Healing From The Inside Out

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in Healing, Sensitivity, Truth | 13 comments

Healing From The Inside Out

We all know that person, we might have even been her. The one who’s going to quit her job and travel the world, the one who’s going to open her own shop, go back to university, or finally write that book…but somehow it never actually happens. 

Some of you might remember the Joshua Kadison song that was on the radio way back in 1994 called “Picture Postcards from LA”. It tells the story of Rachel, a singer who wants to move to Los Angeles and make it big:

“She’ll even buy a ticket and pack her things to leave
Though we all know the story, we pretend that we believe
But something always comes up, something always makes her stay
And still no picture postcards from LA.”

Rachel isn’t a coward for not following her dream, and those of us still planning that book or that big trip around the world aren’t lazy or ‘all talk”. We’re just being taken over by our lizard brain.


The Reptilian Brain

courtesy Neil Slade

courtesy Neil Slade

The amygdala, or ‘lizard brain’, is a primitive structure in the base of the brain responsible for the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. This is where associations are made between stimuli and the pleasant or aversive events they predict.

For example, if your pet always hears the sound of the can opener right before food appears, this sound become associated with a positive event and will begin to produce a pleasant feeling – a process known as classical conditioning (think Pavlov’s dogs).

The amygdala is the home of the fight/flight response, whose job it is to warn us of danger, allowing us to escape from predators and protect ourselves from harm.

Experiments show that the greater the emotional arousal we experience following an unpleasant event, the stronger our memory of that event will be. An example of this would be if someone snaps at you and this causes you anxiety, you are more like to remember this event than someone who was not upset by being snapped at.

Research also shows that heightened amygdala activity often occurs following trauma during childhood. This can lead to a breakdown in the connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, responsible for thinking, planning, decision-making and social behaviour. This interruption impacts our emotional processing.


Taking Back Control

“Survival and success are not the same thing.” – Seth Godin

Once an external events triggers an unpleasant memory, lizard brain steps in. Our capacity for rational thought is reduced and it can feel like we’re right back in the original unpleasant event.

This is not a weakness, or a matter of willpower. The lizard protects us from perceived harm, and it doesn’t like us to do anything out of the ordinary where the outcome can’t be predicted. This is especially true of amygdalas that were overstimulated early in life.

So when we think about leaving our familiar patterns to travel, go into business or return to study, our lizard starts shouting at us: ‘Are you out of your mind? What if it doesn’t work out? What if you make a fool of yourself? You don’t even know what you’re doing, it will be one giant disaster. Just stay where you are and don’t move!’



Sounds familiar right? The good news is that our brains have a great capacity for changing old patterns, a process known as neuroplasticity. This refers to changes in neural pathways which occur due to modifying our behaviour and environment.

There are things we can do to get the lizard out of the driver’s seat so our thinking brain can function rationally again. For some situations, this can be as simple as recognising the trigger and reframing it.

If you automatically become defensive when someone is angry, take a breath and see if you can become curious about what’s happening, rather than reacting automatically. Try to name the emotion that’s coming up for you – it might feel like resentment or frustration but underneath there might be fear or sadness.

If the lizard automatically labels the angry person as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, can you suspend judgment and become an interested bystander instead? What might be going on for that person?  Is it really about you?

Bringing your conscious awareness to the situation builds new neural pathways that allow us to stay more in control of our responses. We build strong neural pathways through repetition – this is how we learn new languages, musical instruments, sporting skills etc.


Deeper Changes

I’m currently halfway through training for my Certificate in Art therapy. One of the activities covered in detail is a technique known as ‘guided drawing’, and I’m lucky enough to be training with one of the leading practitioners in this field. 

I recently decided to go and have a session myself as a client.  Before I did this, I wasn’t really ‘getting it’. But as a client, I experienced how trauma stored in the body can be shifted and released by this amazing approach. 

The hippocampus is the structure in the brain that passes messages between the cortex and the amygdala. In simplistic terms, guided drawing aims to help the hippocampus function effectively so it can relay accurate messages needed to switch off a panicked lizard.

Guided drawing allows a person to witness their story and makes their inner tensions visible. The drawing focuses more on the actual movements the client makes on the paper than the appearance of what they draw. The rhythmic movements allow the body to move out of an immobile hyperaroused state and realise that the traumatic event is over, they are safe and they have survived.

Until this happens, discipline, willpower and positive thinking will only take us so far. Trauma is stored in the body and it needs to be released before the lizard will stop sounding the old alarm in the present moment where there is no actual danger. Healing in this way does not require us to change anything on the outside, the process occurs internally and our external lives change accordingly.

Below are some of my drawings, all done with eyes closed.

art therapy guided drawing art healing

The presence of an unpredictable adult in my childhood home caused me to always be on guard, scanning the environment for danger and trying to be as invisible as possible to stay safe. As I drew the feelings in my body associated with this, I was asked to make different movements, for which I chose different colours.

My drawings went from a black and red combination of circular and slashing movements to light coloured movements up and outward from the page. The difference I felt in my body was huge, from weighed down and trapped to released and flowing.

Going Within

I’m planning to explore this art therapy technique further, both as a client and as a trainee practitioner. Since I’m in my hibernation phase during winter, this is the perfect time for me to go within and trust the process. 

