Melissa Heisler, Stress Reduction Expert

The Power of Surrender

My life has changed immensely over the last few weeks.  Goals I had given up upon have been coming to fruition seemingly out of thin air.  It is a truly amazing time.  What is so hard to grasp about it all is that I have not done anything different.  The wonderful new opportunities I have received did not come about due to planning, strategy, or hard work.  They came about because I surrendered.

ALS_2401_8x10The theme of surrender has been coming to me from many different angles this year.  It is a hard concept to understand and even more difficult to explain.  Surrender is not giving up.  Surrender is not releasing desire.  Surrender is not powerlessness.  Surrender is tapping into a greater power by releasing one’s focus on outcome.  Surrender is focusing one’s energy in their mission and passion instead of on tasks and to do’s.  Surrender is focusing on one’s heartfelt desires but not being caught up in what it will look like to manifest them.  Surrender is living in the bliss of one’s true purpose without regard to what the end result will be.  But I gotta tell you, the end results are pretty cool too.

It all started when I was approached to write blog posts for the Linked Local Network (LLN).  I am always open to appropriate resources to gain a greater audience for my messages.  LLN’s desire to build communities and share positive information was in alignment with me so it was a perfect fit.  But as I began to become involved, I saw that the mission of LLN was even more intrenched with my own.  Although it is a for-profit company they desire to support non-profits through resources and finances, a giving back element.  I learned about opportunities to become more involved with LLN by becoming a Hub Administrator, meaning that I would lead one of the city-centered websites.  As we talked about the opportunity, I went to a state of surrender, surrender of what I “should” say in a business meeting, and instead spoke from my authentic self.  I was called to bring forth my true mission to empower individuals.  What came about was the new Women’s Hub on Linked Local Network.  A website where I could choose the types of news and voices to be represented.  I didn’t have to ask, bribe or negotiate it.  It was handed to me, for it was aligned to my purpose and I had surrendered to my purpose.

There was not only surrender in how I thought things had to be done but also surrender in that I had to follow my heart and not my pocketbook.  Accepting management of the Women’s Hub meant providing lots of volunteer hours and taking my focus away from promoting my coaching business.  Or did it?  This year I have been trying to promote my business and grow it more.  I was doing everything the sales books told me to do, networking, social media, presentations.  Surrendering my time from these sales functions to focus on a website would on the surface be the wrong business choice.  In my heart however, it was right.  I knew I could reach and affect more people through this opportunity.  The hurdle to get over was money and compensation.  In the short term, there is none and there are no guarantees that there will be any revenue.  I surrendered to being the Women’s Hub Administrator because the alignment with my purpose and desire was higher than any immediate materialistic need.

And I was rewarded with yet another vehicle to get my message out.  A message meant to connect, educate and change people for the better.  I was rewarded with a radio show with which to project my message.  If you have been reading my journey, I tried all of the conventional ways to get my word out.  They usually required me to exchange my authentic self in return for a platform.  Now I have a weekly platform where I can share my authentic self and the information and power of those I respect.

Surrender is truly powerful.

Join me May 21st at 6pm on The Empowerment Show as I interview the documentary filmmakers behind The Empowerment Project:  Extraordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things.

Maybe Manana Cabo San Lucas


IMG_1892I heard a fable recently.  A businessman is on vacation.  He notices a fisherman coming into the marina with his catch.  “How long did it take you to catch those fish?” asks the businessman.  The fisherman responds, “Not long.”  “What are you going to do now?” inquires the businessman.  “I am going home to have lunch with my family then play on the beach with my children.”  “You know,” the businessman excitedly blurts, “if you stayed out longer then you could catch more fish.  You could sell the extra fish in the market and eventually make enough money to buy another boat.  Then you could hire someone to fish on the other boat and you could bring in even more fish.  Eventually you could have a fleet of boats to manage.”  “Then what?” asks the fisherman.  “Well,” replies the businessman, “once you created a large enough business you could sell it for a lot of money and then retire on the beach with your family.”

Having drive and determination to pay your bills ensuring you and your family are taken care of is admirable.  But how much is enough and what are you trading off in your desire for more money?  Are you experiencing joy or are you consumed with working thinking it will give you a sense of safety?  Are you focused on what you truly need to enjoy life or are you killing yourself to acquire things?  Are you trying to provide for your loved ones but missing actually being with them?  Is it time to re-evaluate your priorities in life?

