Today, I interview Kamala Murphey whose family was a fairly rigid system. Her father – who had at one point studied to become a priest but in the end, did not – was a strict perfectionist. He and his doting wife had high expectations of their two daughters, thrilled with the acclaim they saw on report cards.
Kamala uses the phrase “compliant children”, which paints a saddening image. She also tells us that her mother was dealing with alcohol addiction behind closed doors. When Kamala was in first grade, her favorite activity was show and tell because she got to talk in front of the class and everyone listened to her. Then in second grade, she remembers a teacher telling her not to get up unless she had something “important” to say. This made Kamala question the importance of her thoughts and what she was communicating. It broke her heart. She says she carried that for a long time.
Although Kamala didn’t mind being “a good girl” and was happy to have been disciplined, on the inside she was still screaming, “Oh, let me experience life!” She was excited to leave home and go find her way. She makes the amazing point that part of the “good” of a luscious life is in figuring out “how we’re created to be and accessing all of it.”
Her mother died at 68, and while working in corporate America at the time, Kamala saw how unhappy and empty her mother’s life had become. She realized she wanted a bigger, more luscious life for herself. She left this work and started a coaching business, trying out Toastmasters, as many of us do. One of those coaches introduced her to Speaking Circles, which I founded with my partner, Lee Glickstein. We all worked together and she says she immediately felt a great connection. One of the things she learned from me was the process of pausing and taking a big deep breath – not rushing to speak.
And one thing she says stuck with her about Lee was his encouragement to “dare to be boring”. She learned how to always listen to herself and connect with everything that is stirring deep inside her. Today, she helps other women look into the mirror and just breathe, showing them that they are strong, brave, beautiful, and worthy.
Kamala Murphey has been a spiritual life coach and mentor for over 20 years, working with women worldwide to move from heartache and disappointment to living rich, full, luscious lives. As a young woman, she battled with herself trying to fit into who and how she was supposed to be. Her one-part good Catholic girl was easy, but how to meld in the wild-hearted hippie chick inside her? Having experienced the anguish of playing small, knowing she was meant for more, she knew she was to help others like herself break free from what she calls Good Girl prison.
Her passion is to empower women – especially those trained to be good girls – to change how they see themselves, to own their beauty, wisdom, heart, and chutzpah to become the models who change the paradigm about older women feeling valued, being seen and heard, rather than the heartache of fading into the woodwork, becoming invisible. She holds Master’s degrees in counseling and theology. And is the host of the Heart & Chutzpah podcast.
Find Kamala here:
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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 # 82 Kamala Murphey
“Permission to Lift the Veil”
(00:36) Dr. Doreen Downing
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing. I’m a psychologist and I host this podcast, Find Your Voice, Change Your Life. What I do is invite guests who somehow in their past might have experienced some kind of holding back of themselves because they didn’t feel like they had a strong enough voice. Perhaps it was taken away because of some event in their life or circumstance. What’s so great about the people that get to come with me on this inner journey that I help them explore is that they found their voice. We get to see well how did they do it. How did they go from feeling like there wasn’t much of a sense of self with a voice inside to now being able to speak up and speak out. I get to invite a wonderful friend today. I’ve known Kamala for many years, and so it’s my it’s my extreme pleasure to say hello to you today, Kamala.
(01:47) Kamala Murphey
Thank you so much, Doreen. So good to be with you.
(01:52) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, you sent me a bio and it’s always good to read it so that people get a sense before we launch into the story. is that okay?
