et ready WOW! readers because this is the interview to read! I had the ultimate pleasure of chatting with Catherine Hickland about her new book The 30-Day Heartbreak Cure: A Guide to Getting Over Him and Back Out There One Month from Today (Simon and Schuster/Spotlight Entertainment, January 2009.)
Catherine Hickland is best known from her work as the feisty, but soft-hearted Lindsay Rappaport on the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live. In addition to her work on the soaps, she’s also made guest appearances on several prime-time television series such as Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Law and Order Criminal Intent, Vega$, Airwolf, Eight is Enough, and Knight Rider. She’s also starred in made-for-television movies and feature films.
Catherine is an accomplished stage actress and vocalist, having starred on Broadway, and performed with the National Symphony de Lyon in Lyon, France. She recorded an album, entitled Sincerely, Broadway, with a 24-piece Broadway orchestra.
Catherine began studying clinical hypnosis in 2006. Today, she is certified as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and started her practice in 2008, helping people to overcome fears, phobias, smoking, weight issues, and many other issues. She is a highly sought keynote speaker for the power of the mind and how it can help people achieve their goals.
Catherine recently sat down with me to talk about The 30-Day Heartbreak Cure and other fascinating tidbits some of her fans may not have known before now. Ladies, be sure to have a box of Kleenex and someone to hug after this interview. Catherine is a remarkably inspirational person whose wise words will touch your heart and move your soul. Join me in getting to know actress, vocalist, hypotherapist, and author, Catherine Hickland.
WOW: Welcome to WOW! Catherine. Thank you so much for finding some “free” time from your busy schedule! Let’s start from the beginning. You decided as a young girl sitting on your nana’s knee that you were going to be an actress one day—a soap opera actress! Where did that desire come from?
Catherine: Soap operas were on television all day every day in my house when I was growing up, so I’m sure I just naturally manifested being part of them. And like most children, I was fearless about putting myself out there and wanting to entertain people. I think I was in every school play from first grade on.
WOW: (Laughs) Do you know what’s funny? Soaps were on all the time in our house too. Now, let’s tackle a tougher question. I’m intrigued by your brevity in sharing details about your childhood. Do you believe that your childhood sparked your creative side? If so, in what way?
Catherine: I think a lot of actors and other creative people come from chaotic childhoods. The fantasy world of creativity provides a great escape from the fear and confusion and instability and all those other emotions we’re not equipped to handle. Of course, the flip side is that escapism makes it easy to avoid exploring feelings that need to be dealt with, which can result in a creative community that’s largely populated by a bunch of emotionally underdeveloped children. I’m working hard to “outgrow” that and demand that my life make sense. And I’m grateful to say that today my family is healed, whole and healthy, and closer than we ever imagined we could be. If that weren’t true, I’m sure I wouldn’t be so willing to discuss my childhood, let alone be able to say and really mean it that my mother has become my hero.
WOW: Thank you for mentioning the pitfall of escapism. So many of us fall into that pit and stay there. You had a phenomenal woman in your life who was a huge influence on you during your childhood. Tell us about your nana. How did she inspire you to move forward with your life endeavors and not to dwell or look backward?
Catherine: My grandmother was the rock of our family. She was always there, and wherever she was always felt like home. She was a farm woman who worked three jobs to put my father through college. When my dad became successful and moved her to a beautiful neighborhood in Florida, she still insisted on mowing the lawn herself on a John Deere tractor mower. My friends thought that was weird and made fun of me for it, but I was too proud of her to care. I’ve learned the hard way, through experiences like that, not to put too much value on what other people think of me—that in the end, what other people think of us is really none of our business.
As for not dwelling on the past or looking backward, that’s always come naturally to me, maybe because even as I child I felt a strong spiritual connection to God, which makes faith and optimism a big part of who I am.
WOW: How awesome that your grandmother still mowed the lawn herself! Bravo for her! And I applaud your spirituality. That’s so powerful and very important. Now, let’s jump in and talk about your wonderful book, The 30-Day Heartbreak Cure. What made now the right time for this book? How did the project come about?
