Let me use a couple of stories to illustrate this. I am sure you have heard the Bible story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego.
You see God had a plan for these boys’ lives. They had a purpose like we all do. God chose them to be the wise men in King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. The king ordered his chief of staff to find young men who were strong, good looking and healthy to train as wise men to serve in the palace. God made sure these boys were chosen then, God made them excel in their learning to stand out from the crowd. So, they got the job.
God then gave these four boys unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom and then God give Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams. This talent would be necessary to get him into position for his purpose.
Every aspect of your life has been preordained by God. Nothing is left to chance, believe this.
It does not matter the circumstances of your birth. You are meant for greatness and whatever you need to accomplish your mission, God preloads into you.
Think of yourself as a top-of-the-line sports car. Everything you need to perform at your highest level is preloaded and then some!
Daniel had the ability to interpret visions and dreams
Anyway, back to Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream and he wanted someone not only to interpret the dream, but to tell him the dream! Sometimes people in authority have some unusual requests. As it turned out Daniel was the only person in the entire kingdom who could tell the King his dream and interpret it.
When Daniel told the king his dream and what it meant King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over all his wise men. But at Daniel’s request the King also appointed Shadrach Meshack and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon. Bring your friends along.
A modern-day version of this story is how Lebron James brought his friends along when he got to the NBA. Lebron hired his friend Rich Paul to be his agent with no experience or degrees in sports related fields. Everyone said it was the worst decision ever. But Lebron understood the concept of bring your friends along. Today Lebron is worth $1Billion in contracts and endorsements and his friend Rich Paul is now the #1 agent in the NBA. He is now expanding to Major league baseball and the NFL.
Daniel brought his friends along
This is why I want to focus on this topic today. The skill of interpreting dreams and visions were only given to Daniel, but Daniel remembered his friends when he became successful. God does not anoint you with a purpose just for you, you are supposed to help your friends, your family, your community and even the world with your talent.
Your friends have a mission and purpose as well and sometimes your only purpose is to get them in position. Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego’s mission was to show that their God is the only true God. Their God was the only God deserving of their worship and if they were thrown into the fiery furnace, their God would rescue them.
And that is what happened. These boys were thrown into the furnace because they refused to bow down to a statue. When King Nebuchadnezzar threw them in the furnace bound, he witnessed with his own eyes 4 men walking around in the furnace unbound and unharmed. The 4th man being the Angel God sent to protect them from harm.
This is why you bring your friends along
The King then made this decree “If any man whatever race or nation or language speak a word against the God of Shadrach Meshack and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble.”
So if you ever make it to the top, remember your friends and bring them along.
Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of 5 min Fridays with coach Myrna
My definition of a, God shift, is anytime you ditch disruption or delay in your life, collide with, God’s purpose, in moving to a greater, destiny. And it’s important because many of us are pursuing the wrong place. And sometimes that’s a physical place. But sometimes we’re also putting energy into the wrong places in terms of our relationships, and our destiny
Myrna: What is the concept of the, God shift? And why is it important when we’re navigating the seasons of life to get to our destiny?
Shayna Rattler, the Founder of A God Shift ™ Movement, is an ordained prophet, author and speaker who empowers individuals and organizations around the world to experience a God shift that moves them into a greater destiny, expectancy and possibility. She is passionate about helping others develop a deeper understanding of God and the identity they have in Him. Her wit and humor make God’s word relatable and her direct communication style makes it actionable.
Shayna has helped celebrities, influencers, military officers, political dignitaries, pastors, corporate executives and seasoned entrepreneurs achieve personal growth and organizational excellence. She and her businesses have received multiple awards, she has published multiple books and has been featured in over 450 media outlets. She is also the host of A God Shift Podcast and A God Shift TV show
Shayna: My definition of a, God shift, is anytime you ditch disruption or delay in your life, collide with, God’s purpose, in moving to a greater destiny. And it’s important because many of us are pursuing the wrong place. And sometimes that’s a physical place. But sometimes we’re also putting energy into the wrong places in terms of our relationships, and our mindset. The Lord is so committed to the results in our lives and getting us to where he desires us to be. That if there’s anything that we’re putting energy into, that is not on the path that he has planned for us, he will shake us up and he will use things like disruption and delay in order to get our attention. That is what I call a, God shift.
But that attention is really an invitation that there’s another level of destiny that await us. And so, since so many people are personally in the wrong place and putting energy into the wrong things, It’s important that we respond appropriately to God’s invitation so that we can really get everything that he has for us.
Lancer blinks intro
This song is called I came to Win by Lancer Blinks
Myrna: So when are you talking about the, seasons of life, are you saying that how we incorporate the spring, summer winter, seasons of life? Are you saying the negative disruptions are the winter season and the positive disruptions are the spring and summer season?
Shayna: Yes, we all have seasons in our lives that mimic the natural seasons related to the weather. It’s just the natural ebbs and flows of life. But sometimes it’s a season of waiting. Sometimes we’re going through a season of we’ve accomplished everything that we’ve set out to do, yet there’s still an inkling in our belly that there’s another level of success with our name on it. So, it’s not always negative. I do believe that sometimes the negative seasons like the winter season are the ones that we pay the most attention to.
Oftentimes we give the, winter season of life, the most attention to in terms of resources and effort, but it can be all of those things. Sometimes a, season of life, can be I just sent my kid off to college and this is the very first time that I’ve ever been alone in my entire life. Whatever it is that you’re experiencing good, bad or indifferent, is contributing to a particular, season of life.
Myrna: So, if God has a purpose for you, and you’re putting your energy into a different purpose, we said that the, God shift, is when God sends some kind of disruption so that he can get your attention. The disruptions could be illnesses, the disruption could be disappointment etc. So, when you talk about the, God shift, how do we use those disruptions to get us back on the correct path?
Disruptions are not always negative
Shayna: First, we have to be clear that the disruption is not always negative. A disruption is any unexpected circumstance in your life. So, you could unexpectedly get a major job opportunity that requires you to move to a part of the country or part of the world that you know nothing about and it can make you uncomfortable and it can come with fear and doubt. However, it’s the most money that you’ve ever made in your entire life and gives you the opportunity to have more impact and influence than you’ve ever had in your life. So, I think we first have to be clear that disruptions don’t have to be negative occurrences. But that’s one of the misnomers.
The question is, are we going to see what it is that he needs us to see? Are we going to learn what it is that he needs to learn? Are we going to go where he needs us to go? We have to be able to identify, why is the Lord using what it is that he’s using to get my attention? Why is he using it now? And what do I need to do as a result of that? That’s kind of the backdrop of a, God shift, is that we’re pursuing a path that is not in alignment with the ultimate, destiny, that God has for us. He uses something to shake us up to get our attention. Now, how are we going to respond? Just like if I send you an invitation to a dinner party at my house? How are you going to respond?
Sometimes it can be that you’re on one path and you’re at a crossroads and you wonder should I stay on this path? Do I do something different? Are your opportunities in relationships? Are they drying up? Do you find yourself always relying on other people to pray for you? You don’t feel like you have enough power and authority to be able to pray for yourself. You’re waiting idly on God to do everything and you don’t recognize that you have a role in your life. Sometimes people feel burned out. Sometimes people feel anxious. There’s a number of things that you can identify that something is just off and you may not know exactly why it’s off or how to fix it, but you know, whatever this season is that you’re experiencing right now, you don’t want to stay there.
Our seasons are paths to our destiny
Myrna: Right, you don’t want to stay there. Just like the natural seasons, the, seasons of life, are not permanent. It’s the flow of life and you keep moving towards our, destiny. You don’t want to linger in that winter season for sure. Okay, what can get in the way of successfully sifting through the, seasons of life, especially the difficult ones to get to, destiny?
Shayna: There’s a lot of things that some of the main ones that I see are expecting things to look in the next season like they’ve looked in previous seasons, especially if we continue with your analogy of the natural seasons. Sometimes, assignments and seasons expire? Our purpose doesn’t change. Our, destiny, doesn’t change. Our calling doesn’t change, but seasons and assignments expire. And many of us the reason why we are not into the next level of, destiny, that God has for us is because we don’t give ourselves permission to let go of a season that has expired.
Myrna: How do you help clients navigate the, God shift, and get back to, purpose and destiny?
Purpose and destiny leaves clues
Shayna: I would say that purpose and destiny leaves clues. So if we look at my own life, and we look at previous assignments, when I was a young girl, probably a preteen, I volunteered in the activities department in nursing. And one of the things that I enjoyed the most was we had a bed bound patient that if they moved her, it would kill her.
