Life is in transition in Christine Reber’s household. A recent high school graduation for one of her three teenagers. A house move that, as those tend to go, will take some time to unfold. And a personal and professional life path that continues to evolve.
“Everything that I’m involved in in my life right now I never even approached for most of my life,” she says. “I’m a late bloomer.”
Christine, 51, also is known as Christine Kathryn through her Creating Space podcast and mentoring. What she shares through her website, her conversations with her podcast guests, and her clients are rooted in her willingness to explore more, to connect more deeply, to mine the complexity of her own life.
When Christine sat down with Humanitou, we talked about religion and spirituality, infertility and motherhood, and empowerment and yoga as the basis of so much of what she’s doing now. Christine also talks about the gift of personal experience and owning our stories.
Humanitou: What are you doing with Creating Space?
Christine: My message is about living a spacious life. For me, it started in yoga. In the asana practice, the physical practice, that comes up a lot, working from constriction in the body and opening up space.
Settling down, dropping in and slowing down, we’re creating space in our mind. It’s essential. I talk a lot about being busy and how busy-ness is a badge of honor for people. I think it’s really at the root of so many of our struggles.
Humanitou: I feel like the badge of busy-ness often is about creating the appearance of being essential.
Christine: Totally agree. I feel like we’re uncomfortable with space, like it’s become that way, unless you are intentionally working to become comfortable with space.
The first time I became aware of it was when I was teaching. I had a great mentor. He told me, “Stand in the front of the room and be comfortable with silence. The wheels are turning. Let them be.”
That was long ago and I was never thinking about that stuff then. But I remember that and that was a huge thing for me.
If you’re sitting with somebody, be comfortable with silence with them. It’s OK. But I don’t see that a lot with people. “Oh, I’ve got to talk or fill this space with something, because I’m uncomfortable with me or in some way. I have to fill it.”
Humanitou: In any given asana class, it’s easy to get hung up looking around the room and thinking we need to compete to be more flexible or have better shape in our poses. From that performative mindset, we misunderstand what the real practice is, which is to create and live in the space you’re referring to.
Christine: It’s about getting aware of your body without looking at it from the outside.
The reason I had started to look outside and to get something for myself is I was at a season of my life when I was struggling with depression, I was having panic attacks, and I realized I had given up who I was.
My identity had melted into: I was mom and wife, but Christine wasn’t there. I didn’t really have anything for myself.
Humanitou: You’ve used yoga as the basis of what you’ve been doing since.
Christine: I started a business where I was helping solopreneurs organize and get their mind straight and their business straight. It was helping to take the chaos out of life as you start or are in your business. As I did that, I felt like I was really helping people with life.
So I went and got a yoga life coaching certification. I felt like everything I’m learning in yoga would help you in your business. And these were people who didn’t practice yoga. Business people, Type A personalities.
Humanitou: You focus on mentoring women. Why specifically women?
Christine: I go back and forth whether I want to stay in the niche of women or open it. I think a lot is changing with masculine/feminine and our understanding of that.
The reason that’s what I started out with is that’s what I know. I know what I’ve been through. I know how to help women.
What I’m seeing more is I know how to help people who have come from certain levels of femininity and masculinity. I feel like that’s where I’m moving more, so I might not have just that niche of women.
I have felt called the last couple years to help women who have gone or are going through infertility or loss in those ways, because that’s what I’ve experienced in my life. All my children are adopted.
I’ve gone through infertility myself. I’ve gone through that grieving of not being able to conceive, not being able to give birth to my children. I love my children. I love how our family has come together, but there’s a grieving process there.
My background has affected that. I was in a fundamentalist church for 10 years. I sat in the chair and listened to scriptures and this being the purpose for women, to procreate.
Humanitou: This was as a child, into adulthood or …
Christine: This was as an adult. Late 20s. We joined this church. My husband and I were actually in the ministry for five years. So, not only listening to it, but then teaching it. When we were in the ministry was when I experienced all this.
This was my first experience really delving into my spiritual path. I look at it differently now, of course, as that was much more of a religion than spirituality. It was my first experience looking at God, or the divine.
Going back to the whole infertility thing, it very much made me feel I can’t even do what I’m here to do. God put me here on this earth to procreate and be a mom, and I can’t even do it, so I’m broken.
That’s something I’ve gone through that I can help other women with. I’ve come out on the other side looking at it very, very differently.
Humanitou: You’ve since adopted three children. You have a multiracial family. I’m guessing there are those in that fundamentalist church who would not take that path.
Christine: Part of it comes from my sense of adventure, I think. But I’ll clarify, the church I was in was very diverse and very supportive of adopting children of other races. There’s a spectrum of fundamentalist churches, I would say.
Ours was more fundamentalist in that we believed that if you do not live your life the way we lived and interpret the bible the way we did, you were going to hell. In that way, it was very structured and hardlined.
