Karina Chronicles

Frockstar™: Kate Swoboda of ‘Kate Courageous’

Name: Kate Swoboda, aka Kate Courageous
Age: 33
Location: Petaluma, CA (outside San Francisco)
Online homes:website // facebook // twitter

What are your every day, must-reads, online or off?
I tend not to be consistent about reading a particular blog or book, but this is an odd truth about my reading habits: I am super into biographies about competitive endurance sports. I have subscriptions to Runner’s World and Running Times and Triathlon magazine. I love books by triathletes, yoga fanatics, and endurance runners. I’m currently reading Hell-Bent, about the Bikram Yoga world, by Benjamin Lorr and A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington, an Ironman pro. I’m on my 5th read of You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg.

I’m usually reading or re-reading several books at once; they sort of poke out of nooks and crannies and side tables around my house. Old standbys that I return to often are Loving What Is by Byron Katie, anything by Pema Chodron, and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

You teach others to practice courage. What does ‘courage’ mean to you?
Courage is not about “getting rid” of fear. It’s a practice. It’s also not something that someone has or doesn’t have; courage is a practice. I define courage as feeling afraid (because no one gets out of that part), diving in anyway (because what would you do otherwise–stay stuck?), and transforming (which is always what happens when you move even an inch with your fear).

What are three ways we can be more courageous in our lives?
#1: Get more present. That can be a meditation practice, or it can be paying attention to the triggers that have you reacting to life by default. There are so many ways to get present, from moving meditation to inquiry to watching your breath on a zafu every morning. I’m a huge fan of people choosing the way that works best for them, rather than thinking someone else has the answer for how they are supposed to do it.

#2: Examine and investigate your capital-S “Stories.” Those are the internal narratives about our lives and how the world works. Stories can serve you, or not serve you, and again, it’s about not reacting to the Stories you carry about the world, simply by default.

I’m always pretty careful to note that this isn’t about moving to affirmations or trying to force yourself to give something a positive spin when that’s not how you feel. Do step forward and give yourself the gift of telling the truth about how you feel. Also be really, really committed to shifting that Story as soon as it’s time.

#3: Be gentle with yourself and your process. People spend so much energy beating themselves up for being wherever they are, when that energy would be better used celebrating what you learn and shifting towards what you want, if you’re in a state of suffering.

If you could give your 16 year old self advice, what would you say?
Oh, I love this question. I don’t know that I would have given her advice. I think I mostly would have told her that things would be okay. She spent so much time over-working, over-compensating, trying to prove, prove, prove that she was capable because she was really terrified of never being able to outrun poverty or depression.

Not believing that things would be okay, and then being so mired in fear, caused me to ruin so many relationships and opportunities. I don’t beat myself/her up for that, because I understand how it all has been a growing and learning experience, but I can also see that if she had had anyone on her team back then, letting her know that she was going to land on her feet no matter what, I think she wouldn’t have worried so much and would have had a helluva lot more fun.

Your perfect day. What would it look like?
Wake up in Florence, Italy and the weather is perfect. I run 3-5 miles in the morning and don’t have any annoying running injuries. Caffe latte and croissant, and a chance to practice my Italian. No schedule, no work. Totally liberated time. I walk around Florence, and when I get tired I stop in cafes for espresso and to write in my Moleskine. I meet friends for lunch and get a little social time, but then I’m off on my own again to explore, write, and snap photographs. For dinner, I meet my husband at a favorite restaurant in Fiesole, which is a little hill town above Florence.

This “perfect day” would be buttressed by other days surrounding it, days where I’m scheduled and have a lot going on, because my constitution seems to crave both the stillness and the passionate bursts of activity.

Thanks so much for sharing, Kate!

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