My lizard has gotten in the way of many physical activities I’ve tried to pursue, such as scuba diving, along with some of my plans for my business and my writing. So I’m creating a plan of action for when Spring arrives, and in the meantime I’ll be using this process to make friends with my lizard, because I want to write that damn book…and later I would dearly love to offer this treatment to others to help them heal from the inside out.


Leanne Chapman

Plans for Hibernation

Posted by on Jul 6, 2013 in Creativity, Healing | 1 comment

Plans for Hibernation

I realised my plan to hibernate would not actually happen if I didn’t do anything different during these winter months. I still need to work to earn money but I’m fortunate enough to be able to work from home for much of the week. This means I have some freedom to schedule each day the way that suits me best.

In the wild, hibernation usually involves eating a lot followed by a period of inactivity to conserve energy and escape the extreme cold and lack of available food during winter. Some animals even give birth during this period of slumber.

Well I do plan to eat a lot – not quantity but quality. I do plan to sleep, to aim for at least 8 hours sleep a night (I’m a night owl who could easily stay up till 3am).

I do plan to give birth as well – not to a child but to ideas and dreams, lots of them.

So my hibernation won’t be a period of inactivity, but rather a period of activity that focuses on resting, nurturing and planning, the way farmers rest their fields before planting in the Spring.

These activities will include any combination of the following for at least 3 hours each day:

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

  • journalling and daydreaming
  • reading
  • juicing and making smoothies
  • taking my vitamins
  • walking in nature
  • massages and facials
  • talking to like-minded friends
  • gardening
  • playing piano
  • intuitive painting / soul collage / Soul Art
  • turning my study into a haven
  • writing my book
  • fleshing out my offerings for the next year.

Obviously I won’t do all of these every day, and what I do will need to fit around work and chores. But I don’t have children or a demanding 9 to 5 job, so more days than not I’ll be able to manage a good block of time prioritising my health and well-being, nurturing my creativity, and developing the next steps for Claim Your Treasure.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what emerges from this time. I’ll try to keep you posted on how I’m going with it, although social media and blogging may be less regular as I focus on the above activities.

Bon Nuit!

An Empath’s Survival Guide

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in Healing, Sensitivity, Truth | 8 comments

An Empath’s Survival Guide

Many empaths, especially those who don’t know they are empaths, feel drained and lethargic much of the time. They assume it’s because they lack energy, when in fact they probably have too much…of other people’s energy.

The popular method of protecting yourself from sponging up all the negativity and pain around you is to shield yourself – often with crystals that repel negative energy, visualising a barrier of light around you, or spending time alone where possible.

However Heidi, the empath who spoke at the recent Mind Body Spirit festival, doesn’t agree with this. She believes that empaths are here to absorb negative energy, that’s their job. The key, she said, is grounding.

Grounding Techniques

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Once an empath has been bombarded by other people’s energy and emotions, it’s typical to feel full of resentment, confusion and overwhelm. Grounding techniques will release these energies to be converted into healing energy.

One way to do this is to stand barefoot on the earth and visualise the energy shooting down through the soles of your feet into the ground beneath you.  You can also put your hands in the soil of your garden or the sand at the beach.

Does this harm Mother Earth? Not according to Heidi – she assured us that Mother Earth is grateful that so many empaths are here cleaning up the energy of the planet.


image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Rose quartz is a crystal recommended for empaths because it soothes the heart chakra and has a steady grounding energy. Hematite is another grounding crystal.

Keep your crystals, or even a stone from your garden, in your pocket during the day to keep you grounded.

Swimming or bathing, especially in salt water, is another effective  technique for discharging unwanted energies, along with creative activities, particularly those done with your hands.


image courtesy of

image courtesy of

I’m also told that holding a cat is an effective grounding tool! I imagine being with any sort of (willing) animal would be helpful for an overwhelmed empath.

Any of these strategies can help you stay safely in the presence of other people longer, even in large crowds.

You’ll feel more able to cope, and much less drained, when you don’t need to shield and defend yourself. Instead of feeling irritable and overwhelmed, a well-grounded empath can feel calm and centred.

For those of you who are empaths (or those who work with them), I’d love to hear what you do to look after yourself in a healthy way.

Could You Be An Empath?

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in Healing, Sensitivity, Truth | 34 comments

Could You Be An Empath?

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

When I was in my first year at school, the teacher gathered us together one day and started reading the story of Peter Rabbit. I loved stories and I loved animals, so I loved this…until the point when Peter Rabbit was almost captured by the farmer.

Tears welled up and I started to shake – I was terrified for him. The teacher was either oblivious or didn’t care because she just kept reading, while my 5 year old classmates tried to reassure me Peter would be ok. But the shaking didn’t stop until Peter was safely home with Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail once again.

I have occasionally referred to myself as an ‘empath’ but never fully understood what it was, just that it might be a handy way to justify being called ‘too sensitive’. The only things I knew about empaths came from watching the tv show Charmed. 


Last weekend I went to the Mind Body Spirit festival in Brisbane. There were dozens of psychics available to give readings, and I chose one seemingly at random. I didn’t really consider anyone else.

She didn’t communicate with my guides or contact loved ones who have crossed over, no angel cards or tarot. She just sat with me and told me what she felt. ”You’re filled with doubts’ she said.

As I’m continually wondering where my career should go, whether I should move house, if I should start a new course or maybe get a dog …well I had to agree.