We left that church. I completely broke free from it. My views do not have anything to do with that whole 10-year period. I don’t believe any of it anymore.
Humanitou: What does spirituality mean to you now?
Christine: I am much more about just connecting to a larger entity. I think we’re all searching for the same thing or we’re talking about the same thing, but we name it something differently.
If we just look at religion or denominations, we look at all the plethora, they’re all pointing at the same thing: something larger than us, something that has some direction for us, something that has a grounding effect, a source for what we find in ourselves.
That’s what I look at it as, that I have the universe in me, I have the divine in me. Am I the divine? Yes and no. I know people can get really hung up on that, “Oh, you think you’re God.” No, but I’m filled with the divine that you’re calling God or Buddha or whatever you’re wanting to call it.
Humanitou: I understand the traditional perceptions that lead someone to be offended by saying, “I am God, and so are you. We all are.” I think for them it’s unconscionably arrogant, shameful.
Religion teaches that people are made in God’s likeness, but then also teaches people to diminish themselves, in some sense, as not being enough to represent that likeness.
Christine: Yeah, that’s always sort of an aside. “Well, we’re created in the likeness of God, but don’t ever claim that you have that in you.” It’s not allowed to merge those. It’s very much separate.
In my whole time when I was in that world, it was outside of me, looking outside of me for guidance, looking outside of me in the scriptures, that this is truth and I’m going to absorb it.
I disagree with that now. I have truth in me that I have to discover. It’s been deposited in me. It’s that separateness that is the difference, if I brought it down to one thing between my beliefs and my beliefs back then.
I don’t believe I am separate from the divine anymore.
Humanitou: Or from each other. That is at the heart of yoga philosophy: We are all one, and we all have that universal power within each of us.
Christine: Right. And it’s very, very empowering. The other is so disempowering, and so fear-based. This is empowering, this is full, this is spacious.
Humanitou: This empowerment and recognition of truth in oneself is at the heart of your Creating Space podcast and mentoring work. I’ve noticed parenting also is a recurring topic on your podcast.
Christine: Yeah, that’s something I’ve done a complete change on, too. I started off with the authoritative approach. Now it’s, “Let’s allow this child to become who they’re supposed to become.”
I always use the same analogy: It’s like a seed. If I have an avocado seed, is an avocado seed ever going to become a sunflower? No matter how much I want this seed, my child, to become a sunflower, they were born an avocado. Let’s just give them what they need to become a beautiful avocado tree.
That isn’t the way I used to parent at all. Again, a lot of it comes from the scriptures: Train a child in the way they should go; it’s a reflection of me.
“If your child does well, you are a good parent. If your child does poorly, you’re a terrible parent.”
That takes the whole soul of the child away from it all. They’ve got their own thing.
Humanitou: You have some years now of cultivating this spacious path of your own, your purpose and how to share it with others. What have you learned about purpose?
Christine: I have been searching for years for my purpose and not finding it, because I was focused on a product. I was focused on a finite thing, “When I figure out my purpose, then I’m going to really take off.”
There’s not a pot of gold. There’s a rainbow along the way. For me, it’s been trying all these things, gathering all this knowledge, this experience. Honestly, that’s my greatest gift to others is the life experiences I’ve had.
No one can take away your experience. It’s yours and you can speak with wisdom from it.
Humanitou: When we read or watch a biography on someone, we can take an objective distance and view the complexity — the positives and negatives of their story, their personalities — as compelling.
Then, when we consider our own biographies, we often want to skip past what we perceive as embarrassments or failures. We don’t view ourselves with that same appreciation for the whole, complex story.
Christine: It’s shame that gets in the way.
What Brene Brown talks about (in her book, The Gift of Imperfection) is shame and perfection are connected, intertwined. Where there’s shame, there’s a perfectionist, and where there’s a perfectionist, there’s shame.
She talks about developing shame resilience and owning your story. We don’t want to own parts of our story. It’s almost like we should all have someone write our biography for us. Then we can see our story, own it. All of it, good, bad, ugly.
Humanitou: Everybody has that story, those compelling, life-shaping experiences and wisdom that comes from it. We get lost in the comparisons. I think the last thing we need is to compare ourselves and beat ourselves up with that.
At the same time, I think our labels and boxes possibly have become crutches we’re reaching for now. So much in the extreme has come to the fore: conspiracy theories, fringe groups, denial of science and on and on.
I think we collectively might be feeling a need for identifiable stakes in the ground, something to anchor us in this period of extraordinary chaos.
Christine: Yeah, that’s such a great explanation of it. I think we don’t have any one thing that we know for certain. The only thing you can know for certain is your own experience. The way to get there is to slow down, be still and spend some time with yourself. Reflection, journaling, meditation. It’s all yoga.