(02:01) Kamala Murphey
(02:02) Dr. Doreen Downing
All right. Kamala Murphy has been a spiritual life coach and mentor for over 20 years, working with women worldwide to move from heartache and disappointment to living rich, full, luscious lives. Before I go on, I just want to say what a beautiful phrase, luscious lives. My mouth is watering. But also, just a wonderful sense of abundance, so thank you. I love that. Luscious lives. As a young woman, she battled with herself to fit into who and how she was supposed to be, her one part good Catholic girl was easy, but how to meld in the wild-hearted hippie chick inside her. We have a story coming up today, don’t we? Having experienced the anguish of playing small, knowing she was meant for more, she knew she was to help others like herself break free from what she calls good girl prison. Sounds like the title of a book. Okay, good girl prison. Wow. Her passion is to empower women, especially those trained to be good girls, to change how they see themselves, to own their beauty, wisdom, heart, and chutzpah to become the models who change the paradigm about older women feeling valued, being seen, and heard, rather than the heartache of fading into the woodwork, becoming invisible. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and theology and is the host of the Heart and Chutzpah podcast, which I had the pleasure of being on a couple of weeks ago. Already, what you wrote in the bio, there’s so much we can lift out of that to start our conversation, but I’ll just let you start wherever it feels right for you, and then we’ll see where we go.
(04:18) Kamala Murphey
Right away, Doreen, as you were reading the bio, and I’ve read it myself a jillion times, but when you said “luscious”, I just got tingles all again. That was just something that came up. As I’m saying that, I realized, in part, knowing you, for the years that I have, there’s something about this lusciousness that I didn’t have growing up. I think you were one of the women who gave me a sense of “Oh, there really is that more to my life and more who I want to be.” That was the first thing that struck me because this is about finding one’s voice. I’ll start, not at the beginning, but at about age six, I was late to start school, I didn’t get to go to kindergarten, so I started in first grade. It was a completely new experience for me, but I liked to show and tell and getting up and being in front of my classmates. It felt good because I was being listened to. Then in second grade, I had the experience of a teacher telling me, “Please, don’t get up unless you have something important to say.” I think I found a piece of tanbark that had an interesting shape or something, so it was not something that was earth-shaking, but it was important to me, and when she said that it was like my heart clenched. I was seven at the time. It broke my heart in a way. This teacher was well-received. Well, in my mind. She could play the guitar and sing, so I thought she was such a big deal. And, when she said that, it really hurt. I think I made it a decision to just, okay, I won’t talk because maybe I don’t have anything important to say. I don’t know what’s important. I carried that for a really long time.
(07:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, thank you. That moment, I can really see it, and I can feel it, that you’ve got something that’s special to you, and I don’t think that people see that what is special to us has meaning to us. That has some message, I’m sure, in some way. But what you said earlier about trying to fit into a mold, it feels like that was the beginning of “let’s mold you into saying something” and I’m putting air quotes, “Important”.
(07:47) Kamala Murphey
Well, what is important? If I think this stone is beautiful, well, maybe no one else will think it’s important.
(08:05) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, learning. That was such a— What you just said, how do we learn what is important? Then we look around us and see what other people say is important, and then we have to, not we have to, but it seems like in order to get accepted and heard, we have to fit that mold. What was your— You had a family. Tell us a little bit about what the molding there was.
(08:35) Kamala Murphey
Oh, yes. Well, I’ll start with my father studied to be a priest. I don’t know whether he was kicked out. There are various stories, but he didn’t become a priest. My parents got married. My mom became an alcoholic. There was a lot of “good girl”. Good girl was really important, and what my father said was the rule, so all of us, I have a younger sister, so my mom and my sister and I behaved. Every single report card I think had, “She’s such a pleasure to have in class. She’s so quiet.” That was him looking good, Doreen. That was really important to him. That he be esteemed, by having compliant children and a doting wife, even if she was drinking behind closed doors. At least on the surface, we looked good.
(09:57) Dr. Doreen Downing
I have a younger sister, and I was the oldest one too, so there’s something about learning to take care of and be responsible probably, that I would think that was also true for you.
(10:14) Kamala Murphey
Yes, absolutely. It’s like, oh, you know better than that. You have to take care of your little sister. There’s a lot of ‘take care of your little sister, take care of her, and be a good girl.’
