Transformation is one of those words that sounds easier and loftier than change. The latter often beckons its listeners to hide, avoid or escape. Why is change so scary, but transformation seem as elegant as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly?

I think because all of us innately know transformation is necessary in order to truly live. Change sounds force upon us by something beyond our control. One is our humanely right. The other something to fear.

Truthfully, however, we need both to wake up to our lives.

Change can inspire transformation. An external event, an illness, a loss, even a positive experience like marriage or a new baby can force our hand. What we thought we knew no longer applies. Some people embrace this change. Others fear it.

I tend to fall into both categories. Initially I go into panic mode when change arrives. But by quickly submerging myself into whatever newness is taking place, I find peace in acceptance and surrendering. Through life’s greatest challenges, I realized I can either resist and cause myself more suffering or I can learn how to ride the wave of unexpectedness and allow whatever is happening to transform me. Doing so has always given me the greatest lessons.

Recently, for example, I kept running into an annoying problem without any solution in site. How do you resolve a reoccurring conflict? One way to automatically fail is to continue to do what you have been doing and expect a different scenario.

In order to change the situation and break free from it, you need to reach in deep and do something that makes you a bit uncomfortable, sweat a little and do what doesn’t always feel natural. I learned I can either take this challenge as an annoyance that is “happening to me” or I can think of it as a lesson “happening for me.” That tiny shift in perspective ended up being a HUGE insight to me! I quickly learned the lesson wasn’t to feed my ego, defend myself, or manipulate the situation. What I needed to do was be vulnerable, be honest, and communicate in a way that was 1) respectful 2) genuine 3) filled with integrity.

Sometimes we get bogged down in proving ourselves because of low self-esteem, a critical environment or a traumatic childhood. Automatically we feel the need to justify and defend every decision we make. But if we step out of that and trust our true selves we remember that nothing other people say or think matters as much as how we view and think about ourselves.

How to Transform Your Life

Transformation takes courage, discipline and a lot of patience. But it can start out small. Interestingly, you can start by changing your external circumstances. For example, start noticing your home, your workplace, your physical environment. Is there anything you can do to make things more pleasant for yourself? Decluttering, organizing, donating items that no longer serve their purpose. These things seem superficial. But look at something that bothers you every day is like a paper cut. Seemingly benign, but it cuts at you over time.

Life coach Martha Beck says she notices when clients change their outward appearance, there’s often an internal change. I think you can also begin to start small by changing your physical environment or appearance to initiate change in your life.

Eventually you will gain the confidence to create consistent change in your life and that will begin the journey toward life-long transformation…

Kitchen Reno

Our kitchen before.

{Our kitchen in process...}

{Our kitchen in process…}

{Almost there.}
{Almost there.}

{Nearly done.}

{Nearly done.}

white cabinets with chicken wire

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Ingredients for a Successful Life

"Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

“Etsy vintage tablespoon by JessicaNDesigns}

When I reflect upon the almost 7 years I have been a freelance writer, the biggest hurdle had less to do with my professional experience than my personal struggles. In fact, success often deals with the latter.

Of course you need experience, a little bit of talent and much hard work to be successful. But often what stands in the way of most individual’s success is what they believe to be true about themselves.

In 2006 and earlier, I had an overwhelming desire to write. I asked for a typewriter for Christmas. I wrote down my own stories on little pieces of paper. I composed poetry as a kid. It pushed me to get a BA in English, but after college I just didn’t think I had the skills, talent or ability to get hired.

I skirted around my career, went into research because it felt comfortable and then psychology instead. I’m grateful for that experience. It gave me the confidence and courage to deal with a lot of the inner shadows that were clouding my work.

It took time, patience, resilience and the foresight to follow my calling. Along the way I picked up a lot of negativity about my desired career. I realized these words were just external versions of what I was telling myself every day. You may be familiar with some of them:

“You’re never going to make it.”

“You’re not smart enough.”

“Who do you think you’re kidding?”

“If so and so can’t do it, why do you think you can?”

Those words prevented me from trusting my instincts. It beat me up from the inside out. Even when I was getting writing opportunities, I ended up sabotaging them. How could I not when I essentially believed I didn’t have what it takes to do it?

Fast-forward to 2013. Since then, I am continually surprised with the doors that have opened for me. Recently, I started writing for Intuit’s Small Business blog and signed a contract with a greeting card company. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work as a freelance copywriter for several online retailers and I have been writing for local and regional publications and been an online columnist for The Writer magazine, Psych Central and Beliefnet.

That wouldn’t have happened to me if I continued on the road to self-sabotage, negativity and perfectionism. It took constantly beefing up my critical mind with positivity. I had to work on being cognizant of what and who I was allowing in my life and how it was impacting me personally and professionally.

Essentially, what I learned can be valuable to those of you seeking your own success in life. I realized that when we change how we view ourselves on the inside, we change our external world.

It’s not an easy process especially if you’ve been brought up to believe the worse in yourself. It will take time. But know this…

The fact that you are here means you have an important purpose. Don’t let your past, critical people or your own negative voice prevent you from fulfilling what you are meant to do.

There is only one of you. Celebrate it! Share who you are with the world and you will see the gifts unwrap in front of you.

Don’t squander your talent, hide your true self or shy away from your voice. The world will benefit from you being uniquely you. Let me tell you-as you sit doubting yourself, we are all desperately waiting for you to reveal it.

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Put to Bed the Fighter

{Etsy decal by 60SecondMakeover}

{Etsy decal by 60SecondMakeover}

why it’s good to be a fighter…

I was born a fighter. I think I must have came out of the womb with gloves on. Well except that I was delivered via C-section so maybe I wasn’t quite ready.

I carried this mindset my entire life. It dictated my academics and shot me up from a C-average student to a straight-A’s one.

