Katie B. Happyy’s new book Cheers to Chaos: Eight Tools for the Puffy-Eyed and Powerful, is filled with shockingly raw, wild stories of a master yoga teacher. But, it also contains unique tools and techniques to magnify your confidence and infuse your life with financial abundance, spiritual freedom, relational success, and optimal health. 

The book is for every broken badass searching for happiness and meaning. You could read it for a laugh, you could read it to just feel lighter, you could read it to remember the profound and fundamental truth that you are not alone. So get ready to re-kindle your self-worth, trust your next steps, and stand in your power of who you are now.

Hey listeners, my name is Drew Appelbaum and I’m excited to be here today with Katie B. Happyy, author of Cheers to Chaos: Eight Tools for the Puffy-Eyed and Powerful. Katie, thank you for joining. Welcome to the Author Hour Podcast. 

Katie B. Happyy: Stoked to be here. 

Drew Appelbaum: Katie, offer us, maybe just give us a brief rundown of your professional background.

Katie B. Happyy: I lead international self-development retreats around the world. Obviously with our current climate, international travel kind of took a pause. Besides the developments, it kind of took a nice online direction where we’re doing self-development retreats online, self-development courses. And then I live in San Diego, so when I’m local here I’ll teach classes, yoga classes, fitness classes but my whole life mantra is “workout but also work in” because anyone can do squats but not everyone can really do the work to release what needs to be released, the stuck stuff, to really be the best version of ourselves.

Drew Appelbaum: Sure.

Katie B. Happyy: And that’s kind of like the whole point of my life, to help people feel less alone in their play and also to feel really empowered to be exactly who they are.

Drew Appelbaum: Why was now the time to share the stories in the book? Did you have downtime because of Covid? Did something happen during Covid that changed you? Or did you feel the need to attempt to inspire on a more ground scale?

Katie B. Happyy: Great question. I definitely have had the book in the works. When most little girls dream of their wedding and their white wedding dress, I always dreamt of seeing my name on a bookbinding on the shelf and so I’ve always wanted to write. I always knew that there was something in me, but as a 34-year-old woman I never really felt like there was enough that would be justifiable that people would want to read about. 

So I would collect the stories and, as I empower people through like blog-style emails—my Thoughtful Thursday email— as they collected, more people were like, “Oh the story touched me in this way and I really related to this”. So, COVID was kind of this opportunity where— it’s all there. Most of it was already written, I just had to put pen to paper and really finish it. So the final chapter is actually about lockdown and quarantine and the depression that I went through. I think a lot of us were really stuck and so that was the final chapter that solidified all eight chapters that really made it feel like, “Okay, this is [the] time.”

Drew Appelbaum: Now while you were writing— it doesn’t necessarily have to be the book which sounds like you had a lot of it together— but even when you started with those blog posts or your emails, did you have any breakthroughs or just learnings just by digging deeper into yourself or maybe getting feedback and digging into other people as you sort of put all of this together?

Chaos is An Opportunity To Stand In Your Power

Katie B. Happyy: I definitely always felt like I wasn’t special, that what I went through between my mom’s death with cancer at a young age, my bell’s palsy, my break up; I just never felt like it was special enough and the feedback helped me realize that it doesn’t have to be special. In actuality, like the normalcy of the stuff that we go through, [it] is so relatable and vulnerable and people like to know that they’re not alone in their normalcy, if you would, in the normalcy of their sadness and their heartbreak and their transition really, because life is just about all those transitions.

Drew Appelbaum: Yeah, you feel like everybody is weird to themselves and everybody’s sad, everybody’s happy. I want to ask this question because you said it a moment ago about being vulnerable and you are very vulnerable in the book talking a lot of feelings and a lot if things that a lot of people hide inside, and now all of these people are going to know this about you. Was there anything that you said like, “I do not know if I should put this in the book” or were you able to just open up completely and express yourself in the pages?

Katie B. Happyy: Oh no, I mean even the first chapter; you know the first chapter is the wow or the zinger, the intro if you would to kind of hook people. I did it intentionally to see if the reader likes my style or not. You are either going to like how truthful I am or you are going to be like, “Okay, this one is not for me”. But I think there is a power in the honesty and especially in COVID lockdown, I felt really alone as a single girl and living alone in my house. So, it was this really unique opportunity for me to really share myself and I am also petrified for my dad to read it. I am not looking forward to that. But I think there’s something to be said about a window of vulnerability that allows other people not just to relate to you, but also see themselves.

Drew Appelbaum: Sure.

