Finding a Spiritual Path in a Hectic World.
I’m a seeker.
And I have been, since junior high school.
One of my earliest memories is of purchasing a copy of The Tao of Pooh. Mostly I think because of the cute little pooh bear on the front cover. But I do remember a sense of peace and of coming home, as I read the words, only half understanding what the author was talking about.
Pooh Bear gave way to hours of therapy, coaching, reading, studying, yoga-ing, meditating and workshop upon retreat upon endless meetups, all for a single purpose – to understand more about myself and why I’m here.
Author Betsy Chasse has been on a similar quest. As a fellow multi-passionate, renaissance woman, Betsy is a mother, filmmaker, writer, speaker, blogger and consultant, who ultimately, is using her gifts and talents to try and make sense of this thing called life.
Her journey is a fascinating one. As the co-creator of the well known film, What the Bleep Do We Know?!, Betsy was seemingly on the path to enlightenment. Until it all came crashing down and life brought her face-to-face with her own sacred cows.
I love her ability to laugh at life. To realize that stepping in cow patties (a.k.a. shit) might not be such a bad thing. And her unrelenting desire to get to the truth behind all the spiritual fences that we’ve built for ourselves. Betsy is sharp, blunt and takes no prisoners. And she’s also deeply spiritual, connected and loving. A beautifully complex woman, just like the rest of us.
I hope you enjoy this Q+A with the witty + talented Betsy Chasse!
You have a very eclectic background and wear a lot of hats (I can relate) – what do you see as the common thread between all of your different career adventures? Have you always wanted to work for yourself (be an entrepreneur)?
I think the threads that run through me are creativity and adventure. It’s possible I’ve lived before and it’s possible I might live again, but right now I’m here in this amazing world so I’m going to enjoy it and explore it. Why not right?
Yes, I love that! And I really enjoyed your new book. Tell me about Tipping Sacred Cows. What are these cows you speak of?
A sacred cow is anything we hold up against criticism, anything we’re afraid to examine and even change. For me sacred cows are beliefs I held onto about myself and the world I live in, my world view and my Betsy view. In addition to our personal sacred cows there are alot of societal sacred cows, in Tipping I focused on the sacred cows of spirituality, what is enlightenment, the law of attraction, non-attachment, forgiveness, how do I make these sacred cows actually work in my life, what do they really mean to me and are they all there cracked up to be?
Early on in the book you talk about basing your identity on being “the expert” and “in the know”. I giggled to myself reading this since my blog is ironically titled The Girl Who Knows. I’m curious about this idea of painting a perfect image that we show to the world vs. the reality that we’re unsure and have no idea what we’re doing. How did you come to that realization for yourself and reconcile those two parts?
I think all humans like to know and all humans are essentially afraid of being found out. We want people to think the best of us, we want people to like us and think we’re a cup of cream so we put o a show and give people what they want, and what we want to think we are. I made a film that went “viral” as they say now and was suddenly thrust front and center into a world where people wanted someone to know what the heck was going on and well since my film was about that, they figured, hey she must know and in some ways I did, I had the data, the language, but I never truly felt like I actually had anything figured out. Yes I could explain the nature of reality in terms of atoms, particles and electrons, but incorporating these ideas into picking up kids and cleaning out the cat box was a whole other story. The biggest shift for me was admitting to myself and others that that piece of the puzzle was an ongoing learning and that there is no one size fits all answer and that I didn’t have a three step process to give them and that I was ok with not knowing and just living.
Another piece of the book that spoke to me was about getting older and how we tend to not challenge our core beliefs or take as many risks. What have been your ways of challenging yourself to think outside the box? To push yourself to continue to evolve and grow? What’s worked for you and what hasn’t?
