Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Powers.
Kate, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It’s been an adventurous global journey! I was born in Korea, adopted as an infant and grew up in the Midwest. As a very young child, I began taking dancing classes. I was the kid who brought my ballet shoes to show-and-tell in kindergarten and then again in first grade. And second grade. I told everyone I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up.
I began working in mental healthcare as a young adult. Surrounded by people experiencing trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression and more severe illness, I knew I was meant to be part of transforming these. Still interested in movement and the connection our bodies have to our minds, I studied the Eastern influences of Buddhism, meditation, yoga and therapeutic massage. This was also a way for me to learn about Asia which I knew very little about. The personal growth and healing I experienced through this was profound. I knew I was to share this with the world.
During this time, I was working in a hospital and I experienced my own health concerns unexpectedly. This prompted me to search for my birth family as I knew nothing about my biological history. Although other adoptees had gently prepared me the search might never lead to resolution, I found my birth family. We met in South Korea. It was shocking and tragic and changed my entire life. It filled in some missing puzzle pieces and created many new ones. Yoga and meditation remained reliable friends as I journeyed across the globe and back. I returned to Korea to meet with them a few years later and although I was again scarred from such an experience, I jumped into working in a 9-5 setting, presuming the life of a typical young American.
I spent several years working in careers that involved connecting people such as HR and sales. My experiences in Korea were overwhelming so I wanted to normalize myself. Helping others feel positive at work helped me feel positive too. I continued studying spirituality and healing arts. I still knew I was to do work that was more altruistic but I skipped around from job to job thinking the next one would be more fulfilling. Meanwhile, I was doing coaching and healing work in my free time. I also had a strong desire to travel and go back to Asia and I had little time for it. I realized life was continuing on and my desires and passions remained unfulfilled. I embraced the opportunity to take the leap, surrendered to do the work I knew I was to do and returned to Korea again.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been full of everything — joy, gratitude, grief, challenges. The struggle is where our strength multiplies.
Experiencing life in a Caucasian family and embracing my Korean roots is an experience often misunderstood. Adoption has influenced my entire life. It is a central part of how my life has become what it is. I strive to build awareness about this and to facilitate healing for those impacted by important real topics such as inequality, bullying and trauma. When I was growing up, I experienced racism, but I felt Caucasian since everyone around me was and I didn’t identify with Korean culture. This identity confusion influenced decisions about my work too. I was trapped by the ideals of The American Dream and thought it was too abnormal to follow my intuition. I wanted to be normal, not different…with a normal life, a normal family, a normal job and so on.
I realized the only way to live fully is be authentic about who I am. Normal is just a word! There is a very idealized conditioned notion of “normal,” and this unrealistic notion often sets us up for continuous disappointment. We are all unique. That is our gift to the world. Hiding uniqueness doesn’t serve the world. After years of listening to the world tell me I was wrong for being me — too Asian, not Asian enough, too quiet, too loud, too much this, not enough that — I dumped that external noise in favor of listening to myself and embracing exactly who I am. It is a freedom I wish for everyone. I am happy to share this through my work and activism interests.
Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m focused on helping those who want a more fulfilled life and are ready to overcome challenges and make changes to achieve it. I’m also focused on spending more time in Korea this year and sharing insights from these global experiences through my blog. I am a coach, educator and healer. I work with individuals and groups in-person and online/virtually. It blends every career I’ve had, most prominently my interests in connection and cultivating peace and positivity. I have a special interest in empowering anyone who feels stuck, unworthy or confused. I empower you to break through these as I have, sharing with you what has worked for me. I facilitate workshops for adoptee youth and workshops for the general public about self-love and mindfulness. I know we can all understand each other better when we have a greater awareness. I’m proud and humbled to make a contribution to the world in this way.
Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
Because I often felt like I didn’t fit in completely anywhere, in the US or in Korea, it instilled in me a deep compassion for others. These experiences taught me I can belong anywhere and everywhere I choose. As a child, I wanted others to walk in my shoes to understand how I felt, so I started imagining walking in others’ shoes. “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind,” are great words to live by.
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