15. Kate Manser: “We think we have time”
It’s easy to get caught up in the crap of life where we get stressed out and get frustrated. That’s why it’s important to have reminders that life is short. And pep talks when we’re down.” If you’re in need of a pep talk on the living life to its fullest, then cue up this podcast with Kate Manser, author of the book, and creator of the website, “You Might Die Tomorrow (So Live For Today)”. Hear how Kate turned her death anxiety into a “not living an awesome life anxiety” and started living her best life. From her “Death bed gut check” to her personal “Wake Up Calls,” Kate’s energy and enthusiasm is both refreshing and inspiring and will help you make choices that could help you lead a happier life, and die with fewer regrets.
David: Hi, I’m David Abend, founder of The Bucket and your host for this edition of the bucket podcast. Today, I’m talking to Kate Manser who shares The Bucket’s passion for helping people use mortality awareness to inspire them to live authentic lives. She’s the author of the book You Might Die Tomorrow: So Live Today, which is about facing your fear of death to live a more meaningful life.
Welcome Kate. Thanks for talking with me.
Kate: Hello and happy today. Thanks for having me.
David:. When I first went to your site, youmightdietomorrow.com, it was like finding my mortality soulmate. I remember this commercial where you had two quirky people who had this passion about something that nobody else cared about. They were kind of shunned. They were walking around, and they finally find each other. They both shared this common interest, and its like, “Yes, someone finally gets me.” That’s how I feel talking with you. You call it mortality awareness. We call it mortality-based living, but it’s basically the same thing. It’s really nice to find others who really gets it.
Kate: Kindred spirits indeed. I mean, I remember when I was first struck with this huge epiphany about how death can help you come alive. I was just like you David. I was like, “Oh my gosh, why isn’t everybody using this to their advantage? I must be the first person to have ever thought of this.” Of course, then I turned to Google and I find everyone from Steve jobs to all the stoic philosophers and Bob Dylan, all talking about how death helps you come alive and live your best life. So, we are not alone, although sometimes it feels like it.
David: We are not alone. It is something that I’ve talked about before with this idea of a choir. The people in the choir really believe in this and really think it’s valuable. It’s really about getting people outside the choir to appreciate the value of something like this.
So, that’s what I’m doing, what you’re doing, which is trying to raise awareness and have people realize that the value of being aware of your own mortality and embracing it. Anyone who has listened to our podcast knows how I got to this place of embracing mortality, but your path was very different and involve the brain eating amoeba.
Kate: Well, that was part of it for sure. What I learned in that process is that we are all survivors of near-death experiences every day, because let’s be real, I’m a terrible driver. If you’re looking for that mortality awareness in your life, just think about every time you get on the road, every time you go for a swim; it’s really literally a miracle that we’re all alive today. And that helps me remember that life is a gift.
David: You had that feeling, like you might’ve had a brain eating amoeba. Then you had this like mortality awareness, but you had other things that happened to you that really knocked you for a loop?
Kate: Yes, what happened was I had three friends in the span of six months that all died in unrelated, unexpected events, they were all around my same age. I went from never thinking about death at being around 29 years old to realizing that I am fallible. I am mortal. Death can come no matter what age you are, no matter who you know, where you live, no matter if you’re spending your time climbing mountains or just staying close to home.
The first thing, I didn’t have the realization that death is valuable. The first thing that happened when those three people died was, I spent a year in paralyzed death, anxiety, where I thought I was going to die all the time.
David: Like really thought you were going to die all the time? Or just had this life is short kind of feeling?
Kate: No, no. This was every time I got behind the wheel of the car, I was gripped with anxiety. As I was going to sleep at night, I would have these visions of myself dying or every time the phone rang, I would think it’s going to be that call that my mom is dead. This was a very unhealthy obsession with not only the fact that I can die anywhere, any time, but also that I was trying to avoid it at all costs because it was such a traumatizing thing to have those three successive losses.
The odd thing was, was what popped me out of that death anxiety, which lasted over a year, was a fourth friend of mine died. His name was Dan Fredenberg and he was climbing Mount Everest. When he died, I looked at myself who was afraid to cross the street or go out of my house. Then here’s Dan, who was living his dream to climb Mount Everest. It made me realize that yes, I am going to die one day and no, I don’t have control over that. But what I do have control over is how I live until that mystery moment comes. I had to make a choice, spend my time and energy in fear or spend my time and energy, having fun and enjoying my life and living the way I want to live. I knew that I had to choose the ladder.