‘The reason you’re filled with doubt is because you keep looking for answers from other people, instead of trusting your own answers’, she said. I guess that’s why I was consulting a psychic.

Given that I learnt not to trust myself from an early age – from simple interactions like being told I wasn’t cold / hungry / tired when I really was, to more serious ones such as being told by teachers, neighbours and relatives that what I was experiencing at home wasn’t really happening – how was I to trust my inner voice now?

She tapped me on the head and shoulders a few times and gave me some suggestions about dealing with my suspicious behaviour towards myself. I felt heard and understood, even if I still didn’t really understand what to do about it.


Empaths and HSPs

Late in the day there was a talk scheduled on ‘Empaths and Highly Sensitive People’. I planned to stay and listen for a short time.

In walked Heidi, a woman I recognised from a reality TV show a few years back. I only watched a few episodes but I remember she was the one I was hoping would win. The show was called ”The One – Search for Australia’s Most Gifted Psychic’.  She was billed as an empath – I remember she cried often and she finished in third place.

She began to reel off a checklist of possible signs that you could be an empath. Things that I would never have connected with being highly sensitive were listed, along with the more obvious ones (like crying often). Although I had intended to leave after a few minutes, and despite having sat directly under the air conditioning vent and feeling frozen, I stayed for the whole hour.

I heard my whole life described. I nodded, I took notes, I tried not to cry. 

Maybe some of my feelings of isolation aren’t from being damaged by my childhood and therapy not ‘fixing me’, maybe it’s because I’m actually an empath who doesn’t know how to protect herself so I withdraw into solitude instead.

Maybe the reason I stayed in relationships that weren’t working, despite having done an extensive 12 step program in overcoming codependence, was not because I failed the program, but because I’m an empath who doesn’t want other people to experience hurt and rejection.

Maybe the reason I feel uninformed and unable to contribute to conversations on world events is not because I’m ignorant, but because I can’t bear to see all that suffering the news reports cover.

Image courtesy of © Elisa Lazo de Valdez/Corbis

Image courtesy of © Elisa Lazo de Valdez/Corbis

Maybe the reason I stopped working as a psychologist last year isn’t because I’m a commitment phobic who can’t stick to anything, but because while I have a strong desire to help, support and guide people, I also feel overwhelmed by them.

It was like I saw myself for the first time.

When I got home, I had a look at the websites of both women. It really didn’t surprise me to discover that the woman who did my reading had trained with the woman who gave the talk, even though they live in different cities. I felt led to both of them.


Here are some things I discovered:

An empath is someone who feels other people’s or animal’s emotions (even fictional ones!) as though they are their own.

Not just Peter Rabbit – don’t put Lassie or even a nature documentary on if I’m around, ok? Even if there’s a happy ending, I don’t want to watch.

An empath’s nervous system will mimic what’s going on around them.

I remember a personal trainer laughing once while he was measuring my heart rate – it was matching  the beat of the music in the aerobics room. This also happens with music used to build suspense in movies, my heart beats faster and faster as the music speeds up – NOT pleasant.

Someone who experiences compassion feels FOR others, whereas an empath feels WITH them, experiencing their actual feelings. 

I remember once being at a cinema with my parents and their friends. In one scene a woman was pushed off a cliff and fell to her death. I burst into tears, which my highly embarrassed mother ordered me to stop immediately.

A previous partner became exasperated with me because I refused to watch the news.  He couldn’t understand that I found it debilitating and would poise on the edge of my seat ready to run from the room if details and images of violence, cruelty or suffering appeared, which they inevitably did.

Highly sensitive people are more likely than empaths to be activists. HSPs are here to change the negativity whereas an empath just wants to clean it up and move on (although apparently you can be both an HSP and an empath).

Since high school, I have given money to animal and children’s charities, but I would insist they not send me any details of what my money was used for. The early images of baby harp seals being clubbed to death on the Canadian ice took me months to stop thinking about every waking moment. I wanted to help, but I was too incapacitated by the graphic details to do anything other than sign petitions, donate money and raise awareness. Empaths aren’t built to be on the frontlines

Empaths adore animals and crave being in or near water.

I have had this litany of wants going through my head for years:

  • I want an aquarium
  • I want a pool
  • I want a bath tub
  • I want a beach house
  • I want a golden retriever / boxer / pitbull / rottweiler
  • I want a horse
  • I want pigs / goats / llamas / giraffes
  • I want to safari in Africa
  • I want to swim with the dolphins

So I think I can tick that one as a ‘yes’ :)

Empaths are drawn to the healing professions, but they can end up turning away after qualifying

I am trained as a psychologist. I spent years in this profession listening, empathising, validating and being with people in their pain. Until I couldn’t do it any more. I enjoyed my job but eventually I realised I had to take an extended break.

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Now I know why.

During my ‘hibernation’ during the winter months, I plan to learn all I can about thriving as an empath instead of becoming overwhelmed, resentful and withdrawn. Once I emerge from my cave in Spring (that’s September for me), I anticipate my career direction will be clearer than it’s ever been as well.

It seems like I finally know what my true gifts are, and how to use them effectively for the benefit of others and myself. Stay tuned for my explorations (I think there’ll be many posts on this topic!) on how to survive as an empath in a world full of raw energy and emotion.


