Empowered Women Interviews: Cory Thomsen
Cory Thomsen is a certified, professional Co-Active coach and spiritual mentor. After almost two decades in Big 4 public accounting, she experienced an internal war of anxiety between career and motherhood, and then a tragic loss invited her to explore what it means to be human. She now coaches others on releasing their own self-limiting blocks to freedom, fulfillment, and joy. She lives in Katy, Texas alongside her husband of eighteen years, their two kids, dog and guinea pig.
Tell me a little about your path and who you are…
I live and work out of our house in Katy Texas, where I’m steeped in a rich community of friends and neighbors who form a tribe around the next generation. I was a sensitive, bright, and intuitive child, and have always sort of identified as an old soul, but I let achievement and perfectionism drive me through grade school, college and the first decade and a half of my career in HR. Deep down I’ve always known that I’m a healer, but without understanding that true service for others is born from taking really good care of ourselves. I avoided processing my brother’s suicide for years, working myself into adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. It took driving my car through our garage door to die to that survivalist way of living, and start doing the real work of returning to love.
What’s your biggest life lesson/challenge right now?
Narrowing all the things that break my heart down to what I can hold in my hands to actually impact with intention and focused attention. Just because we don’t act on something, doesn’t mean we don’t care. It just means we’ve chosen to concentrate our efforts using Pareto’s Principle – the rule that says 80% of results comes from just 20% of the action. This is a fairly new concept for me, and I believe it, because I’ve intuitively employed it in my personal life, but I haven’t yet practiced it long enough in my business.
What keeps you grounded?
Because I lived for so long divorced from soul, I just want to hang out there. Marriage and motherhood brings me back to earth and keeps me grounded, because I have people I love who rely on me to help keep details moving and never fail to mirror back my imperfection and where I want to grow next. It also helps that kids don’t hesitate to point out when I make the “wrong” dinner, forget to sew on Scout patches, or drag my heels on arranging a playdate. I have to keep reminding myself that these are opportunities to offer myself grace and loads of self-compassion for being human and a multi-passionate creative.
Sometimes we practice present-moment awareness without necessarily calling it mindfulness. How do you use mindfulness in your life to contribute to your success?
I experience presence on a bike ride on the trails around our neighborhood, or walking through the park under the trees. Other times, it’s pausing to meditate and pray at my desk before checking email or signing on for a client call. I write a lot and am an avid reader as well, and I’m thoughtful about what I choose to consume. Even using activities such as folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher as opportunities to tune into my body and notice more of the sensations of the water, the fabric, the support of my feet and back, the scents, all of this gives my busy brain a break from planning and analyzing and judging. (These purposeful mindful moments are all such a far cry from how I used to abandon myself for my to-do list in an effort to please others.) One of my core values is fluidity, so I try to allow flexibility and spontaneity in my spiritual practice. When I fall out of practice, I feel it, and others can too – so I use it as an opportunity to practice forgiveness and simply start up again.
What are your thoughts about balance?
Balance is an illusion, because the very nature of our lives is motion, creation, change. Holding tightly to an ideal of what balance would look like, always ended up in me being disappointed and self-critical – which was just me being unreasonable. We’d never get up on a tight rope, suddenly achieve balance, and stay there – so it’s been freeing for me personally to shift my thinking about balance as more of an ongoing process, a series of perpetual micro-adjustments to realign how I use my time within my core values.
What’s your superpower?
I receive words for other people. So like when someone is struggling to articulate how they feel about something or they don’t yet have clarity on what a situation means for them and fumbling through a description, if I’m fully present I’ll get this download of a word or a phrase or an image that’s meaningless to me – but when I offer it to them, something just clicks into place. It’s really weird, but the less I question where this download comes from or what it means, the more it feels like a superpower I’ve been gifted and not weird at all.
Tell me about your relationship with fear.
It’s an ongoing evolution. I used to try to avoid thinking about the things that scared me – until I realized that it’s impossible to control the subconscious mind. What we can do instead is reflect on the situations that have made us fearful in the past and consciously soothe ourselves until feeling more calm and centered, I also appreciate that fear has a place. It protects me from harm. But it mostly works overtime and does its job too well, especially when my self-care practice is off kilter. Lately, I’m really interested in what’s on the other side of our fear. What’s underneath it? What’s possible if we were to actually do the things that put butterflies in our bellies or a lump in our throats? In these moments of reflection and honesty, I have a greater appreciation for that hardworking warrior in my brain. But like I said, it’s an evolution – one I’m still working on. Avoiding the feeling is nearly always worse than the feeling itself, and yet I still get snagged by it as I’m putting myself purposefully outside my comfort zone in new and more meaningful ways. I think that’s all part of the deal.
What do you think women are craving (besides chocolate)?
