Today, I interview Jean Kathryn Carlson who grew up in a religious family and felt invisible for much of her childhood. The goal was to be perfect and keep the peace in order to secure her place in heaven. She never felt enabled to be herself, to open up, or to color outside the lines. She felt so much pressure to get things right, she was always too afraid to connect with people or truly have fun as a child. Instead, she found her place of fun and play inside her own imagination.
She created new worlds of adventure in her mind, and her creativity came alive. In this part of her story, Jean makes a brilliant connection. She tells us that the wound is important. The place where the problem lives is the place where we can dig deep and find gold. There is a gift there, where we listen and feel and make that connection. Jean continued in her studies, but the religious inner conflict tugged at her.
She says that love was a double-edged sword; there was a great big God who loved her, but she also had a constant fear of condemnation. She hadn’t yet figured out how to access her own strength, so she relied on the outside world — teachers, ministers, and other adults — to assess her and decide how she was doing. She lost some self-worth in this area. She found a love for the Spanish language when studying it for her undergrad. She also had a connection to music.
When she moved to California, she had a tremendous sense of value because she had two skills that could be used. She was starting to find her place, express her creativity, and feel affirmed because of her expertise. She had experience teaching, but she still had that active imagination and her heart was to become a storyteller. She was finally finding herself. She left a 25-year marriage and began to come alive, realizing she was able to shine from within and let her joy spill into the lives of others.
Joy is her passion. Today as an alchemy coach, she works with people to focus on their energy, language, and habits, “to create a more joyful, expansive, expressive life”.
Jean Kathryn Carlson believes that play is the new work. Her passion for solitude, music, nature, and dreams supports her in living a life full of magic and miracles. She loves to hang out in the invisible realms of the imagination where anything is possible. Intuitive Dreamworker, Storyteller, Thought Detective, and EFT Practitioner are some of the tools she uses in her Alchemy Coaching. Her life purpose is to joyously express the wonder and mystery of life and guide others on their unique journey of joy. She knows that when we claim our inner authority we are empowered to live more joyfully no matter what is going on around us. Jean Kathryn is a certified Dream Coach and Dream Facilitator, Law of Attraction Life coach, certified ProEFT Coach, certified Speaking Circle Facilitator, Certified Tribal Marketing Coach, and SendOutCards Affiliate.
Go to www.vibrantlivingalchemist.com to book a free 20-minute consult!
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Transcript of Interview
Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #75 Jean Kathryn Carlson
“Free to Be You and Me
(00:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. My experience has been, as a psychologist, is that I love to delve deep. I love to explore the inner realms that exist within us because I think that it is just so fascinating who we are and how we got to be that way, and even what stands in the way of our full expression. Today, I get to interview a very special friend of mine who’s done some trainings, so she knows my work really well. So, Jean Kathryn, welcome. Can you introduce yourself?
(01:25) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes, thank you, Doreen. I hear you introducing yourself, and I think, no wonder I feel so akin to you because I’m a deep diver, and I think I was born into this world to be a deep diver. I’m an alchemy coach. I’m a send out card specialist. My mission is just to spread joy all over this land. That’s what I came to this life to do, and I’m having fun doing it.
(01:52) Dr. Doreen Downing
I love the fun, fun, fun. Well, usually at the end of the episode, I give people a way to ask how they find you. Let’s do it at the start. Because I didn’t introduce you Jean Kathryn Carlson. I didn’t introduce you fully. So let’s get that done now.
(02:12) Jean Kathryn Carlson
I like to throw in here that the name Kathryn, actually came to me in a dream. I decided about 10 years ago and wondered what life would be like as Jean Kathryn Carlson instead of Jean Carlson, which always felt too short. So, it’s been a pleasure and so expansive to be Jean Kathryn Carlson. I call myself a vibrant, living alchemist, and you’ll understand a little more about what that’s about as we get into this show, but you can find me on Facebook at Jean Kathryn Carlson, or on my website, www.vibrantlivingalchemist.com.
(03:00) Dr. Doreen Downing
I love the explanation. When you said it, I think that listeners can feel the difference. With Jean Kathryn Carlson, it feels like it’s a melody.
(03:14) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes, and that takes me right into this whole thing of going through most of my life, feeling minimal, feeling like a wallflower, feeling small. And so, I think adding the Kathryn was necessary for me to claim the truth of who I am, which is much larger than I thought most of my life.
