How will Change Come about for You?

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Change is inevitable. It is a part of being a human being.  Change happens in every day.  Even if we have a routine of every day, the routine changes because of our thoughts and our moods of a given day. The best you can do about change is embrace it. Instead of trying to keep […]


How Expectations Can Drive People Away and How to Let Go of Control

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“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” ~Bruce Lee

About five years ago, I had a falling out with a close friend. I was irritated because she didn’t do the things I thought she should and she didn’t give as much as I did. I felt I had been very generous with her, and I expected her to do the same. I felt she owed me.

My anger became unmanageable and started seeping into pretty much every interaction we had. She began cancelling dinner plans and camping trips. She wouldn’t call me back after days of me leaving a message. It happened out of nowhere, and of course everything was her fault.

Except that it didn’t. And it wasn’t.

Not too long ago, I was a bit of a control freak. I didn’t know it, of course, and I would have described myself as open-minded and easy going. In reality, I was tormented by my own expectations.

Since I was a child, I had an image in my head about who I was supposed to be. What my family was supposed to look like. What house I was supposed to live in. What career success was supposed to mean. That’s a lot of supposing! I had always assumed these expectations were my future.

I am an artist by trade, and in my art studio, I have many tools. Paintbrushes, sanders, stencil cutters, and paper punches fill shelves up to the ceiling. However, I tell people that the most important tools I use are flexibility of mind and a practice of not having expectations as to the outcome. This allows new and amazing techniques to be discovered and yields paintings that continuously surprise and delight me. I find these tools are useful outside of the art studio as well.

As time went on and distance grew between me and my friends, I began to feel enraged by her apparent apathy toward me and everything that I “had done for her.”

I thought to myself, “I would never treat anyone that way. How dare she do that to me?” and “After all I’ve given her, she should want to give back!” Every thought I had praised me for all the good deeds I had done and blamed her for ruining our friendship. I was the victim and she was the wrong doer.

One day, I sat down to enlighten her about how she had negatively impacted our relationship. Her reaction was horrifying to me. She said she was going to take a step back from our friendship.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I mean, I was telling her how she could singlehandedly improve things. What was wrong with her that she didn’t understand that? We stopped speaking and I didn’t see her for a long time.

Then something life changing happened—sobriety. In the first year after I quit drinking, I learned a lot about myself and my need to control just about everything in order to meet my expectations.

I learned how my expectations of others (unexpressed, by the way, because “I shouldn’t have to say it!”) and the anger that followed when people didn’t act the way I thought they should, actually drove people away.

The entire time our friendship was breaking down, I thought that if she would just do the things I wanted her to do, not only would our friendship be fixed, but everyone involved would be better off. I knew better than she did. My way of living was better than hers. She, of course, ran away from me like I was on fire.

My need to control others was unfounded, unrealistic, and unattainable. It was a hard thing to admit that my way wasn’t better than her way and, in fact, people weren’t abandoning me. I was driving them to leave. I saw that other relationships in my life were also going down this path. I had to change.

One day after surfing, I went to sit on a bench overlooking the water. One of the “old guys” we surfed with, who lived across the street, came and talked with me as the sun was setting over the ocean and I was lamenting about the stresses in my life. He said one of the most important things anyone has ever said to me: “I don’t do stress. Stress is optional.”

WTF? How on earth does one not get stressed? Teach me, Oh Wise One. I thought deeply about this and about my issues with expectations and control. I needed control in order to meet my own expectations. When those expectations were not met, anxiety, anger and depression followed. Where does stress fit in?

The stress comes from trying to control actions that I think can bring my expectations to fruition. Have you ever seen the YouTube video of the zoo keeper trying to take a photo of all the baby pandas together? He expected a cute shot. All he got is a video of him trying to put baby pandas in a line, as one by one they continuously wandered off.

I know that’s kind of a cut and dry example, and life isn’t always cut and dry. However, the primary reason that I would get so pissed when my expectations were not met is rather simple: “My way is superior to everyone else’s way. How can people be so stupid and disrespectful?”

I don’t want to be an angry person. I don’t want to be unhappy with the people in my life. At some point, I realized that all of the control I was attempting to put on others was really me trying to make others meet my own expectations. That doesn’t work. Like ever. And it creates a huge amount of stress and frustration akin to trying keep baby pandas in line.

The real questions are: Who do I think I am? Why do I think I can control anything? What does it really matter if people are late, or my flight is cancelled, or my hat got lost when it flew off the top of the car.

