120. Embrace Your Vulnerability to Grow with Kate Harvie

The Do a Day Podcast from Bryan Falchuk

Kate Harvie was born to teach people how to tell their stories. She does this with writing, editing, marketing, brand strategy, and development online and offline. She develops brand narrative and messaging and helps businesses and artists tell their stories on all platforms.Kate stepped into a crosswalk in 2009 to retrieve her windblown hat and was struck by a passing ambulance. In the coming days, she would undergo a series of surgeries, including removing a portion of her skull. When Harvie came to, she was disoriented and confused. She could not remember information for longer than a minute. Her road to recovery was long — and made longer without a proper compass to help her find the way. During that journey, she published ‘Believe It and Behave It’, which tells the important lessons she learned after her traumatic brain injury. The book serves as a blueprint for people who also want to recover from trauma, conquer adversity and take back their life.

Key Points from the Episode with Kate Harvie:

  • Kate is the contributing writing for the Universal Hip Hop Museum, and does Strategy & Communications for The Vanderbilt Republic and Mid Heaven Network
  • Her friend’s mother always says, “People who don’t have a job have a lot of time.”
  • What Kate learned is that, when the linearity of our lives goes haywire, we eventually can figure out where we are built to land
  • This is informed by how we grow up, what we learn and who we learn from – whether we replicate, duplicate or inspired by
  • Kate had been laid off from a job in 2008 during the Great Recession
  • A week later, she went to Brooklyn to see a friend, and, while they were walking, Kate was struck in a crosswalk by an ambulance
  • She spent the following two-and-a-half weeks in a coma, had multiple surgeries, and was told, based on NY law, she was not able to live by herself due to the nature of her traumatic brain injury
  • She was left with memory abilities below the 1st percentile, which is similar to an intellectually disabled person despite Kate being 34, having graduated from law school, and being fully independent
  • She had to move back to Ohio to live with her parents during her recovery
  • The five months she spent at her parents was an incredibly introspective and difficult time for her, and then coming back to a version of New York that was very different from what she had left was very hard
  • Kate found herself really wanting to connect with people, but felt like she couldn’t keep asking her friends for time, and when she got it, felt disconnected from the version of them that they had gone on to be while her life was put on pause
  • Feeling left out like that felt very personal, like their going on with their lives was unkind to her
  • She found herself unable to ask for help, and realized that this came from a lack of courage
  • Courage is a part of self-awareness, which you must have to understand anyone else or how to relate to them
  • The tenacity of getting through things is valuable, but can also be a lack of vulnerability that we are mislabeling as tenacity
  • When something destructive happens (bankruptcy, losing a job, being left at the alter), our perspective can change because nothing will be the same
  • We talked about Kate’s volunteer work, which became like her full-time job
  • Someone asked her if she did so much volunteering because she felt guilty or like she had a debt because she was supposed to be dead, which took her aback
  • She thought about whether she felt a debt or was required to volunteer or give back
  • What she ultimately took from it was that time is a gift
  • She shared the notion of “getting to” do things rather than “having to,” meaning that everything you do is a gift
  • When she did volunteer, she felt so thankful that the organization wanted her and gave her the chance to be there, and felt that she was the one gaining from her participation, more so than the organization
  • In a life where she felt disconnected from what was around her, this was a very strong pull
  • For Kate, regardless of the therapy she was undergoing (physical and psychological), she still felt stuck
  • What she realized is that, for progress to be made, we have to figure out what will really work
  • There’s the academic stuff, like eating clean and exercising if the goal is to lose weight, but there’s so much more you must do that will actually lead to success
  • You can go to therapy and respect the clinician, but unless you ask questions and genuinely listen and think about what they’re saying, it won’t help
  • For Kate, it was having the clarity to speak up and say that something isn’t working for her, and she needs help finding something that would help
  • When we decide, actively, courageously, embarrassingly to show up as we are, how we are, that is us showing up in our vulnerability, which we need to embrace
  • This only occurs when we let ourselves tell our stories
  • Trauma is not only getting hit in the head of physically attacked, it’s anything that has you devastated or emotionally harmed
  • We are all living in a place of trauma in the pandemic
  • When someone asks you how you are doing, be honest with the answer
  • Don’t just say, “I’m fine.” Honestly creates ways to make things better


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