David: Is that like a switch that went off for you? Did it happened in a day where you just said, “Holy shit, I have to change.”
Kate: Well, the day that Dan died, I did have the realization that I have a choice of how to expend my energy. Then about a week or two later was when I had the lightning bolt phrase come into my mind, “You might die tomorrow, so live today.” I had always wanted to write a book. I come from a marketing background. The first thing I did was realize this is going to be my book number one, and then I came home and made a website and a logo. That’s really how the movement started five and a half years ago.
David: Wow. You’ve had these terrible experience with people dying around you that led to your death anxiety, and you could identify that, but do you think that other people who haven’t gone through that can have this awareness? Or do you have to go through a situation where you’re not scared into it, but it throws you and you have to take action? Other people don’t have that aha moment
Kate: Three things there. Number one, we’re all mortal, so we’re all going to die. We all have this tool in our toolbox, that is like the ultimate deadline for those of us who are procrastinators. I’m raising my hand in that choir, the procrastinator choir. The fact that I will die one day is my ultimate deadline and it motivates me into action to enjoy my life, to revel in the present moment and to do the things that I want to do in life, that includes slowing down. That’s number one, we’re all going to die. We all can look at life with this end point because it is a fact.
Number two, we all survived near death experiences every day, and it’s a matter of perspective of how you look at that. You can look at yourself driving into the grocery store as an everyday thing, or you can arrive to the grocery store or arrive home from the grocery store and realize how miraculous it is that you just drove 65 miles an hour down a busy highway with granny drivers and grandpa drivers and people that are eating sandwiches and talking on their phones and you made it. And how really wonderful that is.
Number three is to really look at life as a gift and to know that we all will, not only are we all mortal, but in most, if not all of our lives, we will all suffer a loss of someone that we love. I don’t want people to have to go through traumatic experiences in order to have the realization that life is precious. Death is natural. Those three things are all at our disposal to change our perspective to get there.
David: All three are so important. Something I remember while you’re talking from your book that you’ve kind of transitioned people who’ve been through what you’ve been through to it’s not a fear of death, but it’s a fear of not living. I thought that was really insightful in terms of you don’t have to have a terrible experience and have people dying all around you to be frozen and not do the things that you want to do. I think that’s really interesting.
Kate: I’m glad you brought that up because a lot of people ask me, “Well, what happened to your death anxiety to just go, did it just go away?” The truth is that I just traded death anxiety for not living an awesome life anxiety. Now instead of spending my energy trying to avoid death and worrying about death all the time, I’m preoccupied with living my best life. I view that as healthier, whether that is truly healthier is a matter of your own subjective opinion and experience. I still have these anxious qualities. I still have hypochondria, but I feel far more productive, joyful, present, and aware, fearing not living a good life and putting that into inspired action as opposed to trying to hide out from death, which beyond wearing sunscreen and putting your seatbelt on is largely out of our control.
David: I think that’s interesting that death can be a motivator, but you also said ego can be a motivator and that you’ll use whatever you can to get off your ass and go do things.
Kate: I am a huge proponent of embracing the fact that we humans are selfish and somewhat egotistical beings. Another thing that motivates me to live a good life is not only this like altruistic view of I want to make the world a better place. I do, absolutely. Whether wealth or fame or power comes to me in this life, I want to leave a good mark on the world, but I also want people to miss me when I’m gone.
I also liked the idea of like my name being written on a bench somewhere, or my name going in the history books as being the greatest writers / Rockstar / race car driver of all times. Those are my top three careers by the way. One of them I’m doing the other two are still in progress.
We’re all selfish. If you want to be remembered, you can use that to your advantage and say, if I want to be remembered, and I want people to cry at my funeral, that means that I need to be a good person, I need to forge positive relationships in my life, and I need to live in a way that leaves a space when I’m gone. I use that as motivation as well. We can’t pretend that we’re not selfish because we are.
David: I think that both those things, in particular ego and death, those are negative things. If you ask people, death is negative, having a big ego is negative. I think it’s really interesting how you turn those around to be motivators and not to be egotistical, that’s different, and not to be obsessed with dying, that’s different. To use those in a positive way, I think that’s a great part of what I took away from your book.
