I love music; but I’m not a groupie.

I love theater; but will happily sit in the balcony.

I love sports; but can root from my armchair.

But, this event was different.

This was Oprah…along with Deepak Chopra, Iylana Vanzant, and Elizabeth Gilbert. My muses were coming to South Florida as part of Oprah’s “The Life You Want Weekend!” and for this, I needed to not just be there; I needed to be as close to the action as possible. It just had to happen.

As fate would have it (a close friend of mine had an amazing connection), I not only had the privilege of attending this incredible event last month, but I even got to meet several of these innovators; trailblazers whose principles I’ve built my life-coaching and therapist practices around. And — believe me, I’m still pinching myself — I also got to sit in the front row!

Oprah_Collage

(Image from left to right: Oprah Winfrey, Iylana Vanzant, Deepak Chopra)

Now, I’m not one to be star-struck. I’m a therapist and know better than anyone, that we’re all human beings with different (but, equal) gifts. However, I confess that when I shook hands with Deepak and Elizabeth, my hands were literally shaking…that’s how much these people mean to me. I’ve listened to, watched, and read their messages countless times…and their wisdom has inspired me, in dark times and in light.

elizabeth_gilbert

(Image: Me with Elizabeth Gilbert)

So, why am I telling you this? Because something that was said there — one simple sentence — is at the heart of who I am and how I practice. Motivational speaker and author, Iylana Vanzant mentioned this: “Each one of us has an average of 70,000 thoughts per day.”

Wait…What? That’s a ton! No wonder, we have to spend so much time remembering to think positively. No wonder, an excess of negative thoughts is so damaging, while the positive ones can bring us much joy. No wonder, forcing ourselves to have the positive ones is so critical to our mental health and self-esteem.

When you watch Mission Makeover this season, you’ll notice that positive thinking — and utilizing visual reminders to encourage healthy thoughts — is at the heart of everything I do…in my personal life and for my clients. If you came to my house, you’d see joyful words and symbols everywhere; reminders for my family to count our blessings, dream big, try hard, and then, trust the universe. But, you can also see that I practice what I preach by just taking a close look at me. At my arm.
breathe_tattoo

You see, I have several tattoos collaged on my forearm to remind me of different life lessons and keep me focused. I wear my past and my present, literally, “on my sleeve!” For example, I have:

  • The word, “Breathe. This powerful word (shown in the picture below) reminds me to have gratitude that I am alive, to relax when I need to, and to take the time not to overact when my impulse might be otherwise.
  • A lotus flower. Did you know that the beautiful lotus flower emerges from a murky swamp? It does. In fact, the more cloudy the water, the more lovely the blossom. Regardless of our roots (and, believe me, I am no stranger to personal strife), we all have it within us to emerge strong.
  • A bullet with butterfly wings. This isn’t something you see every day; but it represents my own metamorphosis from, at one point in my life, being cold, hard, and firing loudly to now — where I have emerged as gentle, more vulnerable, and approachable soul.
  • A sunburst of light. This shines through all my other images, reminding me that brightness always emerges after dark. It’s also a reminder that my dream, to be a ray of light and source of help to others, is ever present.

In her bestselling memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love,” one of the countless gems Elizabeth Gilbert articulates is this: “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day.”

I couldn’t agree more; but understand that since we all have 70,000 of them each day, visual reminders are key. Don’t worry: I’m not suggesting everyone get a tattoo! There are myriad ways to do this. I’ll be providing all kinds of suggestions about how visuals can help you reach your goals and enhance your life, in the weeks ahead.

Thanks for reading and happy viewing!

Dr. Jessica Leon