(03:43) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, you’ve come to realize that but at some point, those other feelings that you’re referring to must have developed or happened early in life, because that’s where we, if not past lives, at least this life, are coming into. We get more conscious of ourselves relative to our surroundings, and our surroundings are usually that first family. So, talk a little bit about that please.
(04:13) Jean Kathryn Carlson
I say that I was born with an invisibility cloak firmly in place. And yet, I wanted to be seen, but I was afraid to be seen. In my family, being quiet and being perfect were the prized essences. Going through my life trying to be perfect, trying to get the right answers for my parents, for my teachers, for the ministers— One of the aspects of the family is that we, especially my mother, were very religious, and I’m going to use the word religious instead of spiritual because Lutheran was the way to go and to be, and that was the box that defined who we were and even defined whether I was going to go to heaven or hell. So, I learned to do my best to get everything right on the inside before I ever opened my mouth. Now, as you can imagine, that kind of limits creativity. I don’t remember too many free times as a kid. People say, “Oh, go back to when you were three years old when you felt free to do and be whatever.” I don’t have that memory. I feel like I came out pretty much like, okay, we got to figure this out, and if we don’t, we’re going to be in trouble. And boy, did that make it hard to connect to people and have fun. The best place that I could have fun was in my imagination, and that’s where I hung out a lot of my childhood. Stay home from school, pretend you’re sick, and go inside the imagination and pretend I’m this— In those days, I was the cowboy, I was the wagon scout, out looking for the trail, and I was doing all these great things in life in my imagination. It was amazing.
(06:10) Dr. Doreen Downing
That makes so much sense knowing who you are. Such a spirit. And that seems like what I’m hearing and what I hope people are listening to, even though you’re in a certain circumstance, the way that you adjusted might be some of the ways in which are powerful now. You talked about going into dreamland and coming up with Kathryn. You have a facility to go deep within because that’s what you had to do early on.
(06:49) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes, I do. Knowing that what may have started as a wound or a problem, if we dive into it, and if we can stick with it, yields so much gold, because the qualities that I developed, that power of seeing in the dark, of being in the land of the imagination, has absolutely groomed me and nurtured me into some of the greatest gifts that I have to offer the world. Take nightmares. To be able to know that we can go into a nightmare if we choose and know that there’s gold there. I know that. Not everybody does. So, hey, listeners, if any of you out there have nightmares, let’s get together because I know the way through that. You’re absolutely right. It was those times staying home from school, that was probably my greatest education. Coming to think of it, staying home, playing with my stuffed horse, and being in that imaginal realm started so young. I must have been ill. I would have to be first or second grade, and I probably stayed home from school being sick, and I was laying on that sofa in the front room. I had these little handcuffs that I was playing with. Somehow, I don’t know how, I got them on me in the back, and somebody came to the door. My mom opened the door and here’s this little girl laying on the sofa with handcuffs in the back. She said that they looked at her, wondering, what are you doing lady? So that just became who I am, that imaginal being. The imaginary life I knew was as real or more real than the waking life or the external outer life.
(08:58) Dr. Doreen Downing
That’s so beautiful. The gift and the gold together that you’re talking about, and then your own developing capacity to understand that inner terrain. I would say I had something similar. My father left early, and everybody was laughing, and there was a big party going on, but I heard something in between the laughter and in the joy that was happening because it was just a party. There was something else that was going to be changing my life. He was leaving. So, it’s the listening. What you’re talking about is going into the painful moments—Father abandonment—the exact moment, and then just drop down in and see what I was doing, what I developed. So, it was the listening and, of course, being a psychologist in the work that I do is listening deeply, listening beyond words, listening to what people aren’t saying. That is such a good illustration of your gift today.
(10:12) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes, and how beautiful that those barely perceptible moments, like you’re describing, can be those turning points or the opening points of saying, whoa, there it was. I think the gift almost brings tears to my eyes, Doreen. I would love to have more people in the world get to experience the joy of those barely perceptible moments. They’re barely perceptible, and they’re huge.
(10:47) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I agree. So, to go back a little bit, because that was your safety, and you said, “or else”. It was something like, if you really were outside of the box, you might say. What was the consequence should you be outside the box?
