A plea to women who do too much.

My first boyfriend wrote me a poem for my sixteenth birthday that, paraphrased, went something like:

Child of Atlas, release the world from your shoulders. It will remain in place, remain in its eternal spin, without you holding it up.

My tendency to feel responsible for every being on the planet was so apparent early on that it inspired poetry in a teenage boy. At the time my parents were going through a divorce and somewhere along the line I got the message that the most important thing was to “keep it together.” So I made looking like I had it together a career. And I rocked it.

Cozy in the driver’s seat.

I’m the youngest member of my immediate family and yet I’m always the driver. I love to drive any chance I get. Being in the driver’s seat, literally and metaphorically, is where I’m cozily tucked into my comfort zone. I’m in control. I’m making it happen. The world is my oyster. It’s up to me. I’m in charge. The wild blue yonder sprawls out in front of me. I feel powerful. I feel like I have it together.

I left NYC on January 25th, said goodbye to most of what I own and to life as I have known it, and hit the road on The Freedom Tour on February 2nd. My vision was that I would drive myself around North America indefinitely in my little white Prius named Zoe.*

I had images of my hair blowing in the wind, my aviators shielding my eyes from the gorgeous desert sun, and a scarf billowing luxuriously from my neck. I thought I would be driving around having profound thoughts on life and freedom. I had this whole romantic notion of just how it would look with me at the helm, fabulously occupying the driver’s seat. And looking very much together as I drove.

The life we’ve planned.

There’s a Joseph Campbell quote that’s been echoing in my head of late:

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

I have indeed passed through seventeen states and put 4900 miles on my car in the past four weeks. But it hasn’t looked at all as I had planned. In fact, of those 4900 miles I’ve probably only personally driven 500 maximum. I have, in fact, spent the vast majority of The Freedom Tour in the passenger’s seat.

When I realized that I was going to need to get my car from Buffalo to Boulder by way of San Diego, I put out a somewhat random (yet divinely guided) text to someone I barely knew to see if he wanted to drive with me. Key word: with. He accepted the spontaneous invite with only two weeks notice before the departure date. We met up in Buffalo and instead of driving with me across the country, he drove me across the country. Yep, basically 4600 miles of passenger-seat-style surrender.

Handing over the keys.

In the past month every one of my control-freak, Filofax-toting, give-me-the-map-I-know-where-I’m-going buttons has been pushed. I’ve had at least a half a dozen really good freak-outs. I’ve tried desperately to hold onto the life that I had planned, this grand road trip where I would be controlling everything and having perfectly timed, well-planned and well-executed revelations on the state of my life and the state of the universe.

For weeks I have been wildly pushing up against what has actually been manifesting for me: someone who genuinely wanted to take care of me, opportunities I couldn’t have possibly foreseen, possibilities bursting forth at a mile a minute. The thing about pushing against anything is that it’s exhausting. It creates friction in the brain, the heart, and the soul.

And so I decided to surrender. I’ve let someone else drive. I’ve let go of needing to know where I’m going all the time. I’ve tripped, spilled, tumbled, and been a spaz. I’ve unraveled and gotten confused. I’ve allowed myself to be carried. I’ve allowed my baggage to be carried. I’ve let myself not have it together and, more importantly, I’ve let myself not look like I have it together either.

The now moment.

I have come to realize that I have no idea what my life is going to look like three months from now, let alone a year or five years from now. Screw the five-year plan. It turns out that my life is today and that the good stuff is happening in the now moment. I’m making a home in the unknown and letting someone else drive for a change. It’s freaking scary and it’s freaking beautiful.

My plea.

So, to all of the women (and men) out there who do too much, hold too much and take on too much, my desire is for you to hear and accept the following plea. May it come from a lover, a friend, a travel companion, God, Goddess, the universe, your guardian angel, or anyone else who can take the wheel:

Slip into the passenger’s seat baby. Your chariot awaits you. Oh no, let me get that door for you. I’ve got your bag too. The seat heater is on and I’m driving. I’ve got the directions. I know where we’re going. You can just relax and look at the scenery. I’m taking you where you need to go. It’s my pleasure. Allow me to drive.

*Her name was originally Pearl but it’s been changed to Zoe which feels more appropriate for the chariot of a girl hitting the road indefinitely.

Any other control freaks out there? What does it feel like to let someone else drive, literally and/or metaphorically? Share a story. Share a thought. I’d love to hear from you.


  • Ruth

    oh my Goddess this is so apropos for me right now love. I am surrendering too. And you started your tour on my birthday! How cool is that?!
    Happy Trails Kate!! Keep rockin it

  • Amen Kate! So beautifully yogic!

