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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Soul Lessons: How Memories Can Heal You

{Etsy blessing: Angeliccraftacademy}

{Etsy blessing: Angeliccraftacademy}

Actress Shirley Maclaine sat with Oprah a few Sundays ago on Super Soul Sunday to talk about aging, wisdom and life. I’m a big fan of Maclaine. I agree with Winfrey’s characterization of her as a “spiritual trailblazer.” Every statement she makes drips with profundity. I had to keep pressing pause on my DVR so I could soak it all in.

One of the things she said was memories, what we choose to remember, holds significance. Why do we, for example, remember our father scolding us, but forget a shopping trip with our mother? Maybe, there is a secret lesson in our memories.

Part of that is due to how we’re hardwired. This article says, for example, we’re more likely to remember things associated with strong emotions. But out of the emotional memories, could there be a deeper reason why we hold on to some and not others?

I think it’s worth asking.

Maybe there’s a reason why our minds won’t let go of a particular incident-your parents arguing, a friendship that ended bad, a job that you really enjoyed doing.

Maybe it’s worth revisiting the memory.

Is there something you need to learn, return, heal in order for your brain to let it go?

If we’re open to rediscovering why that memory stays in the first place, we might open the door to greater healing. We may be able to kiss that wound of sorrow or rebuild a burned bridge. We may be able to find out what still needs tending so we can heal what’s still hurt and vulnerable. When we uncover the mystery of forgotten memories, we may finally be able to forgive, grow and move forward.

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When Your Best Isn’t Quite Good Enough

{Etsy print from lizzylemonsouthsea}

{Etsy print from lizzylemonsouthsea}

From Out of Control to Controlling

I felt out of control a lot as a kid. We all did. We were completely dependent on tall, powerful beings that controlled what we could eat, what time we could go to bed, and what we did. While there is comfort in depending on others, it made me feel trapped, unhappy and unsafe. As a result, I developed ways to carve out a sense of freedom in little ways.

It turned me into a nerdy perfectionist. I demanded A’s in all of my classes. And when I didn’t get it? I pulled a Cher (from Clueless) and talked my way into one. This may not sound surprising to you. But imagine a C average grade school student who was so shy she would rather fail a class than do an oral report, and you might understand how shocking this was. But getting good grades was so immediately gratifying! There was nothing else in my life that allowed me to get direct and positive results like that. The idea that I could change my world by simply working hard taught me an important lesson about life:

Hard work = Good grades

Unfortunately, I learned after college and graduate school that life itself didn’t work that way. Sometimes you can try your hardest and still end up failing.

What Failure Means In Your Life

There are many moments in my life when I feel like a failure. I feel it when I don’t get a writing job. I feel it when I’m having a bad day. Sometimes I’m overcome with self-doubt when I wake up in the morning. But I never let it stay.

I realized that I am not God. I don’t know why things are happening so why sabotage the gift of what is for the gift I want.

On Super Soul Sunday, spiritual teacher Panache Desai said something so profound that it completely altered the way I saw my life.

He said, “Life is happening for you and not to you.”

It was just a play on semantics, a simple juggling of words. But the idea stayed with me, shook me up and changed the way I saw everything in my life.

Maybe that writing opportunity I didn’t get wasn’t right for me so it fell out my grasp. Maybe that house I was dreaming about wasn’t taken from me, but hidden for me so that I could find the true home of my dreams.

I used it on a trip to California last week and saw gifts bloom like flowers in Spring time. I didn’t hem or haw over lost sleep one night and the next morning I was grateful for the fatigue-I slept like a baby on the plane. I wasn’t worried about being on standby and got first class instead. I didn’t plan our trip to Monterey and found places my husband and I, who have been there multiple times, had never been. In the week that I was there, I learned that by letting go of my own expectations, I made room for life to unfold as it should. And the outcome was more beautiful, and more breathtaking than I could have imagined.

The thing about failure and about being “good enough” is that it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Maybe what you’re labeling as failure in your own life is simply your life..

unfolding for you

not to you.

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The Key to Having More

{Etsy print by wickedpaper}

{Etsy print by wickedpaper}

Everyone wants a better life. They desire bigger homes with huge lots, more money, a better job. But when it comes down to it. What we’re really after is more love, deeper relationships, a more meaningful life.