And so I would ask her if you could go anywhere or you could do anything where would you go? What would you do? And then before I would come back the next time I would go to the library, and I would find a book about what it is that she said she would do and where she would go and I read it to her, so I was helping to make her dreams come true. So that was Clue #1 on my purpose and destiny.
You fast forward a couple of years, I became a therapist, and whether I was helping someone who’d had a stroke, learn how to brush their hair again, or someone who had just had a hip replacement learn how to navigate the bathtub again. I was making their dreams come true. That was Clue #3. I advanced into owning my own business and being a business coach. I was making people’s business dreams come true.
And now in the faith-based space. I’m helping people get into their, destiny, teaching them how to make their dreams come true that, God’s purpose and destiny, has for them because there’s usually something that’s blocking them seeing it.
Look at past assignments to see your destiny
And so if you look at the, assignments, that I had, from a pre-teen to now being 45 years old, my purpose and destiny on this earth is to make people’s dreams come true. That’s the impact of that I am designed to have and so you know I said a minute ago people use the words assignment, calling, purpose and destiny interchangeably, but they’re not the same thing. Your assignment is to your calling is how you help them. Your, purpose, is why you’re here. What is the impact that you’re meant to have? And your, destiny, is where your purpose takes you.
So, you see my calling, zigzagged a little bit in terms of how I helped people, but my purpose has always been to make people’s dreams come true. Although I’ve done it in different assignments and in different, seasons of life. So, for if someone came to me and said, Shayna, what is my purpose? I’m not even going to try to come up with some deep prophetic word. I’m going to ask them. Tell me about your previous, assignments, that you’ve had. And let’s see if we can identify a common thread that has been woven throughout those assignments. I would ask them, tell me about your passions and tell me about your frustration because I think we’re those two things intersect.
Formula to unlock purpose and destiny
Write down this formula. It’s called the ABCs to unlock heaven. This is how you use the authority that scripture says that we have.
The A is aligned, we first have to be aligned with His Word, His willingness ways. This is not new age, a woman will name it and claim it. Just focus on what it is that you want and got out. We’re not talking about none of that. Witness camp. We’re aligning with God’s will and His Word
The B is for belief. It’s not enough for us just to believe that God is able, but you have to believe that he’ll do it for you.
The C is the most important as C stands for confession. As a believer the most powerful weapon that we have is our mouths. And we have to use our mouths and make sure that our speech is in alignment with everything that we’re believing for and everything it is that God says that we can have. That’s why there are scriptures like speak those things that are as though they were that’s why there’s scriptures that says.
Let the poor say I am rich. Let the weak say I’m strong. So we have to make sure that every word that comes out of our mouth now is in alignment with what we want. Stop talking about what you don’t want, stop talking about what did not happen. You need to begin to declare what it is that you want to see happen.
Myrna: You have a free resource that you want to share with the listeners, tell them how they can get a hold of you. Talk about your podcast about your podcast and TV show.
Shayna: Absolutely. So, we’ve talked a lot about, God shift, and all of us are shifting in some capacity in our lives. And anytime, no matter what we’re shifting from or what we’re shifting to. There’s always four primary areas of our lives that we’re going to have to shift. But there’s four shifts that are going to be required. And so, I created a free guide called “When God says shift, and inside that guide, you’ll discover what those four shifts are to help you shift successfully. You can grab this at www.Godsaysshift.com. And if you want to find out about anything about us, our website is www.AGodshift.com You can find out about our books, the television show, the podcast, everything all in one place. If you’re looking for me on social media, I’m the most active on Instagram @agodshift there as well.
One way to find your, purpose, is to notice what makes you, weep, or angry. Because that is your, heart, responding to what’s on the outside that is linked to something on your inside. For example, do you, weep, when you hear a child has been abused or a dog left outside in the heat without any water? Then maybe God wanted you to do something about this and that is why he pre-wired you to care.
We see an example of this in the, bible story, of, Nehemiah. Nehemiah, asked his brother a simple question. “How are the, Jews, finding being back home after being in captivity”
Nehemiah, brother replied “Not good. They are in trouble and disgrace because the, walls of Jerusalem, have been torn down and the gates destroyed by fire.”
When, Nehemiah, heard this, he wept for days until he felt compelled to do something about it. At the time he was not a rich man, a man of influence, or had any other qualifications to rebuild a wall; he was the Kings cup bearer. But that did not stop him from asking God to make the King favorable to his request to rebuild the, walls of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah found his purpose
Nehemiah, had this immense calling to do something, it made him sad because he really didn’t think he could actually do anything about it. Remember he was not rich; he did not have any influence or so he thought. While serving the king wine one day, the King noticed he was sad and asked him why.
Nehemiah, replied “I am sad because the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins.” The king asked “How can I help you?” What a strange response from a King. This is because, Nehemiah, had already petitioned God to go before him and soften the, heart, of the king.
So, Nehemiah, responded “Send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”
The King responded “How long will you be gone?”
Again no pushback, the King did not even ask, Nehemiah, how he plans on accomplishing this task. He just said just let me know how long you will be gone!
Stacey Abrams: A present day Nehemiah
How many of you felt angry or sad at things happening around you, but felt you could do nothing about it because you are a nobody without money or influence? I have heard lots of present-day, Nehemiah, stories of men and women tackling huge issues and building a movement. The first one that comes to mind is, Stacey Abrams, in, Georgia.
Stacey did not win her groundbreaking 2018 campaign for governor, but she did not quit. She got right back to work because she understood that she didn’t need the title of governor to make a difference in the lives of Georgians.
But let’s unpack our Nehemiah story. The truly amazing thing about this story is that he completed the wall in 52 days. He, organized, what the enemy called poor feeble, Jews, to work together. Everybody did a little bit. I think today we call this, grassroots organizing, or, boots on the ground, and he did it without technology. No telephones, no internet!
How to Find Your Purpose
Why was he so successful, because it was his, purpose. It was his, soul’s purpose, and that is why the, organizing, forces in the universe came together to make it happen. How did, Nehemiah, find his, purpose? He wept for days when he heard that his people were living in shame and his, heart, told him he should do something about it.
In a similar way, your, purpose, has a way of finding you. It could jump off the page of a book you are reading, you could hear a term and like, Lifecoach, and know that is what you are supposed to do. Are you trying to find your, purpose in life? Reflect on what elicits emotion from you. Listen to your, heart. It will direct you to your, purpose.
Nehemiah, built a wall, what can you build? Can you build a community center for the youths in your community, so they can get off the streets? Can you build a school in your village, so the kids can get an education? Can you build wells in third world countries, so that poor people can drink clean water?
Whatever is causing you pain, you can do something about it. You are, limitless, you only need the, desire; the, organizing, power of the universe will do the rest.
This is 5 min Fridays with coach Myrna, I hope that you are on, purpose, and if not, you must learn to listen to your, heart, to find your, soul’s purpose. Join my Facebook group Lifecoach to be inspired throughout the week.
“If you have a tendency to despair over lost opportunities or if you worry about the future, ask yourself this question: “What is right in front of me?” In other words, what circumstances and relationships are currently available to you? This question can get your focus off a past regret or a scary future and back to what God can do in your life. What is God’s intention for your life, what is your, purpose, gifts and natural abilities?”
Finding your purpose
You may be at a crossroad in your life and want to change careers but you don’t know what you want to do. To find your, purpose, ask yourself, what do I have in my, hand? What are my gifts and natural abilities? Take inventory of your natural talents and abilities. What are you good at? What do you like to do? What have others told you that you are good at?
What did Walt Disney have in his hand when he was broke and out of a job? Answer.. he had in his hand the natural ability to Draw. That pointed him to his, purpose, of creating the “happiest place on earth”.
What did Nelson Mandela have in his hand when he was imprisoned for over 27 years in a small cell? Answer. He had the natural ability and gift to lead. His, purpose, was to lead his people out of Apartheid. God put in his hand the natural ability to forget self and work for justice for his people.
How did J.K Rowling find her, purpose? She was broke and a single parent with no support? She asked herself, How can I figure out what to do? Her answer.. she checked what she had in her hand, what was her gift and natural ability. She was an English teacher. She used her love and mastery of the English language to create a story in her mind and then put it to paper. The Harry Potter empire was born.
How I found my purpose
In my book “Out of the Snares” I share How I found my, purpose, by checking what I had in my hand. I had in my hand the ability to write and to tell a good story. I had a love of people and the compassion in my heart to want them to succeed, so I transitioned to becoming an Author and a Life coach.