Katie B. Happyy:  Like the stuff they keep to themselves, they’re not alone. That’s the whole idea, [that] you’re not alone in your chaos.

Drew Appelbaum: So, furthering down this line of questioning, who exactly is this book for?

Katie B. Happyy: It’s for the person going through transition that doesn’t know if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It is for anyone because we all go through transitions and shifts in life, but really the hope is to give you insight into yourself via my stories that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel that you had never even imagined and though the weird and wacky ways that I get to my end results. They’re not perfect and they’re not even beautiful half the time but it’s an opportunity for you to be like, “Okay. If she was sitting here and she got there, there’s possibility within me as well. If I can just hold on, if I can just breathe with it and be with it, there is something good coming.” 

Drew Appelbaum: So for the book itself, is it done through outside research? Did you look at studies? Or is this a lot of school of hard knocks and lessons you learned from yourself and lessons you learned from your clients and people you’ve worked with?

Katie B. Happyy: Everything that I speak from is all my own experience. I’m not certified as a therapist by any means— although I feel often that my job as a yoga teacher and a fitness instructor and a coach in that way feels like it although I’m not certified— and I never preach that way. It’s more just me going through what I went through and having the tools in place that got me through what I went through. So definitely life experience, hard knocks if you would, but also the ability to sit on the other side of it and say, “This is what helped me and I hope that, because I’m on the other side of it, you can use these tools in your toolbox to also utilize them when life asks you to transition in that way.”

Drew Appelbaum: I want to start digging into the book itself but to talk kind of an overview; the book is broken down into chapters where you give cheers to parts of your life. Can you talk about what “cheers” means, even the title Cheers to Chaos, and what really folks can expect to find in each chapter?

Katie B. Happyy: So on all of my retreats and self-development adventures that I run, when people share— which is always vulnerable— when they share a story about themselves or something that they want to give to the group and offer, if you relate to the story, I tell everyone to put up their imaginary cup. A funny thing is to say “what’s in your cup?” Mine is always a Margarita with Tajin on the rim. But you pretend to put up your cup and you cheers the person saying like, “I hear you, I see you and I respect you for your share”. So the cheers is something I often say throughout class and throughout workshops and cheers-ing to chaos is this looking at your own life and saying, “Wow, cheers. I see that. I am in it or I went through it and it was definitely a stepping-stone, not a boulder. It may have felt like a boulder, but in actuality, that big thing that was in my way actually became a stepping stone and I cheers to that chaos. I cheers to the madness that may not feel clear right now but it could in the future.”

Drew Appelbaum: You also end each chapter with calls to action. Can you describe why those are there and what you ask readers to do with these calls of action?

Katie B. Happyy: I think often from my teachings of yoga, I will give themes but if I don’t offer how it approaches or applies to your life then people are left feeling inspired but they don’t have actionable ways to apply it to themselves. So the calls to action at the end of each chapter are an opportunity for you to self-reflect, for you to apply it if you want to in your life. Some people are going to read the book to just enjoy the memoir-style stories but then other people are really in the book for more of a “How can I take these eight tools and make myself come alive again? Make myself feel something, come out of numbness, be brave again?” So each of the tools give that opportunity at the end of the chapter to stand in your power with the same ways that I did in the thematic part of that story.

Drew Appelbaum: Yeah, lovely you said that because you talk about broken and badass a lot. And you talk about them sort of one and the same; you can actually be both. So how can someone actually wrap their head around that, “Yes I’m not perfect, but yes I can go out and be an amazing, strong person”?

Katie B. Happyy:  I think sometimes we segment emotions where it’s supposed to be, “Oh, today I feel badass” or “Today I feel broken and sad” but oftentimes life asks us to feel both at the same time. I was recently at a wedding where the day before the wedding this woman’s grandfather passed and it’s like there’s this beauty of a wedding and then there’s also the sadness someone leaving their body.

Drew Appelbaum: Yeah.

Katie B. Happyy: And so I think that’s an extreme example, but in the day-to-day, we often feel those things. We’re happy one moment and we’re also sad at the same time or whatever the emotion that comes to the forefront. So it’s important to understand that even in the moments where we feel low, that’s not it. We don’t have to just be low, we can also stand in our power. You standing back up for yourself may look different when you feel lower but you still standing in your power is still being badass. 