  • Bridget DuBois

    As someone who also needed to be in the driver’s seat (and still does at times), it’s very hard to “surrender” that steering wheel. But, life events do have a way of making us realize we need to relax and enjoy the ride. The passing scenery is too beautiful to ignore…so, ride on Kate, we’re enjoying the ride with you!

  • Carol Carver

    I particularly love the Campbell quote. It’s now going up on my mirror. Wise words – all of them.

  • Thank you, I am deeply moved by your story,it resonates within me in this moment..and I thank you for sharing this truth.

  • Linda

    I loved reading your story and hope you will continue to journal your thoughts. You have an infinite source of talent and strenghth, and courage and love, and giving and accepting. Although I have never met you, you’ve inspired me in so many ways.

    I am the youngest of an alcoholic father and critical negative mother. My older sibbling left the home at early ages and I was left to care for my disfunctional parents.
    I couldn’t wait to leave ‘that’ house and at 18, I moved in with my ‘savior’ who ended up being an alcoholic too. I kept on caring for my mom and dad so I moved only a few miles from my parents home and when they finally got divorced, I had 2 houses to care for, 3 counting my own. Clean and shop for my dad who spent most of his days passed out. And chauffer and take care of all the bills for my mom who never drove or was any good at handling finances…on top of caring for my own family.
    My dad has passed, my mom remarried and my ‘savior’ who is now my husband doesn’t drink half of what he used to.

    I’m not unhappy. I love my husband who is a good provider and very sweet. My children are precious beautiful human beings with amazing spirits (20 and 13 yrs).

    I know I must let go. Let go of my past, so as to not allow it to control my future. I’m not healthy. I’m very thin and am regularly ‘sick’. I believe that once I release all, I will get better. I know I need to love myself just as I am and I am truly grateful for my life.

    I need to reverse the tape that has been played for me by my mother for decades…’people don’t like us because we are not whole, we are half japanese and half french’, ‘people think we are odd because we speak both english and french in our house’, ‘nobody wants to be friends with people who have an alcoholic in their family’, ‘never ask for anything and never say yes if you’re offered something, we don’t need help or want handouts’, ‘you always need to look nice and keep quiet you’ll end up saying something stupid’, ‘smile, we don’t have to show people how miserable our life is’. We were never allowed company in our house so as not allow anyone to ‘see’ how poor we truly were.

    I’ve got a good paying job, I made sure that I would never need anything that I could not afford and that I would never need a handout.

    I told my children that they were a gift to all that had the priviledge of knowing them. I filled them to the brim with esteem and have been bursting with pride for them since day 1. I’ve been hard at work for them and about 2 years ago…I’ve begun my journey on myself.

    I’m working hard and know that each step I take, I allow the sun to shine brighter on me. I laugh everyday. I search and find beauty eveywhere. I speak out for myself more and more. I try new things and if I enjoy it, I do it again. I join in on conversations and laugh at myself if I don’t get it. I have an opinion and try to bring a voice to it more and more. I try to not feel selfish or guilty for saying yes or no.
    I don’t always look ‘pretty’. I can spend the day in my comfy clothes without makeup and still feel good. I allow myself to have fun rather than making sure everyone else around me is.
    Although my ‘ride’ is not across the country, it’s scary and wonderful, it’s beautiful but sometimes painful but it’s always a little step closer to being free to live.

    • With me – just the opposite…maybe. I am as of 5 months ago in the driver’s seat after being taken care of for so many years. It’s different, it’s scary, and definately going to change my life. Best of luck to you.

    • Maggie Pierce

      Joseph Campbell speaks of the Hero’s Journey (Heroine’s Journey) and passenger or driver, this brings out that Life has to offer. Best wishes and travels, Kate!! You are awesome!

    • This is still a working progress for me Kate because I know that I am extremely selective in letting someone else drive in any sense of the word. However, I have recently experienced the freedom of letting go and relax and… indeed it felt so good and it was a big relief for my emotions which I kept them bottled up for a very long time.

      Kate THANK YOU for Touching Many Lives in YOUR Freedom Tour.

    • Anne Buhlig

      Your honesty and authenticity about control is very inspiring! I too am releasing control, surrendering more – it’s not easy for me, but oh so sweet and freeing.

    • Sarah

      Thank you for this! I’ve become a habitualised ‘driver’ too (emotionally, rather than in cars) and used to being constantly ‘on’, it’s sooo tiring, working on changing that. Thank you for the post, love the ‘plea’ at the end xx

    • Kate, I love how you are surrendering to the moment and to what is showing up in it ! Thank you for taking us on this journey with you!

