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Katie Fehlinger: How Hardworking Moms Can DIY’d Their Own Bliss

By Debra Wallace

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I believe that COVID-19 has proven that life will still get frustrating, overwhelming, and sometimes really scary. But what it also proved to me was that despite our lives being upended, there are still places to find joy. It goes back to mindset. If you can feel content with the choices you’ve made, you can handle anything this crazy world may throw at you.

Also, happiness is a very personal thing. What fulfills me may be totally different from what brings you joy. That’s why it’s so important to get in your own head and figure out what YOUR version of bliss looks like and what you need as an individual to actualize it.

Finally, I hope people come away from my book with a realization that they are the ones in control of their lives. If you feel stuck or just unhappy, you have the power to do something about it.

On the outside, Philadelphia meteorologist, wife, and devoted mom of twin girls Katie Fehlinger appeared to have it all, but inside she felt torn apart, desperate to create a new life for herself and her family.

Always tired after 4–6 hours of sleep a night, missing so much of her daughters’ childhood, and feeling unfulfilled, Fehlinger, like so many of us, felt stuck.

When her dear friend Stephanie Bloom died at age 44 after a courageous battle with brain cancer, (leaving behind a husband and young children), Fehlinger realized there was no time to lose: she needed to retool her life and career and find her “happy place.”

After a great deal of soul searching, planning, family support, and using her DIY skills to come up with her second act, she is now the published author of My Happy Place: How I DIY’d My Own Bliss, an online course creator, a sought-after public speaker and sweetest of all is she is able to spend a great deal of quality and quantity time with her husband of eight years, Steve, and their precious five-year-old twin daughters; Parker and Kaeden.

She talks at length how having a support system can enrich every aspect of our lives. “A support system of people you can trust, laugh with, and count on is priceless for your happiness… Obstacles will still crop up in life. If you surround yourself with a badass army of compadres, it’s easier to move past them, with your sanity intact.”

Katie Fehlinger recently spent time on the phone with Medium’s Authority Magazine to talk about how her self-help book, how she made big, bold, changes in her life, the bumps and bruises along the way, and the glorious outcome — all life lessons we definitely need to hear.

So first off, why did you write your new book?

The initial reason that I set out with was that I knew I had something to say, and I wanted to get it out there. To some degree, there was catharsis involved in this. To some degree, I was doing it almost as a self-care exercise. But I also had the end goal of planning to leverage a publication, a published book, as a tool for myself to grow, especially in the public speaking space as I branched out and aspired to get into different spaces. As I was writing the book the self-help part of it started to come a little bit more organically.

How long was the process?

I started in the spring of 2019, and it took me just about a year and three months from start to finish, from just opening up my blank, untitled document to actually having a published book in my hand.

Why do you feel that sorting out your Big 4 (keys to finding her happy place) will help others figure out your path, goals? [Her Big 4 are: freedom, creativity, personal growth, and relationships]

It’s such an important foundation, and in my experience, you will save yourself so much time, disappointment, and frustration by understanding yourself first. So much of what’s required to make a life-altering change needs to start in your head. Taking the time to outline what will bring you contentment at the most basic level will help ensure that any future choices or goals you make will come from a personally authentic place.

How did discovering your Big 4 change your life?

My Big 4 really changed my entire perspective. I now fully appreciate what I need as a human and as a professional because I went through that exercise and I’m so much better equipped to make decisions based on what I know will fulfill me. That knowledge has given me the power of choice to pursue projects and opportunities with more clarity.

When did you know that all of your life and career changes, and bold chances felt right?

In truth, it took no time at all! I knew it the very first day I woke up without a 2:45 a.m. alarm. It was so satisfying. But important to note, I spent 14 months mapping out how I’d make these changes leading up to that day. Those months of planning and uncertainty were terrifying until I’d solidified my strategic game plan and the practical implications of my decisions started to fall into place.