Kate: I think I like the idea of simplifying things and another thing that I like to simplify is we all want to have lived a meaningful life. We all need to find our one true purpose. At the end of the day, we don’t really know why we’re here. I don’t really know what my one true purpose is in life. What I focus on instead is having fun every day and enjoying my life and reveling in the experience of being alive, because in the absence of knowing my one true purpose, which maybe I’ll figure that out. By enjoying my life and spreading positivity wherever I go, I am there by actually making the world a better place because people see and feel that positivity and that creates this profound ripple effect that will go on farther than my mortal self.
David: However long that may be that’s. One of my favorite parts of the book is when you say we think we have time, in fact, I think that’s going to be the name of this podcast. We think we have time and the idea that we postpone things, and we say we’ll do them later after I get married after I get that raise after I lose that weight. Is that something you went through and can speak about personally?
Kate: Well, I don’t know about you, but I went through a long period in my life where I was just trying to check off the boxes of what I thought everyone was supposed to do. I went to college, graduated high school. I went to college because my parents wanted me to, I got a dog, I got married, I bought a house. Then I kind of reached the top of that mountain of the American dream blueprint. I looked around and I didn’t feel like I thought I was going to feel. The reason is not because those things aren’t fulfilling because they are. If you’ve made those decisions consciously, but I hadn’t made them consciously. I was just sort of blindly following along with what everyone thought.
I always thought I had more time to get around to traveling. Just like you said, I had more time to do my art and do all these things. The truth is maybe we do. The title of my book is You Might Die Tomorrow, but maybe we won’t. Maybe you will get to live to 104, or maybe you could die tomorrow. At the end of the day, you don’t know, so to live as if time is short helps us procrastinators to, number one, act. Number two, really think about what is meaningful to you. It’s different for every single person. That’s a huge topic in my book, which is creating your personal meaning and not just doing what everyone wants you to do. That’s one of the top regrets of the dying is, I wish I had lived life for myself and not done what others had expected of me. But we all fall prey to it, so we have to stay vigilant every single day.
David: When you said the name of your book, You Might Die Tomorrow, I’m going to challenge you for a second on that. It’s a semantic exercise, but there is a lot of talk about live like you are dying. There’s the song Live Like You Were Dying and You Could Die Tomorrow. For me, if I was literally going to die tomorrow, I would do things very differently. I certainly wouldn’t go to work or to the gym. I’d probably spend a lot of money doing something, meeting with people. If I did that every day, I wouldn’t get anything done. Do people talk to you about that? To me it’s not just a semantic discussion, it’s a way for people to say that doesn’t make sense, that doesn’t work, you’re out of your mind, I can’t live like I’m going to die tomorrow. Have you had people say that to you?
Kate: Yes, absolutely. It’s like, if I had lived every day like I might die tomorrow, I would just swim in a sea of wine and brownies and spend all my cash and hop on the plane. Actually, if you truly knew you were going to die tomorrow, you wouldn’t have time to hop on a plane and you probably wouldn’t be too concerned about hopping out of a plane in skydiving either, which is commonly thought of as a ‘live like you might die tomorrow thing’, but it’s really more about time and the pace of time and the pace of your life. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, you would want to extend that day out as long as you possibly could. You would revel in every moment, every detail, every color, every sound that you heard, every person that came to visit you, you would drink it up. Then you would be so fully present. To me, that’s really what living like you might die tomorrow is, because when I had this realization, I did the thing that people think you’re going to do, which is I quit my job at Google and I went traveling around the world for two years. I came back because I ran out of money and I had to learn the most important lesson of my life, which was to figure out how to live like I might die tomorrow every single day, regardless of where I am and when I’m stuck in traffic and when I’m going to the nine to five and when I’m sitting at the sink doing dishes. That is the greatest lesson that I’ve learned in this whole experience is life is so beautiful and to drink up as many of the small, wonderful details as I possibly can while I’m here.
David: Now you’re trying to help other people do that as well. Can you talk about people that you’ve met with, or you’ve talked to that have been convinced to look at life this way and how their life has changed?
Kate: There’s so many beautiful stories out there of people who, like me had death, anxiety, and by taking that perspective of focus on what you can control and disregard the rest, which comes from stoic philosophy, it’s radically changed their lives where they’re able to instead channel that energy towards living fully. There’s people that have left jobs that weren’t serving them and gone on a path that feels more authentic. A lot of times that means making less money. When you are thinking about your life when you’re on your death bed, making a lot of money is not usually the priority. Your priorities can shift greatly when you realize that you might die tomorrow and you start living that life.
