Contributing to our June Series, “TRANS:FORM”, Lola shares the stage with Kim Redding, demonstrating that freedom is on the other side of revealing, in their talk titled “Revealing Your Personal Story”.
This “talk” is electronically transcribed. Please excuse any errors or omissions.
Lola: So, we are in our second week of our June series titled Transform. And we broke that word up, so that we could really get what it means. The part of the word, trans, means to rise up above. Form means this dimension of reality. So, transform is to rise above the circumstances and conditions that we think are the truest, most real thing of our lives.
Lola: Perhaps you had something that has occurred in your life that you feel has defined you. Perhaps you are experiencing something right now that it really does seem like it is impossible to get out of. There is this tendency in the human experience to recreate what we know, so it actually takes a shift in consciousness to get up and out of that which is on repeat, into a new realm of possibility.
Lola: So, I want to introduce you to this human being, his name is Kimbo Redding. And I met Kimbo at Bodhi 5 years ago when we were hosting Katie Hendricks of the Hendricks Institute, one of the co authors of Conscious Living, Conscious Loving, the partner of Gay Hendricks, the author of the Big Leap. And very unlike my husband, he immediately ran up to Kimbo and his partner Anne Marie, and said, “I want to be friends with you.” And for those of you who know my husband, that is very uncharacteristic. Number one, he doesn’t have a great need for friends, like he really is so happy in his own being. So for him to go outside of himself and seek the relationship of two humans was a big deal. Usually I am that person. I know that’s shocking.
Lola: And since then, we were joking about this the other night, since then Nathan has basically asked you and Anne Marie to marry him a couple times. Like he’s written a devotional notes to them about his commitment to the relationship. And it’s really sweet. It’s really sweet. So that was the beginning of our friendship and I will just say for me what feels special about the relationship that I have with you and Anne Marie, is it feels like my first adult created relationship with the kind of depth that we have. Like I’ve always looked at my mom and she has friends that she’s had as adults for like 40 years and I’ve always really desired that and longed for that and it’s something that I get to have with you and Anne Marie, so I love and appreciate you, I’m so excited that you’re here.
Lola: A couple things that I want you to know about Kimbo. Number one, he’s been an extraordinarily successful human in the way we typically measure success in our culture and society, through business. Like massive levels of success. I was thinking about this morning one of our good friends, Jim Placio said to me recently, the amount of financial wealth that Kim has created over the course of his life is probably nowhere near to what he has presently because he’s given so much of it away. And so I think one of the qualities that is an essence quality of yours is generosity. You’re a very love presence on the planet. And I have so many thoughts, so many questions that we could explore. I know we’re here for a particular vein, but I think that … a few weeks ago I did a talk on the correlation between money and sex. And so there might be a way that we explore that, because I think there’s a really interesting correlation there.
Lola: My theory is that when people are locked up in their sexual center, oftentimes their money is locked up too. If you look at the Chakra system, those are correlated, and so I think it’s interesting that you have enjoyed an abundance of sex and money. So let’s talk about that. All right.
Kimbo: Wow. I was going to tell you how uncomfortable it felt to be talked about in those glowing terms and then here we are.
Lola: So the idea is that we’re going to have a conversation on this thing called shame. And it’s something that you’ve had … you’ve done a lot of work around. So I would really love, if you’re willing, to perhaps just give a little context around why you, why now, why this topic of shame, so that they can know you.
Kimbo: Well thank you. First of all, I want you to know that I’m incredibly nervous. And I’m excited. Why am I excited to tell my story about shame? I think … last weekend I spent … you should also know that I get emotional, my emotions sometimes leaks out my eyes. It can be tenderness, it can be joy. I spent the weekend with 17 brave men in the forest of Michigan, talking about the story we create about our activities, and the shame, and how it cripples you, it’s almost like a fungus that grows over your body and it just constrains you when you keep all that in. So part of my recovery from my past is to share my story in such a way that others, both men and women, can look at and take a step to get on the other side of shame, because shame cripples us. And shame cannot survive being spoken. So if we … Brene Brown says that there’s a number of things that cause shame to grow exponentially, secrets, silence, and I forget the third one … I just don’t remember that.