If you are trying to find your, purpose, check what’s in your, hand. What do you have in your, hand, that God gave you at birth to build his Kingdom?
Use what you have in your, hand. You were created with a, purpose, God gave you the skills and, talents, you need to complete your task. Stop waiting for the right time.
Check out what Propel Women article said about finding out your, purpose, by referencing the bible story of Moses and how God used what was in his, hand.
Stop asking when you are going to get your gifts or, talents, or calling and see what’s in your, hand.
But there’s a bush that is burning and, Moses,’ life is about to get flipped upside down.
What is in your hand?
Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses, threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.” [Ex. 4:1-3]
In Exodus chapter 3, Moses, had many doubts and many fears. He came up with tons of excuses. But God asked, Moses, what was in his, hand.
We know, Moses, has a shepherd’s staff in his hand, a dead thing. But then he laid it down and it became a snake. A dead thing became a living thing, and a dangerous thing at that. So dangerous in fact that, Moses, actually runs from it! God says to pick it again and it becomes a dead thing again.
Just like God told. Moses, I believe God is telling people today to lay it down. Will you not lay down your identity? Many of us are defined by our job, our education, our financial status, or marital status. But Galatians 2:19 reminds us that, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Yes, it’s no longer about me, but rather Christ who lives in me. God is saying, Let me be the one to give you identity. Find your identity in me.
Our passion is our purpose
Before we find our passion and, purpose, we must be willing to lay down our influence and recognition.
The recognition of man pales in comparison to what God has called us to. God is asking if you’re willing to lay down our dead things so he can make them come to life. Many people are living lives that are dead; it feels comfortable and safe and controllable.
But when God gives us a vision for our life like He did with Moses, we’re able to see the power God has for us, the purpose he promises us, and the plan he wants for us. It might scare us. Some might even want to run away from because it’s terrifying and they won’t know how to handle the amazing things God has for them.
Pick up your copy of “Out of the Snares” and understand the Biblical principles behind the story of Moses and the “Burning Bush”. Learn how our “Burning Bush” is our passion and natural talents.
In this episode of 5 Min Fridays with Coach Myrna, we look at the, Bible story, of, Joseph, to see how God uses, coincidence, to get us to our, purpose and destiny. I show that there are, no coincidences in life, that every moment has been, preordained.
So, if you have been feeling unlucky because you had, coincidence, show up in your life that did not feel good, I want you to know that every event has a, purpose, and that is to take you to your, preordained destiny.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Bible Story Of Joseph and destiny
I want to use the, bible story, of, Joseph, the son of Jacob to show how God uses, coincidence. Joseph, was born with a purpose, prearranged by God. It was determined in his mother’s womb or before.
Because he was born to his father in his old age, his father Jacob loved him more than his 10 other brothers. That created jealousy. His brothers hated him because he was his father’s favorite. When Jacob made, Joseph, a beautiful robe of many colors, his brothers became even more jealous of him. Then Joseph, started dreaming about his brothers bowing down to him and he decided to share his, dreams.
Bad move, never share your, dreams, of success with others even family members because they will secretly hate you and want you dead. They may not try to kill you as Joseph’s brothers wanted to do, but maybe they would wish evil on you.
The good news is whatever God ordains no man can change.
This episode is brought to you by The Jordan Harbinger Show.
Jordan dives into the minds of fascinating people — from athletes, authors and scientists to mobsters, spies and hostage negotiators.
I really think there just isn’t a better podcast to listen to casually or seriously to expand your worldview. Jordan’s also got a strangely relatable weekly segment, “Feedback Friday,” where he covers advice on everything from escaping a cult or psycho family situations to relationships and networking to asking for a raise.
Search for The Jordan Harbinger Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also head over to jordanharbinger.com/start to start listening.
Here are 2 episodes I loved and I think you would too. Check out
Shawn Achor leveraging the happiness advantage and Dwayne Wade A life Bigger than basketball
How God Used Coincidence to get Joseph to his purpose and destiny
It is amazing how God orchestrated getting, Joseph, to fulfill his, purpose.
First, he got Joseph’s father Jacob to love him more, thereby creating a fire starter.
Then he gave, Joseph, dreams, and inspired him to share them with his brothers, creating hatred.
Then he gave his brothers opportunity to sell him into slavery by inspiring his father Jacob to send, Joseph, alone to find his brothers.
The slave traders then sold, Joseph, to the pharaoh’s captain of palace guard Potiphar.
How would, Joseph, get in position to fulfill his, purpose, if these apparent, coincidences, did not take place?
There are, no coincidences in life, everything is, preordained, in God’s plan.
What you think is bad luck is actually God getting you in position for greatness.
Joseph story of coincidences continues
Potiphar’s wife has the hots for, Joseph, but when he wouldn’t sleep with her, she seeks revenge by accusing him of trying to rape her and so Joseph is thrown into prison. The same prison that the Pharaoh sends prisoners from the palace.
Later Pharaoh throws his cup bearer and his baker in prison and who oversees them, Joseph!
Then God gives them both, dreams, and tells, Joseph, the interpretation of their, dreams. It so happens that in 3 days both, dreams, come through according to, Joseph’s interpretation. The cup bearer is returned to his role in the palace and the baker was killed.
A full 2 years later the Pharaoh had 2, dreams, that he needed interpreting and that is when the cup bearer remembered, Joseph, the Hebrew slave who interpreted his, dreams, in prison.
Pharaoh sends for, Joseph, who interprets his, dreams. Joseph, tells Pharaoh that the, dreams, meant God is notifying him there will be 7 bountiful years followed by 7 Years of severe famine.
Pharaoh then makes, Joseph, administrative head of Egypt second only to himself. Everyone needed to bow down to him.
God’s purpose for Joseph realized
God’s, purpose, for, Joseph, was to be the instrument that would save the Egyptians from all dying in the famine that was, preordained, before, Joseph, was born. The famine would have also have wiped out all of Abraham’s defendants as well and that would have made God’s promise to Abraham, that his defendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky to be void, and how many of you know that God is not man, he does not lie. He used, coincidence, to move, Joseph, in position to realize his preordained, destiny.
Coincidence is to get you to your destiny
I wanted to share this story with you today to illustrate that you were born with a, purpose, and there are no, coincidence, in life. Every moment is, preordained. Think of all the, coincidences, God had to orchestrate for, Joseph, to fulfill his, purpose and destiny. Most of them not in, Joseph, favor.
My life has been the same. There were several, coincidences, that got me to my, purpose and destiny. If I was to pick up my story from the time I arrived in Canada from Guyana.
I met this girl working in a factory making zippers. She took me with her to look for a better job. That, coincidence, got me a job at Scotia Bank and she did not find work. While I was at Scotia Bank, I met my second husband who was 12 years older than me and schooled me in life and suggested I go back to college.
After college I started selling computers. the, coincidence, of how I met Tony Robbins. Tony came to town and sent free tickets to my company for his “unleash the power within” conference. Tony Robbins inspired me to unleash my power within and I became the top female limousine operator in Toronto Canada.
This, coincidence, brought me to Miami Florida. Miami was my Egypt, it is where I needed to be to fulfil my, purpose. I will stop here, but you get the picture. There are, no coincidences in life, every step in your journey is, preordained, and is God’s plan, even the steps you take backwards.
So, if you feel you have been lucky or if you feel that you are unlucky, I want you to know that every, coincidence, has a, purpose, and that is to take you to your, preordained destiny.
This is life coach Myrna Young and you have been listening to 5 mins with coach Myrna. I want to invite you to join my private Facebook group called Lifecoach. Hope to see you next week. Namaste
Kushal Choksi, 911 survivor, shares his story of surviving the collapse of the, World Trade Center, and then asking the universe why he survived. What was his, purpose, when he stumbled onto, Sky Breath meditation, and, breathwork, as a healing modality from, trauma; he realized that he had found his purpose.
Kushal’s new book “On a Wing and A Prayer” tells his story.
Kushal’s thriving career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs was forever changed on September 11, 2001 as he made a split-moment decision to abandon his office and the co-workers who refused to leave the World Trade Center. Managing to narrowly escape, he witnessed the magnitude of death and destruction up close and was plunged into lengthy depression where he found himself believing life was meaningless.
His search for a renewed, purpose, began with a reluctant trip to a, breathwork, workshop and eventually turned into a decades-long journey of spiritual discovery, mind-blowing metaphysical experiences, and a fierce devotion to the life-altering benefits of mindfulness and meditation.