It can take time to reorganize your place in the world when all of your priorities have radically shifted. A lot of the stories involve a time of turmoil as you start to realize that the life that you are leading will not serve you. But ultimately by living life on the high line, by going to the place where your priorities are aligned with your soul, people end up a lot happier and they end up leading simpler lives.
David: That must be an amazing feeling when you see somebody who’s benefited from what your mission is.
Kate: I’m sure you’ve heard those stories with The Bucket too. There’s something about mortality. I’m sure this happened to you too, when you first had this realization, death is not morbid. This is like the most motivating, natural part of living. Why isn’t everyone drinking this Kool-Aid? You’re talking about getting the people into the choir. We’re all mortal and we can all use this to our advantage, and yet we do the opposite. We run as far away from mortality as we can. I think by having your brand, which is a gorgeous brand and it’s so inviting and having a brand like mine, which is provocative and gets people’s attention, we are slowly changing the brand of death to where people are going to and are starting to see that it’s a natural part of life and can radically change your life for the better.
David: To your point, I got an amazing email from a friend of mine from college a few months ago. When she first heard about The Bucket, she was like, “What are you doing? That is the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.” She went through a transformation and she sent me an email a year later and just said, “Oh my God, I now see what you were trying to say, and I want to write for you. I want to get involved.” It was an amazing story.
Kate: That reminds me of a story of a friend that I just heard about. My friend, Amber, her mom died from cancer I think like six or eight years ago. It was very difficult for her. She loves her mom so much. They were super close, and she had this pretty painful death from cancer. That was around the same time that I was starting You Might Die Tomorrow. Similar to this person that you’re talking about, she wasn’t like, I don’t believe in You Might Die Tomorrow, but she was very critical and could not equate how grief can function with using mortality as a positive tool. We would talk about it. We would have conversations. She would struggle with it but was never on board until just a couple of months ago. I got an email from her. She ordered a bunch of t-shirts, a bunch of mugs, a bunch of stickers. She said, “You know what? I woke up the other day and I finally got your message. Now I’m on fire to live. My husband and I bought a school bus. We’re going to transform it into an RV and I want to put your sticker on the back and wear your t-shirt wherever we go.” It took six years for her to get there but that seed was planted, and it blossomed into her realizing that she wanted to live the best life that she can while she’s still here.
David: Well, that’s an amazing story too. That’s great. The idea, what I was talking about before, we think we have time, that very much gets to our bucket age calculator. You put in your age and your gender and gives you, based on social security statistics, how long you have left to live. It’s strictly statistical, but you’d be amazed how many people do that and go, wow, I don’t have a lot of time left. That realization becomes part of that motivation in terms of living the life that you wanted to, and maybe perhaps haven’t done yet. When we talk about regrets, we have a tagline, ‘live fully die well’. Our ‘die well’ isn’t about the physical act of dying, it’s about dying without regrets. You talk about that in your book with the deathbed gut-check, which is a similar thing.
Kate: Yes, absolutely. The deathbed gut check is a technique that I just started using to help me make tough and everyday decisions in life, because as Steve jobs says, death gives you the clearest perspective into your priorities, into what really matters, and it inspires that urgency. The deathbed gut-check is, you can think too if you’re listening, think of a decision that you’re facing in your life right now that your kind of like, I don’t know what to do, should I say that thing? Should I not say, should I book that trip? Should I not book whatever the decision is? Just think of that decision and then you can close your eyes for a moment. You can imagine yourself on your death bed. It’s not a depressing deathbed. It’s white sheets, airy room, lots of natural light, but you know that you’re on your death bed and you’re looking back and you’re looking back on the decision that you’re faced with. Maybe you’re deciding whether to tell your partner how you feel about a particular thing. You imagine looking back from the perspective of your deathbed, having chosen to say the thing and you observe how you feel in your gut, and do you feel if you feel that heaviness of I really wish that or I hadn’t said that. Maybe you feel like a lightness of being glad that you said that it was really important for you to say.
