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December 20, 2023

Episode 003:

Creating Organic Connection in a Woman-Centered Gathering Space, with Consciousness Concierge

Kathy Bresler

The only thing more amazing than Chicago’s ALTAR Community is its founder, the wonderful Kathy Bresler. Because of her vision and passion, ALTAR holds space for women to connect, explore, and discover. Kathy joins me to talk about the experience of conceiving ALTAR, bringing her intentions into physical reality, and persisting through the pandemic. It’s the story of a brilliant, generous woman, and a mystical convergence of commitment and serendipity. I can’t wait to share it with you.

About My Guest

Kathy Bresler is the founder and Consciousness Concierge of ALTAR Community, a woman-centered gathering space in Chicago. She is a lifelong learner, a mystic with an MBA, a SoulCollage enthusiast, an impeccable space holder, a 20-year breast cancer survivor, morning person, poetry lover, Virgo sun, Sag rising, Aquarius moon, Enneagram one, Manifestor, INFP, and convener of transformative conversations. 

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Connect with ALTAR


Instagram: @altarcommunity

Facebook: ALTAR


Writer and entrepreneur Emily McDowell https://www.emilyonlife.com

Her card company Em & Friends https://emandfriends.com/ 


Kimothy Joy, artist and author of Extraordinary Wing Women https://www.kimothyjoy.com/ 


Author and artist Kim Krans https://kimkrans.com/ 

Her beautiful graphic memoir Blossoms and Bones https://www.amazon.com/Blossoms-Bones-Drawing-Life-Together-ebook/dp/B07SX2K672?ref_=ast_author_dp 


Elizabeth Lesser, author of Broken Open and Cassandra Speaks https://www.elizabethlesser.org/ 


The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies https://www.eomega.org/ 


We Can Do Hard Things podcast https://wecandohardthingspodcast.com/ 


HSSF 003 – Kathy Bresler
[00:00:00] Lesley Whitehead: Hi, beautiful. This is your host, Lesley Whitehead, and I am so
excited to share this bold, brave, badass, creative woman with you. I hope our conversation
inspires you not to let anything get in the way of your passion projects. I promise you, we need
whatever is on your heart to create for this world.
[00:00:26] Lesley Whitehead: Hi, beautiful woman. I am here with founder and consciousness
concierge of ALTAR Community, a woman centered gathering space in Chicago. She is a
lifelong learner, a mystic with an MBA, a SoulCollage enthusiast, which by the way, I’m so
grateful for. An impeccable space holder, a 20 year breast cancer survivor, morning person,
poetry lover, Virgo sun, Sag rising, Aquarius moon, Enneagram one, Manifestor, INFP, covernor
of transformative conversations. My friend and the lovely Kathy Bresler. How are you?
[00:01:15] Kathy Bresler: Thank you for having me.
[00:01:15] Lesley Whitehead: I am so grateful that you are here today. I am so, so grateful and
I got to see you this week. So that was such a pleasure. We’re going to talk about that. But
before we get started, I do have a question for you. How young are you?
[00:01:29] Kathy Bresler: I am 59 years young.
[00:01:32] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. And how do you feel about being 59?
[00:01:38] Kathy Bresler: I feel great about being 59. Actually, I mean, you know, it’s a little like.
Mmm, I’m almost 60. But mostly, I feel great. I love being this age.
[00:01:50] Lesley Whitehead: Good. Do you feel like they say that, you know, every decade is
better. Do you feel that way? Do you feel like 50s better than 40s better than 30s better than 20?

[00:02:01] Kathy Bresler: I do, actually. I mean each one obviously has its own special sauce
but I feel like For me, the main metric is comfort in my own skin. You know, like for sure that only
gets better and better and easier and more juicy. So yeah, I love, being at this age where I care
a lot less about things that drag me down before.
[00:02:31] Lesley Whitehead: Very common quote of women 50 plus. You get the, I don’t give a
fuck attitude more and more and more. And I’m sure that’s true going into 60, 70, 80, for sure.
[00:02:42] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. I mean, I, it’s funny. I, um, I have like my consciousness
concierging, I have like binders full of articles and poems and things that I tore out in the days
before we could just like clip them. And I remember in my like probably early forties reading an
article in O Magazine about how like menopausal women feel so free. And like the best time of
their life. And I remember thinking at the time in the midst of like, you know, competitive young
parenthood, like I can’t wait for that, you know, and it’s really true.
[00:03:21] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Right. I agree.
[00:03:23] All right. So you just brought up, um, the consciousness concierge, and I want, I
would love to hear more about that, but first, before you go into that, please explain to everyone
what ALTAR is because it’s so many things to so many women. I do think it’s very personal, to
me ALTAR is one thing, for someone else it would be another. So please describe ALTAR to everyone.
[00:03:47] Kathy Bresler: Yeah I think that is the beauty and the complexity of it is like, I always
feel kind of like, I don’t know what to say when that’s like, give me the one soundbite. But, you
know, lately I’ve been saying ALTAR is like a sacred clubhouse, for evolving women. My
husband teases me that it’s like Kathy’s Playhouse, like I did make the space that I wanted to be
in, and a place where, you know, women of all ages could come together to connect and to
restore and to explore all kinds of things at the intersection of healing and empowerment.
[00:04:26] And, you know, I think sort of technically, it’s like a third space. You know, if the first
space, I don’t know if you’ve heard that
[00:04:34] Lesley Whitehead: No, I haven’t. I haven’t tell me what that is.
[00:04:37] Kathy Bresler: It’s like the first space is home and the second space is work. It’s like,
we all need a third space. And sometimes that third space is, you know, like Cheers or a park
bench or a coffee shop. Right? And, so ALTAR is in some sense, right? That home away from
home, it’s like a gathering place. and it’s it’s like loosely co working. I’m kind of moving away
from that term because I think it’s really a gathering space for women to come and be fully
themselves and meet other interesting women.
[00:05:11] Lesley Whitehead: I agree. Can you describe it physically a little bit for us? Because
it, to, when, when somebody says workspace or, you know, it just sounds very vanilla and this is
anything but.
[00:05:24] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. So it’s like a 4, 000 square foot multi use sacred space. It is
like, you know, we have a big open studio where we do movement and all kinds of, you know,
we have corporate offsite events and meetings. And then there’s a small cozy room that I named
the Womb Room because that was the coziest thing I could think of. And we have 10 moon
pods in there and bamboo on the walls and you can just cozy up and, you know, meditate or just
hang out in the bean bag.
[00:05:57] And there’s a lounge living room because I ran a women’s group out of my own living
room for many, many years, and I wanted there to be a space like that at ALTAR. And there’s
swings and small offices and more lounging areas and like there’s something for everyone. You
want to be alone and cozy, you want to be, get a cup of tea and have a conversation. There’s a
kitchenette. I don’t know. It is, I often say like if there was a shower there.
[00:06:25] Lesley Whitehead: And there’s a labyrinth.
[00:06:27] Kathy Bresler: Oh, there’s a labyrinth
[00:06:29] Lesley Whitehead: There’s a labyrinth in the middle.
[00:06:31] Kathy Bresler: Down on the floor of the main room in masking tape.
[00:06:34] Lesley Whitehead: I love.
[00:06:35] Kathy Bresler: I just have always, I said in my, in my introduction, which I had
forgotten what I wrote, but like, I do feel like I’ve always been like a mystic at heart. And ALTAR
is, in a lot of ways, a seekers paradise, you know. There’s all sorts of modalities and, uh,
traditions, ways of connecting with something larger than ourself represented in the labyrinth is
one of them for sure.
[00:07:00] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. Okay, um, I’m going to say the things that I love about
ALTAR. Well, first of all, that you have an open house once a month. So describe that a little bit.

