Episode 28: One Woman’s Healing Journey Through Writing Her Book & the Secrets To Great Art

December 2, 2019

In this episode, Cat Williford dives deep into how to deal with failure, the need to unmask to heal, how she did it, what to do when you experience “Is that all there is?” and the cycles of life we all experience and deal with.

Resources mentioned

Book: The Ovarian Chronicles coming in 2020.

3 Key Points 

Experiencing failure does not make you a failure.

To heal you have to get really honest with yourself and unmask.

If you are asking yourself, “Is that all there is?” you have to get quiet and figure out what’s next.


[0:49] Ellen: Hi everybody and welcome to episode 28 today, my guest is Kat will afford for 25 plus years. Cat has helped thousands of women move from debilitating self-criticism fear and so, so results into experiencing outrageous levels of self-love, authentic confidence and success on their terms. She just led her annual retreat, your heroine’s journey, and supportive women breaking free from their old stories to boldly claim what is next.

[01:19]  Cat is appeared as a guest expert on the Maury Povich show, been featured in the Los Angeles Times and coach live on Las ABC talk radio. She has keynoted for twenty-five years in her book. The Ovarian Chronicles will be released in March of 2020. So, welcome to the call Cat.

Cat: Thank you, so much, Ellen, for having me.

[1:40] Ellen: I’m excited. The reason I wanted to have you on was because I read a post and you were talking about something that I had gone to and I thought this would be a great topic to discuss on the podcast.

Cat: Wonderful.

Ellen: Yeah. So, as a coach of twenty-five years, let’s start with what do you see as the top blocks to achieving our goals? And by the way, you said mostly for women, but I, I know like what I went through. I mean anybody could go through.

[2:10] Cat: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so, my answer to this first question is absolutely across the board. Men and women, children, across the board. Number one, we let our old worn-out stories of not enough. Whether that’s time I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I don’t know enough. I don’t have the right connections, whatever that boogeyman is that runs our sh**, internal story. That old story blocks our creativity. It blocks our capacity to plot a plan or we’ll plot a plan, and then it will come up. So the, that old worn-out voice and story, which leads us to then start worrying about the, how we’re going to do something versus staying on point with our purpose, our bigger picture of why and what we want.

So yeah, getting star-cross by the “cursed how’s” is what I call it. And then, the third thing that really gets in our way, is we’re not staying current with ourselves. So, we might lose touch of like we’ve set a really big goal, it changes us. And so, if we’re not keeping track of how we’re growing or how we’re becoming different, we lose the capacity to stay on track with our intentions.

[3:45]  Ellen: How do you know?

[3:36] Cat: Ah, great question. How do we? We start to feel less excited or even dread when we think about our goal?

[3:48]  Ellen: You’re saying if you’re dreading thinking about your goal, you’re growing. I’m confused.

[4:04] Cat: Oh, no, I’m sorry. You know that it’s time to refresh yourself. Like current with yourself. Cat: Yeah. So if I’ll just give an example here, if you’ve set a goal to complete a big project, whether that’s writing a book or finishing your draft of a proposal for a new business, whatever that is, if you set that goal and you find yourself dreading it, you might be caught up in the story, the old story of not good enough. You might be worrying too much about how I’m going to get all this done versus chunk it down one bite at a time, baby. Just one bite at a time. Or, it’s a goal that’s actually an old goal. It’s not a current goal.

[4:50] Ellen: That is so true. That is so true. I’ve, I’ve been there, I’ve been there too. That wasn’t the original one that I wanted you on, but I’ve been there too. Yeah. I think I’m getting there. I think I’ve gone through them all. Yeah.

[5:07] Cat: We’ve all been there, and I want to make it really okay and right that we’ve all been there. I, my best tip around it is, get yourself some support, whether it’s a good tribe, a mastermind group or a coach, whatever it is. Get support. Don’t go it alone. It’s hard to go it alone. Don’t do that.

[5:24] Ellen: Sure, it is. But you have to make sure it’s the right one. Cause I’d done that and it’s been the wrong one. I lost a year doing something I shouldn’t have been doing.

[5:35] Cat: Exactly. I mean, that’s it. And that’s part of what I mean by we’re, if we’re not staying current with ourselves, we might be, the old analogy of putting your ladder on the long wrong wall and crawling up the wrong ladder…

[5:48] Ellen: Right.

[5:49] Cat: To get to the top. And then, you get to the top, wait, this isn’t the top.