A healthy, motivated mindset is crucial and I’m a firm believer that you need to consciously curate your environment and decide with purpose who you allow into it. Find those people who make you a better version of yourself and keep them close.

What is it like to have more time with less stress with your five-year-old twin daughters?

It’s lovely to not feel pressure anymore when it comes to my girls. This was always self-imposed, but without fail, I consistently felt extreme mommy guilt if I didn’t spend enough time with them, took any rare “me” time to reset by myself, and especially when I was exhausted and felt I wasn’t fully present with them. These days, that huge weight of guilt has completely lifted. I still work a lot (and enjoy it!), but I never feel like I’m not showing up for them. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact I feel genuinely happier and healthier, (mentally AND physically). I can be the best version of myself for my girls, even if I can’t spend every single second with them.

What kind of support system did you need to make this happen?

I completely appreciate how lucky I am to have a true partner in my spouse. My husband has been my number one shoulder to lean on.

Why is this an important part of your advice?

You need to surround yourself with people who uplift, appreciate, and love you. Call on your closest friends and family. Seek out groups in your aspired space so you can connect with and learn from those people. Consume positive, inspiring content on social media.

What else is involved?

A healthy, motivated mindset is crucial and I’m a firm believer that you need to consciously curate your environment and decide with purpose who you allow into it. Find those people who make you a better version of yourself and keep them close.

What if someone cannot make a job or career change, yet, but they know they are unhappy and unsatisfied with their life?

This is an eye-on-the-prize situation. I was exactly in that place, and honestly think it’s the best place to start! Knowing I needed a change when I was 14 months away from the end of my tv contract allowed me to spend lots of time planning and strategizing. So, keep at your current job, but start preparing in the background. Side hustle if you need to. Begin to plan how you’ll approach finances. Reverse engineer your end goal and figure out what it will take to achieve it. This isn’t an easy process. It’ll take work, commitment, and focus. But it’s nowhere near as overwhelming or out of reach when you have a roadmap to follow!

What are the life lessons for your girls from your book? And of your journey?

I want my girls to understand the importance of being our authentic selves. I want them to understand that popular opinion of what’s expected doesn’t have to match up to what they want out of this life. My regrets are few, but I definitely wish I’d presented the truest version of myself to the world from an early age. I let too many other people influence who I became, I altered a lot about myself to fall in line with what was mainstream. I want them to feel the liberating freedom that comes with simply — being yourself.

Finally, I hope people come away from my book with a realization that they are the ones in control of their lives. If you feel stuck or just unhappy, you have the power to do something about it.

What are the takeaways from your inspiring book, especially, during COVID-19?

I believe that COVID-19 has proven that life will still get frustrating, overwhelming, and sometimes really scary. But what it also proved to me was that despite our lives being upended, there are still places to find joy. It goes back to mindset. If you can feel content with the choices you’ve made, you can handle anything this crazy world may throw at you.

Also, happiness is a very personal thing. What fulfills me may be totally different from what brings you joy. That’s why it’s so important to get in your own head and figure out what YOUR version of bliss looks like and what you need as an individual to actualize it.

Finally, I hope people come away from my book with a realization that they are the ones in control of their lives. If you feel stuck or just unhappy, you have the power to do something about it.

I don’t know that we need to experience the death of a close friend or a spouse to say this is not what makes me happy, let me see what makes me happy, and brings me joy and let me find a way to do that.

I absolutely agree. I think intuitively inside ourselves we know if we are happy or not. We know ourselves best. There are a couple of overarching themes across the entire book that I think speaks to that. Happiness is a really personal thing; I’ve come to realize.

What makes me happy isn’t necessarily what’s going to make you happy or anybody else. Even on the outside looking in, I had what a lot of people thought was this killer job that I was supposed to want, an existence that looked great on paper. But inside I was totally miserable. I was using what I still believe is my truly unique and qualified skillset, but it was using it in a way that wasn’t bringing me total joy. These mainstream, stereotypical ideas of living the dream, they’re not necessarily a fit for everybody. For somebody else, what I did for a living for so many years is perfect, but it wasn’t for me.