[00:07:11] Kathy Bresler: So we call it bring your soul to work day and it is an open house
where, you know, the community is invited. We are very blessed in the community to have just
tons of amazing practitioners who, you know, do all kinds of things from teach how to do social
media well, to like a sound healing.
[00:07:33] And so usually there’s something kind of, educational in the morning and then we do
SoulCollage in the middle of the day and then something more somatic or experiential in the
afternoon and, and, you know, you can come for a little, you can come for the whole day. You
can bring your laptop. If you got to make a zoom meeting in the middle of the day, it’s very
flexible. And, and it’s usually a really great mix of our members and, you know, new people. And
I don’t know, isn’t it fun?
[00:08:00] Lesley Whitehead: It is so fun. It is so fun. And SoulCollage is my favorite part. So,
for those of you who don’t know what SoulCollage is, will you explain it to them, please?
[00:08:09] Kathy Bresler: I will. So SoulCollage is, uh, I did not invent SoulCollage. SoulCollage
is a, I would say it’s like a process for creative self expression that uses, simply uses like
magazine images and your intuition and imagination. And you actually make a set of five by
eight inch collaged cards. And each card sort of represents an aspect of yourself or your soul.
[00:08:39] And over time, you would create a whole deck of cards that are almost like your own,
like Oracle deck, like, but it’s your own images. It’s not tarot or something. And, um, and you can
use it for. I mean, the process itself is so nourishing and creative and fun, but then the cards,
because they’re very Jungian in nature, the whole idea is that images are the language of the
soul, right? So that you can use the card to actually, seek guidance and sort of tap into your
inner wisdom. And they’re, it had me at hello when I discovered it in 2007. And now I’m a
teacher and I have probably 250 cards.
[00:09:17] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. And you were part of my 55 women project and we
photographed you with cards around you. So, I’m excited to share that image with people
because it’s beautiful.
[00:09:26] Kathy Bresler: Yeah
[00:09:27] Lesley Whitehead: So, things that I love about the open house are, um, or about
ALTAR specifically are the, um, ritual stations. Is that what they’re called?
[00:09:36] Kathy Bresler: Yeah, they’re so they are like ritual stations. I think that we don’t really
have like a specific name. Sometimes we call them that sometimes we call them meditative
moments, but they are rituals that were left over from our launch party in 2021 and one for each
of the elements. So, yes, the one that the water 1 that is still. in the hall is also a crowd pleaser,
for sure. It’s really fun.
[00:10:01] Lesley Whitehead: The water one is my favorite. There’s a bowl of water and there
are pieces of paper next to it and you write down something that you want to release. And then
you put it in the bowl of water and you start with the spoon that’s next to it. And it all of a sudden
[00:10:16] And there’s just such a, there’s an action involved with this release of this thing that’s
heavy for you or whatever the release is. I don’t know. I just feel it when I do it. I actually feel the
release of whatever has, it’s been heavy on me and I love that and I’ve never seen that before.
[00:10:36] Kathy Bresler: I hadn’t either. I’ve seen like burning bowls, you know. Uh, but that
seemed dangerous. You know, like where you would write it and then you would burn it. That
was dangerous. We were looking for something like safety first. Uh, for this party, you know, for
this launch and then it and it was so great that we kept it.