Today, Kushal and his wife run Elements Truffles, a New York-based artisanal chocolate company built on values of Ayurveda, sustainability, giving back and ethical trade. Kushal is a trainer of personal development, meditation, wellness, and leadership programs for the Art of Living Foundation. He has taught secrets of breathwork and meditation to thousands across the US, Europe, and Asia. And he serves on the US board of the International Association for Human Values (IAHV).
Let’s talk about what is “professional” today. On LinkedIn, important conversations are happening around what it means to be a professional. As the Host of the Transform Your Mind Podcast being professional means to me being respectful of my guests and their time.
Right now, LinkedIn members are talking about things like needing more flexibility around where we work, how we work, and even taking time away from work to focus on family or mental health.
Because those things should not stunt career development and growth. Instead, they should enhance it as we show up on our own terms.
Members are even putting what’s most important to them into their job titles, with things like: Podcast host-slash-activist-slash-mom.
I know I am going to update my job title to say Podcast host-lifecoach-realtor-wife-mom
Professional is ours to define. And our authentic self is our professional self. So, if your LinkedIn doesn’t reflect who you really are, update your job title.
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Myrna: How did surviving, 911, on, September 11, change your life? How did that tragedy make you more receptive to a new spiritual path of, mindfulness, breathwork, and, meditation?
Kushal: Great question. I think, you know, as I recall, the day started as any other day where I was on my way to work. And as I was coming out of the, the subway, in the bowels of the, world trade center, that’s when the pandemonium broke around me and I froze. In that moment, I didn’t know how to process all that. People were just running around, saying things that they understood, or they perceived, someone was saying a bomb had gone off.
Nobody really knew what was happening. Only one thing was evident, there was a fear, there was massive fear in the atmosphere. That’s all I really remember that it was unsafe to be outside. I stepped out and as I was looking at the building, trying to process what had just happened, another plane crashed into the South Tower. Of course, in that moment, it became clear that this was a more deliberate action.
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And what followed after that, people jumping in front of me, just to end it willfully, or the first responders going in, almost walking into their own end, you know, and it was all kind of very unexpected and very difficult to process. It felt like a scene from an apocalypse movie that you can almost imagine, but you never think you would be part of it, or you would be living it. And as I was running away from it, the second tower just collapsed. And by a stroke of luck, I had just jumped on a ferry on the other end of the island that was leaving Manhattan.
I ended up being the last person on the last ferry that left the island that day. At that moment, I realized that I turned into a statistic, that I was now a, 911 survivor. And, you know, that day kind of prepared me and laid a foundation for what was to come in my life. Part of me was feeling very grateful, very happy that I had, I made it out alive, and I survived these horrific attacks.
Finding purpose as a survivor of 911
So, there was an enthusiasm to finish the unfinished business. I used to work on Wall Street now, that American dream that I have come to pursue as an immigrant, I had to go out and create a new dream. An event like this was a wakeup call to find, purpose in life. It was something that shook me up from my reverie and made me ask a bigger question. What is my, purpose in life?
This was a life changing event, I talked to many people and I say maybe, 911, was an event for me, but I feel everyone has their own, 911. Whether they were when their world crashed. It was that day 20 years ago before a pandemic like what we’ve just been through?
Myrna: Yes, we all we all walk away from something. So, you weren’t at work yet when the planes crashed into the, world trade center? You were just coming out of the subway. Obviously, it wasn’t your time. Were you running late for work? Were you supposed to be at work on time?
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Making the decision to Go
Kushal: No, the security person was asking us to go back in the building. Because, if you stepped outside, just on the other side of that glass door, it was raining cement chips, that insulation from the wall that glass splinters, embers from the sky, it was like really unsafe. And so, he was asking people to stay inside, but in that moment, I decided to step out and go. A voice from behind me tap on my shoulder and say, Just go. And so yeah, that was my clothes in the dryer moment, because the building collapsed a few minutes later.
The aftermath of 911
After, September 11, I think I can paint a broad brush and what I had was, depression. I think, depression, follows lack of interest, but for me, it was it was exactly the opposite. I was feeling so grateful that I had a second lease on life. That I felt I had to go after whatever was unfinished with even more gusto. I have tremendous force of life in me. It’s just that I began questioning the, purpose of life, what’s really the point of this life. I was I was doing well in my career. I got married to my soulmate but what was my, purpose in life?
So, I wouldn’t really call it depression, but it was just, sometimes you are on autopilot. You’re on a conveyor belt, and you were just going with the force of life and then something hits you with a club in your head and makes you question is this conveyor belt right for you? That was the first time I questioned my, purpose in life.
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Myrna: All right, you found your, purpose, by going to a, breathwork, workshop and, breathwork, meditation, and that started your decades long journey in spiritual discovery. So why do you feel that proper breathing was so important to healing trauma? I don’t know if you felt that you were traumatized from that, but if we don’t want to use the word, trauma, why do you think that, breathwork, is so important to healing?
Kushal: I must confess that in the spirit of being very open and honest, that I did not go to that, breathwork, meditation, looking for, purpose. I was almost pushed into it against all my reluctance.
And so, the first time I meditated with, breathwork, with this teacher, this spiritual master, I was blown away. I had read all about keeping your mind in the, present moment, not thinking of the past or future just being in the, present moment. It was a fantastic, very well-read intellectual concept, lodged firmly in my head. But the first time did, breathwork, meditation, it became a tangible experience. That what it is to be in the, present moment, or what it is to have a mind without thoughts, or mind without an impulse. And that was the first time I experienced that.
Myrna: That is amazing, because most people take time to get there.
Kushal: I personally had tried it so many times before, and it didn’t go anywhere. I want to come to that, why that was the case. This time, I effortlessly got there. So, then I started looking for scientific validation. That left-brain person that I was, I started looking for all the scientific underpinnings of that practice, or that, breathwork, meditation, that I experienced. And then I realized that it was real deal.
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I think the balance of both, left brain, and, right brain, is important. I think that brain is logic, analysis. Intensity, right brain, is more flow state, you know, calm music, you know, all of that emotion. So, I think a balance of both a judicious balance of both is very important. Either end of the spectrum, you somewhat lead an unbalanced life. And you want to, I think you want to be walking the razor’s edge balances boredom.
Myrna: Why do you think that proper breathing aka, breathwork, heals your, trauma? Does it have to do with being in the, present moment, is that the doorway?
Kushal: There’s a deeper scientific kind of effect that’s happening on our nervous system. You know, any life experience that you go through, whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, it leaves a lesion or a scuff mark on your nervous system. It leaves like a, an impression in your system somewhere. Let me give you an example of something so simple as wanting to have a coffee in the morning.
First day, somebody offered you a cup of coffee in the morning, oh, you say it is the greatest thing. And next day, when you look at coffee, you remember the experience you had before. And you say, I want coffee. Third day, you are going to go and switch on the coffee pot. And the next day, if you don’t have coffee in your apartment, that’s going to make you feel miserable.
Sky breath meditation
So something as innocent as a coffee has created a pattern, or a conditioning of your mind. Some of the traumatic events, or some of the events of loss or anything of that nature does a very similar thing. Seeing something similar that evokes that emotion, keeps taking you back to that emotion. You know, for the, for the longest time, every time I would remove my shoes at the airport, it would take me back to the morning of, 911.
That was an impression that, 911, had created in my mind, and now, any such related events, were taking them back to past, not letting me be in more in the, present moment.
The practice that I learned, this technique is called, Sky breath meditation. And what, sky breath meditation, does is harnessing the rhythm of your own, breath. It clears your nervous system of this debilitating impression. Impressions that hold you back, impressions that take you back into those moments that you don’t want to go back to.
So, the impressions make us, tied to our pass. So, what I experienced with, sky breath, was without effort.
You said a very beautiful thing earlier that I want to comment on, you said that you required visualization to move from, left brain, thinking to, right brain, thinking. Visualization, is an effort. Yes, not thinking of something or resisting thoughts is an effort. And as you know someone who is focused so much on, transforming the mind. You can’t control your mind from the level of your own mind.
Using breathwork meditation to calm the mind
Myrna: Exactly. You got it. You know, that’s the nature of the, mind. You cannot control it with your thoughts. Mind, does not subscribe, doesn’t listen to effort. Your body listens to effort. If you want to build muscles, you have to put effort, but, sky breath, is complete effortless.
Kushal: So, what this, chi breath, did was without effort, it cleared my impressions and effortlessly took my mind to a place which was meditative. I had I tried so hard to meditate but when I closed my eyes all the profound ideas about what I wanted to have for dinner, all these trivial things which entered my awareness to the point that I cannot meditate. But now, sky breath meditation, changed all that through the simple act of, breathwork breathing.