Do these things affect my life? Sure, they can. Is it worth having an explosive hissy fit and making myself and everyone around me miserable? Uh, that would be a no. (Embarrassingly, the loss of that damn hat came close to ruining our evening.)

Advice from an Artist—Three Ways to Let Go:
1. Have zero expectations about how anything is going to turn out in the end.

It’s easier said than done, but if I went into the art studio expecting a certain painting to be created, I would be disappointed all the time. It’s so much easier to have an open mind and go with the flow.

This is also true when it comes to other people. By accepting the fact that people are not predictable, I am not attached to outcomes about how they “should” be.

 2. Stop trying to control everything.

My passion is creating, but I can’t always get in the studio to paint. And guess what? I don’t pitch a fit. I simply do what needs to be done to continue on.

For whatever reason, this is easy for me to apply to my business, and harder to apply to situations that involve people. I have to peel my fingers from the white-knuckle grip they have on how people should be and be okay with the possibility of “my way” not being an option. Perhaps somebody else has an awesome way I’ve never even thought of.

3. Be flexible and don’t be attached to outcomes.

I choose to open my mind to all the possibilities. In the studio, experimentation and the ability to adjust comes very easily. In life, not so much. Last minute changes in dinner plans aren’t going to kill me. When someone is “inconveniencing” me by wanting to meet at 8:00 instead of 6:30 I don’t get pissed anymore. I go for a hike because now I have time to.

Does that sound too simple? I don’t think it is.

My old friend and I have begun to repair our friendship. She moved away and I miss her dearly. We have talked about the past, but not in great detail. I try to show her that my thinking has changed and I don’t want anything from her but her friendship. It’s a hard thing to repair when you live far away but it’s mending little by little.

I no longer expect her or anyone to think like me. When I start feeling superior, I have to remember that I’m no better and no worse than any other person on the planet. I hope she forgives her wayward friend. At the time, I really thought that I was doing her a favor by showing her a better way to live. It was hard to realize that my ego was running the show.

When I’m working on a painting and I make a mark that I didn’t intend to, I don’t look at it as a “mistake.” I look at it as an opportunity to go down a road I may not have seen had it not been for that out of place mark. This is how I strive to live my life now. When a monkey wrench is thrown in, I put it in my back pocket figuring that a wrench may come in handy at some point.

And if it doesn’t, that’s okay. Just as with my art, I choose to live open-minded to all experiences. Also, just like my paintings, life isn’t only made up of straight lines. There are twists, turns, and interruptions. The question I must ask myself is, do I want to put up a fight whenever something unexpected happens, or go with the flow and gracefully see where this new road leads.?

We can’t control other people and situations. But we can choose to set expectations aside and not put so much emphasis on how things are going to end up. After all, it truly is about the journey. And the destination? Well, sometimes the most beautiful views are the ones that we stumble upon unexpectedly, while on the way to where we’re “supposed” to be.

About Marigny Goodyear

Marigny Goodyear is an artist, living and working in Talent, Oregon with her husband, Goody and daughter, Nora.   She plays in Crescent City, California where the ocean keeps her strong and inspired and often visits her hometown of New Orleans (also nicknamed The Crescent City), where the rhythm of her heartbeat is renewed. Visit her at and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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The Path of the Future

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Have you ever been in a place in life that you have no idea what the future holds?  You know of your past and you know what you are experiencing in the present, but do you know where you are going in the future? You can begin creating your future in this present moment.  You […]


How to Take Action Every Day: 5 Powerful Habits

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How to Take Action Every Day

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
Leonardo Da Vinci

One of the biggest and most common problems with improving your life or the success you want out of is that you may not take consistent action over a longer time period.

Now, consistency isn’t the sexiest or most exciting word. But it is, coupled with time, what will give you real results in your life.

Sticking with the program and doing something consistently – and not just when you feel inspired or something like that – is very, very powerful.

This is something I have struggled with a lot in the past. And on some days I still do. But over the years I have found a few things that really help me with this.

1. When you’re taking action, focus only on the process.

I use this one, for example, when I do my workouts and when I write. I don’t take responsibility for the results in my mind.

I take responsibility for showing up and doing my workout/the writing. That’s it.

The results come anyway from that consistent action. And this makes it easier for me to take this action because:

I know that is all I need to focus on. And so my energy and attention is only focused in one direction and I do a better job.
I feel a lot less pressure on myself. And so I’m a lot more relaxed and prone to continue compared to if I stare myself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as I may want and if I am on an emotional roller coaster from day to day.