[00:10:55] And I, I also do it every time I go into the space. It’s like what needs to just be cleared.
And there is something very satisfying about watching that little piece of paper disappear
magically into the water along with fear or doubt or whatever it is that you’re carrying.
[00:11:11] Lesley Whitehead: The other thing that I love are, um, all of the books that you have.
And as a matter of fact, it was kind of funny when I was there the other day at the Open House,
one of the members had told me that
[00:11:23] Kimothee Joy had come and was, who is a beautiful, um, writer and watercolorist.
Yes, water colorist and, um, and she had created this book and it was called, Wing Women.
Wing Woman.
[00:11:39] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. Extraordinary Wing Woman, I think. Yeah.
[00:11:41] Lesley Whitehead: I wasn’t there, but you still had some of the books so I was able
to buy them. But the reminder was, I was looking through your bookshelf and I saw her cards
and it reminded me that, you know, Lynn had told me about that. So I, you know, immediately
asked you about it. And of course, luckily you had some books, so I was able to purchase those.

[00:12:00] But, so one of the other things I love about, um, ALTAR is the way that you support
women creatives, writers. Um, when I was there, we had a woman who was, um, we were doing
movement and going through what we had experienced in 2023 and what we needed to
release. And then what we were going, what word was coming up for 2024 and it was all in
movement and song and really rich songs like Nina Simone and I mean, just, Enya, and some
very beautiful songs.
[00:12:32] And it was, it was lovely because there was no right or wrong way to move. You could
stay on the floor and stretch. You could twirl, whatever, and release these feelings and let 2024,
the words come to you. And I just thought that was so beautiful. And it was an experience with
this woman who, um, you know, obviously that’s her passion. And then we also had someone
else come and do, you’re going to have to remind me what the name of it is.
[00:13:02] Kathy Bresler: Oh, T R E?
[00:13:04] Lesley Whitehead: T R E.
[00:13:05] Kathy Bresler: It’s like either tension or trauma releasing exercise.
[00:13:08] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. And I had seen those before, um, you know, online, but I
had never experienced it in person. And so she came and she did a very, um, brief, not super
brief, but it was probably an hour long, but it wasn’t a full session because she’s coming back in
January to present a full session to anyone who wants to participate.
[00:13:31] And so we got to experience that. And first, I, I, like I said, I I’m aware of it. I’ve done
it, but there were women in the room who were completely transformed by it because they had
never even heard about it before, which is releasing trauma from your body by shaking. Which
is, sort of like a very basic way to describe it. It’s much more involved than that, obviously, but
that was very cool.
[00:13:53] And then later in the day, which I didn’t get to participate in, but there was a woman
who was going to be presenting, um, Beyond Menopause book. And, um, what I love is that you
are spotlighting these women who are sharing their passions, supporting their businesses and
passions and sharing them with the world of women that you know. And I just think that’s such a
lovely, lovely thing to do. And I know I appreciate it. And I know all the other women do.

[00:14:24] Kathy Bresler: Thank you. Yeah. I mean, it’s funny. Sometimes I describe ALTAR as
a community of exchange. You know, and I really think that’s what it is. It’s like, I love that
women are,
[00:14:33] we’re giving ourselves the opportunity to share what we’re passionate about, whether
it’s our professional thing or just something, you know, we have discovered and love and want to
[00:14:44] And also like the women who are sort of professional teachers, they get to also come
and experience something new and be the student, you know, be the receiver. It’s like that
infinity loop of what women do so naturally and beautifully. Like when they know something,
whether it’s like a cool, a new TV show or a book or whatever, like they just, they want everyone
to know and they share. And that’s how… a big part of how ALTAR has been growing is just from
women like you being like, hey, I love this. People should know about it.
[00:15:14] Lesley Whitehead: One of my, um, goals or intentions in 2024 is to come to every
open house, but bring a new woman with me. And, you know, I’m in the burbs, so about an hour
away, it doesn’t matter to me because I feel like a day aAltarer is such a gift, truly.
[00:15:33] I feel so gifted because the other thing that I love about it is the connections I make
with other women. You know, a lot of time they don’t have anything to do with, let’s exchange
cards and I’m going to hire you. It’s not about that. There are ways to connect, um, on other
levels and help women in other ways. And I don’t know, just feel that, that connection that is
really hard to find right now in the world, I think.
[00:15:59] Kathy Bresler: I am always been a little bit allergic to sort of like traditional
networking things, but there is something very organic about the way that the connections
happen. And I hear that a lot, that women have just like, just having a conversation, they land on
some way in which they can help each other grow their business.
[00:16:17] Or, you know, I just introduced two members who are both going to be moving to San
Diego the other day. I’m so excited for them to meet each other and they just had never crossed
paths. So, it’s the organic nature of the way that that happens while you’re sort of, you’re
[00:16:34] The other thing I hear a lot is like, when it’s sometimes it’s a little hard for us,
especially post pandemic, I think, to kind of, like, get out of the house and, like, go do the things,
even though we want to do them, the nice thing about the open houses, if you can carve out the
day, give yourself a day to do whatever it is you need to do, and it’s so nourishing. And we are
actually committing. I am not a very, um, structured, organized person, but I’m committing to
setting the entire, all the dates for 2024. So that people like you who really kind of have to plan
and make the thing, uh, can know and really, you know, try to, to make it easier for people to
come and experience the space.
[00:17:19] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. That’s fantastic. Do you want to talk, let’s talk a little
bit about the memberships or, you know, how that’s working right now, or is that changing in
2024? Maybe…
[00:17:30] Kathy Bresler: it is changing, you know, it’s funny like because we launched right…
We were supposed to open March 18th of 2020. Uh, and so, like, it has been such a journey
and a lot of it was like, I just, like, made, made stuff up during the pandemic, imagining how
people would want to gather when we could. And so the membership in some ways is just
needed to keep evolving.
[00:17:58] I do feel like 2024, my intentions are to really lean into membership and, and
enhancing the sense of like ALTAR as a membership community and a place where that
interaction and, and a lot more informal. Like, I love the open house and like, there’s classes and