Like many of us, I dream of having so much money I would be free to spend my days as I wish.  What I am learning is how close I can get without having the dollars.  My new mantra is to focus on my experience.  In every moment am I experiencing what I desire?  If I am focused on a specific outcome or item to acquire, I ask myself what I hope to experience from it.  Then I see how I can experience that feeling without the thing or the outcome.  The question is what do you want to feel?  Choose your feeling: happy, exhilarated, joyous, adventurous, loving, peaceful, or relaxed.  Then watch yourself every moment.  Are you feeling that way right now?  If not, what can you do to change it?  How close to that feeling can you get right now?  Eventually you will learn it is not any amount of money in the bank, things, situations, or outcomes which provide your desired feeling it is you.  You are in control over the way you live and experience your life by the choices you make about how you are thinking, perceiving, acting, and reacting. 

Take a moment to write down what you want to experience in your life.  How do you want to feel throughout the day?  Now use what you wrote as guideposts throughout your day.  If you do not feel that way, identify the thought that is taking you away from that feeling.  Change your thought or belief.  Share with us the results of your experiment and how it changed what you experience.

Thank You for A Wonderful Life

Heather* knew she was adopted, even before she understood what being adopted truly meant.  Heather loved the couple who adopted her and they loved her back.  That was all she needed to know.  As Heather grew up, her mother told her it was perfectly fine and understandable if she wanted to know more about her birth mother.  To Heather, there was no need.  That is, until she became ill.

In her early twenties, Heather began experiencing medical issues.  The doctor’s wanted to know more about her medical history so Heather went to the county to see if they had any information.  She received a file stating her birth mother was nineteen years old.  There was also a hand-written note from Heather’s birth mother with basic medical history including that Heather’s grandmother lost both of her legs to diabetes.   The first pieces began to fall together.  As an infant, Heather had been released from the hospital with her identification wristband.  Her mother thought the name on the band was “Harrison.”  Hearing the news, Heather’s uncle mentioned his father used to rent a house to a girl with the last name of the Harrison.  He remembered the mother who lived in a neighboring state had no legs.  For the first time, Heather began thinking about her birth mother and the possibility of meeting her.  Heather’s uncle tracked down the number for his old tenant, Kathy Harrison, and called her.  He explained his niece was put up for adoption by a Harrison and asked if Kathy had any information.  Kathy hung up.   If that was her birth mother she wanted nothing to do with Heather.  She resigned herself to never knowing her birth mother. 

Heather's Curio Cabinet
Heather’s Curio Cabinet

A decade later Heather shared her story with a friend of the family who then said she had known Kathy Harrison personally.  Another call was placed to Kathy.  This time they were given more information.  Yes, Kathy Harrison had given up a girl for adoption as well as a boy.  Also Kathy’s sister Chris had also given up a girl for adoption.  Again however, revisiting the past was too much for Kathy and she cut off communication.

The next decade of Heather’s life was focused around caretaking and loss.  Her aunt who Heather considered her second mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed two years later.  Two weeks after her funeral, Heather’s uncle was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  At the end of that year, Heather’s mother-in-law was also diagnosed with cancer succumbing to it early the next year.  At the end of that year, Heather’s uncle was put into an induced coma as part of the treatment for his cancer.  The very next day, Heather’s husband Chris fell out of a tree and broke his ribs and backbone.  He was very lucky to have survived.  Two days later, Heather’s uncle passed.  Sadly the next year, a few days after enjoying a wonderful Mother’s Day together, the only mother Heather ever knew, passed due to a massive heart attack.  To add to her pain, the week of her mother’s funeral, she attended three other funerals.  Having lost her father many years earlier, except for her husband, Heather was now alone. 

The following week Heather picked up her mail.  In it was the bill for her mother’s funeral, and her birth certificate. 

The year before a law was passed allowing anyone adopted and born after 1946 to have access to their birth certificate.  With her husband’s initiation and support, Heather had sent in for hers.  Heather now knows unequivocally that her mother is Christine Harrison.  Could this be the same Christine Harrison, sister of Kathy Harrison who they had contacted years before?  Could it be that Heather’s uncle rented his house to Heather’s birth mother?

A month later, Heather had some friends over and told them the whole story.  Her friends immediately used the internet to hunt down Kathy Harrison in the hopes of locating Heather’s birth mother.  Their phone call was received with an immediate hang-up.  Years ago her uncle was not able to get information and now her friends were not able to as well.  Heather decided it was time for her to try.  She called and left a message for Kathy.  She said, “I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s life.  I would just like to thank Christine for giving me such a wonderful life.”  Kathy called her back agreeing to pass the message to Christine.  If Christine chose not to respond, Kathy promised to send Heather some photos of her mother.  That night Heather slept soundly feeling she had closure after over forty years. 