(10:28) Dr. Doreen Downing
I think we’re going to hear that a lot today, “Be a good girl.” And that’s what I think is the good girl prison. You can write that. At least some article that is amazing in capturing of what the trap is in us being good. I also had that sense of being a teacher’s pet in school was a place where I found my competence, you might say, but still, it was getting the grades and looking good, and getting the—we call them, “teacher’s pet” because it’s patting.
(11:12) Kamala Murphey
Yes. Good girl. Getting our gold stars on the star board. When there’s this juxtaposition. I grew up in San Francisco, and it was the heyday of the Haight-Ashbury and the hippies were coming up, and so I felt like there was this possibility of a freedom that I wasn’t going to get to experience in this family. So, that was that was that. Wow, there’s something else beyond literally this prison that we lived in.
(12:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
Do you think that there— I have an image here of the circumstances in the context of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco during that time period where there was a lot of living outside of the mold. Do you feel like you came in or that we come in with a spirit, a wild spirit? Talk a little bit about that the inner and the outer?
(12:39) Kamala Murphey
I actually do. I think that there’s always been this part of me that, even loving to do show and tell prior to that experience, wanting to be enthusiastic and joyful and free. I think I had that experience of just wanting that, and then having it shut down. As I got older and moved out and did a few— I stayed a good girl for a really long time anyway, and I still am. It really is that one good girl and there’s that sense of freedom that is what I want and lusciousness, that lusciousness is just a big part of who the divine made me. You have all these parts, and some are compliant and devout, and some are just like, “Oh, let me experience life.”
(14:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
For somebody who’s not watching and they’re only listening, Kamala just threw her arms up into the air and just had this wonderful expansive smile. It was an image of joy.
(14:18) Kamala Murphey
(14:22) Dr. Doreen Downing
There’s a way in which when you said wild spirit, and then what San Francisco look like which was on the margins of sometimes really wild, I loved what you just said that it doesn’t necessarily— Wild doesn’t mean wild crazy. Wild means joyous and expressive and the way you did your arms just open, the enthusiasm and the energy of life and force is what I just felt around that what wild means natural, a naturally wild spirit that we all have. I’m just feeling, I guess, a little sad about people who get trapped in good and in looking good and being good. Something else, just one more thing you said that I got also is that there are layers, there is that external what looks good and the mold, but inside, in this spirit that you’re talking about, goodness is there inside of us. It’s a different kind of good.
(15:40) Kamala Murphey
Yes, and I’m thinking, I don’t know how to express that, but it’s definitely— I think maybe the word is holy, but that’s not it. Maybe it’s indescribable. This sense of rightness, goodness. Now, I want to find the word. It’s not coming.
(16:12) Dr. Doreen Downing
No, there’s a sense. We can do all sorts of words. They talked about Eskimos having all sorts of words for snow that feels like we’ve got to have more words for good. The good within, the purity of goodness. I don’t know.
(16:37) Kamala Murphey
You used the word, or term lifeforce. That rings so much for me, because it is that, and that’s part of the good too. It’s like the creation. How we’re created to be and accessing all of it. You know that? That’s lusciousness.
(17:06) Dr. Doreen Downing
You know maybe we should write this book together.
(17:09) Kamala Murphey
(17:13) Dr. Doreen Downing
I’m getting all sorts of ideas. Well, speaking of moving towards a deeper goodness within you. How did you make that transformation or that transition? What were some of those parts of your journey?