What is Ayurveda
Myrna: All right, awesome. All right. Now, you also talk about, Ayurveda, what exactly is that?
Kushal: Ayurveda, is just science of life. It’s also colloquially known as the sister science to, yoga. Yoga, focuses on body and mind. Ayurveda, focuses on nutrition, what you put inside your system. So, it focuses on achieving harmony, and balance, through your food, your food is your medicine. But unlike a lot of the trends these days, eg. keto or, paleo where you do certain things, and you definitely don’t do certain things, Ayurveda, is not restrictive.
Myrna: I don’t know why I have not actually investigated, Ayurveda, because Deepak Chopra and Sadhguru teaches about, Ayurveda.
Kushal: Ayurveda, has to do with the planet, it has to do with how we work with the seasons, it has to do with the time of the day. It’s all about bringing that balance, bringing that harmony in your system, through eating right at the right time, in the right amount. I realized that as I went deeper into my practice of, meditation, my nutrition automatically started aligning, aligning with what I recommended.
Okay, and it was very beautiful, it didn’t say, do this, don’t do this, it was never about that. And the minute someone says, don’t do this, I want to do that. So that’s why, Ayurveda, really resonated with me, because it said, do everything, just do it in the right amount at the right time. And mindfulness is about being aware, being mindful of what you do and eat.
Sky breath meditation and mindfulness
If you look at it scientifically, mindfulness, is a frontal cortex activity in your brain. And the research shows those people who practice, mindfulness, their frontal cortex is more developed. It is the thinking side of the brain. Mindfulness, keeps you at the surface level.
You turn off your mind, without effort. Turning off also requires effort. So, meditation, is not an act of doing anything but it’s just being and then you are in that state. You connect with yourself and, meditation, happen.
Use a tool like, Sky breath, or some, breathwork, techniques allows you to connect with yourself and the more you are in touch with yourself, the more resilient you automatically become. The more aware you are at every moment, the more what is important and what is not becomes very clear. So, you may have these memories, like for example, if you like how you asked me earlier, take us to that day, 911, 2011 I can close my eyes and I can see every little detail in crystal clarity, but does it does not have the same emotional garbage or that negative charge that it used to have.
On A Wing and A Prayer
Myrna: Tell us about your book On A Wing and A Prayer where you can they can get your book. Tell us about your website, tell us about your handle on social media, so they can connect with you and, and how they can actually connect with you to learn, sky breath meditation.
Kushal: Sure. The book is available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can get it from my website, the links on my website, it’s my first name and last name www.KushalChoksi.com.
We are connected to, divine consciousness, and so we come pre-loaded with the power of the Universe, we need to learn how to unleash, the power within.
This week on Mindset Transformation radio and podcast with coach Myrna, I interview Dr Donavan Outten, Dr Outten is going to share “How to unleash your, inner greatness, also called, the power within, so you can tap into the person God intended you to be.
Tip of the week: Are you Desperate and Determined?
A few weeks ago, my pastor preached on the 3 D’s Desperate, Determined and Dependent!
You see the 3 D’s require a mindset shift.
In order to, unleash power within, we must become desperate, determined and dependent. We see numerous times in the bible when God promoted and elevated people who were either desperate, determined or dependent on him for victory.
We see that every miracle begins with a desperate problem.
Esther was born with the power within
The story begins with Ahasuerus, ruler of the Persian Empire, holding a lavish banquet, initially for his court and dignitaries and afterwards for all inhabitants of the capital city, Shushan.
On the seventh day, Ahasuerus orders the queen, Vashti, to come and display her beauty before the guests by wearing only her crown. She refuses. Furious, Ahasuerus has her removed from her position and makes arrangements to choose a new queen from a selection of beautiful young women from throughout the empire.
One of these is the Jewish orphan, Esther. After the death of her parents, she was fostered by her cousin, Mordecai. She finds favor in the King’s eyes, and is crowned his new queen.
Ahasuerus appoints Haman as his viceroy. Mordecai, who sits at the palace gates, falls into Haman’s disfavor, as he refuses to bow down to him. Having discovered that Mordecai is Jewish, Haman plans to kill not just Mordecai, but all the Jews in the empire.
As the story unfolds, Esther the Jewish orphan turned queen, used her place as queen to intercede with the King; her desperation made her, unleash power within, her and risk death, because it was against the law to present herself to the King unsummoned. This was punishable by death.
Her determination, desperation and dependence on God, saved the Jews of the Persian Empire, she, unleashed, the power within.
Dr. Donavan Outten is a powerful trainer, consultant, educator and administrator with over 20 years’ experience. He is the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at Webster University.
Dr. Outten is a published author of 2 books, one of which is our topic today. Unleash your inner greatness: A guide to overcoming obstacles and Tapping into the person God meant you to be.
Dr Outten writes books to inspire and motivate individuals to achieve greatness in their lives.
His research focuses on developing young African American Students in higher education. He has also produced seminars, lectures, classes, assessments and workshops throughout the United States and Caribbean.
Dr. Outten earned his Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Nova.
Southeastern University, his Masters in Human Resource Development & Administration from Barry University and Bachelors in Psychology from Bethune Cookman University.
Unleashing the power within
Question 1. I know that unleashing our, inner greatness, our, the power within, is your space. Can you tell our audience what does it mean to, Unleash our, Inner Greatness,” and a little of why you chose this topic as the subject of your book.
Question 2. So what are some of the obstacles to unleashing, the power within?
Most children today are taught not to question authority, so they go about their lives always looking for someone to direct them and never focusing on their inner strength or, power within.
Question 3. Where does the power within, come from?
We are connected to source energy. If you take a droplet of water from the ocean, it has the same properties as the entire body of the ocean. Similarly we came from God or source, so we have the same powers. We just need to, unleash, the power within.
Question 4. How does an individual muster up enough strength to have such strong determination to finish a task or overcome a devastating life situation?
• Where do they find the courage to stand up for what they believe in or battle back from a medical condition that almost took their life?
• How does one leave a secure job to start a business that they are passionate about?
• What is the secret to obtaining determination and maintaining it over a period of time?
• What kinds of people have it, and what is determination?
Determination unlocks your inner greatness
Dr Outten says, “In my heart, I truly believe that determination is having the will to move forward in spite of what obstacle, barrier, or difficulty you might be facing. It is looking adversity in the face and not backing down, but pushing forward with tenacity and unleash, the power within.
He feels that Self-determination starts on the inside. It is first a thought or a belief that you can or will succeed no matter the problem you have to face. You believe in yourself even when no one else does. That spells confidence, character, and courage.
Question 5. What are some other obstacles to unleashing our, inner greatness?
Resilience: The path toward nurturing a, resilient mindset, and lifestyle is a road
that should not be taken lightly. This path has many bumps, twists, turns, and potholes
and is never straightforward. The road often contains obstacles and detours
that interfere with reaching your destination.
Passion: Your passion does not usually appear overnight. It has been dwelling
inside you for a long time. As a child, what were you passionate about? As a
teenager, what were you passionate about? As a young adult, what were you
passionate about? Often times, you will identify a pattern in what you are
passionate about. It is up to you to identify what it is and go after it.
When turning your, passion into profit, you have to be careful and work smarter,
not harder. You will run into a lot of obstacles and need to face your fears, as
things probably won’t go as smoothly as you’d like them to go. It’s all a part of
Destiny: Destiny can be referred to as a predetermined course of events. It may
be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual.
What you perceive your future to be will come to pass if you work for it, believe
in it, and live your life towards it.
What you have today does not reflect what you will obtain tomorrow. If you have
the capability of looking into your future and seeing what lies ahead, then all you
have to do is work towards your goal.
Walking towards your destiny is no easy task because you will have obstacles and
hurdles along the way. There will be road blocks that will make you think that
you are going down the wrong path, but you will need to have patience,
endurance, and faith. Your faith will play a big part in finding and fulfilling your
destiny; you will need to seek guidance from God and, unleash power within.
Question 6. I know that you work predominately with the African American youth. What advice would you give them on being determined and staying the course?
You have to better than good, you have to be great.
You have to work twice as hard for the same opportunity as your white counterparts.
A lot of times we become overwhelmed with the challenges we face in our lives. We can do one of two things; we can fold up like a flower at night or we can stand up push out our chest find our, courage, and declare. I was, born for this!
This is exactly what happened to, Queen Esther, in the, bible story.
King Xeroxes threw a banquet and for 6 months he celebrated with wine and food. He invited all the nobles from 127 province that he ruled over to attend this banquet.