(11:09) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Well, the bottom line was that I would go to hell. And for me, that was the bottom line. I’ve done so much inner work. And it seems to always come down to this fear that— Because love carried this— Love was a double-edged sword. There was this loving God, but if I wasn’t careful, he’d throw me into hell. But that’s really bottom line what would happen. At those young ages, where we see our parents as god, I would have been reprimanded, I would have been punished by my mom for not believing right. It didn’t even ever occur to me to challenge what was given to me because I also came into this thing knowing that there was some level of needing to protect her emotionally, to keep her happy. Maybe I was afraid that she’d slapped me on the wrist or— I did not have any physical abuse but emotionally, it was a scary place to be. I was just afraid of being punished, of being thrown out, of being condemned, or being judged.
(12:38) Dr. Doreen Downing
Great. That’s so articulated. Thank you so much. And then this word “judged”, of being judged, that sits inside of you and lurks. It’s like you’ve got your gift, but you can’t express it. Just outside of that is, “I better not or else I’ll be judged.” Then you grow into the young adult that you are. So, just anything you can say about carrying that kind of psychology, that inner sense of self? How that is when you were growing up and becoming a young adult?
(13:21) Jean Kathryn Carlson
It turned me as one who values the inner realm. My first trip around the Myers Briggs, I was way over on the introverted side. I know that there is that power within me, the sovereign within me. And yet, because of that box, I learned to give away my power to the outer authority. I gave whether it was the church, whether it was the minister, whether it was then going into school all the way through college and even in my master’s program, giving my teachers the power to tell me if I’m okay or not. Then that set me up for needing to get good grades, so that I’d be sure I’m okay. I was never a completely straight A student all the way through. I got my C’s and occasional D only a couple times, but I had to hide that from my parents because I was too scared of being judged by them. It was just this whole pressure cooker of getting the right answer at all costs. That was it. Be as good as you can because maybe some days, somebody will see who I really am. And I really am okay, but because I kept projecting out that it’s got to come from them, I’ve got to be doing it their way, I didn’t let that creative part be. I didn’t let myself be free, free to be.
(15:05) Jean Kathryn Carlson
One of my favorite songs is from an old— Free to Be You and Me. It was years and years ago. Probably most of you listeners have— Way longer ago. That record came out when I was a teacher. I was a bilingual teacher. And I would play that over and over and over and over. My favorite, my theme song is, “There’s a land that I see where we’re free to be me. It’s a land— It’s not far from where we are. Where we are free to be you and me.” That is the place that I want to hang out, where you can be you, where I can be me. Through my childhood and through all of that being in the box, that’s what I didn’t experience.
(15:59) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, I hear you. I hear the image. And so, you woke up someday though?
(16:10) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes. Yesterday? Well waking up is not a one-time thing. Part of becoming a bilingual— Actually, going to Mexico and studying in Mexico. There was something in the Mexican culture and the language of Spanish that opened my heart in a way that I didn’t know was possible. So, that was a wide awakening. My undergraduate was in Spanish and music. I grew up in the Midwest. I came to California. Lo and behold, I had a skill that could be used. I went into the classroom, and classroom teaching was fun because even though I still felt like I was a little bit of a wallflower, those kids didn’t really pay attention to me, but I had an audience. That was back before the days when teaching was not kind of restricted like I think it is now, where we could be more creative, and it was fun most of the time. So, I did that for several years. Then I went into educational sales consulting. And then I learned— Guess what? I am still introverted from the perspective of wanting to be by myself, having my solitude time to build my batteries. I realized I’m kind of gregarious. I like having fun with people. And so, in the educational sales world, I had 15 counties in California. I was driving up to schools, going in to say, “Hi, how are you, Principal?” And so, I was really having fun with that.
(17:50) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Then the bigger level of awakening was really waiting for me because I had been hearing myself say, I want to be a dream worker and a storyteller. Well, when I finally got the opportunity to do that, I was still imagining myself as a dream worker and storyteller but having a hard time getting it out because I was saying, “I’m not like Jeremy Taylor. I’m not like Steven Eisenstadt.” That old pattern of trying to be like my teacher, to be good enough, came up in spades. Over the last few years, bit by bit, speaking in circles, saying, “Do you mean what’s inside of me is okay? I can be in front of people. I can pleasurably just be with their gaze, and they’re not going to shoot me down? Wow.” So that became my most favorite place to hang out until I finally decided to become a facilitator because I love it so much. That was a big part of my awakening. Can I be with you and know I’m okay? Can I allow you in my presence and be free to be you and me?