2. Remember why you are taking action.

Find your top priorities and reasons for why you are doing what you are doing.

It could be to provide for your family, to save up for traveling, to get the job you really want or to improve your self-confidence. Or something else.

To not lose track of why you are taking action and to stay focused:

Write down your most important reasons. Take a few minutes, sit down with paper and a pen and write down the top 1-3 reasons for why you take action and want to keep doing that in your life right now.
Put that note where you can see it every day. Like for example in your workspace or near your bed so that you see it when you wake up every morning.

3. Reminder: you don’t want to hurt yourself.

When you disappoint yourself and don’t think and do as you really deep down want to you hurt yourself by lowering your self-esteem.

Whatever you do during your day sends signals back to yourself about what kind of person you are. Do the right thing like being effective, kind, going to the gym or simply rest and you feel good.

Get lazy, negative or just plain mean and you tend to feel worse after a while. You don’t get away, there is no escaping yourself. And there is always a price to pay.

4. Take smaller steps on the days when the big ones seem to daunting.

On some days getting started with any of the the most important tasks may seem daunting. And so you start to procrastinate. When that happens, one thing that has worked for me is to be kind. To nudge myself forward instead of beating myself up.

So at such times I take:

A small step. I may make a deal with myself to just work for 5 minutes on a piece of a bigger and more difficult task.
An even smaller step. If that small step feels like too and I start to procrastinate I make a deal with myself for 1 or 2 minutes of work.

Sometimes that results in a few dents put into a big task, a couple of smaller tasks being completed and many breaks being taken throughout the day.

And sometimes the easy start or restart to the day is all I need to get going again and to have a good and very productive time before the evening arrives.

Either way, I move forward instead of standing still.

5. Celebrate what you did today.

When you appreciate your good work you feel even better about your life and yourself. And over time taking more action with less inner resistance becomes possible and you associate action with more positive emotions than you may at this time.


Take two minutes at the end of the day to think about what you can appreciate about what you did today. Or write down a couple of self-appreciative things in your journal.
Have a tasty treat or a bigger celebration.
Tell someone how nice something turned out, how you learned a good lesson or how proud you are over something important you did today.

Reward yourself for the things you did right today to strengthen your action taking habit.

And remember to be kind to yourself for the things you may have missed or not gotten done. No point in trying to beat yourself up. No point in trying to be perfect.

See what you can learn from it and perhaps try another solution tomorrow and see if that works better.


License to Hurt: What We Really Need When We’re in Pain

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“We’ll light the candle together when she’s ready. For now I’ll trust the darkness for us both.” ~Terri St. Cloud

Over breakfast one morning recently, Jeff and I started reminiscing about past years, and something was said that brought back a painful memory for me. My boss at the time had been unimaginably small-minded. He had hung me out to dry. “I still can’t understand why he did that,” I said.

Jeff looked at me levelly. “You need to get over it, Jan,” he said. “It was years ago.”

Wise advice, without question. The only problem was that I didn’t want it just then.

Why is it that we are so seldom allowed a few moments just to hurt? After a serious heartbreak like the death of a loved one, sure, we’re given all the leeway we need. But the run-of-the-mill slights and small, persistent sorrows are treated as something we should quickly move past, even when they’re deeply painful.

Jeff, poor guy, was just trying to help. I couldn’t fault him. I knew I was being a bit ridiculous. But what I longed for was someone to acknowledge my outrage, let me sit with it, live into it for a few moments—and then gently remind me that it’s time to get over it.

A few hours later, after I’d licked my wounds and was feeling better, I began to wonder: Might I also be failing to honor the sorrows of others?

Everything I’ve learned in the past eight years, since the death of our son, has pointed me to the same lesson: The most important thing we can give each other in times of pain is compassion, a simple, “Oh, I bet that’s really hard.” We should offer that before—or instead of—advice on how to cope.

Even worse are the times when we immediately turn the conversation to ourselves: “I know just what you mean. I’m going through something like that too.”

I catch myself doing this way too often. My intent is to signal to the person that we’re partners in pain and can support each other. But the comment shifts the focus away from my companion’s heartache to mine.

Or we may inadvertently belittle our friend’s sorrow with stories of how we’ve overcome the same challenge.