In his drunken state he sent for his wife and demanded she appear before him in her robe and crown. He wanted to parade her around and show off her beauty to his subjects. She refused. That sent the king in a rage, and he asked his advisors what to do about her. They suggested he banish her forever from his presence because women all over the Kingdom would follow her and start to disrespect their men.
The king agreed and banished the queen, but now he needed a queen. So, they searched the country for the most beautiful virgins and brought them to the palace to be in the Kings, harem.
I have to pause here because this intrigues me.
How women were prepared before they could sleep with the King
These women were prepared for one year before they were allowed to sleep with the king. In this year their skins were rubbed with the oil of myrrh for 6 months and the next 6 months their body was perfumed. Then after a year they would be sent to the king’s bed and would not get a chance again unless he was pleased with their performance and requested them again by name!
So, in those days the women in the, king’s harem, had to be beautiful smell like a fragrant garden and also had skills!! Wow! This was, life in harem.
Anyway, moving on with the story, Esther, had what the King wanted because not only did she please him and he sent for her by name several times, but he decided to make her his queen.
Now, Esther, was a, Jew, and she never told anyone. Her family was part of the, Jews, who were displaced when King Nebuchadnezzar banished the, Jews, from their homeland.
So, when her uncle heard that Haman was planning to destroy all the, Jews, on March 7 the following year, he asked, Queen Esther, to go before the king and ask for mercy.
Queen Esther Finds Her Courage
Now, the king had a rule that anyone who appears before him in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die, unless the King holds out his golden scepter. The king had not sent for, Esther, in 30 days. Her uncle told her if she did not go to the King and beg for mercy for her people, she would be dead anyway then he added “Maybe you were, born for this!”
So, Queen Esther, found her, courage, and risking her life and appeared before the King uninvited. But when a man loves a woman, she can do no wrong. When, Queen Esther, appeared before the king in his inner court without being invited, the king welcomed her and held out his golden scepter then asked her
“What do you want Queen Ester? What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half my kingdom!
So it was that, Queen Esther, was responsible for saving her people the, Jews. Her, enemy, Haman was killed by the same trap he laid for Mordecai and all his sons and family was killed.
You Were Born For This: Lessons from Queen Esther’s Story
The first lesson is that you were born with a, purpose, and you don’t know what it is until you know. You must find the, courage, to do it afraid because, you were born for this.
Whatever life events or circumstances that is trying to kill you, just remember, you were, born for this. Everything that you have done in your life have been training for this moment.
Esther, was born with great beauty, but, Queen Esther, was trained in how to please a man and how to ask for things from a man. She threw the King 2 banquets before she asked for her request and then she began with
“If I have found favor with the king and if it pleases the king to grant my request and do what I ask.”
Learn the, rules of engagement, Learn the, rules of negotiation, learn how to ask your husband for what you want.
Queen Esther defeats her enemy and saves the Jews
The second lesson we can take from this story is that the, enemy, Satan and all his people go about seeking who to kill and destroy and you don’t have to do them anything for them to come after you. They can plot to destroy you because you refuse to bow down to them and placate their ego.
All you have to do to defeat your, enemies, is keep praying to God and he will take care of your, enemies, using the same weapons they formed against you to destroy them. Haman was killed on the same pole he planned to impale Mordecai on.
The, Jews, were victorious against their, enemy, and so will you because, you were born for this.
Abigail Damoah was wrongly convicted and sent to prison for 12 years. During this dark time in her life, she used inspiration for the bible story of David to find her, life purpose, of helping the women in, prison. She turned her, pain into power, and achieved tremendous personal growth by not seeing herself as a, victim.
After serving five years in a Florida state prison for a crime that she didn’t commit, and then two years later being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and undergoing major surgery to remove most of her colon, Abigail learnt one very important life lesson; you will find treasure in the darkest places if you simply change your perspective by turning her, pain into power.
During her, incarceration, Abigail became a Christian and learnt that life isn’t just about her. She was surrounded by women who had endured the most horrific traumatic childhoods and were now being victimized by the very system that was supposed to help them. She found the strength to end her pity party, opening her eyes to the immense suffering of others.
She began to use her gifts to make an impact on the lives of the women she was housed with. It was during the worst season of her life that she experienced true peace, contentment, and fulfilment because she found her life’s purpose, and learned how to turn her, pain into power. Abigail is the author of ” She is Risen from Destitute to Destiny”
Using Adversity to turn pain into power
Myrna: All right, so here we have a whole bunch of, adversity. Being sentenced to 12 years in, prison, even if it’s for a crime you do commit, it is very traumatic. It is worst when it is a crime that you didn’t commit.
Can you share your story, why you were sentenced to 12 years in, prison? I know you said you only served five of those 12 years. Tell us how you survived that and turned that, pain into power?
Abigail: Okay, so I had my dream to live in America. I’m from the United Kingdom and after I finished my undergraduate degree. I relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to study and pursue an MBA. I got an internship in Florida. I flew down to Florida and I met a man. One night he called wanting to go out to a nightclub, and I agreed. He came and picked me up and we made our way to the nightclub and ended up having a car accident where he was killed, and I was seriously injured.
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My injuries were so extensive that I spent over six weeks in the hospital. My parents at the time decided the best course of action was to take me back to the UK, because there’s no way I was going to be able to look after myself in the USA. I recuperated and got back on my feet. And then in 2011, the state of Florida issued an extradition warrant for my arrest. I was charged with vehicular homicide. The legal definition for that is reckless driving.
So, I was accused of driving in such a dangerous manner that caused death or great bodily harm to another. While I was waiting for the extradition, I began to study the laws surrounding my case and discovered that I should never have been charged with a crime in the first place. The state of Florida had sent over the deposition, the discovery and detail they had a very detailed chronology, of exactly what happened. And one of the things that should have exonerated me from the beginning, was the fact that the road was under reconstruction at the time, so they had taken down all the speed signs.
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Extradition to the USA
There were no warning signs that the road was about to change and if you’re not familiar with that road, you would not know that you need to slow down. So, when an accident happened, all of a sudden, a curve came up and I hit the curb and the car ended up flipping over and going into a tree. So, based on that alone, I should never have been charged with a crime. But if you know anything about the laws in the United States, you know, sometimes it can be a bit one sided.
I was extradited to America to stand trial. I had a judge who had no legal integrity, because of the way my case had been portrayed in the media. She was determined to make an example out of me. I was found guilty sentenced to 12 years Florida State Prison. After serving 5 years, the case was dismissed.
Myrna: Wow. So sorry to hear what you have been through. I’m assuming you were driving.
Abigail: Yes, I was driving, it wasn’t my car.
Myrna: Yeah, that’s what I thought because he came to pick you up.
Abigail: The reason I was driving was because he got so drunk, that he was unable to continue the journey. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Cross by Kevin Carter
This song was a story my grandfather told me many times as a child.
Contact Kevin at 214-986-4510 if you would like to record this for a gospel album.
Myrna: So sorry for your pain. But the fact that the case was dismissed, I’m assuming that you’ve cleared your name.
Abigail: Yes, yes. My name is completely cleared. The sentence was vacated, and I was released from, prison.
Myrna: Did you get any money for it?
Abigail: No, absolutely nothing. The state of Florida had laws to protect themselves against wrongful convictions. So, I was knocked out of financial assistance there. But, it was a driving force behind what I do now because I had to start my life from scratch. I had to use the gifts that I had been given to build a life for myself, and turn my, pain into power. I didn’t have anything. I came back to nothing, but God worked it out for my good.
Going through the tunnel of adversity
Myrna: Well, they say that a lot of times, we must go through the tunnel, we must be beaten down all the way to the bottom, before we find our, purpose. We all go screaming into it because we really don’t want to go through pain, we don’t want to hit rock bottom. I’m in this space where I interview a lot of people and I remember talking to this woman. Her husband died and she started her coaching practice helping other women handle, grief. She turned her, pain into power, but we all prefer not to go through the pain even if it is the fire starter to our, life purpose.
So how did you manage after also being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and having most of your colon removed?
Abigail: I wasn’t raised in a Christian household, but I had a lot of Christian friends. If there’s one thing that I learned from them, even while I wasn’t a believer, was that they had this ability to see past their circumstances. So, before I even arrived in America, they were already speaking life into my situation. They were already telling me that this was going to work out for my good, something good is gonna come out of this.
And it wasn’t until, I became a Christian and I began to read the Bible and I began to apply those principles, that I was strengthened in that area. God gave me a perspective that enabled me to see things through his eyes, he gave me the ability to step outside of myself. I was surrounded by people who are who were suffering, who have been through women the worst heinous things. My whole perception changed.