The way I challenge my beliefs is to be willing to not hold any, or at least be open to the idea that the way I believe is my opinion, not a fact. I am always reminding myself of the difference between those two words. We tend to think what we believe is truth and we hold it simply by believing it. Once I started to see that difference I could see other possibilities other opinions that might also be true. It’s scary at first because in facts there is a feeling of knowing and groundedness, there is safety in knowing. I had to find my safety and groundedness outside of knowing anything is true or right. It might be true right now, but it could change and change is ok too. Finding that okness, that safety was hard, but if I look back on my life and I see all the times I thought I knew and then it changed and I was still ok, I was still standing allowed me to become more flexible in my beliefs about myself and my world view.
Your personality REALLY shines through in this book. I love how matter-of-fact, relatable and honest you are. How did you find your voice (for this book and in general)? It’s refreshing to see someone be authentically themselves.
I think I have always been blunt and to the point, which often doesn’t go over very well. So I tried to hide that to be liked. Eventually I decided, screw it, this is who I am and as long as I try to not be an asshole, but still be authentic, then that’s who I am going to be. It’s too hard to try and be what other people want. And I failed myself when I did that and eventually it didn’t work out so well for my relationships either, so why not just be who I am and let the right relationships come to me instead of manufacturing them. Right now I am working on being authentic while also being compassionate, people often confuse bluntness with being mean, honesty isn’t fun for anyone all of the time. I am committed to being honest with myself and the people I’m interacting with in a compassionate way, in a way the says this is my opinion and I’m ok with you having a different one, lets see if we can find some middle ground.
I LOVE your definition of enlightenment from the book. Can you share that here and explain a bit about this belief? It’s so simple and yet seems so difficult to attain.
Enlightenment is the cats meow, it’s what we’re all supposedly searching for. Enlightenment essentially means to know yourself, and there is no one practice, ideaology or religion that can give you that answer, you can collect information, but ultimately you have to be willing to do the work, inside (en). It’s also important to remember that a very big sacred cow in spirituality is that everything your seeking (Light, knowledge) is within (ment – have, to have) , so for me I stopped seeking it, I have it, it may not look like the pictures of bliss and perfection in the upnaishads or other pretty tomes about the great wonderful enlightenment, there aren’t sparks of light flying out of my head and I only have 2 arms. Its my life, the one I’m living right now. I know myself, if I’m really willing to be honest about myself, I may not like what I know, but I know who I am, and to be enlightenend is to admit that and then if I so desire to change.
I’m in the process of writing my first screenplay (and have a book about half-way finished), so as a fellow writer, I’d love to know how this book come about? What did the process of creating/writing look like for you?
Do it. Write, everyday all the time. Be willing to write badly. Screenplays are hard and you have to really stick with the format, the structure of the acts, etc. Books are easier in that you don’t have a hard format to stick to. But either way, you have to just sit down and write and be willing to suck at it for a while until somehow you find the words that resonate with you. It’s my mantra for everything these days including life…. it’s ok to suck at it, practice and eventually you’ll get it right.
You clearly have an entrepreneurial spirit. I share that same sense of adventure with what I do. Have you always wanted to “do your own thing”? What are the most challenging things about working for yourself? What are the most gratifying?
I got that spirit from my dad who was always working on some new idea, some new thing and I was always tagging along with him. I was home schooled for most of my life and structure wasn’t really something I had alot of. Discipline I did. When your on your own creating your dreams you can live without structure but not discipline. I learned to dream and then to achieve that dream takes work. It takes alot more than just sitting on a cushion, Amit Goswami calls it do be do be do and I just love that.
The easiest part is dreaming, the hard part is being real about my dreams. I could write a book on just this…hmm maybe I will. Because I’ve found many people have big dreams, but no idea how to execute them, practically, what is it going to take to really make that happen, getting our heads out of the clouds and onto the ground to take the actions needed for success.
YES! Please write that book. I would definitely be in line to by a copy. You’re right, I think that’s something we all struggle with, especially as creative beings. On another note, I’m curious what type(s) of self-care practices do you have (you know the stuff that keeps you sane while you try to take action on your dreams)?