Four Steps to Overcoming Self-Doubt

Posted by on Jun 16, 2013 in Healing, Truth | 10 comments

Four Steps to Overcoming Self-Doubt

Self-doubt and lack of confidence arise from the way we see ourselves, and the way we see ourselves comes from the thoughts we have about ourselves. 

We often describe ourselves as ‘Oh I’m useless’ or ‘I’m such an idiot’. These descriptions particularly come up when we need to step out of our comfort zones. We make judgments on ourselves we would never make of others in the same situation, and this dialogue goes on in our heads for many hours a day till it feels like the ‘truth’. 

Step 1

Write down all the negative descriptions you’ve made about yourself either in your head or when talking to others. This might bring up some emotion but go with it – the next step will help you work through this.

Your thoughts might go something like this:

  • I’m too short
  • I’m a hopeless housekeeper
  • I can never say no to anyone
  • I’m such a blabbermouth
  • I’m a lousy cook
  • I have fat thighs and crazy hair
  • I am so wishy-washy
  • I’m getting more and more forgetful, I lose everything
  • I’m clumsy and I’m always late.

Write down as many self-criticisms as you can come up with. It can help to imagine yourself in a new situation that makes you uncomfortable so you can tap into the thoughts as though they’re happening now. Once this list is complete, go immediately to step 2.


Step 2

Read through all the thoughts you came up with in step 1 that stop you from feeling confident about yourself and your abilities. Do they sound accurate? Are they totally true? Usually these thoughts are extreme and not based on reality. 

Go through each one and change the wording to something factual, what you would say if you were a totally objective observer. What’s the real truth? What would an objective person actually see?

Here are some examples:

  • I’m too short = I’m 5ft 3
  • Crazy hair = Thick curly hair 
  • Fat thighs = 21 inch thighs
  • Can’t say no = Difficulty saying no to friends when they ask for help
  • Blabbermouth = Twice in the last month I told something I shouldn’t have
  • Lose everything = Once or twice a month I lose the car keys
  • Hopeless housekeeper = Dishes don’t get done every night, dining room table gets paperwork piled up on it during the week, I do a major clean-up on weekends

 Remember, we’re not looking for positive affirmations here – just the objective description of the way it really is.

This is an important step to master if you want to overcome your self-doubt.


Step 3

Once you’ve identified the objective truth about yourself and your abilities, try putting these observations into one descriptive paragraph about yourself.

For example: I am five foot three with thick curly hair and 21 inch thighs. I don’t enjoy housework or paperwork much and I let it build up during the week. I have difficulty saying no to friends when they ask for help, and twice last month I shared something I shouldn’t have. Sometimes I can’t find the car keys.

You can see how much more accurate, not to mention kinder, this is than:

I’m short with fat thighs and crazy hair. I’m a blabbermouth, I lose everything, and I can’t say no to anyone. I’m also a hopeless housekeeper.


Step 4

Now that you’ve outlined the accurate truth about yourself as you are today, you’ll need to reprogram your thoughts with this in mind.

Each time you hear yourself thinking or saying ‘I’m useless’ remind yourself that this probably isn’t accurate. You’re probably really good at some things, and struggle with other things, like all of us.

Remind yourself what’s really true – for example, when we say something ‘always’ happens, it’s probably more accurate to say it happens 25% of the time. When we say ‘everybody does this’, it probably translates to ’3 people at work did this’.

Be vigilant with your self-talk and keep it real. We’re not looking for positive affirmations, just objective language that describes what is. 

This helps us accept ourselves more as we are, and it also shows us areas we might decide to work on. If we say we’re ‘hopeless at housework’, that doesn’t leave us anywhere much to go with changing things.

It can help to write some of your objective self-descriptions out and put them up somewhere so you can see them regularly. The more you read them and say them to yourself, the more you’ll notice your thoughts about yourself changing. 


Useful Tips

If you need more time, you might like to go over the steps with someone who knows you well so you get an extra perspective.

If you’re feeling stuck and couldn’t identify any unhelpful thoughts, you need to go deeper. Believe me – if you’re doubting yourself, it’s not because you’re not good at things. It’s because you believe you’re not. You can’t change those false beliefs until you identify them.

Remember that the things we learned about ourselves as we grew up may not allow us to see or express ourselves clearly. Don’t stop working on this until you’ve got a more realistic view of yourself that you can begin to trust.


There are more activities in my e-kit Reclaim Your Truth – ten modules designed to help go even deeper into the real truth about yourself. Our old stories get so entrenched they feel true, but we CAN flush them out!


image courtesy of

Life Is Amazing

Posted by on Jun 9, 2013 in Healing, Truth | 9 comments

Life Is Amazing

Today I have a beautiful guest post from my friend Renee Avard about how amazing our lives really are. I’ve read through this list several times and I know I’ll return to it again and again – each item is a great reminder of all the treasures available around us every day. After you’ve finished reading, go and visit Renee on her site at Catch a Falling Star - she’s pretty amazing too!

