Transforming Challenges Into Important Life Lessons

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Dancing Feet
Okay, I must confess right out of the gate…I am a lover of books. My house is a testament to this passion. In fact, I have at least one shelf of books in every room and closet of my home (except the bathrooms). Recently, I decided to liberate some of the intense book energy in my house. So, I collected a couple of large cardboard boxes and set out on a “releasing quest.” I have to tell you that initially…I was off to a VERY slow start.

First, with my head tilted down (practically to my shoulder), while straining to see through my progressive lenses…I scanned the various book titles on one shelf. Then, squinting, I hesitantly chose “a candidate” to release. Next, while cradling the book in my hands, I quickly scanned its pages. That’s when a few of the book’s “priceless gems” caught my eye—and left me with a strong desire to re-read the book, again.

Now, multiply this procedure by ten. Yep, after not “releasing” a single book in the first forty minutes of my book cleanse, I sat myself down in an attempt to better understand my deep attachment to books. In the midst of this introspective moment, I realized that my love of books went way back…all the way back to childhood.

Unfortunately, like some of you perhaps, I didn’t feel as though I fit into my family of origin. And this lack of connectedness was painful since it’s natural to yearn for a sense of “belonging” within our families. So, in order to experience a deep connectedness to something, I discovered books at an early age.

Oh, the “GLORIOUS WORLD” of picture books, comic books, short stories, fiction, nonfiction, inspirational…whew…the list goes on and on. In short, I acquired a ravenous appetite for books. Clearly, books were an emotional and intellectual bridge to others…and a blessing! For this reason, I still savor reading the innermost thoughts and feelings of authors or the musings of their fictional characters.

Meanwhile, after clarifying why I love books so much (and after identifying my new “Bridge Theory”), I began to reframe my motivation for desiring to release a substantial number of books. Then, it came to me in a flash. I could share some of my fabulous books with others—lots of others—by donating them to our local library. That way, lots of people could enjoy them! And with that realization, numerous books flew from my shelves, filling the cardboard boxes to the brim…with glorious books to share.

In addition, during my book “releasing quest,” I reconnected to a beautifully written book by a Berkeley graduate, Parker J. Palmer. His bestselling book, Let Your Life Speak, touched me deeply and is currently designated as “a keeper.” Palmer’s writing style is fearlessly vulnerable as well as powerfully insightful. For instance, he shares some of his pivotal life experiences—including a deeply depressed period…a dark night of the soul.

What I love about this book is reading how he gleans “meaning” from each of his life challenges, thus gaining a better understanding of himself and of his world. Now, I’d like to share a quote, from his chapter entitled, “There Is a Season.” Palmer writes: 

We are here not only to transform the world but also to be transformed. Transformation is difficult, so it is good to know that there is comfort as well as challenge in the metaphor of life as a cycle of seasons. Illumined by that image, we see that we are not alone in the universe. We are participants in a vast communion of being, and if we open ourselves to its guidance, we can learn anew how to live in this great and gracious community of truth. We can, and we must—if we want our sciences to be humane, our institutions to be sustaining, our healings to be deep, our lives to be true.

Finally, as we experience the seasons of our own lives, let’s remember to savor the joys (like reading a great book) and glean “meaning” from our sorrows. After all, when we humbly embrace the wisdom from difficult times…we transform challenges into important life lessons.

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Join Trina and attend her upcoming Walnut Creek workshop for women and men: Managing Emotional and Compulsive Eating John Muir Women’s Health Center: Monday, Dec 19, 6:30-8:30 pm. Cost: $40 (Includes Weight Loss: 2-CD set). Seats are limited—register today for this inspiring workshop: (925) 941-7900 option 3. For more info, go to & click on “Private Sessions & Workshops.”

Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author of the 2-CD Set, Weight Loss: Powerful & Easy-to-Use Tools for Releasing Excess Weight. Her artwork and personal profile are included in Outstanding American Illustrators Today 2. She is the author and illustrator of Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health. Trina has a private practice in downtown Danville. She soulfully shares her creative approach to personal growth and passionately supports her clients in reaching their goals. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or


Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy services in California can be alternative or complementary to licensed healing arts, such as psychotherapy.

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