Johnny Temple Interviews Nina Solomon and Katherine Woodward Thomas
Nina Solomon based much of The Love Book off of the principles of Katherine Woodward Thomas’s Calling in “The One:” 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life. Johnny Temple recently spoke with both authors about love, soul mates, and the power of self-reflection. See the full interview below.
Johnny Temple: Katherine, Nina is a great admirer of your work. After reading your book Calling in “The One”, which awakened her to her own power to create and call in the love of her life, she was so inspired that she decided to write a novel about her experiences, hoping that readers might be able to identify with her characters’ journeys.
All of the characters in her novel The Love Book have hidden barriers to love, something you speak about at length. Both the bonds of friendship between these four very different women and how they fare as they navigate the often murky and choppy waters of relationships allow them to begin to identify and dismantle these barriers and to finally see themselves as the source of their relationship patterns.
One of the characters in Nina’s book is a single mother named Emily who has a ten-year-old son. One of her barriers to love is that she hasn’t let go of her guilt over her role in the dissolution of her marriage. Breakups are never easy. The fallout can set the stage for years of blaming, shaming, and regret, and for ultimately remaining stuck and repeating past patterns. As you say, one crucial mistake couples often make is that they move from “soul mate” to “soul hate.” How can couples turn the pain and disappointment of a breakup into something positive and transformative, something that will help both partners evolve beyond their unhealthy patterns so that they can be open to finding love again?
Katherine Woodward Thomas: I’m a big fan of Nina’s as well! And I’m honored that she’s written a book based on the Calling in “The One” principles, which include clearing away your hidden barriers to love and becoming magnetic to your soul mate.
One of the cornerstones of the Calling in “The One” philosophy is understanding yourself as the source of your experiences in love—recognizing the gap between how much we may want love and how ready we are to receive it into our lives. In the case of a bad breakup like Emily’s, it’s critical that we learn to transform negative emotions like anger and resentment into fuel for positive growth and change. When we are suffering from unresolved resentments and feelings of having been victimized, we’re in danger of either shutting down the possibility of love and moving forward, or of duplicating toxic patterns with the next person we get involved with because we’ve not yet grown beyond the person we were in our last relationship. It may be true that the other person behaved horribly. But as long as we have our attention on what he or she did wrong, we’re not seeking to discover how we colluded in our own demise.
Understanding our part of things—even if it was passive, such as, “I didn’t have the courage to ask the right questions,” or, “I ignored my own deeper knowing”—is what will liberate us to do things differently moving forward, graduating us from old disappointing dynamics forever.
Yet when trying to understand ourselves as the source of our experience, many of us fall into blaming or shaming ourselves just as much as we may be blaming or shaming the other person. “What the #$&* is wrong with me?” is not empowered self-reflection! And by shaming ourselves, we essentially become stuck, because shame stunts development.
In order to midwife the wisdom and maturation that a hurting heart demands, we have to ask questions that can help us to grow. Questions such as: “What part of me was acting out old patterns, and how might I have set my former partner up to duplicate those dynamics all over again?” or “What’s really true regarding the meaning of this breakup—that I am not lovable, or that it’s not safe to open up my heart to love?” or “What can I do differently next time so that I’m better equipped to realize the higher potentials the relationship holds for true happiness?”
These are the kinds of self-reflective questions that would allow Emily to learn what she needs to learn so that she can trust that, the next time around, she’ll have a much different experience.
Nina Solomon: Wow, Katherine, thank you. Your response really gets right to the core of Emily’s issues, even if they’re only fictional, particularly the point you make about setting a partner up to reenact the dynamics of past relationships. That’s huge and very familiar to me. If only Emily had met you years ago! It would have saved her a lot of time and heartache. (Full disclosure: my boyfriend teasingly calls me Emily!) The men Emily chooses after her divorce seem, at first glance, to be polar opposites of her staid and reliable ex-husband—particularly Duncan, the charismatic and unconventional writer. Eventually, though, the same dynamic of feeling controlled and losing her sense of self-worth begins to creep in. She blames the men and feels victimized, unable to see how she might be acting out old patterns. Emily’s patterns are so entrenched that she has to hit rock bottom before she can take a stand and ask herself more self-reflective questions.
