What Oprah Taught Me

Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend San Jose

No I didn’t come home with a car. I didn’t leave with a photo, a “favorite thing,” or a dream fulfilled.

But when I left Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend, I was inspired, invigorated and hopeful that I would not only aspire to the dreams I had for myself, but that it was possible I could exceed my own humble desires. That’s pretty big and better than a new car if you ask me.

So I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you here. You my loyal readers. You who look just like me to get inspired, to turn the rut of ordinary day to day into a magical, meaningful party. I hope these insights will take you through the rest of the year and inspire you to fulfill all of your dreams in (can you believe it’s almost the end of the year?) 2015!

1. “There is no life without a spiritual life.”

We’re all searching for meaning and connection. Whether you use the word, “spiritual” or not, the older you get the more likely you are to question whether there’s anything more than a Starbucks coffee drinking life. There is! Oprah says that “there is no life without a spiritual life.”

Spirituality, the belief in something greater than yourself, is all about meaning and connection. The more problems we experience, the more fear and uncertainty we have, the greater the calling toward love and spirituality.

2. You are responsible for your energy.

What is your intention behind your question, your action, your decisions? That is what you are responsible for because whatever you bring to these situations is what will come back to you.

3. Stay out of other people’s energy fields.

At the same time, realize that you’re not responsible for anyone else. You can’t control your partner, the grocery clerk, your friend, your family member. All that effort will drain the life out of you and pull you away from your own dreams and desires.

4. “Your life is always speaking to you.”

A lot of people have questions about why they’re here. But surprisingly they’re looking for the answers in all the wrong places (and people). The key is to spend time in silence and seek the answers within.

5. “The single best way to change your vibration is to be grateful.”

Want more happiness, joy and love in your life? The secret isn’t to catch these things externally. Oprah says it’s all about finding these things in your own life. If you’re breathing, she says, you have something to be grateful for. And the more energy you spend feeling grateful, the more things you will have to be grateful for.

6. Surrender.

When you’ve done everything you can possibly do to fulfill your dreams, let go and surrender. It’s only when we release control that life has the freedom to gift us with dreams much greater than the ones we made for ourselves.

In future posts, I’ll also share insights from the other amazing speakers like Rob Bell and Elizabeth Gilbert.

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It’s Not About Finding Your Purpose

Accepting who you are warts and all

When I started this blogging journey, it was all about my writing. I wanted a place to pursue my passion. I wanted an arena to showcase my work and a venting spot to unleash my unexpressed writing dream. Since then, I’ve moved to Hawaii, bought a house, suffered from a few chronic illnesses and had a baby. Through it all, I realized the journey has molded my intention rather than the other way around. Instead of a place to inspire creativity and to get more writing gigs, it opened up my soul. It’s not just about finding our purpose or living our dreams. It’s about loving your life and finding a way to accept wherever we are in the process. It’s about self-acceptance. Patience. Faith. And courage.

I realized this because I found myself getting too attached to external circumstances. How many people were viewing my blog? How many freelance writing jobs was I getting? Was my work good enough?

Understandable questions to ask when striving for freelance writing success. But it was the meaning I placed on professional achievement and positive feedback that was wonky. Success, attention, like Lady Gaga’s new song, Applause, should not equal self-worth.

Doing well in your profession is important. Never giving up on your dreams is important. But more than anything else, our goal in life should be to find ways to love our self.

Basing who you are and your value on feedback from others or from success will inevitably deplete you. What nourishes our soul, what we’re really looking for, isn’t temporary validation through external sources. What lasts longer than a complement is the belief that regardless of what we accomplish, our lives mean something.

And that doesn’t have to mean BIG, grand, dramatic things. Just because your neighbor, a Facebook friend or a relative has done something so fabulous it leaves your life seem boring and worthless in comparison, doesn’t mean your less valuable than them. Just because you haven’t found “it” yet (great job, relationship, etc.), doesn’t mean you should walk around with your head down and your voice squelched.

It’s not about what you do that matters. You matter because you are here.

The secret is not in uncovering what will make us shine. The secret is that we don’t know we’re worthy of shining.

If we could all take that in on a deep level, the world would be a kinder, more loving, compassionate place to live. When we’re not trying to convince others of our worthiness, we’re ourselves. Being authentically you and feeling good in your own skin are the ways to happiness.

And your true calling?

It will find you on that path.

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Keep Hope In Your Pocket

{Etsy print by JCSpock}

{Etsy print by JCSpock}

I admit I spend too much time worrying about the things that don’t end up even happening in my life. I worry about wasting time, but much of it is spent obsessing over the illnesses I have and the opportunities I don’t have.

Last night, however, I dreamed about possibility, hope and miracles. In it, I was told that everything we think we know about life is just the surface of what’s true. We grieve and bemoan our situation, for example, because we think it’s permanent. We allow logic to override miracle. We’ve grown too accustomed to computers and smartphones that tell us what is true instead of figuring it out for ourselves. And the weather? Trust your forecaster or Siri instead of just popping your head out the window.