Then you have to honor that. That’s the second part is you can do the deathbed gut check to observe how you feel. Then you actually have to honor that intuition, but the magic of the deathbed gut check is when you’re on your death bed, you don’t care about what people think you don’t care about how much money that decision got or didn’t get you. You’re less concerned about expectations, your fears are down. The deathbed gut-check allows you to make decisions from the clearest perspective. It’s something that you at first may take like 30 seconds to do that exercise where you close your eyes, imagine yourself on your deathbed, observe your gut, but now I’ve done it so many times that it just like a one second thing. I imagine myself on my death bed, see how I react and then go with that decision.
David: That really helps put things in perspective if you’re having trouble figuring out what to do. For me, doing The Bucket was that deathbed gut-check. If I was on my death bed and I hadn’t done it, I would’ve regretted it. I would’ve said, you know, I should have tried it. It’s definitely something that makes things easy. Don’t you think? It seemed so complicated until I thought about it.
Kate: Everything seems complicated. I don’t know what it is about this whole being alive business, but it just seems so dang complicated. We have so many thoughts about what other people think. We think things are so complicated, but that’s why that zoom out perspective is so valuable. There’s two zoom out perspectives that I use all the time to help make me less annoyed, less stressed, and have a more simple and grateful approach to life. Number one is again, looking at life from that mortal perspective, remembering that I’m going to die and remembering that life is short, that always helps me get rise above stress.
The other way that I help, and this particularly helps me be kind to other people is to take on the soul perspective. This is something that I’ve learned from the teachings of Rahm Doss in particular, which is to remember that we are all here. We’re all souls. We’re all walking our own paths, trying to do our best. That jerk that cuts you off in traffic, they too are a soul. They too are on their own path and they too are just trying to do their best.
Those two perspectives, remembering that life is short, that I’m going to die, and remembering that we’re all here just trying to do our best, nobody really knows what we’re doing. Those help keep me grounded in my everyday life.
David: It is so simple. Sometimes it’s hard for people to do it. It’s hard for all the reasons that you went through in terms of not being able to do the things that you to live your authentic life. I think that there are lots of excuses. I’m going to segue into a game I want to play with you. Are you ready?
Kate: Oh, yes.
David: We’re going to play a game and I’m going to give you excuses why I can’t live my authentic life or whatever you want to call it, and you will debunk them. First one’s pretty obvious. I don’t have time.
Kate: You don’t have time to?
David: I don’t have time to… I’m so busy working and I just don’t have time to worry about changing where I am right now. It’s just too much.
Kate: Do you have time to get cancer? No, me neither, but you might get cancer and then you’re really getting to be on a different path. Why not live like you want to live today while you’re alive and healthy and have a family and have a job and have everything at your disposal, instead of waiting for the time when father mortality comes knocking?
David: Okay Kate, but you know what? I don’t have the money to do the kinds of things that would really make me happy. I can’t travel the world. I just don’t have the money.
Kate: That’s exactly what I learned, which is that the most important lesson that we can learn is how to experience awe in our everyday life. So, David, I would ask you, do you have people that you love in your life?
David: Of course
Kate: There’s your travel, there’s your trip. Have a beautiful conversation with someone, really connect with them and you will go on a psychedelic trip or a literal trip better than you’ve ever imagined. Regardless of whether you have money, revel in the beautiful experience of being alive, look at the sky, talk to someone that you love, go on a walk and you will have traveled to heights farther than going to Japan would ever take you.
David: I suppose so, but you know, some of the things you talk about doing, I’m just not physically able to do them. I can’t go do these fun things, so I really can’t change my life.
Kate: What do you want to do when you truly can’t move anywhere? If you are in pain and if you can’t actually go anywhere, but you want to experience life, the only place that you can go is in your mind and heart. If you listen to the teachings of Rahm Doss, there’s so many beautiful places that we can go to experience. Rahm Doss himself experienced a profound stroke and continued to live for 20 years, having a very light grasp on speech and having to have a full-time care aide with him, but still laughed and looked at the world with loving awareness. I would challenge you to remember that regardless of what your physical pain is, you’re still alive and kicking. You still got that heart beating. You still got that spunk living inside and to latch onto that.
David: All right, well that makes sense. There are a lot of things that I I’d like to do, but the problem is my partner isn’t willing to do it. My partner has a different idea of what’s fun and what they want to do. I feel like I’m stuck.
Kate: I can tell you that for sure I have been in that exact position where I feel pretty susceptible to the energy of people around me. If someone’s being a wet blanket, I get wet blanket syndrome. What I’ve learned is that it’s so important to act not just react, and by standing in your power and living the life that you want to live and bringing the energy to it, you will create the ripple effects of goodness that maybe they will positively impact your partner. Maybe they won’t. At the end of the day, your partner is going to die separately from you, and you have to live your life the way that you want to.