Life is amazing:

  • Spending time in bookstores
  • The sky – day or night
  • That “thirst is finally quenched” feeling
  • Days where everything you needed done, gets done
  • Having the money to get the peach smoothie
  • Holding and charging crystals







  • Refreshing juices – peach and watermelon, namely
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Being asked to use your skills there, through that venue
  • Seeing the starlight through your bedroom window
  • Hearing thunder and rain on a night in and under blankets
  • Recognizing that good things happen more than not
  • Knowledge that the sun will be there every morning
  • And the moon will be there every night







  • Total trust in consistent behavior
  • The overwhelming feeling when tears of joy happen
  • The emotion when the weight finally drops off
  • Freedom and enlightenment
  • Emotional releases in the form of tears and anger
  • Regaining trust and a handle on the situation
  • Realizing what is said is said at the right time and place and it holds weight
  • The little party I have when that poem, post or article is complete
  • Sometimes music in the car and sometimes silence
  • Holding others to the level of comfort needed based on the way the cat acts
  • Smiling due to no known reason







  • Feeling comfort when needed the most
  • Running into old friends or meeting new people that have many common interests
  • Those lyrics, that quote, those words – perfectly describing the current situation
  • Confident words and thoughts after years of uncertainty
  • Coming into awareness in a variety of ways in life
  • Trusting that life knows 
  • Finishing that project – finally
  • Receiving and hearing compliments that validate your feelings
  • Knowing you do not have to be acknowledged, but feeling awesome when you are.

And, finally: Feeling gratitude every day, for every thing, in every way. Remember: All are worth catching – yes, even you!

© Renee Avard

Renee is a prominent spiritualist and advocate for positive thinking and doing, based in Texas.

Her varying spiritual endeavors can be found on Catch A Falling Star. 

Images courtesy of,,


The Stories They Told Me

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Courage, Healing, Truth | 16 comments

The Stories They Told Me

We all arrive in adulthood with a bunch of stories we believe about ourselves:

  • I’m good at maths
  • I’m organised and punctual
  • I’m a people person
  • I don’t like mornings.


Some of the less helpful stories that are nevertheless common include:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I shouldn’t say what I think
  • It’s not right to ask for help
  • I can’t cope if things don’t go the way I planned.


These stories come from a variety of sources, mostly a combination of external events and the internal meaning we place on those events.

For example, one person might be told at school that they have no aptitude for music, which might make them try even harder to prove this wrong. Another person who is told this same thing might not bother trying at all because they decide the story is true.

imagesWhat stories have you believed about yourself that might not be really true? Remember the Beatles were told they would never get a record deal. Michael Jordan was told he was too short to play basketball. Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination, and Oprah was told she was ‘unfit for tv’.

We make decisions about our lives based on the stories we believe about ourselves. If we believe we’re not good at making conversation, we might avoid social situations. This means we never get to improve our skills in this area and change the ‘story’. Instead we make it true.

Unless we recognise it as a story and question its truth.


Here are some of the stories I came to believe about myself as I was growing up:

1. I’m not an early riser so I’m lazy

My father was an early riser, and he felt I should be too. While I like mornings once I’m up, I’m never going to rise early by choice. My energy levels are at their lowest in the mornings, and I get much less done then no matter how early I went to bed the night before.

My most productive time has always been after dinner. When I was at university, this was the time I could study most efficiently and get assignments written. I’m also at my most creative at this time (I’m writing this blog post at 10pm).

Why would I go to bed at the most productive part of my day? I get just as much done as a morning person, I just do it at a different time of day. My energy levels rise through the day, like most night owls, whereas morning people tend to drain energy as the day progresses.

True story: I’m productive later in the day.


2. I’m too quiet

My father was also an extrovert. I’m not, I prefer to talk to people one at a time and I like my own company. I often ignore the telephone because I have my head in a book. For years I thought I had to come up with a reason to justify why I wasn’t loud and bubbly and outgoing.

Then I realised I wasn’t the only introvert on the planet, and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. I stopped avoiding parties because I worried about not being able to make small talk. I stopped pushing myself to look like I was having fun when I wasn’t. I started to notice the fact that I’m a good listener.

True story: I’m quiet and that’s ok.


3. I’m not good at sport

I had no confidence in my ability in this area, especially if people were watching me. Unfortunately instead of getting the encouragement I needed, I was the kid who was always picked last for the team. I was afraid of the softball being thrown at me because people threw it so hard, and I never knew when to run or where to.

When the gymnastics teacher asked me to demonstrate a dive roll, I was as stunned as anyone else in the class. She wanted ME to demonstrate? I had a knack for gymnastics, and I did demonstrate for the class quite competently, but I never pursued gymnastics because I ‘wasn’t good at sport’.

True story: I can be good at some sports if I have encouragement.


4. I’m timid

Yes, I shrank from the ball during softball games and I was terrified of putting my head underwater as a child. But that didn’t stop me working on these things, and a lot of other things that were outside my comfort zone.

Courage isn’t about feeling no fear, it’s about ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’. There are lots of things I WASN’T timid about – flying, snakes, travelling alone, the dark – but the things I was fearful of often resulted from being heavily criticised and discouraged rather than being ‘timid’.

Public speaking was one of my biggest fears when I was younger, and I now do it for a living and enjoy it. And the girl who was afraid to put her head underwater is now a good swimmer and has been scuba diving in the South Pacific.

True story: I’m brave when it matters.


5. I’m too slow

I’ve never thrived on ‘busyness’, I need chunks of time to daydream, wander outside in nature, see friends and read. I don’t walk or talk fast, and I don’t load my schedule up with more than one demanding activity a day.

