life of loss.
I could identify with what you are saying because I had the same experience as our readers know. It’s amazing how freeing it is once you get past the pain and you are healing. People can’t understand it. I’m such a happy person, and so many are walking around holding on to their suffering. When you heal, you can take the lessons and keep the beauty of it, but you can move forward, and you are, in a way, empowered and free.
That’s at the very essence of what I call wholeness and returning to what I like to say is a love affair with your life. When you are engaged in your life and you are excited. You have this high level of intimacy with your own life and your relationship to spirit and yourself. It’s beyond what you could even ask for in a relationship with another person. That becomes icing on the cake if you have that. When you can return to this sense of who you are, which is at the very beautiful hurt lesson of what it means to be heartbroken. Your heart breaks open, and you can become more of who you are if you are tuned into your healing.
That’s true. I couldn’t agree more. I want to ask. You talked about meditation. There are a lot of people reading this episode that are like, “What is this big deal about meditation? I hear meditation all the time. What is it? What does it do? How does it help us to heal? How do I find the right style? There are so many of them. How long am I supposed to sit and do this?” Could you talk about that for us?
I want to tell your readers that you can go to FromHeartbreakToWholeness.com and download all of the soul mantra meditations that are at the back of each chapter. There are nine of them with beautiful music. It can be your entrée to meditation. If you go to Amazon and purchase the book, that’s my gift to you. It will give you that entrée to meditation that you might be looking for. Where you start is probably guided. Imagery meditation is the easiest place to start. Let me tell you the misconception about meditation, and that is you have to sit and not think. That’s the true misconception.
Meditation is not about not thinking. It’s about widening the mind and focusing on the breath. Doing a mantra meditation is much easier than trying to be completely still. Once you learn that your mind is naturally going to move to thought, that’s natural. You don’t have the anxiety about you doing it wrong. There is no wrong way to do it. It’s about tuning into your breath and quieting down.
I like to teach the golden pose, too. There’s this golden pose I do all the time in my show and work. It teaches people to pause for a few minutes, be in gratitude and their breath, and then step back out into the world with a different attitude, feeling more present, aligned, and more responsive to life instead of reactive.
Meditation is great for somebody going through loss and grief because it helps you to tune in. It might help you tune into your grief where it’s present in your body. If you are not crying enough or you are not allowing those feelings to come forward. Your body’s got to tell you something. Your body is going to hurt somewhere. That’s usually grief if you are coughing and your stomach hurts. That’s usually grief building up.
You have to allow yourself to tune in and allow those feelings to come forward. Sometimes, even lying down on the floor in a spread eagle position and allowing your body to shake from its core. That’s a great way to find where that grief might be holding on. Let it come. Cry, scream, and hit pillows. Don’t be scared of it. You are going to get this blissful feeling at the end of that time that you allow it to come forward. You will feel this sense of peace and calm that you are looking for. Your body will reward you for doing it correctly.
I don’t think that many people understand how our emotions manifest in physical illness or can manifest in physical illness. What you are talking about is meditation is a way of releasing your emotions that I believe create blocks in the body and keep us from moving forward.
Meditation has this way of bringing you into the present moment of living. When you are present on your breath and constantly returning, either to a mantra or your breath. You are giving your brain a road map into the moment, and I love to think of it that way because our brains and minds like to travel forward into the future and the past. Both of those hold a lot of discomfort for people who are going through loss. Going into the future is very fearful, and the past has a lot of regrets. Staying present any way you can is the key to experiencing as much joy as you can while you are going through this difficult time.
A lot of people can never imagine that they could experience joy again, but just read Kristine’s book, everyone, and you will find out how to do that and read this show. This offer for people to download, do they go online? Is there a charge for it? How does it work?
What you do is we ask that you buy the book, and then you put your Amazon receipt in there. It’s super simple. Go to the website and it will tell you how to do it then you will be able to download them on your computer. You will own them. There’s no charge, but I do ask you to purchase the book first. You will want to have the book because they go with the chapters.
That’s good to know. Tell our readers the best ways. I’m sure there are many to connect with you and reach you.
What is your message about the importance of healing that you’d like to share with our readers?
Probably the largest pivot that I have alluded to that you will ever make in your healing is to choose not to be the victim. Instead, choose to be the hero of your own life story. That is, in essence, the largest pivot that you will make toward healing is to know that it may not be clear to you why this happened. It may never be clear why it happened to your life, but it is a choice to move forward, embrace the journey, and do what you need to do to heal. That’s what being the hero is. That’s what being the hero does, you choose to live your life and move forward.
What is your tip? The Kristine Carlson tip for finding joy in life.
I have already told you. My tip is to be present for all of it. Staying very present in the present moment and engaged, being super excited about anything. I met a widower. I was speaking at a large conference for widows and widowers. He was married for 63 years and lost his life partner. A beautiful man in his 80s. A very tall, beautiful statue of a man crumbled in my arms. He didn’t know how he was going to get through each day.
I said, “All you need to do every day is think of one thing moment after moment to live for. One small thing. It could be that you are excited about having to look at a bird out the window. It could be anything, but notice the things that you have to be grateful for and that you want to live for. That’s all you have to do. Follow those breadcrumbs. Those bread crumbs will grow, and suddenly, you will come to a day where you have a lot more that you want to live for. Find the smallest things now.”
That is wonderful advice. I want to thank you so much for being on the show. Your ability to move people and inspire them to be optimistic about their futures after the loss of a loved one is a true gift to all of us. I know many of our readers are going to greatly benefit from reading your new book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy. Here’s a reminder, everyone, that you can read all the episodes on www.IreneWeinberg.com. Make sure to follow us on social at @IreneSWeinberg. As I like to say, surely, to be continued. Many blessings. Thanks, Kristine. Bye for now.
- Kristine Carlson’s Website
- Kristine Carlson’s book: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
- Kristine Carlson’s book: From Heartbreak to Wholeness
- What Now Course Website
- Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey referenced in this episode