Coming home to our true, integrated selves – mind, body, and soul. We’ve spent our whole lives absorbing the conditions of a patriarchal system that was designed for the masculine energies of determination and competing and logic and getting things done. Those are certainly needed, but only part of human nature, and we’ve gotten out of whack without the feminine to balance them out. So as women, we’re craving the internal wisdom of nourishment, allowing, introspection, mutual benefit, ease, beauty, harmony, connection. The more we (men and women alike) allow ourselves to get in touch with these core feminine qualities, the more powerful and fulfilling our actions become. Most of us learned to ignore our nature, rather than honor it, in order to get ahead in the system the way it was designed. Women are waking up to the fact that it’s the system that needs to change – not our nature. In many ways it’s a terrifying time to be alive – but it’s also an exciting time to be alive because a real shift is happening. We’re learning how to tap into our inner guidance system, rather than look to the external, and as a result, we’re becoming healthier and more magnetic, which is causing a ripple effect through our homes and into the world. I believe we can and will heal the planet, but it’s going to take a lot more of us tuning in and integrating the feminine heart mind with the logic of our brains. And chocolate; it’s going to take a LOT more chocolate.
In what way(s) do you empower yourself? Others?
I try to pay attention. I try to lean on my curiosity and not let my fear of looking weird stop me from asking deep questions of other people’s experience, or my own. I also know myself and what I need to be able to tune in and listen well – and that’s quiet time before I go to sleep every night and each morning after seeing the kids off to school. The word empowerment to me, is about tuning into the divine feminine (I refer to this also as God or Source) to you/through you, and granting permission be inspired, so when I personally haven’t created the space for this in my week, I start to feel homesick. It’s funny, when I think about how long I avoided what I now crave. It’s so freeing not to have all the answers at the ready.
What are the biggest myths that keeps women stuck?
That just because we can do anything that we should be able to do everything. It’s just not sustainable.
Balance can be achieved as a one and done.
That our creative rhythm is the same as men’s.
What’s your go-to phrase/mantra for empowering yourself?
“There’s always more where that came from.”
What are you working on now that thrills you the most?
Ease and space in my summer for swimming, trips to the library, and a beach vacation. Being by the water always brings me back to center, and I’m thrilled to be in that element with my family because I feel easygoing and calm.
What would others be surprised to know about you?
I curse like a sailor but exercise incredible self-restraint around my kids and everyone else. (My hubby, my soul sisters, and God get me unfiltered). I’m not religious. I don’t belong to a church, and yet talking to God has become the single most important thing I do all day. I dance when a waiter arrives with my meal, and in my kitchen while I’m cooking – basically anytime food is involved. I have an ongoing internal dilemma around sharing photos of my kids – I’m super proud of them and could go easily go overboard on sharing and also want them to be free to develop their own online identity when the time comes.
Tell me about a “mistake/failure” that turned out to be good fortune.
So many! As a high school sophomore, I tripped while performing a dance solo in front of a packed auditorium. A wardrobe malfunction, and I caught my foot up in the material of my pants and fell flat on my face. This “failure” came back to me recently when my nine year old asked me about the most embarrassing moment of my life, and I was flooded with so much gratitude that it happened because I had it in my back pocket to share with her and make her laugh through a tough time. Something that felt like the end of the world for me at the time, created a container for a precious moment of connection, and has totally deepened my shift on the notion of perfection, mistakes and failures. I feel so fortunate knowing that growth can happen whenever we look for it – whether it’s right away or decades later.
What do you think about that gets you really excited (besides your celebrity crush)?
What the writers will unveil in the next season of This is Us!
My inner guide
A Course in Miracles
Poetry of Rumi
Inspire – The Bible for Creative Journaling
Rob Bell – entire library of books and podcast
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
The 55 Concepts by Michael Cavallaro
The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Dr. Shefali Tsabary
Dr. Dan Siegel
Dr. Laura Markham
What made you laugh today?
A text from a friend with a photo of her daughter’s “Thursday folder” packed to the gills with an entire semester’s worth of weekly handouts and graded papers. It struck me as so true to her personality – when she doesn’t see the logic in something, she just doesn’t follow it – and I admire how my friend celebrates and champions the way her daughter’s mind works, while also giving herself grace when those same qualities trigger her parenting ego.
What have you always wanted to try? What’s stopping you?
Living minimally out of a backpack, traveling for an extended period of time with my husband and making up our itinerary as we go. We’re in a season of life where the desire for taking care of young ones and nourishing their roots with stability outweighs the travel bug, so it’s not stopping us per say – it’s just on pause until the next season for our family rolls around.
What problem do you wish you could solve?
Sooner or later, ego gets out of control and soul steps in to wake us up, but I wish we didn’t wait for that to happen to fully step into our power. I don’t think we have to go through immense loss to open our hearts to what’s possible for our lives, but I do think that the more profoundly we experience pain, the more empathy and joy our heart stretches into. So I guess my wish is that I could ignite that desire for expansion before loss shakes someone to their core. I suppose this is the beauty of free will (however tragic it may seem to my ego). My heart gets it, and I deeply and profoundly appreciate it, but still there’s that part of me that wishes for a cosmic easy button we could push to prevent pain and suffering!
Thank you, Cory, for sharing your wisdom with us!