[5:54] Ellen: I think there was a book, Barbara DeAngelis wrote it, something like, “How did I get here? “

[5:58] Cat: “How did I get here?” That’s right. That’s right.

[6:00] Ellen: So, what is your heroine’s journey?

[6:04] Cat: Yeah, so I, I’m living the distinction between the hero’s journey and heroine’s journey. And I want to be clear that I, I truly believe men and women take both of these journeys, but we’re very familiar with the hero’s journey. It’s where something from the external world calls us out of the cave, calls us out of the comfort and safety because there’s an ill in the world or there is something that is just provoking us to take action on. The heroine’s journey is the coal from within.

It is the whoosh from within, “Man, something’s got to give here. Hmm. I am really feeling discontent, not I’m feeling angry. It’s more, ah, although if we ignore it, it can turn to anger.

[6:54]  Ellen: Right, right. You start resenting it cause you’re not where you were wanting to go. Right.

[6:56] Cat: You’re not where you want to go. It’s this sense of unease, of discomfort, of “uchh” Really? There’s got to be more, or like you said a moment ago, “Is this all there is? What? “ And so, I think there’s this notion that once we reached a goal, we should be happy forever and ever. Amen.

[7:24]  Ellen: Right, right. Yeah. And that was the reason I want to have you on, because you wrote a post about “Is that all there is?” And I went, “Oh my God.” Because that happened to me and I thought, “God, I’d worked my butt off, for years and I had been doing these workshops and making a six-figure income and helping a lot of people, and all of a sudden it was just a grind. Yeah. It was like, “Oh my God, is that all there is?”  And so, that really got my attention, and that’s what I wanted to hear.

[7:57] Cat: Yeah. Really is that part of the heroine’s journey. And I had a moment where I looked down and I was holding a laundry basket and I went, you’ve got to be kidding me. I graduated from a woman’s college and I’m seeing my man’s laundry and my laundry basket.

[8:17] Ellen: Well, my mom went to USC and she had her diploma hanging over the kitchen sink and that was sort of her rebellion,

[8:27] Cat: Exactly! And most of the time I do things for, the people I love because I love him, but when it becomes a habit and we’re not thinking about it, we’re, we’re no longer making a choice about it. And a lot of times also that heroine’s journey comes, we were aware that we’re stepping onto it when there’s a health crisis. Now some people could say that’s an external pole. And sure, it is because probably a doctor from your external world has told you this. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of the time we have felt something going on inside that we’ve ignored.

[9:01] Ellen. Oh yeah, definitely. That happened to me. I mean, my immune system collapsed completely and I went from 130 pounds down, 120 pounds down to 90 in a month.

Cat: Wow.

[9:16] Ellen: Yeah. And I was dying. This was like twenty years ago, and I was so depressed. I was depressed about my life. I had not that long before that lost my mom, my dad, my grandmother, two of my favorite uncles. It was just like a laundry list. And then, my brother and I had gotten into it over my parents’ estate, and we had this wonderful place down in Del Mar, and what we did was we swore that was going to be our retirement; we were never going to sell it and this guy wanted us to come take a property management job with him back in L.A. We were in San Diego at that time and he, scared us enough that we sold it, and we went back to L.A. and took the job. And at that point, my husband completely checked out emotionally.

[10:04] Cat. Yeah.

[10:04] So, I had lost everybody, and then he was checked out and I was so depressed, I couldn’t stand it. And yeah, I almost died from it, so….

[10:14] Cat: I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a similar-vein story, particularly for women who wind up-we just wind up so sick. I talk about it a lot in my workshops and in things I put out in the world. I too was in my early to mid-twenties; and my father died; and he had my kidney in him; and he died anyway, and I spiraled, I lost twenty-five pounds in four weeks; I was overrun with candida. I thought, “Oh my God, I feel like an eighty-nine-year-old woman and I’m only twenty-five.  And I literally I thought I was dying. I could not stay well, and those are the moments though that drive us into the heroine’s journey, into the power of looking at our life from a little bit of a different angle.

Not from the outside, but from the inside about what is the experience I’m having an “Oh my God, I do not want to be having this experience anymore!” And a lot of times, don’t show up at like the big wind-like if we don’t hear the first, time… I like to say the universe rings the doorbell very politely, and then it might knock vigorous, and then if you’re really checked out the two-by-four comes.

[11:34] Ellen: Yeah, right.

[11:35] Cat: I’m really wanting to hear the ding dong at this point in my life. I want to hear the polite doorbell ring from now on. There’s something to pay attention to. But I do. I think we, there are those signs along the way that we miss because we’re busy on a goal, or we’re busy taking care of someone else, or we are busy at work.