JT: Now we’ll move on to Cathy, a special ed teacher from New Jersey whose sole aim and purpose in life is orchestrated around calling in her soul mate. Unfortunately, she also seems to suffer from every hidden barrier to love known to man. Her list of must-have attributes for Mr. Right is three pages long, almost as long as (what you call in your book) her “Toxic Ties” list, which begins with her ex-fiancé, who ditched her at the altar five years ago, and continues from there. She lives with her father in her childhood bedroom, stuffed animals and all and, after Cathy’s mother died when Cathy was just sixteen, she made a promise to her father that she’d always be his princess. In Calling in “The One”, you talk about how agreements that we make both consciously and unconsciously influence what comes—or doesn’t—into our lives. Katherine, can you offer any guidance to Cathy, or anyone who has made an agreement that no longer serves them, on ways to complete or renegotiate this agreement so that they are free to call in a beloved?
KWT: I find Cathy to be both a heartwarming and a heartbreaking character. I found myself yearning for her to have a breakthrough in love and hoping she would begin to see her unconscious agreements clearly so she could finally begin making different choices!
These agreements that we make—such as the pledge you made to a former lover that you’d never love anyone as much as you loved him, or the misguided loyalties you feel toward your older sister to not get married before she does, or maybe the promise you made to yourself to never let anyone ever hurt you like that again!—serve as intentions that can covertly influence our choices and actions for many years to come . . . even after the initial agreement has been long forgotten.
When people struggle to find love, I encourage them to ask themselves questions like, “Who might I be staying loyal to by remaining single?” or, “What promise am I keeping by being alone?” Once you see it clearly, then step back and rethink that old decision.
In Cathy’s case, was she really helping her father by staying single? Of course not! In fact, when we kowtow to the weakest parts of others with our misguided loyalties, we only weaken them further. Yet when we make conscious the old agreement and make a different choice moving forward, we liberate all involved to become the wisest, most powerful versions of themselves that they have the potential to be.
NS: Yes, poor Cathy! If only she could see how her agreements are holding her back. Perhaps when she realizes that renegotiating old agreements will lift up not only herself but also everyone around her, she will be inspired to set a new intention. Like Cathy, I am doing the course for the third time—I’m on Day 31!—and I know that there’s always more to clear away and more treasures to uncover.
JT: Okay, now to one of my favorite characters, Beatrice, a sixty-nine-year-old former DA from Albany who claims that she is done with love. With her auburn hair and joie de vivre, she turns the heads of men of all ages and can drink most of them under the table. After her father left when she was a small girl, Beatrice was sent to live with an aunt while her mother worked to support the family. Beatrice thinks that her no-strings-attached liaisons with married men are just swell—she can take care of herself—until her closest friend is incapacitated by a bad fall and Beatrice realizes that there is a huge price to her fierce commitment to independence.
Katherine, in Calling in “The One”, you talk about “Healing the Hungry Heart.” Although Beatrice would never admit it, her independence is a reaction to a deep childhood wound. Can you speak to ways that Beatrice, or anyone, can heal from childhood trauma instead of recreating it?
KWT: Sometimes it takes a good crisis to wake us up from the trance of old, disempowering ideas and shake some sense into us! Beatrice is finally realizing that nature did not design us to be solitary creatures, and that we are actually built for interdependence—that it’s actually healthy to depend upon a few well-chosen others in order to live a happy life. Her defense mechanism against her unmet dependency needs in childhood is at long last beginning to fray.
Most of us are in reaction to the unmet needs of our earliest relationships—the distracted mother, the absent father, the abusive older sibling, whatever was happening in our childhood homes that prevented us from feeling safe, supported, seen, and adored became internalized as a narrative about who we are and what is possible for us to have in this lifetime as it relates to love.
In response to her challenging childhood, Beatrice came to some false conclusions: that it’s her fate to be alone in this lifetime, that everyone she loves will leave her, and that she can never get what she truly needs from anyone—so best to not need anything! And she’s been living this story ever since.
The way to evolve beyond these limitations in love is to see the story clearly and then challenge its validity—to stop believing everything you think and feel! This opening in her life affords Beatrice the opportunity to rethink the erroneous conclusions she came to when she was too young to understand the cost of such a worldview. And she is now given the chance to come to new conclusions: that she wasn’t born to be alone. That she came here to love and be loved. That she has the power to learn the skills required to create healthy, happy, and nourishing relationships that last over time. And that intimate relationships are a profound source of nourishment and support that can take her feelings and needs into account.
It just goes to show you that, no matter what our age, life always gives us opportunities to wake up out of the trance of our old beliefs so that we might find happiness in love.