As a child I was often last finished with whatever we were doing in class, and I hated competitive activities that were timed. I was regularly told I was ‘too slow’ and one of my parents’ friends even told me I was ‘weird’ because I was dawdling one day.

At the same time, I always get my work in on schedule (and school assignments were in by the due date), I hate keeping people waiting, and I’m on top of my to do list each day. 

True story: I take my time and enjoy my days.


If you’re starting to think there might be some stories you’ve bought into yourself that would benefit from some closer inspection, you can start with making your own list.

Write down all the things that hold you back and see if you can identify the story behind each block. Then ask yourself:

  • Is it true in all situations?
  • Where’s the evidence for it?
  • Is there any evidence against it?
  • What would change if you were to question it?


Chances are you’re not the person you think you are. You’re much more than your stories, especially the false or inaccurate ones. They don’t tell the WHOLE story of who you are.  

You owe it to yourself and the world to try out some new stories, ones that propel you forward instead of holding you back. Let yourself see your whole story. Usually the people around you have been seeing it for years. Now it’s your turn.

What will your true story be?


image courtesy of Maureen Lang


Need help working out your true story? Click here for my Reclaim Your Truth kit!

Pearls of Wisdom – Kayoko Omori

Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Pearls | 0 comments


The Pearls of Wisdom series is our gift to you to help inspire and support you to live the life of your dreams.

Meet a new guest blogger every weekday during the month of May to read how they overcame their limiting stories and reached for their dreams. Click here to see all the Pearls of Wisdom posts in one place.

Want to get started on your own journey of transformation? Fill in your name and email in the box to the right and get your FREE Pearls of Wisdom e-book, containing an assortment of inspiring quotes and soothing images like the one above!

Kayoko Omori 

Based in New Mexico, Kayoko is the “GPS for the Gifted Soul”. She mentors highly independent, “bigger-than-life” creative women who know they are not doing what they’re really supposed to do and are stuck in the familiar, vicious loop. Using her signature I Am Enough System™, Kayoko makes fast, sustainable transformation seem step-by-step, bite-sized and completely safe.

If you are ready to stop hurting from getting in your own way and NOT reveling in your light and goodness, please contact Kayoko on  to see if you pre-qualify for a complimentary Manifest Your Big Purple Purpose discovery session. 


What are you most proud of today that you once thought you would never achieve?

Turning the cycle of self-destruction and stubborn self-judgment into the cycle of inner peace and connection to the Divine.


How did you change your old story about not being capable/able/good enough to one that allowed you to move forward with your dreams?

Letting go of what actually did not belong to me – thoughts, emotions, belief patterns, paradigms. Then, allowing truths to emerge, now that I was ready. Nothing had ever been done to me personally, the meaning I placed on my life was not necessarily so – no one is to blame.


What would you tell your younger self if you could write her a letter and guide her to where you are now?

You’re going to go through some really really rough times. You chose this. You didn’t sign up for easy, you know that. But from all those experiences, agonizing moments of suffering – you will learn to let go from your life what was never yours.

You offer yourself to the world. Don’t try to fake anything. When you are much older, you will understand. Do not get tempted by what other people do, say or think. You are ahead of the times, and there appears to be a high price for you to pay because of it. Your integrity with your guidance cannot be bought, or taken away.

Treasure it.


Now you’ve uncovered your truth, how do you keep it alive and stop yourself from slipping back into those old stories again?

When I go through a round of self-pity, self-deprecation occasionally – PMS time for sure – I practice, little by little, not judging it. I go through horrible self-talk, ok, I do. I am paying attention to suffering, and I have a choice. I do NOT force myself to feel better, that is counter-productive. Then I don’t get to practice my “bounce-back muscles”. At the heart of it is: suffer you must, enjoy you must, all is real, all is illusion. Breathe, there is nothing good nor bad.


What treasures do you think your future self would like to give you to keep you celebrating your amazing spirit and determination?

Do you not realize yet that you ARE the goldmine – why are you still looking? You’re not sitting on a goldmine. YOU ARE. Spiritual authenticity is not about being comfortable or convenient or readily marketable. Own your power. Why are you afraid? Do not be led by the ghosts of your past. No more hiding behind anything. Take a leap of faith. Do not recycle what is already dead.


 Do you have any questions or comments for Kayoko? Post them in the box below!

Want to let go YOUR old stories and create the life of your dreams? Sign up for your FREE Pearls of Wisdom e-book, containing an assortment of these inspiring quotes, beautiful images and simple activities.

You can also check out Reclaim Your Truth in the E-Boutique for the next steps in transforming your story.

Pearls of Wisdom – Nancy Norbeck

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Pearls | 0 comments


The Pearls of Wisdom series is our gift to you to help inspire and support you to live the life of your dreams.

Meet a new guest blogger every weekday during the month of May to read how they overcame their limiting stories and reached for their dreams. Click here to see all the Pearls of Wisdom posts in one place.

Want to get started on your own journey of transformation? Fill in your name and email in the box to the right and get your FREE Pearls of Wisdom e-book, containing an assortment of inspiring quotes and soothing images like the one above!

Nancy Norbeck

Nancy Norbeck is a Certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach, SoulCollage® Facilitator, Laughter Wellness instructor, and tutor from New Jersey. In 2009, she completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College.