there’s things, but just more opportunities to just like, hang out with each other. Or like, one
of the things I’m dying to do is, um, like a moon pod movie night, you know, just some, some
ways where, you know, you know, it’s happening and you could, uh, weave it in.
[00:18:35] So, but anyway, so the members. At the moment, we have two, two membership
levels. The way I describe it as like our connect level is like a la carte. You know, it’s 33 a month
and you get several free gatherings and access to the space and then a discount on all the
programming. So it’s like you can do as much or as little as you want, but you basically get, uh,
one day a month free in the space. And I do a women’s circle on Zoom first Tuesday of the
month called tend your soul and SoulCollage. And, and, uh, we’re actually gonna be adding a lot
more of these kind of, you know, member benefits, member connection opportunities.
[00:19:20] And then the sustain level is, uh, 222 a month, I think, and that’s more of like the all
you can eat. Like, you want access to the space, you want your own code, come and go as you
please. Know, we I think are going to be, we’re just going to be adding more value I feel like to
the membership. It’s not, we haven’t, it’s been a lot to figure out.
[00:19:45] Lesley Whitehead: Right. It evolves. I mean, you start at one place and then you go,
okay, that’s working, but we need to tweak this. I think that’s true of anything, even products. It’s,
you know, how many iPhones do we have? And you have to also tap into, I’m sure, what the
members are, what’s resonating with the memberships. Right?
[00:20:06] Kathy Bresler: I, yeah. I want it to be a place where you can explore all these
different modalities. Right? Like, I’m very curious. I kind of view it, I’m a curator at heart and this
like curated buffet of things to try. but I, I don’t ever want it to seem too out there? You know, like
that’s my own stuff, but, um, and, and I think we started calling it like a coworking space, but I
think we’ve sort of graduated. Like, it isn’t that. It just isn’t that. People, you can come there and
work and it’s a wonderful place to like work.
[00:20:40] But the whole notion was that it’s very like fluid, like, as women, you can move
throughout your day fluidly from one thing to the next. You could, you know, you know, make a
SoulCollage card. You could get a little work done. You could have some tea and a
conversation. And, and the space is just intentionally designed as a sanctuary to, to do whatever
you need to do. And like coworking just does not do it justice and it kind of puts us in a box.
[00:21:07] So we’re, that’s a big thing. We’re kind of just walking away from and leaning into
what we really are. And we’ve certainly gotten the feedback from women that like, they love
what we are, so like, let’s own it. So I’m trying to step in.
[00:21:20] Lesley Whitehead: And then the other thing is you do rent the space out. So tell me
a little bit about that. How does that work?
[00:21:26] Kathy Bresler: So it’s an unbelievable event space, and my favorite thing to do,
honestly, is to curate for organizations. Whether it’s like a corporate team that wants to have an
offsite where they’ll maybe do some of the work that they’re doing, but then also like, I do
SoulCollage with teams a lot, or, you know, I have a whole like stable of practitioners. So I really
like matching, you know, they do an afternoon sound healing or a human design workshop or
whatever it is. So we do that a lot with, with companies and I mean, it’s kind of amazing. We’ve
had like The Four Seasons and IBM and, Simply Be agency. And, you know, uh, not for profits.
[00:22:06] But we also do. The other thing I love to do is like milestone celebrations. Yeah, I’d
love to do more of that in 2024, like women who are celebrating, whether it’s a big birthday or
like, you know, empty nesting…
[00:22:21] Lesley Whitehead: Like 60?

[00:22:22] Kathy Bresler: Like 60, like 50, like, or, or having a baby, you know, like a blessing
way. Like just, I would love to sort of help curate those sort of meaningful experiences.
[00:22:34] I think that’s another thing that’s happening is like, people don’t really want to go
necessarily out drinking or like, I don’t know, They want meaningful social interaction,
meaningful ways to celebrate. And I feel like the space is ideal for that. So we’re doing more and
more. And that’s, that’s like financially, that’s really what helps us is to be able to do that. But, but
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how, uh, like aligned that organizations are. So it’s like a win
[00:23:05] Lesley Whitehead: Right. And I will speak as a photographer. I have used your
space to photograph in. One of my other clients, um, we photographed in there, Sophia actually,
and, um, it’s a beautiful space to photograph in. So for photographers out there, you, um, might
consider reaching out to Kathy and asking her about that opportunity because it’s beautiful.
There’s so much light. These giant windows, and it just. Yeah, it’s gorgeous in there.
[00:23:33] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. Well, and you know, the other thing we did have one, we had a
production company rent it out to shoot, um, commercial, like a video commercial kind of
commercial commercial. And that I think, yeah, I’d love more of that. You know, it’s like, it’s
really, and there’s so many, don’t you think, like so many moments, so many little like spaces
and beautiful
[00:23:58] Lesley Whitehead: Secret, hidden areas. I mean, even the bathroom was gorgeous.
The um, artwork that’s in one of the restrooms, which is so funny because when you walk in the
restroom, it says, whatever. Not girl, not boy. Heh.
[00:24:12] Kathy Bresler: It’s like whatever, just wash your hands.
[00:24:14] Lesley Whitehead: Yes. But there’s a sign, um, I mean there’s a piece of artwork that
I love, and I’m probably not going to say this correctly, May I Be Kind to Myself as I Become
[00:24:26] Kathy Bresler: That’s what it is. Do you know Kim Kranz?
[00:24:28] Lesley Whitehead: I started following her as soon as I saw that piece of art.
[00:24:32] Kathy Bresler: Right. And she does these amazing tarot decks. And that was like a
poster that came with one of the decks I ordered. And I immediately, I just love that. It’s every
time I see it.
[00:24:43] Lesley Whitehead: I know, I use it in my journaling.
[00:24:45] Kathy Bresler: And I feel you know, in a way that is like encapsulates ALTAR too.
Right. About becoming and growing, but also unlearning so many of the ways that we as women
[00:24:57] Lesley Whitehead: right,
[00:24:58] Kathy Bresler: unkind and harsh and sort of abandon ourselves in the process of
trying to fit in and…
[00:25:05] Lesley Whitehead: Right. Critical, all that.
[00:25:07] Kathy Bresler: Yeah.
[00:25:08] Lesley Whitehead: Okay, let’s go back for a minute to the consciousness concierge.
. I want you to explain that because I love that, um, turn of phrase, but I want to hear you explain