What that’s led to is a lot of great opportunities and surprising successes. And just as surprising failures.

What I’ve learned in looking back is that it’s not always the fight that wins the battle, but the letting go, surrendering and accepting what is. It’s a great thing to be a fighter. You need someone in your corner to fight for your dreams, to stand up for what’s right, to make a difference. But you need a listener to propel you into the life you were meant to live.

leaning into what is…

When you have an innately fighting personality, you believe with 100% certainty that you can control everything. Your body may be tired. Your soul may be fatigued. But your mind says, “Keep going!” And you listen. What happens over time is that you stop communicating with your intuitive voice. You live on adrenaline to keep going. Eventually, you run on empty and get sick.

It’s the same thing with living your life. I think being a straight A-student gave me the false impression that if I only work really hard, I could get everything I wanted right away. I forgot about ambiguity, faith, the unknown. I forgot about trust.

When you fill up every single space of “what if,” you leave little room for things like magic, mystery, serendipity.

It’s not wrong to go for what you believe in. But you won’t get to your dreams by going on your own. Don’t let your mind drive you all the time. Sharpen your intuition by trusting your instincts and allow your soul to guide you.

The struggle isn’t always the fight. Sometimes it’s about settling in softly into the present moment of the unknown and having the courage to walk patiently without answers, without solutions to your current problem and just be.


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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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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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Finding Paradise in Hell

Big Island Waikoloa

Big Island Waikoloa

We can’t always control where we are in a moment.

You could, for example, be reclining in a lounge chair, umbrella laced drink in hand, staring into a turquoise hued pool and still be tormented by worries and untamed thoughts.

You could just as easily be sitting in a tiny room packed with physical clutter, assaulted by outside noises and filled with mental claustrophobia.

Either situation can understandably lead one to feel the following statement repeatedly:

“Get me out of here NOW!”

We’ve all been through it. The place where we reside feels to us like a personal attack. We don’t deserve it. We didn’t ask for this. More importantly, how do we escape from this unintentional imprisonment? How do we turn paradise from personal hell?

To push through whatever you’re going through right now, you don’t have to physically move. You can hate where you are and find pockets of peace. That’s how you get toward happiness. Your situation doesn’t necessarily have to change. But you will have to.

“If, amidst the turmoil, you can find just one moment of peace in each day, then your whole life will become more joyful. Like the water in a lake, when your mind is calm, you can see the depths below.” —  Ed and Deb Shapiro

It’s no secret that life is hard or that things don’t happen the way we want it to. But the people who exude happiness and joy are the ones that travel further than the silver lining. They work hard to see beyond the vision in front of them. They look for the inspired present-the place just ahead of where they are now.

Feeling stuck too?

What to Do in the Short-Term

Do something about it! If it’s your confining house, toxic roommate, or your noisy neighbor that’s getting to you, make it a point to get out of the house. Immerse yourself in inspiration. Visit a museum, walk to the beach, meditate. And those voices that tell you, “You don’t have time or money to do it?” Tell them to take a hike literally. You’re taking care of yourself. The more time you invest in lifting your spirits, the faster it’ll take to get you away from your current difficult situation into peace.

What to Do in the Long-Term

Your situation can temporarily change once you get yourself out of the rut. But you’re going to have to do something more long-lasting and permanent if you really want to create ripples of positive change. Start by creating a list of what you do want and then write steps on how you’re going to get it. Don’t hold back or censor yourself because you think “it will never happen” or “it’s impossible.” Dreams come true every day. Why? Because someone believed enough in them to follow through.

The bottom line is that nothing lasts forever. No matter how dreadful you feel in this moment, it will pass. In the meantime, don’t make it more torturous than it has to. There is always joy to be had in every dark corner. But remember…it’s up to you to bring the light to the shadows.

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Acceptance Can Be a Female Dog

{flickr photo by: BrittneyBush}

I think one of the greatest obstacles we grapple with is learning how to accept what is instead of moaning and groaning about what we don’t have.

It’s like we’re sitting there one hand full of riches and the other hand open full of potential. But we don’t see it. Nope. We’re too focused on the fact that the other hand is empty and not filled yet.

“Why oh why is it not filled yet?,” we ask.

It causes us to transform back into our 2-year-old selves, throwing punches to the air, crying out for all the things we deserve to have, but don’t. Praying about how much we need it, how much better our lives would be with it. And there we are so focused on our poor, wounded souls that we neglect the jewels that fill us, surround us and already make us whole.

If you ever need to be reminded of that, check in with your nearest and dearest furry child. Notice how they seem utterly forgetful about all the mishaps you do. Analyze how a mere treat, a pet on the head or a cuddle could make them silly with joy. See how they seem to pass up the chance to moan about their loss sibling that you had to adopt them away from or the fact that they don’t have a mate, kids or even anyone that even slightly resembles them. They just move on.

Accepting your situation can feel hard. It can be like welcoming an uninvited guest or settling for less.

But it’s not.

Learning how to accept whatever you’re going through and wherever you are is a gift.

It’s about returning to a state of vulnerability in realizing you have less control over life than you think. And that is okay.

It’s about loosening your grip over the outcome and opening your heart up to possibility instead of forced intention.

It’s about seeing your life as a large red carpet unfolding in front of you instead of a predetermined path.

It’s about releasing the rigidity of adulthood that sometimes tricks us into believing we know everything.

It’s a lesson in gratitude for what you have instead of what you still haven’t received.

It’s a muscle being flexed to exercise resiliency.

It’s a reminder that the events of your life ebbs and flows like ocean waves. No matter what you’re going through it will not always be this way.

Yes acceptance can be a b$@&*. But it’s a friendly one. So be open to its riches.

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