For instance, in chapter eight I talk a lot about lockdown and who is— if I was sitting in my house alone— who is going to stop me from watching forty hours of Netflix. Really? The idea is I can still be a badass, I can feel sad and lonely, but I can also say, “Alright, I’m going to watch two episodes today” and stand in my badassery instead of feeling broken unnecessarily. I’m still feeling sad when I make that choice to only watch two, but at least there’s a part of me that can also feel proud. We can have both emotions.

Drew Appelbaum: Now you also cheers to chaos out there, which seems like maybe the hardest thing of all is to step back and look at that hot mess of a life that’s either happening around you— or just let’s say you had a series of just bad things happen to you recently, or work isn’t working out the way you’d like it or just life isn’t working out— and then you want to go in and just embrace this. What are the first few steps into just taking that step back and being proud of just being here and saying, “I have these problems but I am still so lucky to be living this life”?

Katie B. Happyy: It’s taking each thing as it comes, even the eight tools that I give you in the book are going to create the happiest life and happy may not even be the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to find balance and so when we cheers to chaos, which like you said, is being somewhat of a hot mess in different facets of our life. We’re cheers-ing to the part of us that is— it knows that there’s never not going to be chaos and it knows that that’s okay. The tools in our toolbox help bring us back to balance these eight things that help us cheer to our inner chaos. They’re just little mini-steps to add to our tool belt that’ll enable us to feel a little bit more okay. Maybe instead of my world falling apart when something transitions or bad happens then I can still know my center and have my feet grounded. I can feel sad or discouraged or hurt but my world won’t be shaked or shooken or rocked. In this way, that I think people can relate, let’s say you’ve had a couple heartbreaks. The first heartbreak you feel like your world’s over and then as we gain more tools in our toolbox to cope, your world isn’t completely over [and you’re] on the next heartbreak it’s just really hurt and there’s just a different transition that happened. So hoping in our best way to give ourselves some gratitude and also some grace.

Facing Transition With Optimism Rather Than Fear

Drew Appelbaum: In a similar light sometimes we block our own paths to happiness or success and we just stay in the dark a little too long.  You briefly brought up some major events in your life that I’ll dig into in a moment, but what were some of the keys to really that happened to you personally that let you step out from all the bad things that were happening around you and the bad feelings and vibes around?

Katie B. Happyy: Early on, I got to watch how short the physical structure is. I was anorexic and dealing with that, as a lot of girls due to some capacity with body image issues, and I think life has this messed up way of kind of rocking you in different chaos. And so as my mom passed away when I was 14, I got to see her literally take a breath in and then take a breath out, and then that was it. She just exhaled. And sitting next to this woman— she was 43— [who] had mothered me in such a beautiful way and then just watching her exhale and there is nothing left, it kind of shook my ability to care about what I ate or how flabby my stomach felt or how bloated I was. So, it’s like life lessons encourage me to not take for granted the few breathes that we do actually get. It kind of inspired my trajectory forward as well that just watching her exhale was like, “There’s got to be more.” Like, “This is it?”  She lived 43 years and she had a great life but it’s sad. It’s also beautiful. It’s like it makes you feel so small and humble as well that whether you believe in the afterlife is— it’s just more like this short flip we have on earth we have to utilize the time. It’s we can’t live like we have a second chance and so it does not mean party all the time which I did that for a good portion of my life, but it means being able to savor what we have and let go of the things that we can’t have or don’t or are regretful for because it’s life’s just too short.

Drew Appelbaum: I think you have a lot of these moments and then you come through the other side wiser, stronger, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have additional moments where you go back to where you were and you completely break down. What do you tell your clients? What do you tell yourself even during these times there where you’ve crawled back into your hole, if you want to say that, and you’re not having the ‘enlightened Katie’ that you’ve become? Or some way that you could really just talk yourself up and move past and through this?

Katie B. Happyy: That’s a really great question because I feel like no matter how many book drops you can have, the highs in your life, as well as the lows of the lockdown that I’ve felt and the aftermath of it, it’s this feeling of, “Okay, I’ve been here before at Rock Bottom Cafe”— is what I call [it] in the book— “and it’s a familiar cocktail, it’s a familiar feeling of sitting down here.” But I think the more times you ebb and flow, the more times you visit that Rock Bottom Cafe, where you feel like there’s nowhere to go, at least there’s nowhere to go but up, but there are the tried and true things that we each have within ourselves that you remember helped. So, like the simplicity of getting back to a healthy routine with drinking 100 ounces of water and eating healthy and moving even when you don’t want to— I mean, almost recently actually I’ve been in the sluggish of times. Like, just feeling so—

As the world opens back up, feeling that like busy depression weighing on me where the grass is always greener it’s like, “Oh my God, I would do anything to have the simplicity of lockdown right now.” But when I was in lockdown, all I wanted was the life that I have now again. And so it’s like, okay, sitting in this busy burden that I’m putting on myself, this mentality, what are the tried and true things that I know that I’ve worked for me? Drinking the water like we said, getting back into a movement-based routine moving for 30 minutes a day at least as soon as I get up, back to my meditation practice, putting more music in my body than screens and TV. There’s just these little tweaks and twerks that can actually help realign who I am and I know they work. It’s just we always forget, we self-sabotage and get out of the practice.