it, please.
[00:25:18] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. So I didn’t, again, like I didn’t make that up. My friend Laura
Berman, actually, we were in a women’s circle together and it’s just something that I kind of do
naturally for myself. I just am very, um, I don’t know. I just take in a lot of inspirational material,
poems, and I don’t I don’t know. I’m always reading and and learning. And then one of my great
joys, we’ll be in a conversation and I’ll be like, oh, leslie, I just read this book and I can give you
that. Here’s a poem that exactly expresses what you’re talking about.
[00:25:51] And, and so this sort of concierging around things that had to do with conscious
growth and development. And Laura, like, just kind of like said that one day. She’s a sex
therapist, and so she’s asked me, do I have any resources for her? And so I started sending her
stuff and I said, am I sending you too much? And she said, no, you’re my. So what did she say?
You’re my soul concierge. No, you’re my consciousness concierge.
[00:26:17] And it really stuck because I, it’s like a funny turn of phrase, but it, it does describe
what I do. And then ALTAR kind of writ large is like concierging all these opportunities for growth
and development and, and expansiveness and it’s just my total joy.
[00:26:38] Lesley Whitehead: Will you go back for a minute and just tell us how ALTAR came
about? Cause we didn’t really talk about that yet.
[00:26:44] Kathy Bresler: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, it has like a series of origin stories. Like all
the way back, uh, in 2005 after I, uh, I had breast cancer when I was 38 and, uh, I was sort of
like on the other side of that. I knew I didn’t want to go back to corporate. I had a friend who at
that was a life coach, which was sort of something I’d never heard of, but I thought, oh, I think
I’m actually a life coach. Like, I think that is the role I play in the lives of the people I know. Right.
So anyway, she offered to like coach me for a while. So maybe I could figure out what I wanted
to do next and also see if maybe I wanted to train to be a coach.
[00:27:22] And one of the exercises was imagine yourself 10 years in the future. You wake up in
the morning. Where are you? What are you doing? What do you see? What’s your work? What’s
your family? And, and, and I just like wrote and wrote and wrote. And, uh, at that point in time, I
was like, I had two young kids. I was like not working. I was very confused about what was
[00:27:44] And I had the most clear vision of like, I am part of this women’s center. And it was
like alternative healing. And I wrote like, we’re on the cutting edge and it’s everything from
quantum physics to like, I listed all these things and I was like, but we’re not quacks. We’re like
the real deal. And, like it wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for me, but it’s like this diverse team
of women of all ages and like, it was just like a very clear vision.
[00:28:12] And then I finished and I thought, well, 1, I have no qualifications to do this, but I’m
like a seeker myself. And 2. I’m obviously going to have to move to California because like, no
one in Chicago in 2005 was interested in that from what I could tell, right? I was still very like,
closeted in my spiritual ness. And so I put it in a drawer and I didn’t look at it again until 2012
when I met five other women, all of whom were like, we need a center in Chicago because
Transitions Book place had closed. I don’t know if you remember Transitions, we were all
missing it.
[00:28:45] Anyway, we gathered a bunch of people. We made the vision board that’s still in the
ALTAR space. We were six visionaries and no doers. And so we have this amazing vision. We
would have these amazing meetings and then like, nothing would happen in between, and we’d
come back together again and we’d have this amazing. Anyway, I was sort of the keeper of that
vision as it fell apart, and I tried multiple different iterations of the center for like 10 years,
including starting a women’s circle in my living room and deciding, you know what, maybe I don’t

need a center.
[00:29:19] And then I, uh, I went to, to seminary, cause I’m interested in all the different wisdom
traditions, a kind of a mystical training. And in the process of that, for an assignment, I had to,
anyway, it’s a longer story, but I, I kind of like got a vision like, oh, I’m gonna, I’m going to take
my, my lift circle, which is my women’s group out of my living room and into a space of its own.
And that I wrote about it.
[00:29:45] And then a couple of hours later, my really dear friend, Heidi Bailey called and said, I
have a weird question for you. Have you ever thought about taking lift out of your living room
and into a space of its own? Cause I just walked by an empty Starbucks and got a hit that like,
you’re going to do that and I’m going to help you. and then that was January of 2019. And it was
like the whole idea just got reborn. And then it became ALTAR. And I found the space in January
of 2020 and, then there was a pandemic and here we are.
[00:30:15] Lesley Whitehead: Wait, so, oh my God, that’s beautiful. How did you manage
through the pandemic?
[00:30:20] Kathy Bresler: Well, so that’s another amazing, I feel like, I don’t know why I feel like
I want a center, right? Like it’s just been in me. Like I, I it’s like a calling. It’s like, I feel like…
[00:30:31] Lesley Whitehead: It’s heart wisdom.
[00:30:33] Kathy Bresler: Like forces want ALTAR to exist and I was like, okay, I’ll make it. I feel
compelled. But then there’s just been all this sort of support. And one of the kind of magical
things that happened is that, um, like before ALTAR, in the years upcoming, I had an uncle, who
didn’t never had any children and, and I didn’t know, but me and my siblings were like the
residual beneficiary. So after they paid everyone else, like whatever was left went to me and my
siblings. So I inherited this like little pot of money that I set aside to finally create the center.
Because one of the issues was like, we could never get funding and blah, blah, blah.
[00:31:14] So I had this money. I’m like, I’m doing it. And so I rented the space and I was like.
Um, what, it’ll take like three months to have revenue. Like I’m good. Well, then the pandemic
happened. But because I had this like chunk of money, I was, and my landlord was incredibly
generous and like lots of good things happened. But I was able to kind of weather the storm
because I had that nest egg. And, um, I feel incredibly grateful because I wouldn’t have been
able to do it and, we’re slowly, like, working to sustainability.
[00:31:49] Lesley Whitehead: Well, and going back to memberships again, I feel like I’ve been
impressing upon the, um, brick and mortar for sure, small businesses that I know to, um, create
memberships, subscriptions, fan clubs, whatever, to continue business. Because business is
very difficult right now. I mean, it doesn’t matter if it’s a brick and mortar, if it’s a service,
whatever, you know, people are hanging on to their money. But we want local businesses and,
you know, organizations to survive. We have to support them in ways.
[00:32:25] So I’ve seen recently three businesses I know just locally here, come up with a
subscription program or a membership program, fan club for 2024, for as little as 19 dollars a
month, who wouldn’t support a business for 19 dollars a month? I mean, there was one that I
didn’t even read, frankly, what I was getting because I didn’t care. I was like, okay, I love this
business. I want to see it continue. This wasn’t a make or break for her certainly, but it, it gives
you a safety net if nothing else.
[00:32:58] And additionally, there’s a writer, Emily, Em and Friends. I’m not sure if you’re familiar
with that card company, Emily. Yes. I can’t think of her name right now, but she owned that
company. She’s since left it and she’s been writing, she started, um, blogging and writing, and at
first it was for everyone. And then she decided to do sort of Patreon account where you pay,
think it was 50 for the year. And you’re in this special group. And again. I didn’t even read it. I