Recently I overheard a conversation between two elderly women. One was talking about how emotionally wrenching she was finding it to give up her home and move to a retirement facility.

“Oh, you won’t miss it a bit once you get settled,” the other woman said.

She had already been through the experience and knew without question what lay ahead. I wanted to break in and hug the first woman. When we are in pain, the last thing we need is someone who knows without question what lies ahead.

Many of us find it deeply uncomfortable to be in the presence of suffering. And no wonder. We live in a culture where we’re taught from childhood to hide our hurts, to buck up and get over them. We don’t want to display them, and we don’t want to see them in others. Yet unspoken pain is all around us.

I’m talking here about a way of caring for each other that hews a fine line, because I in no way want to encourage my friends and loved ones to wallow in their sorrow. I want to honor it for what it is but never give it the power to rule my life.

It’s true that others may be able to benefit from what I’ve learned—but not immediately after suffering the same kind of hurt. And it’s entirely up to them whether or not they want to learn from me.

To show love for another in sorrow asks more of us than empathetic gestures. It asks us to try and understand exactly what the other is feeling, and even to risk getting a taste of that pain.

At a retreat in Maui in 2001, Ram Dass drew a clear distinction between empathy and compassion.

“Compassion for somebody else is that you are one with them and you hurt with them. That compassion comes out of the oneness of your heart, the oneness with all beings . . . ” He continued, “It’s not just empathy. It’s not one person feels empathy for another person. It’s got to be one person.”

How will I ever reach the point where I can feel as one with someone who’s hurting? In this I’m like a child learning to walk; I can only stumble and try again.

I’ve lived most of my life cultivating the image of myself as a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need anyone’s help. Reid’s death showed me how wrong I was. My task now, I think, is to be present for others who are hurting, because I know what suffering means. This knowledge is a bittersweet gift that’s been given to me by life. I’m trying as hard as I can to use it.

I do not always succeed.

This is what I know for certain: I can’t tell others how to heal. All I can do is sit with them—and when they’re ready, help them light a candle to find their way out of the dark. Doing this kindly, without giving voice to how I think they should move forward, is a practice I will struggle to follow the rest of my life.

One last thing: A few weeks ago, when I had another setback with work, my dear Jeff came to me and enveloped me in a hug. He held me close, hurting with me. And only then, after several minutes, did he remind me that it wasn’t all that important—that in fact I had plenty of reasons to let it go.

I responded by giving him the biggest, longest kiss I’ve given him in years.

Photo by mhx

About Jan DeBlieu

In 2009 Jan DeBlieu’s son was killed in a car accident—and her entire world changed. She has since dedicated herself to learning to serve people in trouble, need, or pain. She blogs about the art of selfless service at, and her latest book (in progress) is called How the Light Comes Back: Finding Wholeness Again by Helping Others.

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Why I Forgave My Father and How It Set Me Free

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“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.” ~Bryant H. McGill

The day I chose to forgive was the day I became free

It happened on an ordinary weekday. It was just another ride on a crowded train. It’s been years since it happened, yet I can still recall the faintest details of that moment.

There they were, sitting directly across from me. She pulled out a small mirror and began to apply her lipstick. He playfully nudged her, causing her to mess up. She got mad. He laughed. She couldn’t help but smile despite her aggravation. She said, “Daaad, don’t do that.”

Before I knew what hit me, I felt warm streams of tears rolling down my face. I couldn’t stop them, couldn’t control them, and there was no way to hide them. It’s as if years of suppressed pain came swarming up my spine and took over all my senses.

This was the day I realized I really missed a father figure in my life. The funny thing is, I did just fine for seventeen years of my childhood until this very moment. This moment was the straw on camel’s back to my bottled up emotions.

A dark part of me wishes I could tell you a tragic story of how my father passed away at a young age and how I never got to know him. That didn’t happen though. And I think it’s one of the very reasons it hurts so much.

My father was alive and well. Still is. He simply had different priorities and was not the kid loving type. You see, he was “there,” but he was never there for me.

I got to see him on weekends from time to time, but most of our “quality time” was spent with him taking care of his personal errands and me waiting in the car.

Many times he canceled plans at the last minute, and sometimes didn’t show up at all. On birthdays he made a quick appearance to drop off a gift and quickly took off to take care of other more important things.

Sometimes he’d call and ask for my older sister, and they would chat for a while as I patiently waited for my turn to talk to daddy. Most times my turn didn’t come. I watched in hopeless silence as my sister said “goodbye” and hung up the phone.