Catherine: The heartbreak that initially inspired the program I spell out in my book happened about nineteen years ago. I lived in Italy for two years, and my heart was broken by my Italian boyfriend. I came back to America crushed. The pain felt unbearable. Finally, one day, to try to shift my focus from him back to myself where it belonged, I created a schedule of things to do that involved taking care of myself and learning to live a positive life again. I documented it as I went along, and what do you know, it worked! From then on, I helped a lot of friends and even a few strangers with their own heartbreaks using the same program, and every one of them said, “Wow, you’re right, this does work! You should write a book!” Eighteen years later, I finally did, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
“…we really are the sum total of our own choices, and the sooner we take responsibility for those choices, the sooner we’ll be truly in charge of our lives…”
WOW: I’m currently in a great relationship, but I sure wish I had your book back when I went through a series of heartbreaks. What I like the most about your book is that we find out so many beautiful things about you. It isn’t about “trashing the ex”; it’s about healing, reaching into ourselves and loving what’s there and, most of all, forgiving. Without doing those things first, we can’t move on, right?
Catherine: Part of my personal healing and learning has been refusing to hold on to bad feelings about anyone in my life, past or present, and to let go of ever perceiving myself as a victim who has no control over my life.
For the most part, we really are the sum total of our own choices, and the sooner we take responsibility for those choices, the sooner we’ll be truly in charge of our lives and not wasting time trying to assign blame. And yes, forgiveness is an essential part of the Heartbreak Cure. Without it, we can’t move forward or heal. As I point out in the book, forgiveness doesn’t mean that what hurt us deeply was really okay after all, or that we should maintain a relationship or even be in touch with the object of our forgiveness. It just liberates us from negative energy that’s guaranteed to do more damage to us than it will ever do to whomever we refuse to forgive.
WOW: That’s great advice because many of us find it so hard to forgive. A lot of our readers are writers-in-waiting—with projects and stories that haven’t gotten published yet. Do you have any tips on how to get that story out, especially during times when we just want to give up? What kept you going?
Catherine: A lot of forces kept me going, and keep me going. Faith is always one of them, of course. Believing in the value of what I was doing and also in the fact that when something is meant to be, the right path will open at the right time, and when it’s not, keep an open mind to Plan B. (Always have a Plan B, by the way!) Being honest with myself about my abilities, my strengths and my weaknesses, and above all, being willing to roll up my sleeves and do the work rather than just talking about it.
WOW: Very important points there! Especially the Plan B theory. Honestly, I never do anything without a backup plan! You obviously did a lot of research for your book, with all the quotes, book recommendations, and other resources. How important do you think such things are for a book of this nature—how-to and memoir?
Catherine: Anything you can do to help people connect to the message you have to offer is important. And there are so many wonderful quotes that have resonated with me when I needed them most that I honestly couldn’t wait to share them.
“…not for one minute do I believe that this book would have been published without a strong, solid book proposal, actress or not.”
WOW: I absolutely loved the quotes you used to open each chapter. They really set the mood for the points you were about to make. I want to address this. A lot of writers out there may think, “Oh sure! She’s an actress. Of course she can get published!” But just because you have an “in” doesn’t necessarily make it easier, right? You still need some sort of experience or platform. Do you have any advice for our readers about how to develop a solid platform for a book?
Catherine: Believe me, I’ve lost as many things as I’ve gotten because I’m a soap opera actress. I’m intensely proud of my soap career, but the truth is, even when it comes to booking a publicity tour for The 30-Day Heartbreak Cure, there are those who think the proper description is that I’m only a soap actress, which can translate to “easily dismissed.” Because I believe so much in this book and its genuine potential to help a lot of people, I just refuse to focus on the obstacles, and I happen to believe that sometimes “no” means “yes” later.
And not for one minute do I believe that this book would have been published without a strong, solid book proposal, actress or not. The proposal took months to write, it was clear and concise and thorough, and I made sure it communicated to my agent and to the publishers who read it that yes, I really was ready, willing and able to do the hard work of writing a book. None of us can control what subject matter might appeal to a publisher at any given time. If it doesn’t, oh, well. If it does, it’s the writer’s job to give the book its best shot with a powerful, well-written proposal.