love her work. I’m just thinking, I want this artist to survive. I know she’s not starving, but I want
her to survive and I want her to feel supported.
[00:33:36] So I think memberships are brilliant, brilliant. And I think having memberships at
different tiers is very smart because not everybody can drop whatever 300 at the beginning of
the year for a year or whatever it is. So, yeah, I think that is very, very smart of you.
[00:33:57] Kathy Bresler: I love that. Well, and I, and I do feel like we’re really leaning in to
exactly like just, less of a focus on sort of fee for service, which is not really what we’re about
anyway. Um, and more about, do you want a place like ALTAR to exist? Believe in the mission,
and then you want to come and play and use it in whatever, amazing.
[00:34:21] But we had, you know, right, lots of people at a relatively low level, each individual
person, like it would really go a long way and that’s what we’re trying to, you know, kind of like,
just be really transparent about the message that like, we’ve created something beautiful and it’s
really not about whether you come every day. It’s about, do you want it to exist and be here
when you do want to come or when other, you know, to make it possible for other women to
come. And so, yeah, I, I appreciate you saying that. It’s kind of the direction we’re headed.
[00:34:55] Lesley Whitehead: Good. I love hearing that. I will definitely be a member this year
[00:35:00] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. Yay.
[00:35:02] Lesley Whitehead: And go to all open houses and bring friends.
[00:35:05] Kathy Bresler: I love it. I have to say the other really fun thing that happened at the
open house was several different women who I didn’t know. Right. It stopped being just like
Kathy’s friends, but, um, who were like, three different people told me I needed to come here.
Four different people told me I needed to come here. Like, I it’s hitting the people who belong
and they’re telling their people.
[00:35:25] Lesley Whitehead: Right, right. The other thing that I love about it is, so you have, I
know this is sort of a side silly thing, but you have a refrigerator there so you can bring food if
you want to bring your own food. But then you also have these lovely places to eat locally. And
there’s one that I went to, which I cannot remember the name of, but it’s a Turkish coffee house.
[00:35:46] Kathy Bresler: Oh, Aroma right under the L? Yeah, Aroma Cafe.
[00:35:50] Lesley Whitehead: Okay. Amazing food.
[00:35:52] Kathy Bresler: Layla is the owner and she, all the ALTAR members get 20 percent
off. But it’s just organic, delicious, made with love.
[00:36:01] Lesley Whitehead: I brought a friend, my friend Linda, and we had beet hummus. I
said, Is there any chickpeas in it? It’s completely beet. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever
tasted and they kind of described what was in it. There, there were some chickpeas, but it was
so beautifully plated. And then they have books that you can take if, you know, as long as you
return them. And they have lovely coffee and desserts, we had soup. It was just, it was a lovely
experience and then you walk back and finish your day at altar. I mean, it’s just, that was just
part of the beautiful experience.
[00:36:35] Kathy Bresler: Yeah, it is like a little love affair we have with each other.
[00:36:39] Lesley Whitehead: I know. Because when I was in there, she was saying the same
about you.