NS: I love seeing my characters—and myself—through the lens of possibilities that your work opens up. It gives me hope that Beatrice—and any readers who identify with her—can wake up to the opportunities for happiness and love that are available to them right now, rather than continuing to view life and all relationships through self-perpetuating limitations.
JT: The last character in this quartet of women is Max, a twenty-something personal trainer. When Max was thirteen, her parents sent her to live on her grandfather’s farm, hoping he could straighten out their wayward daughter. Grandpa Calvin liked to joke that Max was the best “grandson” a man could ever have. He let her buzz her hair, showed her how to box, and taught her to always get “them” before they get you. Whenever Max showed the slightest sign of weakness he’d say, “Suck it up, Max. That’s life. Shit happens, people die. The only thing you can count on is that people will always disappoint you.” A month after Max goes off to college, on D-day, her grandfather, a WWII veteran, kills himself. From that day on, Max numbs herself with alcohol, extreme forms of exercise, and one-night stands, but the pain and guilt she feels over her grandfather’s death is never assuaged. She eventually gets sober, but she’s still white-knuckling her way through every day. What kind of hope is there for someone as closed off as Max?
KWT: It takes a tremendous amount of courage to open your heart to love again in the aftermath of a loss the magnitude of the one Max suffers in the book. The vulnerability of having a heart that can break feels too big a burden to bear for many who’ve endured big heartache and loss. Yet with every trauma, we have to notice the meaning that we are making of it—in Max’s case, that somehow she was at fault for her grandfather’s decision to end his life, or that other people will always abandon you, or that life is punishing her. Max needs to notice the conclusions she is coming to that will keep her walled off from love for the rest of her life, if she lets them.
Was it Max’s fault that her grandfather died? Of course not! She was never responsible for his depression. Does the fact that her grandfather left her mean that every other person she ever lets close to her heart again will? Certainly not! It was a tragic one-time event, not a lifelong sentence. Was her grandfather’s death a punishment for something that she did wrong? Clearly, we are each responsible for how we respond to life’s challenges. As adults we understand mental illness and can know for sure that nothing Max ever did or didn’t do had anything to do with the grave decision this man made to end his life. And Max’s ability to love and be loved moving forward in life will hinge upon her ability to recognize the automatic meaning she makes of what happened coupled with her capacity to correct her own consciousness and put to rest those faulty conclusions she’s come to about what happened.
So it is with us all. Until we notice the automatic meanings we make of the disappointments of life, we are vulnerable to being held hostage by the faulty conclusions we come to. Yet in seeing it all clearly, we are given a choice: do we stay stuck, stunted, and unfulfilled? Or will we take a stand to live—and to love—from the deeper truth of our own value, our own power, and our own worthiness to receive all that we truly desire?
Max is fortunate to have a group of loving friends who can help her see the deeper truth and encourage her to open her heart to love again. We all need such loyal supporters in our lives: people who can stand for us when we are faltering ourselves, those who understand the deeper potentials we hold and who will insist over and over again that we stay true to our dreams.
I’ve been moved by your novel, Nina, and am touched that you’ve taken these universal themes that many of us struggle with in the area of intimate relationships and turned them into a story that we can love and learn from.
NS: Katherine, I can’t find the words to express my enormous appreciation for your time and generosity of spirit in answering these questions. Calling in “The One” is an incredible gift you have given to the world. I know I speak for Emily, Beatrice, Max, and Cathy when I say that I am filled to overflowing with gratitude to have had this opportunity to engage in this incredibly powerful dialogue with you. And huge thanks to Johnny Temple for having the inspiration for this interview. Apparently, dreams do come true!
With love and admiration. ~Nina
KATHERINE WOODWARD THOMAS is the best-selling author of Calling in “The One:” 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life. For more information, go to www.KatherineWoodwardThomas.com.
The Love Book was Named a Pick of the Week for the week of January 2nd by Publishers Weekly and a New York Post Required Reading Pick. It received praise from Kirkus Reviews, who said, “Happy endings abound in this novel about the power of love and friendship.” To read more about Nina Solomon’s latest novel, or to purchase a copy, please click here.
Posted: May 12, 2015
Category: Akashic Insider | Tags: Johnny Temple, interview, Kaylie Jones Books, Nina Solomon, The Love Book, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Calling in "The One", Calling in “The One:” 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life
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