We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathryn Farren and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kathryn, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I was in my 20s I think I felt like I had to be working and doing something all the time. As a society we tend to reward productivity, which isn’t always a bad thing. It’s beautiful to aspire for more. As an artist it feels amazing whenever my projects – whether writing or acting or music – are finished, performed, or seen. But in my 30s I started to understand that productivity doesn’t always equate with what’s best for us as individuals. Life encompasses so many things, and there’s a balance needed for optimal mental, physical and spiritual wellness. My journey into chronic illness and some other components definitely forced me to reset priorities in a way I hadn’t before. I could be hard on myself about it at first, but ultimately it led to immense growth and self-compassion.
Part of why I started The REN Circle is I saw how challenging it was for people in the pandemic to suddenly hit the brakes on a fast paced life and feel isolated and less productive. REN became a space to support the elements of life, particularly those of self-care, we may have been ignoring.
So, I still work hard and have goals and aspirations. But I also take time and space for the things that may not feel outwardly “productive”, but help me to inwardly recharge and reset. Like meditation or somatic work, a bath, cooking clean and healthy food, or just plain rest when I need it. I also gave birth to my son in June! So I’ve just entered a new adventure and I’m excited to explore how this chapter will shift my work/life dynamic.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a writer and actor who’s been working in Los Angeles for many years in film, TV and theatre. Most recently I was a company member at Little Fish Theatre in the South Bay, and was working with them as an actor, writer, and director. When the pandemic hit last year, Little Fish was set to produce my original musical A Moment later in their 2020 season. When everything in entertainment closed it was heartbreaking, but I asked myself how I could still be creative, even at home.
So I got to work finishing edits on my book and created The REN Circle. I noticed many friends struggling with this new found isolation and fear surrounding the pandemic, and wanted a virtual community for people to come together once a month for wellness support. As someone with a recent history of grief and trauma, I wanted to share my story. I’ve learned the best way to cope and grow is to accept and embrace the darkness as much as we embrace the positive aspects of our life. The REN Circle became a labor of love, with a new guest in the physical, mental, or spiritual wellness community joining us each month. I also started sharing my own somatic healing practice that I developed to help with my PTSD healing journey.
The REN Circle seeks to empower people to own all elements of their authentic selves and stay curious about optimal self-care and healing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love that there are so many parts to Los Angeles and they all feel so different. One day would have to be a beach day, we’d walk around Venice and Abbot Kinney and finish with dinner at The Canal Club and a walk along the canals. Another day we’d go to the Getty and take in some art and lovely gardens. Maybe have a drink at Bigfoot West or Cozy Inn (I love the dive bars vibe)… And I live in the valley, so we’d have a day hiking Fryman Canyon or maybe seeing the beautiful Japanese botanical gardens in Van Nuys. And grab a coffee at Aroma Cafe on Tujunga. Hopefully it will be safe to do all these amazing things again very soon!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to my husband Daniel Gallai, who is a wonderful actor and passionate creative. He has always supported me and encouraged me to keep following my own passions, even through challenging times or chronic illness. I don’t know that I would have been able to start The REN Circle without Daniel supporting me to own my voice and share my story.
REN photos featuring Yvonne Yao of Mindflo Movement Little Fish photo by Mickey Elliot, Embridge by Kathryn Farren