[00:36:44] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. No, it’s really, it was really fun to find them right away and and
then supporting other women business. All the things. Yeah.
[00:36:52] Lesley Whitehead: How do you find the women who, for instance, the woman who
was doing the Beyond Menopause book talk? How do you find the women who are coming to
share their, um, creations, their experiences, their passions? Where do you find these women?
[00:37:09] Kathy Bresler: That is one of the like small miracles of ALTAR. On the one hand, I
think I, because of my women’s circle and just who I am my like, I do a lot of I try a lot of
modalities myself. So I do have a pretty wide network of people in the sort of healing, self
growth, space. But they find me. That is the answer. Like I get emails from women all the time.
Like, hey, I do TRE, you know, I heard about ALTAR. I would love to, you know, come and offer
something to your community.
[00:37:46] And the beautiful thing of having the open houses is I have like a place to slot them in
to say, hey, okay, we do this free thing. Come in and, and share it with the community and then
you can offer a paid workshop, but you can introduce it and we can feel if we are a good match
for each other. And so it’s been this, that has been the easiest part of this whole thing. It’s the
constant flow of, you know, women doing interesting things and wanting and being so generous
and willing to share. So I love that. And, uh, yeah, we’re always open to, to being the conduit for
that exchange.
[00:38:25] Lesley Whitehead: I, and I came to, I also went to an event at night. It was a book
talk. The life of me, I cannot remember. But how do you create those programs differentiate from
what you’re doing at the open house? Like, that, that was more of a program. I signed up, I
[00:38:41] Kathy Bresler: Yeah. So we’ve been doing again, like, you know, it’s funny, we, we
get a lot of requests for people who teach things, you know, or who, when, and I always am
trying to like, when women are doing book launches like Kimothee and I honestly don’t
remember if it was Rebecca, cyber, who you attended, but, you know, I’m always love to do that,
uh, and support them. And those are like paid programs and we, you know, sometimes we’ll host
the registration on our website or people do it on Eventbrite. But, um, we offer so many
[00:39:15] Lesley Whitehead: Right, there are new moon
[00:39:17] Kathy Bresler: Yes.
[00:39:18] Lesley Whitehead: events.
[00:39:18] Kathy Bresler: Yes.
[00:39:18] Lesley Whitehead: And so there, it’s sort of a variety of a little bit of everything.
[00:39:23] Kathy Bresler: It’s a little bit of everything. I mean, that is definitely part of my… I
think in 2024, one of the ways that we’re going to make space in a way to focus more on really
enhancing the member community and just a sense of belonging, is to, to shift a little bit of our
focus more toward programming that’s included in your membership that’s accessible and free.
And we’ll obviously still have paid programming, but the schedule has been like kind of insane
and almost too many choices is some of the feedback that I’ve gotten.
[00:39:58] So, um, I really believe in like a, the buffet of options. Like I don’t have a point of view.
I don’t about, I don’t, I can tell you what, what has worked for me, what I have found
transformative or, you know, expansive, but I love to be kind of the like, hey, have you heard of
TRE? Have you heard of sound healing? Like try it out, taste it. You like it. Great. Have another

helping. If you don’t taste something else, you know?
[00:40:25] It’s, we don’t have an agenda around, you know, a curriculum or anything, and it is
very driven by, you know, women who want to share what they know. I don’t go out and find
people. Although I will say one of the things I am most excited about for 2024 is on April 6th,
Elizabeth Lesser is coming to ALTAR. Do you know Elizabeth Lesser?
[00:40:48] Lesley Whitehead: I might, the name doesn’t ring a bell.
[00:40:51] Kathy Bresler: Okay. So
[00:40:51] She’s written a lot of books, but she wrote a book called Broken Open,
[00:40:55] Lesley Whitehead: okay.
[00:40:56] Kathy Bresler: uh, came out just as I was, so it’s probably 20 years ago, just as I
was being diagnosed. She was the founder of Omega Institute in, um, New York, the like
spiritual center. She’s like an amazing author, leader. She, um, for my 40th birthday, I made my
sister and my mom, who are not seekers, go with me to New York to the Omega, like Women in
Power Conference in New York City for three days. And it was like Eve Ensler and Jane Fonda,
and it was all put on by Elizabeth Lesser. And, I’m kind of like a fangirl and the fact that she is
going to be coming to ALTAR
[00:41:34] Lesley Whitehead: Oh.
[00:41:35] Kathy Bresler: to do a talk on her most recent book, which is called Cassandra
Speaks. And it’s all about, like, if women told the story, like, how different history would be. So
it’s very aligned with everything we’re doing. So I hope to do more of those kind of, like,
educational, bring in thought leaders and, you know, women writers and poets and just stir it up
in 2024.
[00:41:57] Lesley Whitehead: Don’t you think it’s interesting? You know, you had this sort of girl
crush on her and now she’s coming to you. I, that was sort of what happened to me with the 55
women. There were a lot of women who, um, you know, I had girl crushes on and I thought, I
don’t know if they’re going to be a part of this program, but you know what I did, I asked.
[00:42:17] So, you know, I think that’s the big thing is that we get so intimidated sometimes by,
or I’ll just speak for myself, by other people’s persona, and they’re just people, they’re just
women, and they want to share their message, and you have a beautiful space, so I feel like
anyone who’s on your top 10 list, top 5 list, I would go after, and you will be surprised, I know
they will say yes. You’ll have to have a two day session because you won’t be able to fit. I mean,
ALTAR is huge, but you won’t be able to fit everybody in there.
[00:42:51] Kathy Bresler: I, really, I want to have a conference like called like women changing
the world and just invite all the interesting, you know, and do it. There’s a lot of women changing
the world. We could do it later, but it’s funny. I was in a, in a, like a workshop, uh, in the
beginning of October. And one of the exercises we had to do was like, imagine, like a dream that
you have, and you had to like, in this little circle, speak about it. It was called future tripping, I
think. And it was like, you had to speak about it as if it had already happened. Okay. And so
people were like, I want to be on Oprah or like, what’s your big dream. And mine was like, I’m
like the hugest nerd fan of We Can Do Hard Things, the podcast. And I’m like, I want Glennon
and Abby and Sister to come to ALTAR. That’s my high dream. We’ll see. I, I, maybe I’ll invite
them. Maybe if they’re ever go on tour.
[00:43:44] Lesley Whitehead: Love that. I love that. Speak it, say it out loud. It’ll happen
definitely. And just ask,