WOW: Thank you so much for saying all of that. I hope some of our authors-in-waiting absorb your words and keep them close in tough times. Let’s go back to the book now. I loved the story you shared early in Chapter Six. You talked about how you took control of your path in life through “positive manifesting.” We touched a little bit already on how you developed your inner power to face adversity. What is “positive manifesting” and explain how it is another way to build up a strong inner core.
Catherine: Positive manifesting for me is keeping everything in my life exactly that—positive. I’m a card-carrying, certified hypnotherapist and studying hypnosis has taught me the truth of what I’ve always believed, that none of us can afford negativity in our thoughts or our words, especially our words about ourselves. We’re programming ourselves all the time, sometimes in the most subtle ways. If we reinforce self-descriptions like “weak,” or “loser,” or “victim,” or “stupid,” or any other insults, that’s who we’ll create ourselves to be.
And it’s a choice. We can choose just as powerfully to change those words to “strong,” and “winner,” and “survivor,” and “smart,” etc., and choose to never again speak of anything in the present tense as negative. Manifesting/projecting gratitude, abundance, kindness and success can create miracles, take it from someone who’s experienced it herself.
If we reinforce self-descriptions like “weak,” or “loser,” or “victim,” or “stupid,” or any other insults, that’s who we’ll create ourselves to be.
WOW: That’s so powerful. Negative self-descriptions are so much easier to fire out than the more positive ones, aren’t they? Hopefully, our readers take that advice to heart. While we’re on the subject, tell us about the expression, “What we fear, we create.” (pg. 59)
Catherine: Here’s a simple example: I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles. There are earthquakes there. And no doubt about it, when they’re happening, they’re scary. But let your fear of earthquakes overwhelm you and you’re going to spend your life in a door jam. Which for one thing is no life at all. For another thing, it means you’ve lived your life as if there’s a perpetual earthquake going on, which means that, for you, there might as well be. Educate yourself about what to do in an earthquake, do it if and when one hits, but in the meantime, get out of that door jam and live!
Or here’s another one many of us have seen with our own eyes if we haven’t lived it ourselves: let’s say our greatest fear is that the man in our life will leave us. To make sure that doesn’t happen, we never let him out of our sight, we check up on him, we end up making him feel smothered and suffocated—and what do you know, he starts to leave for no other reason than to get away from us as quickly and completely as possible. It’s also called a self-fulfilling prophecy, but in the end it still boils down to “what we fear, we create.”
WOW: Thank you for your insight in getting out of that door jam! In more recent years, I’ve tried to keep that self-fulfilling prophecy in plain view! Your writing voice is wonderful: soothing and gentle while still giving a powerful punch when needed—just like a good friend. Was that your intention? If so, why did you feel this would work better, than say, the textbook “how-to” voice?
Catherine: A textbook how-to about, let’s say, repairing your garbage disposal or programming your cell phone can accomplish its purpose beautifully with a distant, objective tone of voice. But when there’s a broken heart to be healed, I can’t imagine offering comfort from across the room, especially when I’ve been there and remember how important it was to know I wasn’t alone, that someone who’d been through it themselves understood, cared, “had my back,” and had not only survived it but had actually come out of the darkness of it stronger, wiser, and better than ever. I couldn’t be that “someone” for my readers with anything less than the voice of a genuine friend.
WOW: It’s funny…I’ve tried to write the mechanical how-to’s and just couldn’t do it! My “friend voice” kept poking through. You know, I just loved the cup analogy on pages 110-111. So many of us, especially women, fill ourselves up until we overflow. What will help keep that cup below the brim?
Catherine: We need to check in with ourselves a lot more often than we do, and I include myself in that. It’s a breeze to be so constantly busy that we let it pass for a life, without stopping at least once a day to evaluate the true worth of all those things we’re filling our time/our cup with. I think we women almost pride ourselves in the frequency with which we say “yes,” as if saying “no” implies weakness or being inept. And it’s all those yesses for the sheer sake of pride or not wanting to disappoint that overwhelm us and create cups that overflow and make a mess on the counter. Saying “no” at the right times to the right people about the right things can be a great display of strength—it translates to, “I respect what’s already filling my cup too much to run the risk of neglecting it or losing it to my own carelessness.”
