From my Lifekraft Series, these themes are available as WORKSHOPS and PRIVATE STUDY:
Practicing the art of living is a vehicle to freedom. Our journey through life is the vessel of our growth as we become the people we were born to be. Life is a continuous weaving of awareness that with practice leads to an ever-expanding circle of selfhood, sister- and brotherhood and human potential. In every life, there is a yearning for connection and union with our deepest selves, our highest purpose and our service to each other.
Life artistry is learning to live in connection. To step into and out of oneself, time and again, and to journey in such a way that everything – every experience, moment, encounter, person, thought and emotion serves life and our free creative expression.
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Lifekraft training is experiential. You are the expert here, I am the witness and nudger along your Werdeweg, your path of becoming. What a wonderful word! As with my Stagekraft series, I combine traditional theater techniques (role-play, improv, and movement) and writing techniques (active writing and journaling) with the storytelling and self-actualization techniques I’ve assembled over the course of my lifetime, with many partners and guides, as well as alone.
We are born to live and we are born to die. And we can practice dying many times before we surrender our final breath. That’s the trick of it, the key to it. To cling less, to surrender often, yield to Y-E-S.
And so there’s living and there’s the art of living which is really the art of giving. Of giving attention, of giving a damn, of giving yourself over. This continuous weaving of awareness is a craft that too can be mastered and as you evolve in the craft, in the art of living, greater and greater freedom will be yours. The freedom to love and to create and to love what you create, which is firstly and lastly the magnificent being that you are.
I invite you, Artist of Life, into my world and classroom.
IS THIS CLASS FOR YOU?
Are you struggling in your self-expression and which passion project to choose next?
Do you know your strengths and want to learn how to expand them?
Do you know your shortcomings and want to learn how to enlist them?
Are you looking for ways to be more disciplined in getting your story out there?
Are you ready to attune to your voice and connect the dots of your epic tale?
Come to my class, we can make that happen.
I think of these as Karen’s truth workshops, not only as regards my own experience, but the transformation I see in others.
Karen is a teacher of few words. “Less is more” is her motto as she observes and guides us in bringing forth what is essential in us. I was able to bring all my ideas to our stage space which was refreshing. I learned a lot about the collaborative process and about economy of movement and gesture. Karen is very positive in her criticism which I found kept us all open to exploring and taking risks. A take-away for me is that when I’m enjoying myself, the audience is enjoying themselves too. Even when I make mistakes, they stay with me and I find myself accessing a different creativity.
“Story Chord” was absolutely inspiring and helpful for me as singer and actress, as sometimes we loose “the red string” on our journey of becoming and being a performing artist. Karen is really taking the time, opening up to every single student and able to sense what each one needs to work on. Her braveness motivates and inspires. I had the feeling I am not alone, she wants me to grow, succeed on stage and be a conscious part of my journey.
Tuning Your Voice to the Power of Your Own Story
Whether you’re a newly emerging artist or entrepreneur, already established, in transition between creative projects, or returning to a creative path after a significant break, you’re teething on some fundamental questions like these.
Story is as old as the first cry of the first human. It’s the essential way in which we communicate with ourselves and each other. The voice is the first instrument on which all others are modeled. It connects us directly to our ground and standing.
Story Chord is for adult performers and non-performers alike, anyone who has a voice and is ready to tease forth the newest chapter of their epic story. From a diversity of life paths, people come to this workshop ready to lean into their legacy and voice the music of their soul. Students have already included singers, actors, musicians, poets, entrepreneurs, public speakers, activists, memoirists, designers, writers, filmmakers, and dancers.
This workshop offers a safe space in which story, voice and standing can emerge, intersect and dissolve. Karen shares parts of her own story and what a life of singing has taught her about the artistry of living, relating and partnering.
Story Chord is an experience of voicing your own tale. Karen’s approach to storytelling employs techniques of relaxation, movement, visualization, improv, and writing exercises. Under her guidance, you’ll explore the innate wisdom contained in your voice to tease forth your most authentic self-expression and the roots of your calling. You’ll accessing your unique life narrative through play, projection, exploration, and improvisation. Students are invited to bring a song, script, pitch, film idea, some spoken word, pages of their journal, and even a second instrument (accordion, guitar, woodwinds) for maximum play and improvisational fun! (Length: 2-hr or half-day.)