[00:43:51] Kathy Bresler: Yeah.
[00:43:51] Lesley Whitehead: I’m serious. Years ago, the Glennon story I have is somehow I
found her, read her book, immediately Googled her and realized she was going to be at the
Rosemont theater or somewhere locally. And I had no one to go with. And I thought, wow, this is
a really good example of me not surrounding myself with women who are like minded. So I went
by myself. There were women there all in crowds of other women. I didn’t care.
[00:44:21] She, this is quite a while ago when she did, I think her first book tour. And, um, you
know, it was life changing and beautiful, but it also gave me the realization that I had lots of
friends, but that doesn’t mean that you are on the same page with those friends. They can be
your friends, but you might not have the same way that you look at things. Be possibly as open
minded, maybe, about that kind of experience. And, um, it really taught me a lesson about who I
surround myself with.
[00:44:53] And again, not that I’m not friends with those people, but I have to have a group that I
would hey, would you like to go for the day to ALTAR? And they say, yes. Those are the people
that I need to surround myself with.
[00:45:05] Kathy Bresler: I love that. I mean, I love everything about that, that you went by
yourself, that you had that realization, but it makes me realize like that is part of the intention of
ALTAR is like, those women are at ALTAR. And
[00:45:20] ALTAR is such a safe, welcoming, intentional space that you could come alone. You
come alone to the open house. And you would feel like you found,
[00:45:31] Lesley Whitehead: You wouldn’t be alone.
[00:45:31] Kathy Bresler: not like social friends necessarily, they could be, but it’s like those
sort of friends of the heart or friends of the soul or, and of all different ages. And there’s
something so, it feels hard to, like you’re saying, like you can’t just go find those people
necessarily. But I do think that’s part of the magic is, is it has that feeling, the women, it doesn’t
matter. It’s just not about any of the social structures that we sometimes get stuck in.
[00:45:58] Lesley Whitehead: Right. And even physically, we end up in a circle, even though no
one says, let’s make a circle, we always end up in a circle. Whether it’s a circle around the table,
it’s a circle on the floor, we circle, and then there is sharing. There’s always sharing.
[00:46:14] So you’re right. I would go to ALTAR by myself, certainly, and Meet people right away.
Because no one is left standing by themselves, self at ALTAR. You connect with people you
connect with other women And it’s very easy and organic to do. Definitely.
[00:46:31] All right. I before we end our conversation I have to ask you that question that, um,
that I was asking all the women I thought was so interesting. What would people be surprised to
learn about you?
[00:46:46] Kathy Bresler: I mean, the thing I always say, because it does surprise people, but I
am a total, like, sci fi nerd, and I especially am, like, a Star Trek Next Generation, Star Wars fan
from way back.
[00:47:02] Lesley Whitehead: I love that.
[00:47:03] Kathy Bresler: I don’t know why that seems incongruous to people, but, um, I am
like a little, it’s like, uh, I’m a sci fi nerd.
[00:47:11] Lesley Whitehead: It doesn’t seem to me, that it doesn’t fit because it’s otherworldly.

[00:47:16] Kathy Bresler: True.
[00:47:16] Lesley Whitehead: Right. I mean, you know, that’s thinking way outside the box, and
the possibility of all of that. That probably was the seed in the beginning that started all this
questioning and seeking.
[00:47:29] Kathy Bresler: It’s true. Like when I saw Star Wars in 19 whatever it was, you know,
79 whatever year, 78, it was like, I remember thinking very clearly, being like, The Force, that, I
know that’s how it is. Like, I believe that or whatever. It was like, I was just enchanted with the
whole metaphysics kind of of it. That’s really where I started, but then I, I don’t know, I’m just
kind of A Wrinkle In Time was my favorite book. I’m just like, yeah, I like outer space.
[00:47:57] Lesley Whitehead: I love that. I love that. Thank you for sharing. All right. This is
what I want you to share with everybody else. Let them know how we find you. What is the best
way to find ALTAR, get involved in the programs, et cetera.
[00:48:10] Kathy Bresler: Yes, so you can find us. Our website is altarcommunity.com. A L T A
R, ALTAR and at altarcommunity on instagram. You can sign up on our website, you can sign
up, we send out a newsletter every week. Like, here’s what’s happening at ALTAR. And I send a
consciousness concierge, kind of my favorite things. And so, yeah, that’s like get on the list and
then come to an open house I think is probably the best way to just feel the people in the space.
And, love to have you.
[00:48:43] Lesley Whitehead: I agree. Kathy, thank you so much for being here. What, I am so
incredibly grateful for you participating in my podcast and, um, being part of my 55 Women
Project. And I am so excited to see what happens in 2024 with you and ALTAR. And I can’t wait
to celebrate your 60th.
[00:49:05] Kathy Bresler: Amazing. Thank you. I’m feel so grateful that our paths crossed and
you thought to ask me and just been a delight,
[00:49:14] Lesley Whitehead: Thank you. Thank you.
[00:49:22] Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found this episode inspiring as
well as entertaining. If you want more out of the box wisdom from boots on the ground, creative,
brave women like this one, subscribe to Her Story So Far podcast wherever you listen, and
please share this link with anyone who needs some inspiration. To receive more wisdom in your
inbox, sign up for my weekly letter at Lesleywhiteheadphotography. com.
[00:49:51] Her Story So Far podcast is produced in conjunction with mad talented executive
producer K.O. Myers at Particulate Media.
[00:50:01] Thank you to all my beautiful bold guests, without them there would be no show.
[00:50:07] Until next time, get out there and make yourself visible to the world. We need you and
your creation. If no one has told you today, you are beautiful.

Her Story So Far

Her Story So Far focuses on outside-the-box conversations with badass female creatives. These women are birthing amazing passion projects in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of their lives. Host Lesley Whitehead is an artist, visual storyteller and multi-passionate marketer. She believes age shouldn’t stop you from achieving your dreams or make you invisible to the world. Join us to be inspired by the wit, wisdom and one-of-a-kind experiences of these amazing women.

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