David: Well, I’m out of questions. You’ve convinced me, but for anyone listening, if you have a question I didn’t ask, let me know. We’ll see if Kate will answer it for you. I’m going to move into another question. I always ask on the podcast, which is what is your bucket age?
Kate: My bucket age? I haven’t looked at on your website in the past couple of months.
David: So, your life expectancy is probably like 87 or something like that. If you don’t mind doing the math?
Kate: I’m turning 36 in April, so that would give me what 41.
David: 51. Yeah, 51. That’s an unusual age for us. I see every time someone does their bucket age, I don’t know who they are, but I know what their age is. We usually have people between the age 50 and 70, certainly 36 is younger. It’s really great that you have this approach before it’s kind of too late to have this approach. You’re already working to prevent regret.
Kate: Well, I’ll tell you about the story of my friend, Fi Munro. She is, or was rather, diagnosed with cervical cancer at quite a young age, I believe around the age of 30. She radically changed her life. This diagnosis of cervical cancer, which is a very serious and deadly cancer, she suddenly had the same realization that I did five years ago and she totally changed her life.
She wrote a book called Live Like You’re Dying. She became a shaman. She was speaking internationally, all over the world. We had a conversation when we first became friends and she really just confided in me and she said, “Gosh, Kate. I really wish that I would have had the realization that I did when I got cancer, like you did before I got cancer.” Because she was faced with actual mortality and she snapped into living, but you don’t have to get a deadly cancer diagnosis in order to have this mentality. I don’t want to say that it is something that you can just snap into and have this epiphany. Maybe that might happen to you, but what it is more likely is a conscious choice to open your heart and your mind to mortality, to remember that we are mortal to remember that death is a natural part of life and to choose with your limited time and energy, how do you want to live on until that mystery moment comes? So Fi is the same as the rest of us who are like I wish that I had that realization before it was too late. I had it when I was 29 and I’m so grateful because it has made me feel so grateful to be alive.
David: That’s great. It’s so inspirational for people, especially at your age, to be thinking this and you have so much time. The other question, I always ask people is what if they suddenly found out they were going to die tomorrow, what regrets they would have. I’m curious, do you have any things right now that you would still regret or are you working on those or have you eliminated them?
Kate: You know, 2020 was just a really wonderful year for me and also hard. I decided to give up alcohol in January of 2020. I realized that if I’m truly a proponent of living awake, aware, and fully alive, that alcohol is an anesthetizing agent that I no longer want in my life. When I gave up alcohol at the beginning of last year, you suddenly have more time on your hands. You’re suddenly more aware and you have to find new coping mechanisms because, if you’re not using alcohol as a festivities agent or a sadness, nurturing agent you have to really go deep. Doing that has brought up a lot of different traumas in my past that I’m really working on for the first time and joys in my life. It’s freed up time for me to really live the way I want to live. My book also came out in 2020, which was absolutely a bucket list item for me. I think the regrets that I would have would not be the book because I did that. If you would’ve asked me before March of last year, what would you regret, it would I’ll regretted if I don’t get this book out. I think now I’m still working on some of these new coping mechanisms and traumas and things in my life. While I don’t have regrets, I think that there’s more work that I have to do in order to get through those and to really get to my next level of living alive.
David: Well, it seems like your book is definitely been successful. In one of the things in researching for this podcast, you have done plenty of podcasts. I listened to some and I have a question. What question haven’t you been asked in these podcasts and you wish you had? Is there one?
Kate: I really love hearing your experience. have questions that I love answering. One question is if I forget everything that I’ve heard today on the podcast, like if I’m an audience member and I forget everything, what should I remember? My answer is always just remember to enjoy your life, prioritize having fun every single day, be silly, don’t take things too seriously. I believe that if you do those things, if you forget everything else and just prioritize those things that when the death time comes, you’ll be able to feel that you’ve lived a satisfied life that you’re proud of, that you’re grateful for, and that you feel like you did it right. The question that I always like to hear from people that I interview with is, what is living alive to you? What are the moments in your life that you feel most alive?