“Every setback is a set-up for a comeback.”
WOW: I really hope our readers take that point to heart because it’s very important. I have to admit, I literally laughed out loud to the title of Chapter 13: “Get Off the Cross—We Need the Wood.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to say those words to certain people! But, as you said, it’s all about “owning our power.” Let’s touch on that now because I think it’s important in all areas of our lives. What is “owning your power” and what isn’t it?
Catherine: Owning your own power involves taking full, honest responsibility for who you are and who you’re still striving to be. It involves insisting that your life consist not of what’s done to you but of what you do. It involves acting as opposed to just reacting. And ultimately it involves knowing with absolute certainty that your happiness and peace of mind aren’t “out there,” they’re “in here.” That point has really been driven home for me since I started working in prison ministry and discovered women who, because they’ve truly claimed their own power, are happier and more peaceful than a lot of women I meet in the outside world.
WOW: That is so inspiring; thank you for sharing that. You’ve sure had some true heartbreak in your life. How do you think such experiences give us strength?
Catherine: I love the saying, “Every setback is a set-up for a comeback.” I believe that sums it up perfectly. When you think about it, we really learn very little when times are good. It’s when they’re hard, when we make mistakes and come face to face with the consequences of those mistakes, that we learn and grow and become better than we were and discover what we’re really made of and what we still need to work on. It’s good news, not bad news, that we’re never “finished,” that we’re all works in progress, and every day is a whole new opportunity to add to our increasingly beautiful self-portrait.
WOW: That actually brought tears to my eyes. You reminded me of my wonderful grandfather who always said, “We need bad times to appreciate the good. Learn from them. They make you stronger.” Your message is a powerful one all women should remember. Now, aside from that, what message do you want your readers to be left with?
Catherine: I guess it’s that none of us needs anyone else’s acceptance, love or approval but God’s and our own. Once we truly understand that, we won’t attract, or be attracted to, anything but the best of everything this world has to offer.
WOW: You know, I think everyone reading this interview should write those words down and stick them up on their mirror for daily inspiration. Okay, let’s talk about some other sides to you. Tell us about Cat Cosmetics. Where did this thriving business sprout from?
Catherine: I literally started Cat Cosmetics in my dressing room at One Life To Live out of frustration at the constant, confusing, trial-and-error barrage of cosmetics lines on the market. I wanted to create something that would work for everyone, and be basic, affordable and fun rather than mystifying. I’m personally involved with the inception of every product in the Cat Cosmetics line, and they don’t go on the market until I’ve personally experienced them myself and decided they’re the quality
I think we all have a right to expect when we invest our hard-earned money in feeling more confident about how we look. And it’s been a wonderful way for me to connect with other women!
WOW: I hope our readers take the time to check out your site. Another fact about you, and one I touched on earlier, is that you are an amazing and talented singer. How did you nurture that gift growing up and how have you shared it in recent years?
Catherine: Thank you for the compliments! I didn’t start singing or studying voice until I was in my thirties. Even my agent told me to forget it. (For the record, make that my ex-agent. I’ve moved on to agents who believe in me as much as I believe in myself.) I had a fire in my heart to star in a Broadway musical, and I pursued it with every ounce of energy and commitment in me until I won the role of Fantine in “Les Miserables,” one of the most thrilling experiences of my life, and just last spring I joined a lot of my fellow actors in performing at a very successful charity Broadway concert. I don’t think of myself as a great singer, I’m more of an actress who sings well, and I love it.
WOW: Well, there you go. What did that agent know, anyway! As I read the book, I was drawn to your calmness and serenity. It seems to stem from a powerful spirituality. Where does that come from?
Catherine: I’m a God-loving, card-carrying Christian girl. I pray and meditate every morning and every night in gratitude for all that I am, all that I will be, and all that I have. I even make sure to thank God for what I don’t have—thanks to my faith, I’ve learned that very often what we don’t have contributes to our wealth by helping us create our dreams.
WOW: While we’re on the subject of strength and spirituality, can you tell our readers about the West End Intergenerational Residence because I think it is an amazing cause.
