Spotlight On The Woman Behind The Business: Kathy Bresler
A note from Lori:
For my third interview in our series, “Woman Behind the Business” I recently sat down with Kathy Bresler to learn more about her business. Coincidently, on my recent trip to Florence, Kathy was there, too. We spent the afternoon together admiring Florence’s beauty and discussing her business. She shared her unique blend of insight and inspiration. Just reading her interview will bring you a sense of calm. – Lori Andre
Spotlight on the Woman Behind the Business: Kathy Bresler
Q: What is the name of your business?
A: Tend Your Soul
Q: And what is it?
A: Honestly, I’d describe it as a community more than a business, but that’s what I love - connecting people through sacred and transformative conversations. It’s the thread that runs through everything I do and it blends my personal and professional passion for inspiring people to live their most authentic, creative, and soulful lives.
I started Tend Your Soul in 2008, when I discovered the simple yet profound practice of SoulCollage® and wanted to share it with others. I began offering introductory workshops, one-on-one coaching and customized retreats for milestone celebrations or team building. Although Soul Tending is not really a recognized term, it’s the best way I know to describe the work I do with individuals and groups. Through my unique blend of insight, inspiration, sacred space holding and facilitation, I help people cultivate the capacity to recognize and follow their own deepest wisdom – to live their lives from the inside out.
In 2012, I co-founded LiFT (Living in Flow Together) with friend and colleague, Susan Hyman. We created LiFT in response to the pervasive desire we saw among women to find real community and move through life’s challenges with more ease and clarity. We offer bi-weekly facilitated groups and seasonal retreats to individuals coming together for the “soul” purpose of creating more possibility in their lives, work and world. Our initial circle of 12 women has grown, simply through word of mouth, to include a community of close to 100 women who have participated in a LiFT program at one point or another.
In recent years, I have become passionate about transforming our experience of aging and death in America. In 2014, I helped create a conference called Dying to Know: Life Affirming Conversations about Living and Dying Well. I am currently involved in a project to create a multi-generational neighborhood health care community that would support people’s total well-being from birth through late life.
Q: What are you most thankful for?
A: My family. My health. The inspiring and supportive community of women that are my friends and colleagues.
Q: What nourishes your soul?
A: An authentic and meaningful conversation. Being in nature. Learning something new. Helping people see themselves and their lives more clearly.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Poetry, Quotes, Listening to On Being with Krista Tippett, reading Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings, my favorite Sunday morning ritual.
Q: What do you most admire about yourself?
A: My curiosity. My commitment to a path of conscious growth and development. My genuine desire to help.
Q: What’s your “super power”?
A: I’m known as The Consciousness Concierge because somehow, in the midst of a conversation or difficult situation an insight in the form of a poem, or quote, or book I just read, will pop into my mind. Inevitably when I share it people say, yes that’s exactly what I needed to hear! It really is like a super power in that it just happens. It takes almost no effort or thought at all. In some ways, it’s the basis for Tend Your Soul and all the work I do.
Q: What does a perfect day look like to you?
A: I watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan from my bedroom window, drink my butter coffee in the quiet of my apartment, read something inspiring or do a soulcollage reading to set the tone for the day. Meet a friend for a walk or lunch and have one of those magical, inspiring conversations that seamlessly blends the metaphysical and the mundane. Do something creative on one of my many projects. Walk somewhere in the neighborhood with my husband for dinner. Rest. Repeat.
Q: How do you describe your style?
A: I think I’d describe my style as urban classic. My aesthetic in both fashion and interiors is simple, textural, monochromatic. I tend to be pretty minimalist but I always like to have some kind of personal twist. In my home its the objects I’ve collected in my travels. In fashion, I always like to have something that feels unique to me, even if it’s just in the way I put things together.
Q: When you were just a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?
A: Not really. I was always interested in personality theory and what makes us all tick, but it was a personal passion. In school, I studied economics and business. I didn’t connect the dots to my current work until much later when I was diagnosed with cancer in my late 30s and I got very clear on what I really wanted to do with my life and it wasn’t the traditional MBA track I had been on.
Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job out of college was in consulting at Bain & Company. It was an incredible training ground and although I do very different work today, I use the skills I learned at Bain every day. I met so many bright and inspiring people there, including my husband, on my first day of work.
Q: Describe your greatest accomplishment?
A: Dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis at 38 with two small children in a way that transformed all our lives for the better. Cancer was a wake up call to change the things that were not working and a permission slip to define success on my own terms. I would not be doing the work I do today if I had not had not been able to approach cancer as a catalyst rather than a devastation.
Q: What did you learn from your biggest failure?
A: It never works to go against your nature and try to be something you’re not.
Q: Best career advice?
A: Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.
Q: Best life advice?
A: Show Up, Pay Attention, Speak the Truth without Judgment or Blame. Don’t be Attached to the Outcome. Attributed to Angeles Arrien.
Q: How do you find balance between work and home?
A: I think sometimes the metaphors we use like “juggling” or “balance" do women a disservice by painting our options too narrowly. I once heard an On Being interview with Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Composing a Life who pointed out the inherent threat in the widely accepted metaphor of juggling work and family which implies something of value is always in danger of crashing to the ground. That really resonated with me. Instead she offered a metaphor of life as an improvisational art, much like playing Jazz, in which we compose and recompose a pattern in time that expresses who we are based on interests, talent and circumstances. Maybe I liked it because it speaks to life as a collage in a way, but it has stuck with me and I try to see my own life through this more creative and expansive lens as much as I can.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in business?
A: I’d offer a favorite quote by Howard Thurman - Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. I believe it with every fiber of my being.
Q: What inspires you most about Chicago?
A: That feeling we all have on first warm day in spring.
Q: What movie, no matter how many times you've seen it, would you still watch again?
A: The Parent Trap. I loved the original as a kid and I never get tired of watching the new one with the once adorable Lindsay Lohan.
Q: Is there a book that you would recommend that every young woman should read?
A: The Untethered Soul. I think it should be required reading for everybody. It’s like a manual for being human well.