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Nine Step Weekend Recovery Program

Desiree Cooper

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Kathryn Kern
(Courtesy Kathryn Kern)
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We all have our image of what the perfect weekend might be: being outdoors, hanging out with friends, snoozing in a hammock, sailing, golfing, couch potato-ing. But here's the thing. We never actually have those weekends we dream about. Weekend America's Desiree Cooper went searching for someone who has figured out how to always have a perfect weekend. Her search led her to Katherine Kern in Encinitas, Calif. Actually, Katherine already had it pretty good on the weekends. She was a private guide for month-long tours to exotic places in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Desiree asked her to describe the groups she used to travel with.


Kathryn Kern: I had about 15 people in my group, and they were all people that I knew and had been with me on many other programs.

Desiree Cooper: So you got to travel with your friends for months on end! So your life was a weekend.

Kern: It was a dream job. Really.

Cooper: So why did you give all that up for an office job?

Kern: Well, my life dramatically changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2002. It took me two years to push through my program, and thank God I came out of it and I'm doing remarkably well. But when I did come out of it, a lot had changed in the travel industry. Not only from the fallout of 9/11, but you had SARS and the avian flu. I just decided I didn't want the liability and responsibility of that kind of business.

Cooper: After that kind of job and then going into corporate, if I were you, I'd have very high expectations of my weekends because of the adventures I'd had.

Kern: Yes! I did.

Cooper: So what were your weekends like once you started working in a corporate environment?

Kern: My time was not really mine Monday through Friday, and so there were a lot of chores and things that piled up. For example: laundry, grocery shopping, getting my car washed, things of that nature.

Cooper: Well, that's how everybody spends their weekend - isn't that what weekends are for?

Kern: That's why you have to implement the Nine Step Program, so you can reclaim your weekend.

1. Unless I am expecting a call, I let my voicemail screen my calls, no matter what. This makes me less accessible and gives me the ability to prioritize and call back at my convenience.

2. Designate ring tones to people I want to hear from (and not hear from).

3. Let people know that email is my preferred method of communication and that they are likely to get a response faster through this medium.

4. Only check my personal email once a day on the weekend, if at all.

5. Do not over-schedule on the weekend. Try to keep the weekend schedule simple and flexible.

6. Spread the chores over weekdays so that they are not part of the plans for the weekend.

7. When a paid company holiday falls on a Friday or Monday, take a vacation day the day before or the day after, creating a four-day weekend.

8. Only spend time with happy people.

9. Say no frequently.

Cooper: Yeah, it sounds like you've done this thing called "setting boundaries," which is often so hard to do.

Kern: Setting boundaries! That's exactly what it is.

Cooper: What are your weekends like now?

Kern: My weekends are really relaxing. I do a lot of hiking. I have quite a few hobbies - more than I should have. If someone were to ask me to go deep sea fishing, I don't enjoy that. Normally, I would say, "OK, I'll go," and then I have a terrible time. I don't do that anymore.

Cooper: Do you think you would have done that had you not had breast cancer?

Kern: I was in customer service. I was always thinking about everybody except myself. It was hard for me to live in the moment. But now I do that because I realize how precious life is.

  • Music Bridge:
    Old Dracula
    Artist: Matt Rippetoe
    CD: Boink (Bossa Beats)


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