Catherine: Thanks so much for asking about this. The West End Intergenerational Residence is a safe place for battered women and their very young children to escape lives of fear, despair, helplessness and hopelessness. They’re given a real home for a year while they go back to school for their GED’s or other training they might need. And while the mothers are in school, the elderly residents who would otherwise be homeless help take care of the children in the resident daycare center, which helps remind them that they have value, and a purpose. It’s not government funded, and you can imagine the waiting list. So yes, it really is an amazing cause, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
WOW: Incredible—not just because of what West End does to help those women, but because they empower the women to help themselves. Really, you’re giving them the greatest gift on earth: self-worth. What else inspires you?
Catherine: Kindness inspires me. Generosity inspires me. Compassion inspires me. Courage inspires me. The simple purity of animals inspires me. The Golden Rule inspires me: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Wouldn’t this be an even more gorgeous world if we all acted on nothing more than that every day of our lives?
WOW: You seem to have a strong core of individuals who give you love and support—a lot of whom, I’m guessing, are in your acknowledgements! Tell us about some of these amazing people and what you’ve learned from each of them?
Catherine: I have very strong girlfriends. Interestingly, each brings a piece of a puzzle to my life. Though most of them don't even know each other, all together they make a glorious picture. Jennifer DeChiara, my literary agent, has become a close and beloved friend, and I know I can ask her anything. Lindsay Harrison is my friend, mentor, and partner in fun-to-be-had, as well as business. We are co-authoring a book after this one that is going to be absolutely amazing, I am so excited about it. She has written many best-selling books and has taught me so much; it's beyond words. She is the person with whom I connect on the deepest level. She inspires me all the time. Annie is my Rock of Gibraltar and my confidante (everybody needs one of those), which is huge for me, since I don’t trust quickly or easily.
My sister and brother are extremely loving and supportive and would be my friends even if they weren't my siblings. My friend Bill is also an author, and we both started writing our books at exactly the same time, so I championed him first, and now he is doing the same for me. Emily pushes me like crazy, which sometimes makes me tense, but in the end, she has seen me through to many firsts, including my stage hypnosis show and my keynote speaking engagements. Patrick is a wonderful and gentle editor, and I look forward to getting to know him better.
My mom is a genuine treasure in my life, because we have become so close over the years as friends as well as mother-daughter. She is an inspiration just for surviving all that she has.
My former husband Michael is my best friend. He has been a great source of support and has always let me be who I am, which makes it a pleasure for me to reciprocate.
And, of course, God—my agent, manager, co-pilot, and architect of my beautiful life.
WOW: Thank you for sharing that with us! I can certainly see how you’ve come so far with that fantastic group of people behind you. Do you have any upcoming projects we should watch for?
Catherine: I’ve just started a live call-in show that I’m very excited about. It airs every Sunday night on www.blogtalkradio.com/catherinehickland, and it’s called Super-Conscious Living Radio. I’m also launching a new website, www.catherinehickland.com, which will be an interactive site with web-cast and webinar capabilities. I also have two new books waiting to be written, and my fingers are poised above my keyboard for those!
WOW: I know our readers will be putting those links in their favorites as we speak! Personally, I can’t wait to read your new works-in-progress! And I’ll have to check out your call-in show too. As we come to a close, do you have any pearls of wisdom you’d like to leave us with?
Catherine: Each of us is born full of light. Find yours, celebrate it and let it shine, especially for those who haven’t found theirs yet.
CHYNNA TAMARA LAIRD lives in Edmonton, Alberta with partner, Steve, and four children [Jaimie, Jordhan, Xander, and her new baby girl, Sophie]. She’s a freelance writer and completing a B.A. in Psychology. She wants to specialize in Developmental Neuropsychology to help children with special needs. Some of Chynna’s work can be found in Mothering, Angels On Earth, Pure Inspirations and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children With Special Needs.
She is most proud of a children's picture book she's written called, I'm Not Weird, I Have SID where she describes—through the voice and perspective of four-year old Alexandra—what it's like to live with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (Sensory Processing Disorder).
Please visit Chynna’s website at www.lilywolfwords.ca to get a feel for her work and what inspires her. Chynna’s advice: “Write what your heart tells you to.”