(19:17) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, the song? It’s so good listening to you because what I get are all the threads that start coming together. It feels like an integration. It’s not just one flip of the switch. But that little by little, you’re finding more of your voice, and it has to do with discovering more within. Also, following this whole idea about you saying, “I want to be a storyteller. I want to be a dreamer.” There was something that you listen to inside and followed even though the old pattern surfaced.
(20:01) Jean Kathryn Carlson
I realize and I think this is true for all of us. Even with those patterns, I was that scout on the trail. Those times in the imagination being that scout, or the pony express rider out in the Wild West always fascinated me. I have a very idealized, romanticized version of it. It’s only my imagination, so it’s okay. But then, I could see myself taking big courageous steps like ending a 25-year-old marriage, and choosing me and saying, “I can’t figure out how to be me in this marriage. I’m not happy. I want a chance to be free, to be me.” And that was moving from about a 3000-square-foot home in Fresno, California and into a 510-foot duplex in Fairfax, California, saying, “Yes, this is what I want.” This is what I need to be who I am. And more than that, to be who I am, create joy in my life that spills out into other lives, and be able to share my gifts in the world. That makes a difference in the world.
(21:20) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, yes. The spreading of goodness. Thank you so much. I know I’ve been touched by your goodness through the years. So, could you say just a little bit more about how you work? Just so people get to hear a little bit more about this inner alchemy?
(21:43) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes, I’d love to. Thank you. I came across, through Audible, a really great novel series. If any of you are looking for a good series to listen to, I really love it. It’s called the Accidental Alchemist. And as I listened to that story, I realized I really am an alchemist. Because alchemy is a very medieval concept that’s gaining popularity again now. It’s about turning lead into gold. Alchemy, for me, is about saying, there is no pattern, there is no wound that cannot be alchemized within me. In other words, the energy of it can be transformed, and with dedication and commitment, I can shift that pattern of fearing judgment to a pattern of joy of expressing. In my work as a coach, I work with people who are battling long-term chronic thought patterns, or behavior patterns, or fearful patterns. Any of those patterns that are holding them back. Often they go up to try to do something, and then there it is again, and it keeps them from doing it again. So, one of my favorite things to do is be a thought detective. In my coaching, I work with people, and I hear their thoughts. I might hear somebody say, “It just kills me. It comes back over and over again. I tell them and say, “Let’s find another way of saying that. It’s frustrating when I see that come over and over again. I know there’s a way to change that. I know that I can. It’s just energy. I know we can change that.” So, we work through tapping. If you don’t know what that is, it’s tapping on meridians to help shift the energy. So, in my alchemy coaching, we work with energy, the energy of the dream, the energy of the body, the energy of the thoughts, to create a more joyful, expansive, expressive life for whatever my client is going for.
(24:13) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. Well, if anybody is listening, I just want to say, if you get a chance, go watch this video because you’ll see Jean Kathryn’s beautiful smile just radiating that you can trust— I think anybody who wants to reach out to you, can trust that she will be able to tap into the beauty and the joy within you because she knows all about alchemy. She knows about energy, turning the junky stuff inside of us into what is beautiful inside of us. It’s always there. It just has to be let out. Today, I just really appreciate you telling us some of the origins of your story. It’s such a perfect story about turning something like a negative experience into positive, way back then, you just didn’t know it. You didn’t know you were coming out into this world as the alchemist that you are who’s able to travel in those realms.
(25:29) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes, and may I also say that it is amazing. It does take years and commitment often, but sometimes, things can happen really quickly. So, if you would like to see how much you can do in 20 minutes, listeners out there, go to my website and check in with me for 20 minutes, because it’s amazing what we can see sometimes and how quickly it is. It’s been such a delight to be with you, Doreen, this morning in here, learning a little more of your journey. I feel such a kinship with your spirit. Really, thank you.
(26:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
You mentioned website. Let’s do that one more time, please.
(26:14) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Yes, it’s www.vibrantlivingalchemist.com
(26:23) Dr. Doreen Downing
Big breath of gratitude. Thank you, Jean Kathryn.
(26:29) Jean Kathryn Carlson
Thank you, Doreen, and thank you, listeners, for showing up for yourselves, and for your lives, and listening to things like this that can make a difference. Thank you.
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Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.