    • Kaye Bartheld

      I loved it, Kate. @Linda…beautiful…really made me think about my life and the changes, good and bad, over the last 4 years.

    • Jolanda

      Oh so true, your story touched
      my inner child, my heart ;)
      just what I needed!!
      Thanks Kate

    • Amy

      So very timely…and ironically, I just picked up my pearl white prius last week…might be time for a road trip…wonder where I can find a driver.

    • Kaye Bartheld

      I loved it, Kate! I was taught early on that if I wasn’t “doing” something or accomplishing anything I was lazy and therefore, worthless! So…I started acquiring self-esteem by doing EVERYTHING for everyone but me. I felt really good about it until I burned out and fell apart, physically and emotionally!! I learned at age 51 that you can restart your life, change the way you think, and take care of yourself without feeling guilty. This is no easy task, but necessary for my well being. Because of family circumstances I’m still in the driver’s seat most of the time, but I take detours for myself, quite often.

    • my soul resonates with this ‘trip’
      i am in the process of surrendering. i beg my soul to take the reins, yet my ego wants to suffer and be comfortable with that. uncertainty is so vast, so huge, i pray my soul breaks through. i release all, i surrender to ONE Heart, my heart, your heart, the one who really knows, beyond the ‘plan’ my little mind keeps workin on!

      This is abundance, this is allowing, this is letting go, this is opening, this is real, this is what awaits us, the universe has it all taken care of, HA,aaaah:

      “Slip into the passenger’s seat baby. Your chariot awaits you. Oh no, let me get that door for you. I’ve got your bag too. The seat heater is on and I’m driving. I’ve got the directions. I know where we’re going. You can just relax and look at the scenery. I’m taking you where you need to go. It’s my pleasure. Allow me to drive.”

    • Jen Pascal

      Hi Kate,
      I prayed for some kind of a sign today…and I opened my email and read your words. Yes…the sign is…Let go, Let god. I can relax and everything is going to be fine!!
      love to you–keep writing!!
      jen pascal

    • I just adore you! So happy to read these words from your journey and to know that it is so, so right.

    • Love this, Kate, and love this journey you are going on!

  • LovingKarina

    Holy crap, Kate. I’m one week into an amicable separation with my spouse, and I happened upon your site while seeking advice on women who give too much. We are similar. I am the youngest in my immediate family as well. I’ve made the analogy that I’ve been the gardener, and I have collected alot of flowers in my journey. My soon to be ex is among the latest. Thankfully, he is also a decent human being and is not allowing me to continue this destructive path with him. We’ve both become stuck because of his tendency to take advantage and my tendency to allow myself to be taken advantage of.

    I’ve needed the drivers seat too. Literally and figuratively. And he’s let me drive. Along with other issues, this has destroyed our life together. Sad but true. But I’m letting go, and moving on and hoping to heal with a new awareness that will serve me better in the future.

    Thanks for your poignant wisdom. I will be back to see where your journey takes you and to see how I might learn how to navigate my own.

  • Hi Kate,
    This was the medicine I need right now. I have been secretly praying for the luxury of time to just do me. Both of my children recently graduated and I am married to the most dutiful husband ever. When I told him I wanted to quit my day job 2 days after we obtained our mortgage he said, “I trust you and if you say we’re going to be okay then we are.” And for the first time, maybe ever I felt released to do me. I gave him permission to support me. What I didn’t do was give myself permission to be supported.

    I quit my job in June 2015. I spent $7000 on two major business coaching programs because up until very recently I have lived by the rule go big or go home. (I’m a doer from way back.) I did my very best to utilize the program materials and start my business from ground zero to 6 figures. Ha! The marketing for these programs fed my go big or go home bravado.

    To be clear I learned A LOT from these programs and I definitely fee that there were a few key pieces that I they put first that I would have delayed on had I been left to my own devices. In short I am definitely way further along than I would have been if I would have been on my own.

    In addition to learning and putting these business/marketing principles into action I also said yes all manner of ways to distract myself from doing me and my business… and still expecting to earn way more than I did last year.

    This year I have none of the family distractions and for weeks I have been falling apart because my body, my heart are saying slow down, rest and my inner doer is FREAKING OUT! I am doing my best to hold space for it and not feel guilty about having the luxury of someone supporting me through this breakdown/through. I am doing my best to hold space for my limitations right now. I am doing my best to trust that the way will reveal itself to me.

    Intellectually I know that times of rest are necessary. I am so grateful to learn this lesson… this slowing down… Everything feels so unknown and unfamiliar. I know this is growth and it’s excruciatingly slow. I am also doing my best to love the process.

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