Kimbo: But one of the steps is telling your story out loud. It’s one of the real powerful things of 12 step programs, is you go in a room, in a container of people that are not judging you, and you tell your story, and you realize that the story I’m telling myself about what I’ve done is far worse when I keep it in here, it’s like a snowball rolling down the hill. So my purpose in the second half of life, and I hope we’re friends for 40 years because that means I’ll be 110, is to share my story in a way that others can use it to step into their own consciousness, and freedom from beyond the other side of shame.
Lola: So what does shame look like in your world? How has that been activated? What is the pattern that you’ve most sought as a salve, or a seeming salve, to shame?
Kimbo: So a little background on me, I grew up the youngest child on a farm in Wisconsin. My mother, I later learned … my mother was not very warm emotionally, and available emotionally. I later learned that she had been abused on the farm by a farmhand. And so I have compassion and understand that for her, but I didn’t have that like loving, nurturing feeling and I heard her say one day when I was young that I was an unplanned pregnancy. And I, of course, made this story that I’m unwanted and unworthy. So I spent much of my life proving myself, getting a scholarship to play football, to be the first one in my family to go to college, go into business when people told me I couldn’t build a business from scratch. Anytime someone told me I couldn’t do something, okay, I’m going to prove you wrong.
Kimbo: And so then I got into high school and I got into a relationship with my first girlfriend, and it turned physical. And so the literal opening up and acceptance of me was, well, this must be love. And from that moment forward, I never ended a relationship without first starting another one. So I had a series of affairs that really generated havoc in my life. I have six children with three women, one of whom I never married. And so my pattern is what is commonly called love addiction. And for those of you who have been studying the 15 commitments of conscious leadership at Bodhi, it’s the 11th commitment. Sourcing security, approval, and control from within. I was doing just the opposite of that, I was looking to the warmth of the arms of another woman to validate myself so I could feel good about myself.
Kimbo: And what happens in that case is you feel good for 35 seconds, and then you’re just overridden with shame. What did I do? How could I have done this? I acted out in contrast with my stated values in my marriage, or in my relationship. And so over and over again that pattern would show up in my life. And it typically would be someone that I was like really good friends with for a long time, and then I would fall off the ledge. Then I’d be crippled with shame.
Kimbo: And so the first day of my life … and I thought my life would end that day … Anne Marie and I were just in a relationship, and we had a quiet weekend together with no kids, we woke up and there was a text on my phone from my ex-wife. And she looked at it and she said, “What’s going on?” I had been acting out and cheating on Anne Marie with my ex-wife. And she looked at the text and said, “What’s going on?” And normally I would’ve lied about it. The old me would’ve lied about it. And for some reason … I needed to end it. My life was unmanageable, it was out of control, and I told her the truth. And she walked out the door. She’s here today. Thank you, honey, for leaving me. And more importantly for coming back.
Kimbo: And so I was … I was devastated, my life was over. I was like, the woman I love just walked out the door, what have I done? So I called my life coach, and I went … a few weeks later I enrolled in a program in LA to really study and understand my love addiction and the source of it, went through childhood trauma, and really from that point, which is six and a half years ago forward it’s been one step at a time, looking at the elements of my life, and how it impacted my behavior. And what I’ve come to learn is that my past doesn’t define me. I’m not proud of the things I’ve done … but I’m proud with the step I took to be the man I am today.
