Seven Questions with Carolyn Klassen

1. What do you do for a living and why?

I am a therapist at Conexus Counseling, helping people remove the barriers that interfere with them being able to live the lives and have the relationships they desire. I get to partner with clients in helping them to feel their pain and fear, and then show up in their lives in brave ways. Having a front row seat to courage challenges me to be a better human being.

I also get amazing opportunities to spend time with groups figuring out how to be more closely connected with each other, to be vulnerable and courageous and authentic–while also feeling the terror that comes along with that. I’m so honored to have these sorts of conversations with people in my work.

2. What is your idea worth spreading?

I fundamentally believe that we are wired for connection as human beings.  Having enduring relationships of depth with others makes us healthier in every way.  Relationships are messy, hurtful, difficult and intimidating at times…but ultimately utterly worth it!

3. What is one of your favourite quotes? (motivational, inspirational, insightful, funny, etc.)

I’m inspired by words and so it is hard to pick just a few but here are some:

Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. –Frederick Buechner

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. –Frederick Buechner

True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. –Brené Brown

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, joy, courage, empathy and creativity.  It the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deep and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path. –Brené Brown

4. Have you ever had a teacher or professor that made a real impact on you?

Yes. Now…whom to write about.

My gym teacher in high school was a young teacher new to the profession. In class, we had to call her Miss Derksen, of course. Outside of school, when she was coaching us, or we were hanging out, we called her by her first name, Carol. She related to us like we were real people–young adults. I didn’t feel like a “kid” when I was with her. She was the first adult that treated me as a real adult, and when she see me as an adult, it went a long way to help me become one . I felt like I learned about some of the best parts of me because of how she related to me and my friends.

5. What’s the best book you read last year?

Non fiction: The Village Effect by Susan Pinker

Fiction: Small Great Things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

6. What’s the best gift anyone ever gave you?

My husband, Jim, at the end of a vacation last year, when we had some space in our lives to think and dream, gently put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said to me: “Let me know what you want to do in your career and in your life, and then let’s make it happen. I support you, and I want to help you do whatever it is you feel called to do.” I mean, who does that? Isn’t that remarkable? It’s a beautiful thing to have someone who loves and supports me in every way as I move forward…that conversation is one of the reasons I am speaking at TEDx!

7. What TED Talk do you think everyone should see?

This one is easy: The Power of Vulnerability by Dr. Brené Brown.

The way she talks about her research gives language that speaks truths for people I work with in a more accurate way than they themselves can say it.  It’s remarkable when people get excited to say, “Yes, that’s exactly it!” after hearing how she expresses concepts. I find her work so very helpful in helping people move forward in their lives and this TEDx talk introduced me to her.

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