It stung a little extra the day I overheard my mother reminding him that he has another daughter and that he should ask to talk to me too. To me, he was a mystery. A tall, manly figure with gold chains and strong cologne.

I remember looking up at him from the corner of the room, hanging on every word that came out of his mouth. I’m not sure if it was fascination or intimidation that drove this curiosity. Probably a little bit of both.

He was the life of the party. He drove an Audi in a town where most people walked, me and my family included. I was a shy little girl who wanted nothing more than to be loved by her big and strong daddy. I didn’t understand why he didn’t seem to care.

So there I was, a seventeen-year-old girl on a morning train trying to wipe the tears without smearing my mascara. It was too late, mascara was everywhere.  After this day, over the course of many years, I experienced a kaleidoscope of emotions. Mostly anger.

I hated him. I blamed him for not being there for me when I needed him most. Over the next few years I acknowledged a series of behaviors that were direct outcomes of my ”daddy issues.”

I was extremely insecure, which caused an enormous amount of jealousy that led to endless fights with my lovers. I sought our friendships with men, mostly because I needed their attention. I continuously victimized myself, and it was all his fault. I blamed that selfish, arrogant jerk who was too cool to hang with his little girl. 

Years passed this way. I dwelled. The anger and sadness resonated inside me. Tears came to the surface at every darn daddy scene in the movies. I pretended Father’s Day didn’t exist. I felt bad for myself every chance I had. It was exhausting. I avoided his rare calls and slight attempts to “build” a relationship. “It’s too late,” I told myself.

This went on for years. So much of my time was wasted on accusation, pain suppression, and avoidance. “This is just the way things are,” I told myself. I didn’t think there was another way.

Some say time heals all wounds; others believe it’s up to us to heal them. In my case it was a little bit of both. On my long journey to recovery, I did a whole lot of soul searching and self-realization. I began to slowly and cautiously unravel the layers of hurt and blame.

I consciously and diligently started working on improving my confidence, and with the help of a steady and healthy relationship with a wonderful man, I started to learn that not all men were bad. More over, I began to understand that men, just like women, can be wonderful, caring, loving, and supporting beings that make this world a beautiful place.

As I dove deeper into studying the human psyche I learned that all of our behaviors are taught, and if there is no positive influence to teach us right from wrong, there is a big chance we can go astray from what is right. My father was no exception to this rule.  

His father wasn’t nurturing or loving or any of the other things I wanted my father to be. He never learned those fatherly tendencies that I so desperately needed from him. While he certainly had an opportunity to change this pattern, as we all do, he didn’t, and for that I empathize with him.

I’m sorry he didn’t get to feel the love and admiration I felt for him. I’m sorry he wasn’t there to rejoice in my accomplishments. I’m sorry he wasn’t the one to show me how amazing a father’s love can be. I’m sorry he missed out on a life long connection with a caring and loving soul he himself created. I’m sorry he missed out on so much love.

Today, as I watch my incredible husband play with my son, my heart smiles. I cry happy tears that he will never feel the void that haunted me throughout my younger years. He won’t have to wonder why his daddy isn’t there, why he didn’t call, or when he’ll see him again.

The presence of his parents’ love will teach him that life is full of loving and caring people who come together to grow and foster unity in the safety of their loving home. He will know love they way he’ll know his name.

This part of my life taught me that while hardships are inevitable, the way we respond to them is up to us. For many years I chose to feel hurt instead of learning to forgive and looking for the light.

I chose to blame instead of seeking understanding. I felt anger instead of compassion. I chose to be a victim instead of becoming the victor. I sought happiness in others, not realizing that it has always been within me; I simply didn’t know where to look.

Today I wish my father well. I hope he lives out the rest of his days surrounded by peace, love, and kindness. The day I chose to forgive him was the day I set myself free.

About Alyana Moalam

Alyana Moalam is a writer and a poet. Her writing is dedicated to spreading the message of love, peace, and unity. She created in an effort to make the world a kinder and gentler place. Though her writing, she hopes to inspire others to learn, grow, and contribute to the good in the world. Connect with Alyana on Instagram at or Facebook.

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Be Grateful My Friend

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There is always someone who is having a more challenging experience than you. So when challenges come about, remember that you will get through the challenge. It is only temporary no matter how it may feel. Be grateful for what you do have in life that you may take for granted; electricity, plumbing, ovens, refrigerators, […]