Kimbo: So I step each day into a new day with a choice. We talk about presence, the present moment. And so just one step at a time, one day at a time. And the further I get on this side of my recovery, the more freedom that I feel. And I know some of you out there, whether it’s the same facts as mine, or different, there are things that you feel shame about, and I’m here to stand for it’s okay, find someone you love, tell your story. The day that I … in this recovery process I went to a Landmark course, thinking I was going to try to figure out how to end my relationship with my ex-wife. And I said that I had six children with three different women, one of whom I never married. I have a son who lives in Boston, who I held the day he was born, and didn’t see again for 11 years. No one knew, a few people knew about my son.
Kimbo: So I go to this course and … sorry, back up. So I’m flying all around the world and every time I’d land at an airport in Singapore, or Kuala Lumpur, or Tokyo, wherever I was, I would think, “I wonder what my son thinks about where his dad is.” So I go to the course, and like every great course you take, it’s not really about what you think you’re there for. Because the universe has a much different plan for us. And so I was overcome with my son. So at a break, I went out and I called his mom and I said, “I’d like to have a relationship with him.” And she said, “That’d be great.” So a few weeks later, I flew to Boston to meet him. And 11 year old kids, you ask them a question, it’s one word answers so I said to his mom, “Why don’t you have him make a list of 10 questions he wants to ask me.”
Kimbo: And so the first question was … he’s a big sports guy, so the first question was what position did you play in football? And the second question I will never forget.
Lola: This is where everybody can breath. It’s like when someone’s moving energy, when we breath it actually supports the collective flow of energy.
Kimbo: He says, “Would you like me to call you dad or Kim?” I said, “What do you want to call me?” He says, “I want to call you dad.” So all of my other kids have been to visit him, he comes on family vacations, he actually … the other day I’m preparing for this talk, and I get a text from him, he says, “I just landed in Chicago.” I’m like, “What?” He’s here in a hockey camp for the week, and … it’s just … he didn’t have any abandonment issues because his mom had told that she’d gone to artificial insemination, and so he didn’t know that he was an only child … or didn’t know that he was my son, or he had a dad. And suddenly he goes from wondering … wanting a dad like the other kids, to having five siblings and having a dad who played sports, so like it was … it was really a lot of fun.
Lola: So I had the thought a little bit ago as you were sharing your story, that culturally it is so unusual to reveal the details of one’s life in the way that you have a willingness to do. And my thought is, like if you have sort of a limited capacity, like this is making you highly uncomfortable, like why does Kimbo feel the need to share all of this? Just keep breathing, and look, and see what in my life do I not want to share? And like he’s a really great invitation for that. He’s a great invitation, a demonstration of freedom on the other side of revealing.
Lola: I grew up many generations of the 12 step program, so as a little girl I was being dragged to AA meetings. And one of my favorite adages that I have said many times here before is, you are as sick as your secrets. When you have a life constructed by secrecy, which by the way, is highly valued in our culture and society, because it keeps things neat. Nice and neat. So if I keep my secrets within, it may have everyone else feel comfortable, but meanwhile, it is creating a level of toxicity in your biology, not to mention your emotional place in space. I absolutely know that the source of disease is largely correlated to this tendency. So for me, like my practice is to always ask what do I not want others to know? And so I’m just wondering how that shows up today. Because my thought is like our patterns, and we’ve talked a lot about this in the work that we’ve done in our community, the pattern may never go away. You get further and further away from the pattern, such that you can see it and not be it, right? What’s your daily practice around revealing such that you stay free in relationship to this?
Kimbo: Well the first time that I revealed my story to someone was when I called my children, and my parents, my sister and brother, to tell them that I have six children, not five. And … every one of them came back with compassion and love. So I’ve shared my story … I did a podcast with Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman. I’ve shared it and one time I shared it at a dinner in London with a couple that I knew, and I got one really hostile reaction. And the story I make up is that there were some secrets that this woman had that … and we live in a Me Too era, so I’m telling a story about acting out with other women, and so it’s kind of the flip side of the Me Too, is what’s happening with … I’m not saying like some of the predators and other people out there, but I just … like the society that I lived in, the securities world, this problem-
Lola: The securities world, just want to be clear, like financial securities.