And you can easily get all of those things. You just have to focus on what you really want and stop getting distracted with all the other stuff.

Watching Oprah interview Nate Berkus on Super Soul Sunday was a great validation of that. She talked to him about his newest book, The Things That Matter. I love the title for its simple play on words and its breaking down of the stereotype that things don’t matter, that they are superficial. It also brings attention to the things and people that really do matter. Once you get clear on that, you’re that much closer to getting what you truly want in life.

On Letting Go

One of the reasons why we don’t have what we want at this moment is that we’re holding on to something-a memory, a belief, a relationship-that just doesn’t serve us anymore. We hold on out of fear that we won’t get anything better. We hold on because what we know is less scary than what we don’t know. We hold on out of a lack of faith that we can’t get what we want. We hold on because a foggy past can easily meld into an idealistic memory if we aren’t too careful.

I love what Oprah says about holding on:

“Most people are trying to hold onto wanting the life to be what it was. One of the greatest spiritual lessons I’ve learned from anybody who’s sat in that chair [for Super Soul Sunday] is that when you are resisting the reality of what is that is where all of your suffering comes from. You’re wanting the moment, the time, to be something that it can’t be is what causes the suffering. And your ability to transcend and accept that that is gone, and now I must move on and create a new normal is the real great spiritual lesson no matter what it is you’re going through.” [If you want to watch the entire show, Oprah has the full episode on her website.]

Once we let go of what was, we make room for what is. Life is such a gift if we stand out of our own way and let it happen.

On Gratitude

When we focus on what’s not working, life can be a real bummer and love sucker. When we immerse our selves in what’s working, it’s as if the world opens up like a budding flower. Suddenly, you have a lot more than you think you did. Your friendships may not be working or your job may suck, but you have an understanding partner or feel safe and comfortable at home. Every single person can find something to be grateful for even if it’s for this single breath. When you devote time to what’s working in your life, your life grows.

If you want more in your life, you can create a wish list/collage, you can gripe to your friends about it, but don’t forget to work on these two things. If you do so, you’ll be surprised by how much things change in beautiful and unexpected ways.

What matters to you? Is it your family, your health, your pet dog? What are you most grateful for? Let’s share the love and let it grow here.

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How to Get Through Life’s Growing Pains

{photo by The Inspiring Bee}

Who we are is always in the process of becoming. Although we might not know it, there is room to grow even in the fullest of blossoms. That’s because sometimes growth means a death, a letting go of who we were in order to become who we were meant to be.

It’s not in easy process, but it’s a worthwhile one.

The difficulty lies in the awareness that we are not yet there. Just like the mountain that impedes our path on a hiking trip or the lack of experience that finds us interrupting our career, our ability to keep going is as necessary as breathing. If we were to stop, to turn back, to give up, that would also be a death, a silent lights out of our dreams.

There are ways we make the process harder. As Iyanla Vanzant said on Oprah’s Life Class:

“Comparison is an act of violence against yourself.”

I’ve done it enough times to know the self-inflicting pain that comes when you compare yourself to others. And it’s never to people who are worse off than you. It’s always to those reaping the benefits of their hard work. We rarely see the struggles people go through to become successful. We see their book deals, high paying dream jobs and easy lifestyle as gifts given to just a handful of people. But they were here too. It just wasn’t exciting enough to land on TV.

So I say to you now and to myself, this is our growing pains. This is not the end of our story. This is a small pebble on a beautiful, but lengthy path. There will come a time when we will celebrate too. But now’s not the time for rejoicing, it’s all about hard work. Moments like these beckon us to believe even when no evidence exists for positive change. It’s a call for faith.

Living in Hawaii hasn’t been easy. Writing jobs are sparse here and writers are aplenty. There have been many times that I’ve thought of giving up. But I remember what it took for me to start from nothing (no writing jobs, no contacts) five years ago and how far I’ve come. When you’re settled and you think you’ve got it covered, life will always hurl you a curve ball. It’s a sign you’re on the right path and on your way to self-growth and change. It can be an opportunity or it can be the beginning of the end of your career.