You’ll leave with…
A greater sensitivity to the universals common to all stories.
Tools of the theater (improv, role play) to help you make new discoveries and practice voicing your story.
Movement and gesture to relax your body and offer a catalog of expression beyond words.
Increased awareness of the power, color and dynamic range of your vocal instrument.
Exercises to deepen your listening skills and expand your empathy.
Free writing to bring you into awareness of your surroundings and the voices coming to you.
An appreciation of the power in your voice to set and affirm the direction of your life.
IS THIS CLASS FOR YOU?
Do you enjoy the sound of your voice or is it weak or in any way unpleasant to you?
Does your voice tire easily or do you struggle to make yourself heard and understood?
Were you ever told you couldn’t or shouldn’t sing or speak up?
Do you wonder what treasures may be hidden in your voicebox?
Come to my class, let’s find out what’s really there.
Karen and her work (talent actually) are a combination of grace, power and poetry. With her beautiful smile and energy, she will guide you to the most precious gift of life: Finding your voice and using it in an authentic and humble way. She is an angel and I’m lucky enough to call her one of my angels.
For those of us who speak for a living, our voice is precious and yet often misunderstood and undervalued. Karen Kohler has the gift of revealing and nurturing the magnificent value of every individual voice – its shades and colors, its reach and hesitation, even its heartbreaks. Karen helped me to wholeheartedly embrace my voice and explore it in more depth than I ever had before. As a result, my speaking has become more powerful, nuanced and enduring.
I can unequivocally say that being coached by Karen was a pure delight, not least in that it did not really feel like coaching but rather like an exciting and creative collaboration. Cabaret makes a performer so vulnerable and I felt very safe and protected. The best part of working with Karen is her trust and faith in her performers which allowed us to blossom. I would recommend her wholeheartedly and without reservation – not just in the field of cabaret, but for anyone who is trying to tell a story and wants to communicate to their utmost abilities.
The Life in Your Voice & Call to Authenticity
We all have traits so singular that no one in history has had them or ever will. Characteristics even our identical twin doesn’t share. Like our fingerprint, our voice is so distinctly ours that everyone recognizes us by it. It heralds our identity, changing along with us as we age.
It’s not the size of your voice, but the size of your relationship to your voice that matters. Think of a time you heard a singer with a big voice fail to move you in a song, and elsewhere a singer with a sliver of a voice touch you to the core of your being. The difference is what each one knew about what they had to work with and how to connect their message honestly and purposefully.
Voiceprint is open to anyone interested in claiming the nature of their voice and the life inside it. However you express yourself vocally—in everyday language and social settings, in business, in activism, in art—discovering the range of your voice, and its color, timbre, depth and breadth is the foundation for authentic self-expression.We are born with many voices, not just one.
This workshop offers a safe space in which to explore the roots of your self-judgment around your voice, fears, memories and experiences, both positive and negative. You’ll uncover the power you have to witness the inner critic, rewrite the story and enlist the seemingly negative inner voice in service to your outer self-expression, fondest desires and legacy work. Karen shares parts of her story as a young immigrant in the USA learning English, about gradually coming out of her shell after being placed in music classes, and the overcoming she has had to master to go from a shy youngster to an international singer and speaker.
Voiceprint is an experiential class. Karen’s approach to guiding vocalists and speakers is through her techniques of relaxation, movement, visualization, role play, improv, and writing exercises. You’ll work alone, with a partner and in a group context to broaden your relationship to your voice and its distinct characteristics. You’ll unravel some myths around what may be holding you back in using your voice to serve your life, creativity and self-expression. Students are invited to bring a song, script, pitch, film idea, some spoken word, pages of their journal, and even a second instrument (accordion, guitar, woodwinds) for maximum play and improvisational fun! (Length: 2-hr or half-day.)
You’ll leave with…
New insight into your original voice and how to listen for it.
Tools for writing yourself a new story about your vocal power and range.