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Helping people in prison turn their pain into power
Not only are people dying from much worse situations than I had, but I had to reframe my situation to say, okay, I’m in, prison, now, what can I do while I’m here to make an impact on the lives of the women that I am housed with? How do I turn my, pain into power?
I had a writing gift and there are women that couldn’t read or write. I remember the very first time I tapped into that. There was a woman that I was, bunking in, prison, she had a terrible situation, her children have been taken into DCF custody because of her arrest.
So, I wrote a letter for her. explaining the situation to DCF, speaking in legal terminology. She wanted her children to be put into the custody of her sister while she was in, prison, and lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. Two weeks later, she came to me, I mean, she was in floods of tears. She was so grateful that I took the time to do this for her, and it was at that moment that I realized that what my, purpose, is connected to my gift of writing. Writing was how I was going to turn my, pain into power.
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Figuring out my life purpose
I also realized that my, purpose, had nothing to do with me, it was to enrich the lives of the people that I am surrounded by. So, from that moment, my prayers changed from Lord get me out of here, I can’t take this anymore to Lord who are the people in, prison, that you want me to impact? That started a tsunami of work. My inmates just started coming to get the help they needed. I started helping them write letters, probation letters, letters to their family, etc. It was one of the most, fulfilling aspects of my time in, prison.
Myrna: Now, how did you take own ownership of your situation? What was your internal dialogue?
Abigail: I dropped the, victim mentality. You know, it’s so easy when you’re going through a situation whatever it is, it’s so easy to point the finger and say is your fault that I’m here, but when you play the, victim, you are not helping anybody. You’re not helping yourself and you’re not helping anyone else. When I was in the, victim, state I felt so sorry for myself. You know, such an injustice had taken place.
Victims have no power
I was depressed, I was in a place of desolation, I couldn’t sleep at night, I had no peace. But the moment I relinquished that, victim mentality, I came to the revelation that it wasn’t the state of Florida that put me in, prison, to punish me. I was placed there strategically to be empowered, and then to empower. I was placed there to turn my, pain into power.
So once my, mindset, changed, I was able to say I am going to use this situation to become the best person that I be and to help as many people as I can while I’m in here. That is exactly how I took ownership of my situation. I took the power out the hands in the state of Florida, and turned, my pain into power, because, victims, have no power.
Myrna: This is so true. Victims have no power. In my book, Out of the Snares, A story of Hope and Encouragement, I have a full chapter on, victims. My story was that I was abused as a child, but I never became a, victim. In fact, what I suggest we become a, player. You know, when you are playing a game of blackjack and the cards that you’re dealt with are bad cards? People use those same bad cards to win, in the same way when you become a, player instead of becoming a, victim, you play with the cards you are dealt. And that’s exactly what you did, you became a, player in the game, you decided that these are the cards that I’ve been handed, and I am going to make the best of the situation. I am going to turn this, pain into power.
How to become a player and turn pain into power
Myrna: You could have played the “what if game”. What if I didn’t go out? What if I didn’t agree to drive? But instead you said it happened. There’s no way you can go backwards, all you can do is make the best of the situation that you have right now and use it to help people and learn from it and turn your, pain into power.
What is the lesson that that that you took out of that? Were you able to equate it to a, Bible story? I want to talk about Joseph who was thrown in, prison, and it was strategic to God’s plan for him. And I am also thinking of a Job which is the chapter reading now in the Bible and all the bad things that happened to him.
Job declared God does only do good things for you. God does good things, and he does bad things.
Abigail: Joseph was one of my favorite stories in the Bible. And it wasn’t until I got to that Genesis chapter 37, where Joseph was put in, prison, that I found strength in my situation. Prison, shaped Joseph into the man that God needed him to be. I knew that my time in, prison, was in God’s hands, just based on that story alone. I learned a lot from Joseph and his, mindset, during that time. He refused to be a, victim, he used his time to assist other people. He was looking for others to help while he was, incarcerated, and it opened the door to his freedom.
Myrna: Yes, exactly helping people got him introduced to the king.
Using dreams and visions for your purpose
Abigail: That was a very powerful story for me, and I used that, bible story, to empower myself. So my God has given me dreams and visions, and I knew that, okay, I’m not living the dream and the vision now, but it is this situation here that is going to lead me to the destiny that God has for me and I had to remind myself of that daily.
Myrna: That’s amazing, I am loving our conversation. One of my personal mantras is that just like an airplane needs resistance to take off the ground, we need resistance to move up our next level. And whenever I have resistance in my life, when I was working full time when I received resistance eg. one door closed or something, I always knew that resistance was supposed to push me forward and up. The door closing from being fired got me into, Life coaching, helping women to, transform their mind.
A lot of women, especially minority women live in the, wilderness, and in order for them to get out of the, wilderness, they have to change their, mindset.
Abigail: I wrote the book because I knew that I had a story to tell number one, and it wasn’t a story of the tragedies, but stories of, empowerment. The book a memoir, going back to my childhood, I packed a lot of things and I think that’s very important that you need to go back to, to know why things are the way they were. So, I went through that process in the book, I had a very turbulent teenage years, connected to childhood. But despite those challenges, I still managed to make something all my life, and it didn’t come easily, or immediately at all.
It was a very, very difficult situation and a very, very difficult process. And I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but what I do know is that you can, turn your pain into power, if you change your perspective on a situation. I could have not written this book. I could have so easily come out of, prison, and just felt sorry for myself, and accept government assistance and nobody would have blamed me
Teaching others how to overcome adversity
So, I had to look at the situation and ask myself what have I learned from this? And not only what have I learnt from it, but now what can I do about it? I decided I can teach other people about how to overcome, adversity. One of the things that helped me while I was, incarcerated, were the different, prison ministries. People would share these terrible stories, but they got through it, and that’s something that inspired me.
Myrna: Well, that’s the reason I asked you if you’re going into the, prison, and doing, prison ministry, because I know your story is powerful. Now you are on the radio, podcast and PTWWN TV, sharing your story, not only the people that are in, prison, is going to hear this, but people all over the world. Your story doesn’t just speak to someone in, prison, but speaks to any women in the, wilderness, the, wilderness, can be any dry place.
It was the first time since I started coughing, I put my hand on my throat and I felt a lump. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with, throat cancer. It was stage two, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I remember asking the doctor what happens if I don’t get, chemotherapy, and she said you’ll be dead within the year. I really didn’t have any choice, it was an aggressive form of, cancer, and I needed to just stick it out and battle it with the, chemotherapy.
I came up with the idea of making a documentary of my, cancer, journey because that way I could still learn about filmmaking and I wanted to show a story of, survival, because when I turn to the movies, I don’t see any, cancer survivor, stories only stories of, cancer, patients who passed away. I knew that there were millions of, cancer survivors, out there and I wanted to show a story of, survival.
My guest today is Joy Claussen Soto. Joy is a, cancer survivor, filmmaker and author. Today, we are going to be talking on the topic “How to find your, purpose, after cancer or after a major illness?
Myrna: Can you share your journey as a, dolphin trainer, and how that specifically helps you overcome, cancer, because I know that you’re tying them together somehow.
Listen to the full interview here:
My Journey as a Dolphin Trainer
Joy: Well my journey as a, dolphin trainer, started a long time ago when I was in college. For me, the really important part was when I applied to get a job at SeaWorld. I tried a number of times to get a job at Sea World, but it never worked out because they just weren’t hiring people. Fortunately, I happened to call at the right time and they asked me to take a, swim test. I was in Chicago at the time, so I had to fly out to San Diego and I had one day to take this test. I went down to a pool to practice the, swim test, which was holding your breath for 120 seconds underwater, touching the bottom which is 26 feet deep and some other things.
Those were the biggest challenges that I was having trouble with. So I went down to the pool to started practicing. I would hold my breath and then come up maybe a quarter of the way. I couldn’t even get half the way through the pool without needing to come up for oxygen and when I dived down in a pool that’s six feet deep my ears start to hurt. But, for some reason I still got on that plane and went to San Diego to do this, swim test, at Sea World. I knew that I hadn’t practiced physically, but I remembered reading about athletes and how they used their minds to visualize the ball going through the hoop, and gymnasts who visualize themselves doing all their moves. Those were my thoughts as I was on the plane. I started visualizing everything. I visualized myself swimming through the water, wanting to give up and not giving up, and making it to the other side and also same thing with diving down.
