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Holding the High Watch (Lesson 49)

You’re about to read Chapter 49. Want to start this story from the beginning? Go here.

When I first started this project, Lesson 49 seemed impossibly far away.

Now that it is here, I am sort of freaking out.

Because now that I am at the end, I can see this is only the beginning.

I am not over Paul. Not even close.

This is upsetting, because I think at some level, I believed that if I showed up for this course, diligently dug around into my own issues and beliefs and experiences for forty-nine days straight, that I would achieve some kind of outcome.

Namely, that doing this work would help me be over him.

Instead, most of the insights I have uncovered serve to reinforce how positive our connection really was. I miss him for good reason, and even so, he is not here for good reason.

Which means that although this endeavor may be over, my journey will certainly continue.

What does it mean to “hold the high watch”?

Katherine uses the phrase “holding the high watch” to describe the process of committing to your best self.

There is also an implication of waiting, and of patience.

(“‘How long must one remain in the dark?’ asks author Florence Scovel Shinn. ‘Until one can see in the dark,’ she cleverly answers.”)

But mostly, there is a directive to sally forth and be our best.

“If you are fully engaged in being the absolute best you can be,” says Katherine, “I guarantee you, you won’t choose an amoral, negative, and abusive person as your partner in life.”

Oh, how true this is.

After I left Leo, I was so afraid I would make the same mistake twice.

I moved to the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea in part because it was known for having a high gay population, which made me feel safe from the advances of straight men.

For nearly two years, I did not date.

And then I did choose a partner who was negative and abusive.


But I also learned. I became fully engaged in becoming my best self, and I began to completely embrace my worth and my desires and what I have to offer.

And then I met Paul.

Paul was moral, and positive, and kind, and loving.

Also, he was not ready to commit to me.

This hurts, but I understand. And I don’t need him to be different. I don’t need him to come back (even though if I’m honest, I still want him to).

What I need is to keep becoming my best.

I need to keep believing that my beloved will find me, keep trusting that my life partner is en route.

I know that all this is true, so I can hold the high watch with dignity and faith.

At long last, “The List”

Throughout Calling In “The One,” Katherine has warned against making “The List.”

Getting too specific about how our partner should appear is a dangerous path to travel, because it closes us off to possibilities we may not have considered.

However, in this final lesson, she acknowledges that lists can also have benefits.

In particular, “sometimes the lists we make of what we want in a mate really reflect the characteristics that we ourselves would be cultivating if we were being true to our highest aspirations.”

In other words, what we are looking for can tell us who we want to be.

To that end, “we always begin with the self. Because the lists we make are usually the vision we have of ourselves living our best life.”

And once we know what we are seeking—aka what we want to become—we “must surrender ourselves completely to our desire to learn the ways of love. We must allow our commitment to actualize a great love to dominate the choices we make right now, and the actions we do or don’t take each and every day.”

Lesson 49 in practice

In our final homework assignment, we are given leave to make “The List.” I thought I would feel resistance to this, but nope. The words flowed:

kind, spiritual, generous, faithful, brave, committed, trusting, funny, loyal, resourceful, patient, disciplined, persistent, positive, hopeful, hardworking, ambitious, loving, forgiving, surrendered, shows up for his family, does what he can to make the world better, honest, communicative, strong, tender, devoted, passionate, supportive, wise, smart

Then Katherine said, narrow down the list to five qualities. Just five!

I appreciated the opportunity to deeply consider what is most important to me. And while I give myself permission to continue this evaluation, for now, I am focusing on:

kind, surrendered, brave, honest, committed

Next I was asked to promise myself that I would date people who appear to have these qualities and to refrain from dating those who don’t.

Done and done.

And for the final portion of the assignment, in keeping with the idea that I must become the person I am seeking, I wrote promises to curate the qualities I most value:

I promise to prioritize kindness in my daily interactions with others.

I promise to actively surrender my will each day, as well as to meditate and pray.

I promise to take positive action even when I feel afraid.

I promise to tell the truth, always in all ways.

I promise to stick with my important choices even when it would be easier to give up and walk away.

These promises are more important to me than right now than a wedding vow.

Bonus challenge for the road

I also realized that there is a runner-up quality I want to cultivate. It didn’t make it into my top five, but it was a close contender, and it’s something I want to work on.


I believe in abundance and I do my best to live that way. When others in my life are generous, I am so deeply awed and appreciative.

Yet my own default seems to be, well, frugal.

A lot of this has to do with financial restrictions that I am in the process of releasing, but the mindset matters more than the money.

Yesterday I was on the subway platform with two bags full of groceries and a woman asked me for some food.

My bags mostly contained frozen fruits and packaged goods but I usually carry snacks in my purse and so I offered her a protein bar, which she accepted.

Then she told me she had a cup and asked if I would give her some of my milk.

I hesitated for a moment—thought about how the half gallon was unopened, as though that posed a problem. Then thank god I bypassed my frugal response and reached for the milk.

I can afford to be generous.

Let me say that again: I CAN AFFORD TO BE GENEROUS!

“Say when,” I told her as I poured liquid protein into the plastic cup she held up to me.

“I’ll take as much as you’ll give,” she said, and so I filled it to the brim.

Then I rummaged through my purse and gave her the rest of the snacks I had on hand—another bar, some packets of trail mix.

We always get what we need

There have been so many times I have had to pour out spoiled milk, or I’ve let snacks go stale.

Thank god I had the chance to recognize my abundance and then give it away.

That woman allowed me to overcome my default response of “no” and “not enough” and instead remember that of course, of course, we always can receive.

Which means we can also always give.

Because we always, always, get what we need.

That includes loving partnerships, career success, and even, eventually world peace.

“We know that the miracle is coming and we receive that miracle now,” Katherine asserts at the end of Lesson 49.

“And together we say yes, yes, yes, and yes.”

Love > fear,


Want to know what happens next? Proceed to the Postscript.

Missed what happened before? Go back to Chapter 48, or start from the beginning.

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Love > fear