As a result, intuition falls to the wayside. Hope no longer exists unless we have evidence to prove it.

Because something seems impossible or improbable we give up. But the whole notion of faith and miracle is dreaming up the impossible. If so, what we believe can be true is delivered to us on a platter.

Sounds easy, but the real struggle is challenging our old and jaded minds. We have to fight the fear of being vulnerable, being wrong, being disappointed.

We knew this as children. Every thing we absorbed then was magical. Do you remember it? But we let the pain and suffering of growing up wound us. Some allow it to wound them permanently.

If we can strip away the negativity, the paranoia, the obsessive need to know in this moment, we might return to that place of innocence, hope and joy. Instead of searching intently for a way to rid of your current ailment, let’s spend a moment in prayer and acceptance for what is so that we may lay open a door to possibility that everything. is. okay.

You won’t get that from the internet, a friend, your spouse, a sibling, or even a doctor. When you sit quietly or stand in the middle of nature, however, you will know it.

Do what you can with what you have and then surrender it and let it be. Life will happen regardless of how much you try to control it. But within those seemingly confining boundaries, there is and always will be hope. Trust in it. Hope is the armor of courage best used in battle. It will carry you through sleepless nights of worry, distrust, and panic. It is the only thing besides love that will help you through the unknown. And when you’ve landed safely on the other side, remember it. Remember that there is always a ray of light upon you just as you look back toward the shadows. It matters not what you go through, but where you’re focusing.

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Reframing Things

Every situation especially the despicable ones require a bit of readjusting if you want to get through it with as minimal damage as possible. There’s a) seeing the bright side b) seeing everything as half-empty.

Regardless of which one is true, know this: you’re life will always be happier if you embrace the first one.

It’s almost the weekend and I’m still settling my toes in the warm Hawaiian sand. But like the movie The Descendants suggests, no life is postcard perfect. Even people in Hawaii have problems too.

The choice, however is to continue facing the rainbows with the rain clouds on your back.

Sometimes reframing your perspective is the only way you can get through a difficult situation. Take exhibit A. Here’s a shimmery gold placemat, a $3 porcelain dish from Pier1 and a bowl of fresh tangerines. All pretty sweet.

But sometimes you have to change your perspective, zoom out of the situation you’re in, and open your eyes to the BIG picture. Only then you will you be able to grasp what you’re really grappling with. And thankfully, the situation often appears a lot less larger

than you imagined.

{by The Inspiring Bee}

Has reframing a situation ever helped you? How so?

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Being Okay With the Unknown

{flickr photo}

I guarantee our ancestors were better at it than we are. They didn’t have smart phones back then, or tablets, or digital notebooks. They looked to the stars for guidance and their hearts for hope. And when it got really bad, they sat on the earth, lifted their palms up to the sky and prayed for guidance.

I wish I had their faith and confidence. (I’m the type of girl who needs to check her iPad for the weather before deciding what to wear in the morning.)

With all our fancy gadgets, you’d think we’d be stronger, more courageous and adventurous. In some ways, yes. But surprisingly, it’s getting good with the not knowing in life that makes us strong.

The Bad Thing About Technology

I think technology has just given us a false sense of control. And we’ve gotten too comfortable in thinking we can know and control everything. So much so that when something hits us (an illness, a death, a loss), when something alters the way we perceived things previously, we’re shaken to our core. And that unsettling experience propels us from the false veil/shield we thought would prevent us from difficulty.

I don’t think we will ever get to a point where we enjoy the hardships, look forward to the pain or feel automatically grateful for it. But I think in learning that none of us really had control to begin with, we can let go just a little bit. We can stretch our arms into the unknown, feel the fear and be in awe of its power. We can remember that our lives are both greater and smaller than we make it. And instead of feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the enormity of that knowledge, we can remember that love, spirituality, hope, and faith always trumps fear…

{Read more on my Happy Haven column for Beliefnet Health.}

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You Have Permission to Just Be

{flickr photo}

Like reptiles we shed our soft baby skins and soft, playful spirits when we leave childhood. We embrace a tougher skin and more brittle insides that we think come with adulthood.

“We’re grown-ups now,” we say to ourselves. That means no more lounging around, letting our souls dream, and watching the day roll on by the way we used to as kids.

We allow ourselves to harden the way flowers do when they’re on the their way to die. And we forget that life is about growing, not sinking into ourselves.

And why shouldn’t we?

Life gives us more than enough reason to. It takes away our loved ones, our dreams, our hope. And it does so in such an insidious, unexpected way, how can we not relinquish the playfulness and whimsy that characterized our youth, and grab onto what’s left: fear, discouragement, disappointment?

It is, but a choice.

{The rest of my post can be read on my Beliefnet Health column, “Happy Haven.”}


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