[11:58] Ellen: In my case, it was exactly what you were saying before, is like, I wasn’t paying attention to what I wanted and going for it. I was letting circumstances and everything sort of run my life and feeling it was over.

[12:12] Cat: That’s right.

[12:13] Ellen: Feeling like my life was over, and I hadn’t even started my business online yet. You know?

[12:19] And that’s I really would love to undermine that point. When we think it’s over, “Is this all there is? And my God, my life is over!” And it was like when my love walked out the door, I felt like my life was over, but it wasn’t. Yeah. When I found out through all thick and thin, I wasn’t going to get pregnant, I felt like my life was over, but it wasn’t, I’m still here, I’m still thriving. I think we have to ride through those moments and that is part of the heroine’s journey. We develop more of our inner world, we lean more into our resilience instead of our doing, we lean into our resilience of spirit, our resilience of heart.

[12:48] Ellen: So how do you get through or how do you deal with, is that all there is? I mean, I know what I did. I, for me, I stopped everything for like a month and just really spent it, (asking myself) “What do I want? What’s it going to look like? Where am I going?” Is that sort of how other people do it or what, what’s your take?

[13:22] Cat: Absolutely. I don’t think there’s one right way. There’s no one right way for each one of us over time because we’re always shifting and growing in our consciousness. At least, that’s the goal. Sometimes, the two by four comes back out if we’re not… but the thing is, I think the first thing we have to do is recognize… like, we have to be vulnerable enough with ourselves to tell ourselves the truth. This isn’t it.

[13:53] Ellen: Right. But also, for a lot of people, what I see is they want to write a book, and they keep putting it off and putting it off, and sometimes, it is it and they won’t accept it.

[14:02] Cat: Absolutely, absolutely.

[14:02] Ellen: For, whatever reason.

[14:05]: Cat: Yeah. Well, and that to me is like, that’s a goal. That’s different than feeling that internal discontent. There’s the, “I can’t get to the goal because…”, some of the reasons we talked about earlier, like the story of the well-worn story of “I can’t do things. I don’t know how.” or worrying about the how, and not being current with ourselves.

[14:26] That’s absolutely on the external. But this internal discontent, “Is this all there?” We can feel that even when we’re actually in motion. We can be taking the steps to writing the book, but we could still feel discontent if there’s something going on in that inner world. And yes, that, the book could absolutely… the outer doing that we’re doing is absolutely it.

So then, there’s the internal shift. What is there to forgive in ourselves in other people? Who are we being in showing up as?  So a lot of times, “Is that all there is?” happens when we haven’t stayed current with ourselves, who we’ve really become or who we are just about to be internally.

[15:08] Ellen: I think it’s also deservability, feeling like you don’t deserve it. Or, I don’t know, there are so many things that hold people back, and I think part of those “Is that all there is” is that’s when it’s really time to go there and say, “Okay, are you going to kick yourself in the butt and get out of your comfort zone?”

[15:25] Cat: Absolutely. Absolutely. No question. When it comes to external goals and internal shifting what we want to do. One of my key things is I tell everybody, “Let’s start with what you want to experience?  And once we get clear on the experiential quality of life that you want, then let’s look at what brings that, what excites you about what could bring that to you. Let’s then focus there.”

[15:52] Ellen: I think also when you get in touch with that, that’s when you can really go for the abundance.

[15:58] Cat: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because it’s no longer about making money. It’s about stepping into an experiencing what we want to experience, and this can be even with the hard stuff of life. I’m, I, being a midlife woman, I tend to coach a lot of people in mid-life, and most of us are dealing with…you clearly lost both your parents much earlier, but a lot of people are dealing with, like I lost my father earlier, but my mom is still here. She’s in her eighties, and there’s…we’re dealing with what that means.

[16:34] Ellen: Right?

[16:35] Cat: And so, keeping in mind that we are constantly needing to evolve into being what life is calling us to be as well as what we are longing to experience and be.

[16:50] Ellen: Right.

[16:51] Cat: And I think that deservability is absolutely in that first question you asked me. It’s absolutely one of the blocks to achieving our goals. We feel like we’re not worthy. We don’t deserve that piece. And I certainly experienced that in abundance after my father died because I collapsed, the failure… like my ultimate goal was to save my father’s life

[17:12] Ellen:  Right, and you couldn’t do it.