Her mission is to help you find your voice, whether through writing, laughter, SoulCollage®, or pursuing a creative dream.

You can learn more about what makes her unique by visiting



What are you most proud of today that you once thought you would never achieve?

Right now, the thing I’m most proud of that I really thought I would never achieve is singing on my own in public. I’m proud of other things, like going to grad school full-time while working full-time, but while that was hard, it wasn’t something I ever thought was impossible. Singing by myself in front of other people, though—even just a few friends—was not just impossible a few months ago, it was something that made me want to run screaming just at the thought.

I’ve been singing in choirs since I was about 4, so singing in groups is like falling off a log for me, but singing solo has, for most of my life, been a radically different matter. It was so terrifying to me that I wouldn’t even think about it; I would shut down any conversation that got anywhere near it. But I’ve done it twice now since September 2012 and I am on schedule to do it again in a few weeks. It’s like a miracle for me.


How did you change your old story about not being capable/able/good enough to one that allowed you to move forward with your dreams?

I changed my story through sheer stubbornness, and by having a group of supportive friends who cheered me on. They had a challenge to deal with because my natural tendency to deny my talent to anyone but me would come out and try to deflect every good thing they would say, but God love ‘em, they kept saying it anyway.

It also helped greatly that I had an actual opportunity to get up and get over this fear. For years, I’d wished I could do something about it, but without a place or event that would allow it, that was tough. An open-mic night was enticing enough to force me onto a stage, to open my mouth in front of a group of people I didn’t know.

It wasn’t easy; I shook like a leaf the entire time. But once I’d committed, I wasn’t letting myself off the hook. I did everything I could think of to calm myself down, some of which worked temporarily, and pretty much all of which vanished completely once it was my turn.

So I sang that way, and apparently was the only one who could tell that I had lost all real muscle control because I was shaking so hard (it still blows my mind that they didn’t know!). The fact that I did not actually spontaneously combust while performing seemed a sign that I should keep doing it, and the second time was indeed easier.

Really, it boiled down to that old adage: feel the fear and do it anyway. And cultivate the friends who will support you on the journey.


What would you tell your younger self if you could write her a letter and guide her to where you are now?

Dear, dear little Nancy,

You feel really bad right now because the kids at school are making fun of you and telling you awful things about yourself. I want you to know that none of those things are true. People have told you that they’re just jealous, and they’re right. Those kids can see that you’re smart and adorable, and they think they’re not, so they’re making themselves feel better by being awful to you. It’s about them, not you. That may not make sense to you right now, but one day, it will.

The people who tell you to ignore it and it’ll go away are wrong. It won’t go away. The more you ignore them, the harder they try to rattle you. This is about them, too, not about you not ignoring them well enough, or being so bad that even ignoring them doesn’t work. Those things are not true. Please don’t give up on anyone being able to help. Don’t stop telling others when it happens. Don’t take it all inside yourself. It’s not yours. It’s theirs. Taking it into yourself and living your life by the things people say to get a reaction out of you means that they win, and you spend your life living a lie, thinking that it’s true.

When you think about singing, you know somewhere deep inside you that it’s something you can do, and do well, and you even know that you’re meant to do it. I know that’s confusing because you keep hearing other messages about yourself from other people. That place deep inside you knows better than anyone else. It is truer than anything you will ever find outside of yourself. It knows all about you, things you don’t know yet or even know to ask, and if you listen, and listen closely, it will always tell you the truth.

It will tell you who you can trust and who you should stay away from. It will also tell you when it’s safe to share your talent and when it’s not, and you can make that choice. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you should or shouldn’t listen to that voice. Follow it and it will not let you down.

Above all else, don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re not good enough, that there’s something wrong with you, or that you should be quiet because what you have to say isn’t worth hearing. You are as important as everyone else, and if you’ve chosen your friends wisely, if they are true friends, they will recognize that just as you will recognize it about them. Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is the smartest thing you can do for yourself in this life. With the right friends, you will get wherever you want to go. Listen to those friends when they tell you how awesome you are, because they won’t lie or say nice things just to make you feel good. And the truth is that you are more awesome than you can even know, just like everyone else.

Follow your own guiding star no matter how crazy everyone else thinks it is. If it makes your soul sing, it’s where you should be. Don’t let anyone, including you, put you off that trail. Hang in there, honey, and take this time to learn how to stand on your own and be who you really are—no apologies, and no compromises.

I can’t even tell you how much I love you, or how amazing you are—and are going to be. :)


Now you’ve uncovered your truth, how do you keep it alive and stop yourself from slipping back into those old stories again?

I’m fortunate to have a group of friends who not only encouraged me to get up there in front of an audience but who know how hard it was for me, and as a result will never let me shrink back into obscurity again. I sign up to sing at every open-mic event (we have about 4/year), even if it’s just one song, and if I didn’t, I’d have to go through a re-enactment of the Inquisition about why, and when I’d be getting up there again.

Good friends aren’t just the people who hold your hand when you’re down; they’re also the people who push you to do your best and have faith for you when yours is shaky. I’ve always been very independent and wanted to take care of everything myself, but this group of friends is proving that not only is that crazy talk, there are also just some times when you need the force of a bunch of friends holding you to your own goals and desires and beliefs.


What treasures do you think your future self would like to give you to keep you celebrating your amazing spirit and determination?