Vocal warm-ups and other techniques to center you in your body and align you with your breath.
Increased confidence, empowerment and enthusiasm in the use of your many voices.
Vocal awareness and dynamic control that will enhance your public speaking and performance.
IS THIS CLASS FOR YOU?
Are you good at the work you’re doing, and yet yearn for something more authentic and fulfilling?
Do you dream of picking up the threads of a previous passion?
Does the fear of missing out influence your choices of staying or going?
Are you ready to get out of your assignment and onto your destiny?
Come to my class, let’s sift through this together.
When I first met Karen, I was in an in-between place creatively and in my career. Today, I’ve grown into a working artist and designer. Her warm spirit, imaginative exercises and dialogue, and incredible listening skills helped me embrace the vulnerability of being a creative person. She is very good at distilling a conversation into the one thing you’ve been meaning to ask yourself. Our sessions reminded me that frustrations and fear are part of the process, and accepting them is the best way forward. And that writing, talking and laughing is healing.
Karen is open and personable in her coaching. I came to her with a sensitive topic on job hunting and self-confidence. She was able to not only make me feel comfortable expressing my vulnerabilities, but also able to help me rectify and express my inner conflicts in a tangible manner. Karen’s advice will resonate with me in further explorations in self-morale and personal passions.
After meeting Karen, I was highly impressed by her talent as a singer and inspiration as a teacher. I took several workshops with her which brought me closer to the “true artist” in me and to another level of performing. Through her art, Karen brings you to a different place full of passion and vibrancy. Karen is a unique artist and outstanding teacher.
GIVE IT UP!
Quit What You’re Doing for What Wants to be Doing You
We are all born gifted and talented. It isn’t important when we follow our inner voice but that we follow it. The soul, once awakened to its real power will make its needs known.
Learning to trust ourselves is what much of this game of life is about. As we step onto our rightful path, we magically draw to us everything and everyone we need for our journey. The trick is in learning to listen closely, examine deeply, and be willing to move off center again and again. Your inner guide is who is being born, nurtured and tested here.
Give It Up! is for those of us ready to experience alignment, whether it’s for the very first time, or at this moment in time. Living your authentic life is precisely about enduring stretches of doubt, confusion and even heartbreak for the sake of a greater truth or clarity. It’s precisely because the choice is difficult that makes it so valuable and personal, no matter the outcome which can’t be known in advance. It’s the “leap-of-faith” muscle that you are training here.
Balancing the voices outside of you is among the key steps in developing an ear for the inner voice that is your intuition and in-born wisdom. Karen will share stories from her own life of when she has stood at the crossroad of two very significant (and in their way positive) opportunities and how she learned to make her no-regrets life choice. As in all of her Lifekraft training, Karen will guide you in witnessing your inner critic, sifting through the stories and rationale influencing your choices and enlisting your servant forces (fear, doubt, anxiety) as advocates along your authentic path.
Honoring and following your inner voice (and inner call) is the goal. Under Karen’s guidance, you’ll begin to access a deeper sense for what that voice is communicating to you. Karen’s students say she has an uncanny way of asking the question you’ve been wanting to ask yourself and then listening on multiple levels to your answers. These are questions that only your answers can unlock. You’ll unpack some preconceptions and unravel some myths around what may be holding you back in being who you were born to be and doing what you most want to do.
Techniques from the theater are on hand to show you how to let go of expectations, play with different moods and outcomes, try on various personas and life trajectories, and gain a deeper overall understanding of the belief that lies at the heart of your choice, and the stakes that surround your choice. (Length: 2-hr or half-day.)
You’ll leave with…
A new outlook on true professional fulfillment and bliss.
Tools to claim the creator in you, and master architect of your life.
Exercises for self-examination of your goals and dreams.
A buddy, if you so choose, to help you stay on course and course-correct.
A nurturing community that supports your growth.
IS THIS CLASS FOR YOU?
Has a voice from your past been talking to you lately?
Were you told there’s no money and stability in art as a vocation and generally discouraged from being an artist?
Do you believe it’s ever too late to come into your artistry?
Do you find you’re happiest when you’re creating?