(17:29) Kamala Murphey
I had been working in corporate America. At some point, I think it was right after my mother had passed away. She died young. She was 68 when she died, and I saw the suffering and unhappiness in her life. I knew that what I was doing was not for me, really. I took a leap and started my own coaching business. I realized if you’re going to be this quiet, you know that you’re not going to have much success with this, so I started doing Toastmasters, and that was good. It got me a little bit out of my shell. One of the coaches that I was working with said, “Have you ever heard of speaking circles?” It’s like, no, but it sounded interesting. So, I drove over to Mill Valley at the time, and I did my first speaking circle with Lee and with you. I think I shared this with you before that the first day I met you, I just felt this connection. You were probably wearing a color that made your eyes just like pop, like this was a woman who gets me and I think that’s what I so long for, to be seen and appreciated. I think you and Lee, but mostly you, really gave me the permission to take a deep breath before I spoke just what’s really here and that set me free. So, I credit you Doreen and speaking circles, but definitely you were a huge part of that for me. Then all the work that we’ve done. We’ve done several things, and you’ve mentored me. I think it’s just like you had mentioned earlier. It’s like layers and layers, that each time I’m with you or connect with you, there’s an extra veil that gets lifted.
(20:28) Dr. Doreen Downing
So here we’re continuing to do it. Oh, wonderful. Well, the veils, all the veils, many of them. I know, my own, moving, dropping them, and going into the unknown, and also what else is inside of me that’s strong and beautiful and vibrant. I feel that in your journey I’ve seen that in you, the strength and vibrance of your essence. And speaking, today we’re talking about voice. Could you say a little bit more about the voice that comes from your essence and whatever— We both know that when the invitation is there, you step into it and explore out loud. It isn’t a made up script here. We’re dancing in the moment.
(21:25) Kamala Murphey
Yes, one of the first things that I heard in speaking circles is getting up in front of the group and taking a breath. For me, that gave me the opportunity to get out of my head and listen more deeply to what my heart had to say. Connecting with something that I had not—not that I hadn’t listened to, but that I may had pushed aside. Because it was more important to get the answers right or the speech right and not get clicked when I said— But really being able to connect with that life force and the voice that came from that. Being able to listen to myself, maybe it’s the heart, maybe my knee has something to say today or my teeth are clenched. What’s my body saying to me? And really being able to pay more attention and speak it have. There was something that Lee had said what at one point about “Dare to be boring.” I absolutely love that. This stone is important to me. It’s smooth. It’s beautiful. And maybe someone else won’t think it’s important but in the moment—Wow, I’m just getting chills—this is important to me right now. This is part of what I want to share or express, the delight in something that’s just on my desk, but the delight and just being able to give voice to that. I feel like I’m babbling a little bit, Doreen, but being with you I get to be bubbly and not care quite so much what other people think because that’s not a good girl. This is the wild heart.
(24:13) Dr. Doreen Downing
I love you. I love you. I love you.
(24:17) Kamala Murphey
I love you.
(24:18) Dr. Doreen Downing
This is wonderful. I think people get a really good— I was going to say taste. We’re talking about luscious but a really good sense of you, your spirit. A couple of things, how do they find you and what do you offer?
(24:34) Kamala Murphey
They can find me at kamalamurphey.com. Kamala Murphey, Murphy is M-U-R-P-H-E-Y. E is very important for emotion and enthusiasm. I have a series of videos that I’ve done that I’d love to share. It’s about the poetry of the mystics, so Rumi and Meister Eckhart, and it’s their videos and meditations. We’re just allowing people to drop into our hearts a little bit more and I’d love to share that. And that’s it. Kamalamurphy.com/mystics.
(25:20) Dr. Doreen Downing
I’m going to go find that. I didn’t know it was available. That’s going to be first on my list today. I can’t wait. Well, we’re coming to the end and we might as well give you one more minute with Kamala.
(25:45) Kamala Murphey
Joy. I am experiencing such joy and gratitude.
(26:11) Dr. Doreen Downing
Your spirit today I feel reaches out on the sound waves or if people are watching you, they really get it. Your face does express joy and gratitude. Thank you. Thank you so much.
(26:26) Kamala Murphey
Thank you so much. Big hugs to you and to all your listeners.
(26:32) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, that’s sweet. Hey, listeners, you just got a big hug.
(26:36) Kamala Murphey
Big hug and put some sparkles in there.
(26:40) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, sparkles. Thank you.
(26:44) Kamala Murphey
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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.