Lladro mother-child figurine
Lladro mother-child figurine

Seven-thirty the next morning Heather’s phone rings.  She missed the call then listened to the voicemail.  “I have waited forty-five years for this.  I am so happy.  Call me.”  Heather spoke with her birth mother for the very first time that day – and almost every day since.  Christine has always felt bad about having to give up her daughter.  She has always hoped her daughter would try to find her. 

Heather and her birth mother meet in person a few weeks later.  For Heather it is an amazing experience.  She has never been around people who look and act like she does.  She and her mother laughed in recognition when they realized neither of them is able to wink.  To Heather, her mother is all of her favorite people rolled into one.  As they spent their first day together, Heather’s birth mother proudly shows off her Lladro figurine collection.  She points out a mother and child figurine telling Heather how she purchased it years ago in Spain with the hopes of one day being able to give it to her daughter. 

Heather truly has a wonderful life.


*All names have been changed to respect the privacy of those involved.

It's My Life Inc.

Rethink Giving

GiftsI am sure we have all heard of or read O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi at some time in our lives.  It is the story of a young couple who sacrifice to give to each other.  I think a lot of families relate more and more to this story.  The opulence we Americans used to enjoy is fading and many of us are making hard decisions around the holidays.  But this time of sacrifice can also be a time to truly give.  I am sure any parent can relate to their favorite present from their child not being a lavish expensive store bought item.  But that it was a work of love covered in colored macaroni noodles and glitter.  One of the best gifts I received last year was homemade bread from my niece who is an aspiring baker.  She made a basket specific for each family member and I was touched that she gave me more fruit and homemade apple butter instead of two loaves of bread because of my desire to eat less gluten.  It was her caring thought that meant more to me than any other present that year.

So how are you giving this year?

Did you spend all of your holiday dollars on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?  Or did you perhaps join in the second annual American Express sponsored Small Business Saturday and patronize your locally owned stores?  Why not grab a gift card from your favorite local pancake house, greasy spoon, or special occasion restaurant?  Or could “I love you” be said through a haircut, oil change, lawn mowing, snow removal, house cleaning, or dog walking gift certificate?

Or are you showing your love by making a donation to a worthy cause in the name of someone you care about?

How about opting out spending cash this year by making gifts instead of buying them?  If you can’t make them yourself, how about attending a craft fair and supporting local artisans?

Does giving mean time instead of money this year?  Time to visit an ill relative, helping out at a shelter, or just being together with your family and friends.  Are you thinking of sharing experiences instead of giving things?  Remember when putting up the tree was not a nagging to-do, but a family experience?  Could decorating for the holidays be a time to share, laugh, and gather instead of a time to stress and max our credit cards?

How are you going to rethink giving this year?

It's My Life Inc.

Less is More

I love Ted.  No that is not the name of my husband or pet.  In 1984 TED conferences were created to have the best of the best speak about Technology, Entertainment and Design.  But is has grown to so much more and is truly ideas worth spreading.  A friend sent me a link to TED the other day for Marco Tempest’s presentation about The Magic of Truth and Lies (and iPods).  It is surely worth the view if you have five minutes to spare.  But as often happens, once I finish one TED segment, I can’t help to launch into another.  This time the one that caught my eye was Graham Hill’s Less Stuff, More Happiness.  His talk reminded me of my college years and the trips to and from Peoria and then to and from Los Angeles where I lugged and shipped boxes upon boxes of books, a bicycle and goodness knows what else back and forth and back and forth again at great expense and inconvenience with the irony that I don’t know if I ever used more than ten percent of the stuff I moved around.  But what really resonated with me is the idea of downsizing, especially now that my husband and I are dreaming of moving from our twelve-hundred square foot home onto a twenty-seven foot boat.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our house.  We have spent the last eight or so years fixing it up, repairing it and making it truly ours.  Plus we have more remodeling planned for this winter.  But sometimes it feels like so much extra, so much padding, so much just surrounding and not interacting with us.  For instance, our garage attic is filled with boxes from our move years ago which we have never opened!  What is in there?  If we haven’t missed is by now, do we really need to keep it?  There are also rooms in our house which are used infrequently if ever.  Graham mentions that over the last fifty years our homes have tripled in size and we have needed to add outside storage to keep all our stuff, but it has only resulted in credit card debt, excessive environmental footprints and having our happiness flatline over those same years.  Sorry “Keeping up with the Jones’” more stuff does not equal more happiness.