Listen to your heart, listen to your body, listen to your intuition; these are all the same thing. Surround yourself with people who will love and support you no matter what, even if they think your goals are crazy. You can’t do it wrong, and you can’t screw it up—unless you don’t do anything at all.


Do you have any questions or comments for Nancy? Post them in the box below!

Want to let go YOUR old stories and create the life of your dreams? Sign up for your FREE Pearls of Wisdom e-book, containing an assortment of these inspiring quotes, beautiful images and simple activities.

You can also check out Reclaim Your Truth in the E-Boutique for the next steps in transforming your story.

Pearls of Wisdom – Donna Higton

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Pearls | 2 comments



The Pearls of Wisdom series is our gift to you to help inspire and support you to live the life of your dreams.

Meet a new guest blogger every weekday during the month of May to read how they overcame their limiting stories and reached for their dreams. Click here to see all the Pearls of Wisdom posts in one place.

Want to get started on your own journey of transformation? Fill in your name and email in the box to the right and get your FREE Pearls of Wisdom e-book, containing an assortment of inspiring quotes and soothing images like the one above!

Donna Higton

DonnaDonna is a life coach, writer, teacher and is currently immersed in a hundred ideas for products to help people fall head over heels in love with their lives! 

Donna works with women who have lost their mojo to help them rediscover their zest for life and bring the big dreams hiding in their heart out to play! 

You can find out more about Donna on her website, or join her on facebook or on twitter (@donnaonthebeach).


What are you most proud of today that you once thought you would never achieve?

There are a few things – one, travelling for a year in Australia on my own; two, running my own business; and three, using my creative skills (that I didn’t believe I had!) to create books, courses and workshops for my business.


How did you change your old story about not being capable/able/good enough to one that allowed you to move forward with your dreams?

I got to the point in my old life where as Anais Nin says “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  I was so unhappy in my life, felt so much that I was wasting it, was incredibly frustrated.  It seemed that even if I was right about not being able to do it, I should try.  And there was always a voice, like an angel on my shoulder whispering ‘Fly! Fly! Fly!’  I still felt incapable and inadequate, but the frozen feeling of being unable to move was reduced to almost nothing underneath the feeling that something HAD to change!


What would you tell your younger self if you could write her a letter and guide her to where you are now?

Darling, enjoy every moment of this gorgeous journey of life!  All of it, even these awful days of monotony and frustration are leading you to beautiful places!  Enjoy the journey – enjoy life anyway, even though you don’t have everything you want.  Lighten up.  Don’t make the search for your ‘life purpose’ so significant!  It’s a fun journey of discovery, and if you don’t enjoy it now, one day (quite soon) you will look back and say what a shame it was that you didn’t enjoy all the paths that led nowhere…because ALL of them were useful in some way.  For every question, there IS an answer, but sometimes you have to try a few ‘wrong’ answers before you find the right one.  That’s part of the fun!  Above all, my dear self, trust in you.  No one else can tell you what to do, they can only tell you what THEY did…and if it doesn’t resonate with you, drop it!  There are a million ways to do what you want to do, not one ‘right’ way, so if someone’s advice feels icky, get rid of them! 

Love, 40-year-old me!


Now you’ve uncovered your truth, how do you keep it alive and stop yourself from slipping back into those old stories again?

It’s been a process of putting together the jigsaw of what works for me.  The jigsaw is not complete yet, there are new levels of self-confidence and courage I am yet to discover, but these are the key pictures you can see in my jigsaw:

I’ve come to understand and listen to the voices of my inner self, my heart and my soul that were whispering to me way back when.  One of my Daily Practices is to do the Morning Pages (from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way), and as part of that, every day I ask my Body, Mind, Heart and Soul what they have to say to me today – this helps me trust myself, and listen to the voice that is saying ‘Fly! Fly! Fly!’

If I am not feeling cared for, energised or enjoying life, those thoughts of inadequacy and fear are louder, so I make self-care, energy and joy a priority.

Leaning against the edge of your comfort zone is a great way to expand, grow and keep moving into your wonderful life…and then when you occasionally leap out of your comfort zone and do something really scary, it’s not so bad! 

I am gentle with myself – I allow myself to fail, and to learn and become proficient in a task.  I realised a few years ago that it is unrealistic to expect myself to do something I’d never done before perfectly!  When small children learn to walk, they fall on their arse a lot!  I allow myself to do the same!


What treasures do you think your future self would like to give you to keep you celebrating your amazing spirit and determination?

You know how much you’ve already changed and grown, and how much fun it’s been discovering your heart’s desires and your soul’s calls and your creative genius (yes, genius, own it baby!)?  Well, it gets BETTER!  The fun just accelerates as you find deeper layers of connection, love and joy.  Enjoy every beautiful moment of it.  Big yourself up EVERY TIME you do something you are proud of – forget about whether someone else did something ‘bigger’ or ‘better’ – celebrate YOUR journey, YOUR achievements, YOUR brilliance anyway.  Oh, and all those things you worry about?  They’re so unimportant!  Forget them, get on with the fun stuff – creating, growing, loving, laughing, sharing.


 Do you have any questions or comments for Donna? Post them in the box below!

Want to let go YOUR old stories and create the life of your dreams? Don’t forget to sign up for your FREE Pearls of Wisdom e-book, containing an assortment of these inspiring quotes together with beautiful images.