Lola: Not like security of … yeah, just to let you know, make sure we’re all-
Kimbo: Wall Street.
Lola: On the same page.
Kimbo: Wall Street. So this-
Lola: He wasn’t like a bouncer. I mean, we don’t all know, right? Financial security, so he was in that world, Wall Street. Okay, go ahead, sorry.
Kimbo: So this issue is rampant there. It’s like a badge of honor. And …
Lola: So there are cultural agreements, you would say-
Lola: In the industry that you were in, whereby you’re traveling, you’re out in the world, and as you’ve said, there’s a badge of honor, there’s almost like a sense of accomplishment for pursuing that lusty tendency, yeah?
Kimbo: Yeah. And so what I’ve learned in the revealing and in the responses I’ve gotten, is that there’s no better … daily practice than to just be out there and open, I am who I am, my past doesn’t define me. And that doesn’t mean that like there aren’t temptations, every day. Like I see a pretty girl, and I have to like do my practice and not objectify her, or lust after her, or follow some beautiful girl down the aisle of the grocery store where there’s nothing there I’m looking to buy. So I go inward, and I say-
Lola: And I just want to say, for women who live in a threatened state, like your psychology has created an experience and gets affirmed by a culture where when you … because I imagine there are women that could hear that and be like, “What the fuck? Like this guy is literally telling us that he has to watch himself walking down a grocery store aisle.” If you’re a woman that lives in a threatened state around that, keep breathing, keep breathing. Because I think that … like we could … I think for women, I’ll just say, and I’m not here to be the spokesperson for female identified humans, but I think you could say that … and it feels sort of like you’re being really honest, and I think women could be like … feel very uncomfortable hearing that.
Lola: And yet I think there’s great power in being honest about it.
Kimbo: Well I think we procreate because … opposite sex are attracted to each other. And the question is, I don’t have any shame about-
Lola: Well I just want to … I know that there’s going to be a collective (audible gasp) in this room around that, because I would say that that’s sort of a mythology. I would say that actually energies, polarities, can find themselves but it’s not related to gender identity.
Kimbo: Okay, we need to do another session on that.
Lola: Okay. Okay.
Lola: I just want to help us out, because I could hear a (audible gasp). And he’s out. But look, we’re all practicing. That’s the thing, like we are practicing exploration, and we get to share our story. So go ahead.
Kimbo: So what I … I guess what I want to say is that I don’t have any shame about I’m attracted to the feminine essence. When I find myself obsessing and objectifying the other gender, I do my practice and say, “This is … ” and I breath, and I say, “She is a feminine essence that is beautiful, and she’s not … some object for me to obsess over.” I just step back into the glory of the feminine essence and appreciate her.
Lola: And one of the things I love about the work of the 15 commitments, is that all of that is a projection. So when you see something over there, that is titillating you, it is a creation here that’s getting projected over there. And so what I hear you saying is like you’re mindful of that. You know? And so yeah, this is great. Like one of the things that our friend Jim Dethmer will say is like, “I sex myself.” Like no, no, it definitely comes from that person over there. Well, no actually-
Kimbo: Yeah, that’s totally true, it’s in here.
Kimbo: I created a story.
Lola: Which those stories can be wildly entertaining. Incredibly fun. And there’s something to be responsible for.
Kimbo: Yeah, so I’m having a conversation with myself, remember we were talking about secrets, so if I live in the delusion, and I let that fantasy roll, it grows. But if I step back and breath in and get real, that the feminine essence over there is a beautiful part of the universe, and don’t let my fantasy roll, then I can really practice that. I hadn’t thought about it from a projection point of view, but it’s a creation of my fantasy, if you will, mind is a different form of story.