There are so many physical items we keep around us because we believe they are part of us, they are part of our history or they define who we are.  We use them to surround ourselves with comfort and insulate us from harm.  But even if we are not eligible for the next episode of Hoarders, we may have some extraneous items clogging our lives.  Yet getting rid of or “editing our life” as Graham says, can be difficult.  Can you recycle the first love note your husband sent to you?  Can you give away the blanket Aunt Ginny crocheted for you but just doesn’t match your décor?  Can you let go of the mementos of your life?  Thanks to technology, the answer to many of these questions can be yes.  My collection of books will eventually be donated to the library when I add them all to the Kindle I so desire, my husband’s vinyl collection can be moved to MP3, and many of the remembrances of our lives can be scanned or photographed and stored for future viewing.   To me, the physical item is not as important as the memory and the meaning.

Have you ever let go of something which is no longer of use or is just collecting dust?  An amazing thing happens, it makes you lighter.  Really, it does.  Just like Scrooge’s partner Marley with his chain of wrongdoings, our throng of stuff can weigh us down and keep us from enjoying our lives.  This is one of the reason I love moving.  It is a great opportunity to go through the physical elements of our lives and really evaluate what we would like to keep.  Although it can be scary, purging the extraneous things in our lives can open up the door to new and better things arriving – physical or experiential.

Take some time before Thanksgiving to look around your house and find five things you can donate.  Choose clothes you haven’t worn in the last twelve months or check your kitchen for bowls or bakeware you do not use frequently.  Feel what it is like to let go and be a bit more free while possibly helping out someone else in need.

It's My Life Inc.

Love, Moderation, Humility

I have three treasures I cherish and hold dear
the first is love
the second is moderation
the third is humility
With love one is fearless
With moderation one is abundant
With humility one can fill the highest position
Now if one is fearless but has no love
abundant but has no moderation
rises up but has no humility
Surely he is doomed
– From Verse 67 of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu as translated by Jonathan Star

How often do we long for courage, abundance, and power?  Yet when we see others who have one or all of these are they truly happy or admirable?

The other day I saw a show about the motocross phenomenon Travis Pastrana.  He is truly fearless on the track. The move he is known for is scissor-kicking his legs back during a jump while holding the handle bars with one hand and the rear fender with the other.  Travis is also the first biker to complete a double backflip in competition. He has won every competition imaginable.  He has broken bones I have never heard of and still returns to the track to try even more outrageous and dangerous stunts.  People worship his apparent fearlessness.  But in the evening, he is plagued by night terrors.  He sees visions and screams in his sleep almost every night since he was 11 years old.  Some psychologists say it is due to “repressed fear.”

We all know of people who may have abundance but no moderation.  My husband and I debated over who was a better example of this lesson.  Is Paris Hilton the best example?  She is a woman who has an exorbitant amount of cash at her disposal and buys everything she wants.  She buys friends and buys her way into celebrity.  But can she purchase self-worth and the true respect of others?  Or is the best example Donald Trump? The Don has been able to amass amazing amounts of money over the years, but I do not believe he has ever had true wealth.  His desire and greed overcome any moderation. There is no satisfaction in what he owns for there is always the next conquest.  When is enough enough?  Can there be enjoyment in what he has since it is purchased for show and not to please his essential self?

Unfortunately in the political arena there are a plethora of individuals who rise up but have no humility.  Rod Blagojevich immediately pops into mind for this Illinoisan.  We have all heard about his antics leading up to and during his impeachment.  But did you also know that he actually used to grab stranger’s mobile phones and say, “Hi, this is the governor”?  Being elected does not make one noble.  Serving others makes one noble.  The position does not bestow power and esteem.  Humility and servitude endear the populous who then allow one to rise.

Are these people truly “doomed” as Lao Tzu says?  The word doomed is very strong and fatalistic, but is it the right word?  Can one truly have joy without love, enjoyment without moderation and prominence without humility?  Are we only living half a life if we focus on the flashy forceful aspects of abundance, stature, and fearlessness and we do not recognize the quiet power of love, moderation, and humility?  Are we doomed to a life half lived if we are not rooted in these three treasures?

In high school, I remember a time my freshman year when a friend was being bullied.  Without thought, I protected my friend.  It was an act of love.  It was not an act of force or a death wish like Travis or a desire for prominence.  The love for my friend fortified my nerves and removed my fear.

Share with us a time when you felt the power of using one of these simple treasures.  Or tell us about some examples of individuals who are truly living these treasures and therefore experiencing all the beauty and joy of life.