What stories about artists and the artistic life are you ready to set free?
Are you ready to be the artist you were born to be?
Come to my class, let’s ignite your magic.
You sparked off something in me that I will not forget. You asked me if people thought I had a sense of humor and I responded that I used to. You then asked as to what had changed in me that had caused this. That small interaction with you got me thinking how much my life has really changed in the last 5-6 years, and made me take at a look at myself and think about what I’ve won and what I’ve lost. Thank you so much for this.
You believe in me and don’t give up on me and it has made such a difference. I feel you understand me and what I’m struggling with. Your openness and acceptance of yourself helps me open and accept myself too. Through your guidance, I see that my difference is my strength and that I’m already living an abundant and artful life. Your originality inspires me to step onto my own unique path and share with the world the artist I truly am.
Thanks for the experience and education you gave me as a frustrated and vulnerable teenage girl. You taught me so much and not a day goes by when I don’t use that education or think of you.
Retrieving Your Childhood Artist
What if you knew that you’re exactly in the right place in your artistry right now, and that all paths and detours have been artful and of service already. That’s right. You’re here because you’re ready to connect the threads of your life and own the artist you are and were born to be.
Karen created this workshop upon hearing from many people over the years about how their earliest artistic inclinations were discouraged, negatively judged and thwarted to varying degrees. She has felt the longing they still carry to follow their true nature.
In BACKSTORY, we examine the beliefs imparted to us by our parents, teachers and culture at large about art, artists and the wisdom (or foolishness) of pursuing a life in the arts. Perhaps you can relate to some of these stories that folks have shared over the years:
Daniel was told that art was an insufficient use of his intellect. Amy was also told she’d waste her talent for math and science by pursuing art, and risk being broke and unhappy. She only recently began to tune into the faint voice inside her.
Suzi, TC, Ruben and Erika all had traumatic experiences as kids. Suzi’s teacher held up her sketches and laughed at them in front of the class. TC was actively bullied, laughed at and told he had no talent. Erika was also bullied away from art and only recently turned to writing to connect with her feelings. Ruben’s teacher didn’t believe he had made a large mural by himself and called him a liar in front of his classmates. He began to hide his painting.
Lena was given the classic warning of there not being money and stability in art as a career. She’s a successful documentary filmmaker but still struggles being comfortable in a career that doesn’t reward the artist financially compared with other professions.
Simon was brought up thinking artistic people are naive and day-dream a lot. His father put pressure on him to follow in his footsteps and lead the family business. Only recently did he learn that his Dad himself was forced to abandon a love of architecture.
Ahmed gave up a dream of acting to study medicine and build his own practice. He often feels a pang of envy when he meets or treats working artists. Now in mid-life, he’s confronting some guilt as he leans into his inner child’s voice.
Martha is 66 and recently picked up dancing again after raising a family and putting her own needs behind everyone else’s. She feels like she’s coming home to herself. She wonders whether staying with dance at least part-time might have helped her fend off some illnesses she’s struggled with for decades.
Leon was a hugely creative and artistic kid, but decided by himself that his talent would only bring him failure and pain, and so he opted to blend in and be “normal”. Recently he’s begun composing again. Just the idea of writing songs whether they make money or not makes his heart sing, and he doesn’t want to lie to himself a day longer.
Those who love us often fear for us and for our wellbeing. There are endless stigmas around the pursuit of art as life’s work. The story of the starving artist has accompanied humankind for eons and is in need of rewriting! True wealth is firstly and lastly measured by how full the heart is.
In BACKSTORY we summon our feelings, share our stories and, in community, help each other reframe our beliefs. Imagine that by simply nurturing the artist in everyone, we might heal the world.
You’ll leave with…
Free writing techniques to bring you in contact with your earliest dreams and sense of your artistry.
Exercises to practice sharing your personal tale and see its existing perfection.
Tools to quiet the external noise and practice voicing your truth.
Role play exercises to expand your storytelling skills and strengthen your empathy and forgiveness muscles.
Meditation practices for attuning to your voice and intuition at any stage of life.
A community of fellow life artists that supports you unconditionally.