I would encourage anybody who feels stuck to just understand that what you’re supposed to want might not line up with what you actually want. The example I always like to give is I would much prefer sitting in my basement studio cave recording videos for my YouTube channel then I would recording at an HDTV studio every day. That’s what makes me tick, that’s what gives me passion and joy and fulfillment. Most people would say, “What? That’s bizarre.”

I think understanding what it is that’s going to make you tick and bring you that fulfillment is so important, and figuring out how to separate what it is you want versus what you’re supposed to want is just critical.

So, what is your overall view of helping to live our best lives?

I think the number one and sort of in your face theme of my book is that you have to do You. We all deserve to present ourselves to the world as we are and carry on through this life living authentically. That really is the core message of my book. Everything in it, all of those life lessons, they all come back and stem from authenticity. Once you know who you are, who you’re going to become, how you want to live your life, what your dreams and what your goals entail, all of those other lessons that I share in the book really start to fall in line. That’s the key!

Talk about the DYI part?

The other side of this is the DIY part of it that I went through. If you are looking to make either a small or a big change in your life, like I did, it has to start in your head. You need to get your mind right. You need to have a really good brainstorm about what you want the outcome to be for whatever it is you’re trying to change or trying to fix.

Knowing what you need as an individual to not only stick with the plan and make it happen but to also be content for the long haul in the choice that you’ve made, then you can figure out action items, physical steps that you need to take to actually make it happen.

So, take me before you decided to leave your job to now in terms of your girls. What’s changed?

What I am doing now is living every single moment with them. It’s a little different. I can wake up every single morning with them, I can just drop everything and go play with them outside. Those were things that I never was able to do before. So there’s some sort of an almost spontaneity, I guess, that’s evolved for me as a parent that didn’t exist before. It used to be rigorous scheduling of activities and things we were going to do as a family and projects for them and DIY projects that I was coming up with for designs for their room or whatever, whatever it might be. Now it’s a lot more free form and it just feels a lot looser and a lot less stressful to parent them because I’m able to just be with them.

It must be difficult to promote a book during COVID-19?

I’ve got some out-of-the-box ideas in the pipeline. I’m trying to work with a food truck to set up somewhere. I’m working with a local photographer to do something in her parking lot. One of the gals that’s on the book launch team owns the Milk House Market in Chalfont, PA., and wants to have an event there.

I’m a huge soccer fan, so I am hoping to set something up with the Sons of Ben with the Philadelphia Union, as well. It’s really fascinating when you use your creative juices to figure out different ways that are outside of what most people normally do to get more traction with this. If we could say that anything positive came out of this whole thing, it’s the creativity that’s come from people and the different ways we can express ourselves. It really has been fascinating to see that.

How would your beloved friend Stephanie, who inspired your life changes, have responded to your book and podcast?

I can imagine she’d be flattered and honored that her story had such an impact on me. At the same time, I have a feeling she would have humbly felt as though she was being given too much credit. But that was Steph. She didn’t do things with the intent to inspire people. She inspired people simply by being herself: brave, strong, and totally badass.

What do you hope your book does for others, especially women who are stuck in their personal lives and careers and don’t know how to make minor or major changes?

I hope my book will be comforting, relatable, and inspiring. My story is so far from unique, yet it’s still rare that women talk about the struggle to do it all and be perfect in all the roles we fill as moms, partners, professionals, friends, etc.

I want other women to know they’re not alone in this, more importantly, the idea of curating your happiest existence isn’t a pipe dream. That’s why I wrote the book not just as a memoir, but as a how-to hybrid. Along my journey, I figured out these practical, actionable steps I could take to feel more content. So, I want anyone who reads my book to be entertained certainly but to then be able to apply what they’ve read to their own lives once they put it down.

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