[17:14] Cat: …and I didn’t do it. But so, I collapsed that into that I was a failure. My kidney was a failure. But the truth was the transplant was a success. It was a complete success. In fact, it’s probably what kept him alive for those five months.

So, much other had gone wrong before that transplant. But being only twenty-five, I collapsed that I was a failure versus we failed to achieve this goal. And so, when you are walking around thinking you are a failure because a goal did not… a goal of great meaning.

[17:44] Ellen: “Oh my God,” I so relate to that. When I was doing my workshop, it was going so great for years, and then all of a sudden it wasn’t. And then, the whole Internet changed and the recession, and all the different things happen, and yeah, I felt like I was a failure, absolutely.

[18:04] Cat: Absolutely. And what did that do for you? Like what happened?

[18:08] Ellen: It was just a spiral down.

[18:10] Cat: Yes.

[18:11] Ellen: But I kept going. That was what saved me was my perseverance. I just kept going anyway.

[18:15] Cat: Yeah. (Laughing)

[18:17] Ellen: And I tried different mentors and everything. I spent tons of money, nothing worked. But I just kept trying different things. And then, I thought, “Well, I help my clients and I’ll try to help myself. So, I tried that, and that worked, kind of. And then, eventually though, again, I kind of hit bottom in my mind again and I said, “Okay, this is ridiculous. I have to reach out.” And I did. And that was when it finally started turning around.

But again, it was like what I said earlier, finding the right person, finding the right connection and being open with myself and honest with myself to what I really needed. And at that point, I just needed someone to tell me I was okay, and I was great. And they knew me for a long time and said, you’re so awesome for what you do. You just do this or do that, but don’t give up on yourself.

[19:06] Cat: Yes. And really what you’re pointing to is the distinction between the internal journey versus the external journey. Right? Hiring coaches that will help like our systems and teach me this and teach me and we can build and we can replicate. But if, if there’s something needing our attention on the internal, that stuff won’t work.

And so, rather than turning around, and a lot of people will blame the system, blame the coach rather than, “Okay, maybe this is one of those moments when I’m like, “Okay, is this all there is? This isn’t working. I’m not… this isn’t okay with me.  Okay, well let’s look and see what’s okay with me inside about me. What am I not feeling okay with? What is the gap and what support do I need there?”

[19:50] Ellen: Yeah. I really hope that people take this seriously about what we’re talking about here because this is deep stuff, but it’s so important if you want abundance. If you want your business to work, if you want to be happy, it’s just so important.

[20:06] Cat: Absolutely. Absolutely. Even if we are seeking abundance, it begins with choosing the experience of abundance.

[20:21] Ellen: What does that mean? And then, I want to move on.

[20:23] Cat: So, if I’m choosing to experience abundance, I begin to immediately see it around me versus thinking it’s all outside of me, out of my control. I’ve got a work, like a “mmm” to get it. And this is true for me, I’m sharing this is absolutely true for me in my own life. I was at a point where like, wow, the credit, the, the debt was high, the income was kind of questionable. It was a scary time. And it was right around the time of my breakup, and coincidentally right around that time of the meltdown of 2008 and 2009.

And so I thought, “All right, what you’re really wanting to experience is abundance, Cat.” And all of a sudden, I was like, “Wow, you have such an abundance of love around you and friends that want to support you in abundance.”

[21:17] And I started looking at, “There’s an abundance of beauty around me. I live on the fricking beach for crying out loud in Church, open your eyes.” And so, I started seeing abundance around me, and then they started to experience more and more abundance, and very quickly because I was in, and I don’t want to dip too much here into the field and it will come, but it’s when I started to experience myself as abundant. No kidding. People started coming. Like all of a sudden, they had a waitlist for my coaching practice again. I shouldn’t say, “All of a sudden,” It wasn’t like I blinked and it was there, it wasn’t Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie. It was me showing up, you know?

[21:59] Ellen: Exactly.

[22:00] Cat: It’s not just sitting on your meditation cushion and envisioning it. It’s actually then do that, experience it, go for the experiential, and then take action. Just taking mad, crazy action without being rooted in the desired experience is a fruitless waste of, of energy.

[22:10] Ellen: Amen. And with that, yeah. I do want to ask you about your book. So, what’re The Ovarian Chronicles about?