Ok I’m a bit of a rebel here. I decided to stop trying to force myself to do practices (hence lack of structure), but because I’m disciplined the only rule I have is to follow my lead, the conscious one, the one that’s paying attention to what I truly desire, so if that one says today you need to do yoga, I do yoga, if that one says go outside and pick roses I pick roses, if that one says write, I write, if that one says drink a bunch of coffee eat a muffin and smoke, I do that.
Hot damn. That is SO refreshing to hear. I love that approach – it takes the charge out of “self care” and just makes it doing stuff that makes you feel good. When you mentioned roses, I immediately thought of beauty. At The Girl Who Knows I’m focused a lot on beauty + aesthetics, so I’m curious, what does beauty mean to you? What do you find ‘beautiful’?
Ok so the answer which is true (or at least in my opinion) beauty is within. Ok now for reality – we all want to look our best and taking care of our bodies, wearing clothes that make us feel good is part of self care. We want to be heard, we want to be respected in our professions, so we need to be conscious there. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good. That’s beautiful to me, when I see someone who has taken the time to take care of themselves and feels good, that’s beautiful. When a woman can rock that outfit no matter how tall or short, skinny or not, straight nose or crooked, thats gorgeous. (That’s my guy talking)
What are a few of your favorite things right now?
Right now I’m sitting on my porch and my local squirrel is hanging on the tree near me chatting up a storm. That’s my favorite thing. Walking to pick my kids up from school and my son runs across the yard to greet me. Singing “What does the fox say” at the top of our lungs driving somewhere with my kids. Coming home from a meeting and eating my moms food with my kids. I am open to eating almost anything, going almost anywhere and doing almost anything these days, why not…
What inspires + motivates you to keep doing what you do everyday?
That I wake up each morning and realize that I have another chance to figure this out. I mean seriously it’s pretty friggen’ awesome that we exist. I am always blown away by what we humans come up with, we fly, we drive cars, we make music, paint, tell stories. It’s pretty fun isn’t it. Being a mom is cool because I have been reminded of how amazing the world is, I love to gasp at things in astonishment. Wow someone dreamt that and now it’s “real”. Be astonished at life…because it’s pretty cool.
Is there a specific quote or a philosophy that guides your life?
Be in love with your life, every minute of it.—Jack Kerouac
I’m a big fan of birthdays, so I have to ask – what’s your favorite way to celebrate your birthday each year? If you had a big dream, birthday wish, what would it be?
I’ve been blessed with some awesome birthdays in my life. This year I’m excited to share one of my favorite places with someone I love and then be home and eat a home/kid made birthday cake with my kids. I think I’m getting old because I just like the simpler things these days
WHY do you do what you do?
Because if I did anything else my soul would ache. I’ve had money and my soul ached, now I do what I love and the money comes or it doesn’t and I’m ok with that. My soul is happy and that’s all that matters.
Any parting words or random stories you want to share?
Every morning when I brush my teeth I look in the mirror and I stick my tongue out and I say to my thought monsters “I know you’re in there, you can’t hide from me, fuck off” and I go about my day. Oh I guess you could call that my practice.
Check out the (hilarious) trailer to Betsy’s book, Tipping Sacred Cows!
Huge thanks to Betsy for taking the time to chat with me. I’m honored to have had the chance to have her wisdom and her downright refreshing and FUN approach to personal growth and spirituality, be a part of The Girl Who Knows.
I’m so excited for you all to check out her latest book, Tipping Sacred Cows, which is available here.
Before you go , as a special little treat, Betsy is gifting a copy of her book, Tipping Sacred Cows, to one of YOU lucky readers.
Just leave a comment below and let us know what sacred cows you’re tipping (or would like to tip) in your own life.
I’ll select a winner on Monday February 17th!
Congratulations to Christy! You’re the winner of Tipping Sacred Cows.
I’ll be contacting you shortly with all the details. xo