David: That’s a good question. I can answer it literally and say when I’m outside, when I’m kayaking or whether I’m hiking or something like that, that’s when I feel most alive. To go one step further is when I’m doing it with someone that I love doing it with, whether it’s my wife or friends. That makes me feel alive and having agency to just to make decisions, there are things I do every day that I really would prefer not to do, but those are choices that I’ve made and there’s a benefit to doing those for me that I’ve made peace with. One of the things that The Bucket has helped me see is you have a choice, no matter what your position is, what your situation is, you have a choice. If you think that you don’t that’s probably your biggest problem. Always remembering that I have a choice is when I feel good about what I’m doing.
Kate: Beautifully said, I love that that word agency, agency makes you feel alive. You’re able to make it make choices, choose how you respond, choose how you react and choose how you spend your precious resources of time and energy while you’re here on this earth.
David: Have you heard of outer directed people or inner directed people?
David: Outer directed people, I’m going to oversimplify, but outer directed people think other people outside of them are responsible for their problems and their happiness. Inner directed people believe that they are responsible for their problems and their happiness. It’s a continuum, nobody wants to be all of one or all, all of the other, but generally what I’ve seen is the people who blame the outside world for their problems and look to the outside world for their solutions are not happy.
Kate: Wow. Yes, exactly. That’s where it’s thinking that you have time, right? You’re waiting for someone to tell you how much time you have left, when to me if you don’t know how much time you have left, its best to get cracking. If you’re outer directed, you’re kind of waiting, you’re thinking someone else is holding the stopwatch.
David: Right. You’ve got to do it yourself. It’s a whole other topic that we won’t get into today, but that fear of failure. It’s like, I don’t act because I’m afraid it won’t work. I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’m afraid that book won’t be very good. I’m afraid people won’t go to my magazine. It paralyzes people, that fear.
Kate: That’s why I find it so helpful to focus on having fun, because if you’re just doing something for fun, as opposed to being the best, the trophy winner, then some of that fear is removed. If we don’t take ourselves so seriously and we’re doing things for the fun of it, and we look at life as a play land for our soul to experience, then some of that pressure is removed. We are all put ourselves in our, under that pressure. We could all use a little bit less of it.
David: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. There’s your book, of course. Where can people get that? The obvious places?
Kate: Absolutely. I mean, if you want to order it from my website, I will personally send you a signed copy with a free sticker and that comes with free shipping as well. Or you’re more than welcome to go to bookshop.org, Barnes and noble, Amazon, etc.
David: What about your website? I know that it’s not like you go to the website and there are tons of classes or this or that, but it seems like you’re starting to get into mentoring people and I saw somewhere you said you could get a wake-up call. Is that something you do?
Kate: I just came up with this crazy idea just right before the end of the year where I was like, you know what, sometimes I just wish someone would call me and give me a pep talk. And then I was like, wait, Kate, you’re like really good at giving pep talks. You really love talking with people. So why don’t you sell pep talks? I started selling these wake-up calls at the end of last year. The response has been way more than I thought it would be. Tons of people have gotten these wake-up calls. If you get a wake-up call on my website, I will personally call you and give you a pep talk, listen to what’s going on in your life, work through it with you a little bit, and send you on your way, lighter, brighter, and more grounded.
David: That is so cool. It sounds to me like it introduces this level of accountability to people, that it isn’t just something they’re keeping in themselves, they’ve shared it with you, what their situation is, and you can give them a pep talk and, and maybe there’s a follow-up pep talk, in terms of a progress report, but it’s really interesting.
Kate: Yes, absolutely. It never hurts to have a You Might Die Tomorrow: So Live Today sticker on your bathroom mirror. You can get those on the website as well, because the truth is David, as you and I have had these awakenings or whatever you want to call it, where we’ve realized that life is short, we’ve realized that we have to choose how we want to live, but we also realize that it’s easy to get caught up in the crap of life, where we get stressed out and we get frustrated. That’s why it’s important to have regular reminders in our lives, people that make us happy, reminders that life is short and pep talks when we’re down.
David: Absolutely. This has been a pep talk for me, and it’s been great talking to you. Good luck with the book and good luck with the wake-up calls. I’m sure we’ll be talking soon.
Kate: Thank you. And thank you so much for what you do. The bucket is an amazing project and we’re in the choir. We’re trying to get more of y’all in to remember that life is short, life is beautiful. We might as well fun while we’re here.
David: Absolutely. Kate, thank you so much.
Kate: Thank you, David.