[22:26] Cat: It is definitely about my journey, and I believe it’s about every woman’s journey. We are very defined by these two things in our bodies. Even if they’ve been removed, we are still defined by the energy of them, and so it really picks up at a…I was given a diagnosis that was completely unexpected and was told I needed surgery. There was a growth on my right ovary that was tissue-filled. It was not a cyst, and my father was a surgeon, so westernized medicine is kind of what I was seeped in, but it’s a journey of my healing. I wanted to heal my body because I knew that’s what was there.

And so, it’s the story of what I did to heal and wind up not having to have the surgery, not having cancer. And I share very explicitly what I did and what people can do to heal

[23:20] Ellen: Oh nice.

[23:21]: whatever is happening for them. And oh, by the way, on the backdrop of this was I was really wanting to get pregnant. This was in my forties. And so, it was to the backdrop and the tune of fertility and what that means to so many of us, even if we’ve chosen not to have children in this lifetime, or even if we did have children, how our version of fertility and creativity shifts and shifts and grows and grows and morphs through every single stage of our lives. So yeah, it’s a look at what we go through and it’s a…

I want it to be a book of hope for healing, for all of us.

[23:57] Ellen: Very nice.

[23:58] Cat: healing.

Ellen: I look forward to reading it.

Cat: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah.

[24:03] Ellen: So, what was the hardest part of writing it? And then, we’re going to wrap it up.

[24:07] Cat: The vulnerability it takes to write a memoir is huge. And I am a protector. Some would say a codependent savior, protector, rescuer. So, I’m very truthful about me and other people in my life, and it was really hard for me to deprivatize other people’s lives. I talk about mine all the time. So, that’s fine.

[24:38] Ellen: Mmm. U-huh.

[24:38] Cat: But yes, I had to be so naked and vulnerable with myself to tell the truth here and really glean the learning. The experience started in 2010, and it has taken me this long to really see all the wisdom and what I was learning along the way. So, I think, sometimes, memoirs take a while to write when we’re writing about a very specific incident that spurred us to great growth and to really see the richness there. So, the hardest part was the depth of vulnerability. And there were sections in my book where I would go and roll over those chapters again, it would undo me. I was literally in the fetal position sobbing.

[25:22] Ellen: Oh, but you did it!

[25:24] Cat: But I did it. And I think that’s what, I think that’s what great art takes- a soul-bearing journey. And I decided I was up for the challenge,

[25:38] Ellen: So many creative people suffer from depression because

[25:41] Cat: Absolutely!

[25:44] Ellen: …because we’re deep.

[25:24]: We are. We are so deep. You know, we can put on…I talk about masks. we can put on a party face if we need to, but there’s a cost to that, and this is completely unmasked. And so, I think it’s sometimes easier to unmask for other people than it is to unmask to ourselves and tell ourselves those really hard forlorn, painful truths.

[26:12] Ellen: Well, I appreciate you coming on and sharing yours.

26: 16 Cat: Oh yeah, Ellen

[26:19] Ellen: Oh, you’re welcome. I really hope it helps somebody else, listening to this because I know, I’ve been there. You’ve been there. And I know when I was going through some of the hardest things, I completely thought I was alone. I thought nobody else goes through this stuff but me. And so, when I see people talking about things that I been through, experience, or had trouble with, I definitely want to help get the word out. And that’s one of the great things about having a podcast.

[26:45] Cat: Absolutely. And your podcast… I love listening to your podcasts. There’s always… I’m taking notes. (Laughing)

[26:52] Ellen: Ah, thanks!

[26:54] Cat: There’s always some beautiful jewels of wisdom to be shared…

[26:57] Ellen: That’s awesome.

[26:58] Cat: I deeply appreciate it. I’m honored to be here with you and your audience today.

[27:02] Ellen: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. When you do this, you don’t experience what other people  are experiencing, and if they don’t ever tell you,

[27:11] Cat: (Laughing) Right, well, I enjoy listening, and I’ve certainly enjoyed being here with you today.

[27:17]: Ellen: Well, that’s it for today. To get the show notes, go to www.booksbusinessabundance.com/podcast and to continue the conversation, you can go to www.facebook.com/groups/booksbusinessabundance. That’s where you can ask questions, delve deeper into today’s topics and share comments and takeaways. Bye bye.


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About the Author

Ellen Violette

Ellen is an 3X award-winning book, including being named one of the Top 20 Book Coaches of 2022 by Coach Foundation. She's also a multiple #1 bestselling author, a 3-time eLit award winner, podcast host, and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. She has been helping entrepreneurs increase their credibility and expert status, become #1 bestselling authors, and make a bigger impact in the world since 2004. Her mission is to make the world a better place one author and one book at a time!



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