I’ve taken up watercolor painting recently. First of all, let me start by saying that I pretty much suck at it. But the process of learning it by this lady has re-taught me the importance of trying something even if you’re not good at it. It’s a reminder that we’re all students in this big class called life. Making mistakes, realizing your not good at it, dipping your paintbrush into something unfamiliar, these are all key life lessons. It’s not the end of the world when we fail, when we make a mistake, or when what we do doesn’t make us immediately successful. It’s believing what we’re doing matters and sticking through it even when it feels like it’s not working. True failure is the end anyway. If you’re still working towards your dreams, you haven’t failed yet.

So if you’re comparing yourself to someone more successful, stop right now. Come back to yourself. Be grateful for whatever stage your in. Know that what your doing is worthy and meaningful. And remember that the greatest gift you can offer the world is to genuinely be and give of yourself.

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Did I Make the Right Decision?

I used to admire friends who could end a relationship when everything was still hunky dory because they knew it wasn’t the right one for them. It was a strong indication of their ability to follow their instincts and trust their own intuition.

I have always been a doubter trying to practice a little more faith. But recently all that leaning I was doing on the side of stability and security made me feel stuck. It also made me feel like a coward.

How could I possibly keep blogging here about courage, if I was living life with my tail between my legs?

So after 6 months of hemming and hawing and feeling stuck, I decided to do something CrAzY!

I decided to follow my dreams, listen to my intuition and abandon that little voice inside my head that said, “Who do you think you are?!” And I did it anyway.

After two years of loving my job at Psych Central (I was even recently mentioned in this article about my work for the company), I decided it was time to say goodbye. And I did it the careless way, the way people say you should never do it. I quit without a backup (with just a few gigs-a.k.a. my column with The Writer magazine and my biweekly blogs for Psych Central).

I decided I wanted to return to writing and not just editing. I wanted to stop being afraid and take a big risk. And so I did.

Making the Right Decision is Scary

Although I think I made the right decision, the process was still scary. I had no excuses, no upcoming jobs and a lot of self-doubt. I realized then that I DEFINITELY made the right decision. Why?

I was catching up on old Oprah’s Lifeclass reruns when I heard Iyanla Vanzant talk about self-growth. She said humorously and truthfully:

“If you’re not living your life at such a certain level, you have some fear, you’re living too small. If you don’t have some trembling then you’re living too small…If pee is not running down your leg, you are living too small because that means you’re in control and you’re too comfortable and you can handle it. When you are comfortable, you are not growing.”

Then guess what happened?

I saw a job ad for a writer/editor position. But not just any position. It was for a company that I had been dreaming about writing for since I began full-time freelancing, about 5 years ago. I subscribed to all of their email newsletters and tweet their posts. I have been waiting for an opening for a very long time. And there it was. I was afraid and applied anyway.

I received a call two days later. I found out that the position was in-house and since moving to Virginia wasn’t on our agenda, I was pretty disappointed. But decided to ask if maybe there were other opportunities available in which I could write telecommute instead.

Can you guess what happened next?

Yep. They had an opening for a blogger position on their health website. And they had been looking for awhile. I couldn’t believe my luck. Or faith? Or intuition?

So I have my own column there and you’ll be able to read about emotional health and wellness 4 days a week on my new blog Happy Haven! I’ll still be posting here, my writing site and my column for The Writer too. Hope to connect with you on one of the them soon!

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Finding Your Calling from Miss O

I need to wipe the tears off my face.

I finally faced the final episode of the Oprah Show. Talk about courage right?

I have been in denial since the beginning of the 25th season. And now with only reruns to watch, I decided it was time to confront my fear of endings and finally say goodbye to O.

As I watched, I was moved, touched, overwhelmed and of course inspired.

It reminded me why I decided to create a blog in the first place. It reminded me of why I wanted to write. And it validated my calling to help you find yours.

If you were like me and avoided watching because you weren’t ready to say goodbye or maybe you’re just not a Oprah fan like me, you should watch this. Click on the photo below to watch the inspiring 5 minute video.

Don’t waste anymore time. Start embracing the light that is calling and use your life to serve the world.” – Oprah Winfrey

*Pssst…it’s been way too long since I changed my services page. If you’re interested in working together on a writing project, a video or any other inspiring creative endeavor, go here.

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