Lola: So I have a curiosity. You have six kids, Anne Marie has three kids. Her three kids live in the same house as the two of you. I have a curiosity, like what is it like for kids in your world to become like … relatively intimately familiar with their dad’s sexual patterns? Like what’s that-
Kimbo: Let’s ask Robert, he’s sitting right here, my stepson.
Lola: Yeah, like I’m just really curious about that, because I think there again-
Lola: We … like parents live in a construct that they’re asexual. And we don’t have a lot of ways of being in relationship with our kids around our sexuality. And I remember saying to Jim years ago, like … I am uncomfortable having deeply fulfilling sex with my husband while I share a wall with my now 19 year old son, who’s not a product of that marriage. Like I have all these stories, right? And Jim sat up and as he might, and he said, “Imagine, would you be willing to consider that the greatest gift you could give your 19 year old son would be for him to hear you having wildly fulfilling sex?” And I was like, “I’m not there. I am not there my friend.” So I’m curious, like how do you navigate your sexual nature.
Ameerah: I have so many questions.
Lola: Go ahead, Ameerah, what do you want to know?
Ameerah: I mean … I can’t get into it, and this is the thing. I have questions for everybody, this is amazing, right? Is this amazing? This is fantastic that we can talk about this at a Sunday … in a Sunday experience, a spiritual experience. Sorry, I’m interrupting. Go, go ahead.
Lola: That’s okay. So … ?
Kimbo: Well so I think you have to practice revealing to everybody. I took … my stepson, Robert, raise your hand, Robert. Is sitting in the audience. And when I cheated on Anne Marie, part of my attribution … attribution I think is the right word?
Lola: Retribution, yeah.
Kimbo: Anyway, part of my process was I took Robert to Starbucks and I said, “Basically I want you to know that I’ve been unfaithful to your mom, and like I’m not going to do that anymore, and this is what happened, and I love your mom, and … ”
Lola: I imagine Starbucks was sort of a rough environment for that.
Kimbo: We were tucked in a corner, but … but like when I called my kids, my older kids, and told them that they had a brother they didn’t know about, like that was a little shocking to them, too. But it’s just one day at a time, just practicing revealing and not letting the shame keep the secret from someone, because I can’t not be me. I can’t be in the world someone and then at home pretend like yeah, I’m a saint. I’m not a saint.
Lola: So if we were just to take a deep breath and sort of wrap this up, at least for now, number one I hope you’ll join us this afternoon for this workshop from 12:30 to 2:00. It’s really intended to be a place in space for people to practice revealing. And you don’t have to. You can come, and you can be in the witnessing of others practicing. That’s perfectly okay. But the idea is to come and to collective practice this afternoon, and begin to flex the muscle of being seen wholly and fully. Yeah?
Lola: So just in this now moment, I have curiosity, like if we were to each take a breath and be fully revealed, is there anything getting in the way for you, and I’ll ask myself the same question, of being fully present here now?
Lola: Cool. Well I would say what’s here for me is I just noticed the one in me that gets scared when I have to manage peoples’ reactions to things that people say. And so for me, it’s like one of the things I love about Bodhi, is that there are many different expressions on the plant that come into one place in space. And if you live under the delusion that that’s simple and neat, I’d let that go now. Because bringing different beings together in one shared space, where we all are where we are around whatever it is we’re exploring, is not a neat and tidy experience. And so I just am outing, for me, the one that wants to manage all of peoples’ thoughts, feelings, beliefs, reactions, opinions, searching … you know what I mean? So that’s just what’s here for me. Anything else?
Lola: Yeah, I just really … I really appreciate you. I really appreciate your willingness to be fully self expressed. I really appreciate … I mean, like from the outside I think people could make that you don’t have to share your dirty laundry. You do have a really neat looking life. Like your house is very neat, your clothes are very neat, your car is very neat. Why are you making it messy? In public? And I have appreciation for your willingness to do that, because I think it breaks down the egoic construct, and that’s, I think, the great gift that we always have to give to humanity.