Drew Appelbaum: A lot of the book came from quarantine and you learned a lot about yourself during quarantine, you learned to embrace that part of yourself during quarantine. Now that things are opening up— sort of— what do you think 2022 and beyond looks like for you?

Katie B. Happyy: 2022 is going to ask me personally to be a lot braver. I think pre-COVID, I was a little bit more— the world is magical. Don’t worry, things will work out. I had that mind-state and I just kept it going, even through this nasty breakup, even through some really low moments in my life; my bell’s palsy, my paralysis. I still felt like the world was on my side. COVID squashed— the lockdown specifically— squashed a lot of my financial stability, my mental stability, my health stability, and everything that I had established as like a norm kind of got shaken. 

And so, 2022 for me is Okay, how do you let things back into your life that are important and knowing that you’re two years older and more experienced with this, let’s call it trauma, that we all as a global world experience in some way or another. Like how can we let that load be lightened now by the choices that I make moving forward? It is not going to be the same lighthearted brave me that there was. It’s going to have to be, I do not want to call it a calloused me, but a doubtful me still reminding myself that life is short. That even though I was really hurt and scared for a long time, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still have the same foundational feelings that life is so short and I did watch my mom take her last breath. It is like, no matter what, you still have to take chances because we don’t get a second chance. 

Drew Appelbaum: And what impact do you hope the book will have on a reader? And are there any immediate steps you hope they will take either while they are reading the book or when they’ve finished the book?

Katie B. Happyy: So, the book itself is 150 pages, eight chapters and the audio I think is 4 hours. So, it’s not that long. I feel like you can probably scoop it up and you can read the whole thing at once. But it would be really cool for me to imagine somebody taking it piece by piece. Maybe two chapters at a time and really trying to implement parts of the Cheers to Chaos, the calls to action in their life. It would be awesome to just use it as like a weekly theme for themselves and say, “Okay, I can decide to choose faith over fear this week. What ways in my life can I look at a situation and choose to have faith in the outcome rather than fearing the outcome?” or whatever the mantra of it is. It’s meant to be light and fun because I am very vulgar and honest and forward. But it’s also meant to give people tools to not feel alone in their play and to just feel like, it is going to be okay no matter what transition is throwing at you. 

Drew Appelbaum: Well, Katie, we just touched on the surface of the book here but I want to say just writing a book where you are so vulnerable and allow yourself to be out there, which is going to comfort other people to be able to be vulnerable and put themselves out there, but also you know, kind of telling people to embrace their life chaotic or not, it’s no small feat. So, congratulations on having this book published. 

Katie B. Happyy: Thank you. 

Drew Appelbaum: One question left. If readers could take away only one thing from the book, what would you want it to be?

Katie B. Happyy: That the chaos is a good thing. That when we bow and cheers to the thing within us that isn’t always happy, that there’s some beautiful lesson. It’s like your gut or your intuition is just tugging for you to listen.

There are so many lessons to expand the capacity of who you are. And so, you are not alone, that the days are not always good and just trust the journey because that chaos is part of the transition that helps you grow deeper and more in tune with yourself.

Drew Appelbaum: Katie, this has been a pleasure and I’m excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called Cheers to Chaos: Eight Tools for the Puffy-Eyed and Powerful. 

You can find it on Amazon. Katie, besides checking out the book, where else can people connect with you?

Katie B. Happyy: I run an awesome online platform. In Covid, it’s so fun. It’s a personal development and workout, so it’s binspired.life. There are lots of on-demand style movement videos like HITs and boot camps, but there are also really great meditations and programs for anti-anxiety and building more abundance in your life. 

The workout and the work in philosophy. And you can also find me on Instagram katiebhappyy, I do Monday mantras there and I work all week on my theme.

Drew Appelbaum: Well, Katie, thank you so much for giving some of your time today, and best of luck with your new book.

Katie B. Happyy: Thanks.