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I practiced holding my breath the whole time on the airplane. I probably looked like a crazy person. I had my watch out and started practicing that, visualization, also helped me, beat cancer. I went there to Sea World took the, swim test, and miraculously, I got in the water and I passed the test. I was so happy that I had done it, I didn’t even care if I got the job because I was just so proud of myself that I put myself out there and I did something that I physically couldn’t do just 24 hours before.
When it comes to, cancer, I’d seen how powerful, visualization, was. I would use that when I was sick, because I think one of the things when you are going through something like that is that you feel a loss of control. We all know that a loss of control can lead to, depression. When I was going through, cancer, I couldn’t have control over what the, Chemotherapy, was doing to my body. I didn’t have control over what the doctors were doing, but I did have control over my mind.
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Visualization to Beat Cancer
I visualized, Chemotherapy, killing the, cancer, eating the, cancer, and make these little things in my mind to help it along. So, that helped me. Even though, it may not have been real control, but perceived control, I was using that as one of the ways I was able to gain back control. That was one thing that helped me from my job as a, dolphin trainer.
Myrna: Visualization, is powerful. I always reference back to Christopher Reeves, when anybody’s talking about, visualization, as a part of healing. Christopher Reeves book called “Nothing is Impossible” talks about how he used, visualization, to heal his body when he was paralyzed from the neck down and all he could do is blow into a straw to speak. That was powerful stuff and I never forgot it. Visualization, helped him start walking and speaking. He did it by sitting on his porch every single day and, visualizing, his body healing and that’s my base. A lot of people have done that since then but visualization is big. Can you bridge the gap in a bit for us about your cancer story?
Joy: Even though my passion was working with dolphins, I also wanted to become a filmmaker. So, I quit my job at SeaWorld and enrolled in Film School. I was in film school for three months and that was when I found the lump in my throat. I had been coughing, the cough was getting worse instead of better and I felt really tired.
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Being diagnosed with Throat Cancer
It was the first time since I started coughing, I put my hand on my throat and I felt a lump. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with, throat cancer. It was stage two, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I remember asking the doctor what happens if I don’t get, chemotherapy, and she said you’ll be dead within the year. I really didn’t have any choice, it was an aggressive form of, cancer, and I needed to just stick it out and battle it with the, chemotherapy.
I came up with the idea of making a documentary of my, cancer, journey because that way I could still learn about filmmaking and I wanted to show a story of, survival, because when I turn to the movies, I don’t see any, cancer survivor, stories only stories of, cancer, patients who passed away. I knew that there were millions of, cancer survivors, out there and I wanted to show is a story of, survival.
Myrna: What it sounds like is that, at no point in time you thought you’re going to die, because you wanted to show a story of, survival, that’s faith. Where did you get that faith?
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Faith and survival
Joy: I’ve always had a belief in God, and my dad taught me about, faith. I remember we had a lot of my relatives pass away in a short period of time when I was little. I remember sitting on the chair with my dad in our house, he explained to me what death was.
He said some people are here for a certain reason – to help other people learn lessons and to learn lessons themselves. That can mean just being here for a couple of minutes or it can mean an entire lifetime. So, I just kind of took that as my understanding of, purpose, and I’ve used that throughout my life. Well, I’m here to learn lessons, but I don’t know what those lessons are. Hopefully, I’m learning them right now and I’m here to help teach other people lessons. So, that has helped me get through, cancer treatments.
Myrna: Regardless of how you believe and how much, faith, you have when you heard that, cancer, diagnosis, fear had to creep in.
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Joy: Absolutely. I was in a battle with myself and, fear. I have footage in my documentary of me talking to the camera at my lowest point when I let, fear, in. What really helped me, was I had listened to a Zig Ziglar motivational tape. There was one story of him being stuck in an Airport, his flight was canceled, but instead of him being angry or upset like most people would have, he just said fantastic. He came up with all the reasons why it was good that his flight wasn’t taking off:
Maybe there’s something wrong with that plane
something wrong with the people flying that plane
the weather was bad and could crash the plane.
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If that’s the case, he said “I don’t want to be up there, I want to be right down here, fantastic.” That was powerful for me, because it showed me that we have control over how we either respond or react to things. I had a moment when I remembered that life is indeed fantastic! I started thinking of all things I was grateful for:
I was grateful for my friends and family and all the love I was receiving
Grateful that they found my, throat cancer, at stage two
Incredibly grateful that they found my, cancer, period and they can treat it.
I started flipping it instead of going, I was diagnosed with cancer and it’s horrible, I started flipping it to get to fantastic. It helped me to get through it better and become a, cancer survivor.
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Myrna: That’s awesome. This is good stuff, they say. Another quote is I like is:
It’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happened to you.
An, attitude of gratitude, is a powerful treatment for, cancer. Now, how did you learn to control the, uncontrollable? You said you were able to control the elements in an, uncontrollable, situation. You just said a minute ago that your, visualization, of the, chemotherapy, that you had to do, is an, uncontrollable, situation. What are some of the other things or some of the other elements that you use in this, uncontrollable, situation to control?
Joy: The whole time that I was sick, I had this visual of me surviving and making a, story of survival. I think that was very powerful and that helped me in taking back control of my life. The, attitude of gratitude, my notebook and the documentary, those were ways I was able to grab back some control when I was going through an, uncontrollable, situation.
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In my, cancer survival, documentary, I filmed all the details of my very bad moments with, cancer, when things weren’t going well. At one point, I was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. I was on a bench for a short period of time. I was very weak. I could hardly talk because I have mucositis. It goes all the way down. It’s like a strep throat, but it’s from the chemical from my, cancer treatment. Everything was bad and that moment. I needed my first blood transfusion. I asked my friends to keep filming and take footage of me when I’m getting the blood transfusion. I think it is really important to see, that you can go through the fire and come out at the other end.
Myrna; I love it. Where can readers watch this documentary?
Myrna: How did becoming a, cancer survivor, help you find your, purpose? Didn’t you think that being a, dolphin trainer, was your, purpose before, cancer?
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Joy: I’ve always loved animals and the ocean. It’s always been a big part of my life. That was just something that I enjoyed.
Myrna: That’s what you use, positive reinforcement, to work with, Dolphins.
Joy: It just kind of all came together, but I don’t know if working with, dolphins, was my, purpose in life. I believe that becoming a, cancer survivor, is my, meaning of life.
Myrna: It gave you a little direction, right?
Joy: Yes, you’re not going to just jump out of the crib and have a, purpose, or know the, meaning of life. I felt like I survived, cancer, to help other, cancer, patients survive. I’ve been the happiest helping others. I was able to start a program, helping kids with cancer, where they can come to the park and get in the water to meet a, dolphin. One of the most important parts of that program was that I would tell them my, cancer survival story.
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Sharing my cancer survival story to help kids with cancer
I would say, “Hey, I know a lot of you here are being treated at children’s hospital. I was treated there too, but now look; I get to work here as a , dolphin trainer, in my dream job and I get to share it with you.”
Myrna: That’s a powerful thing and that gives people hope.
Joy: The first moment when I realized that whenever someone survives something, there’s something magical about, survival.
Myrna: What made you write the book and what is the message that you’re trying to share?
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Joy: I wrote the book to give people hope. Whenever one of my friends knows of someone who has been diagnosed with, cancer, they would always refer that person to me and I would tell my, survival story, to a lot of different people just to give them hope from my, survival. I know it’s giving people hope.
I had a friend of mine who just went through, cancer. She’s still growing back her hair. I haven’t talked to her since high school, that’s a long time ago. She read my book and she said it was like reading her own, survival story. It showed her that life can be even better after, cancer. I also wanted to share that the problems do not go away after you, survive cancer. People would think okay now that you, beat cancer, that you should be so blissful. That you’re floating in heaven.
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Your Cancer Journey does not end after you Beat Cancer
That’s not the case. For me, I was bald. All my muscles had atrophied from being in a hospital bed for the last six months. I had, PTSD, but I didn’t know it. I was still in my head sick and going through, cancer, every night. I would sleep and dream that I was still sick in the hospital. It took me a year. I think something that’s really important is when you go through something like this to know when it’s time to reach out for help. It took me a year to realize I needed to get help. So, I finally started talking to someone about a year out and that’s when I feel like I started to really heal from, cancer.
Myrna: Wow, this is a bonus. I would never have imagined that after you, survive cancer, and you are going to live that you are not blissfully happy!
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Your story is talking about, survival skills, for, cancer, but there are so many things that people have to survive other illnesses or . What I mean is, this book can help a lot of people in their, survival story, whether it’s divorce, whether it’s losing a child, whether it’s being homeless or whether it’s losing your job. Whatever it is, these principles can be transferred into any, survival story.
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