Nita Sweeney (author of Depression Hates a Moving Target) interviews writer of Letters From a Better Me.
Author Interview: Rachael Wolff
I interview wellness authors to find out what makes them tick and why they write the books they do. Rachael Wolff, another Mango Publishing author, and I spend time together nearly every week at the Heart Wisdom panel. Rachael’s smile and good nature warms every heart. I hope you’ll find her as wise and lovely as I do.
Nita Sweeney (NS): Tell us about your book
Rachael Wolff (RW): My book is Letters from a Better Me: How Becoming an Empowered Woman Transforms the World. The letters act as a transformational guide igniting the powerful women inside that have suppressed for too long. The journey begins with taking a trip into our own internal chaos where we take off our blinders and see where we are holding ourselves prisoner. Next, we implement the process of accepting ourselves where we are and start working from there. Finally, we shift into action and become the positive change we want to see. The letters shift negative self-talk and blame into true empowerment. Empower Yourself, Change the World!
NS: WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
RW: I actually fought the idea of writing a women’s empowerment book at first. I had tried to sell another book that didn’t get any bites. I was in the middle of writing another book about abuse. My agent asked me if I could write a women’s empowerment book. Based on what was selling at the time, I was concerned. My definition of empowerment is about being accountable and responsible for what is mine and then projecting the best authentic version of me out to the world.
I believe wholeheartedly in the message Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi amplified, which is to live the change from the inside out. My agent and I were actually on a retreat in Sedona, Arizona when the idea of how to write the book came into my head. I was walking a labyrinth and I saw it. The book is to get us out of our own way in acting against ourselves and each other, and empowering ourselves to transform the world by living and BEING the change.
NS: WHY DID YOU USE LETTERS TO DO THIS?
RW: I use letters, because letters are personal. We can see each other and ourselves in letters. When I write letters, I write from the heart—committed and invested in every word. They are my way of connecting emotionally and being accountable and responsible for the words I put out into the world. When I write them to myself, they become a contract to be a better me. Letters are how I broke the most self-destructive patterns in my life. I wanted to share them, along with the other tools I picked up along the way that got me to stop self-abusing and find true empowerment.
NS: What message do you hope readers take away?
RW: First, I want readers to get that our perspectives are our freedoms or our prisons. A better me is our inner wisdom that knows the difference. Second, our stories have the power to free us or hold us back, but we have to see them to be able to re-write them. Lastly, I hope readers finish with a clear vision on how to represent the changes they want to see by living the changes in their own lives.
NS: WRITING (AND LIFE) CAN BE STRESSFUL. HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF?
RW: I’m a self-care tool queen, LOL. I’ve been reading self and spiritual growth books since I was fourteen, which is over 30 years now. I have been in and out of therapy since the age of 10 and my degree is in Human Development. The blessing is that my journey comes with an AMBUNDANCE of tools. I use different ones depending on where I am in the moment. One of the ways I take care of myself right now is writing a daily blog called, “Daily Aligning with Love, Abundance, and Peace” on FromALovingPlace.com. This helps me to be accountable and responsible for my energy daily.
Reading and writing a lot helps me process any of the more challenging situations or feelings that come up. I believe every feeling has something important to show me, so it’s important for me to allow myself to feel through things. I let the feelings guide me into healing past wounds that are keeping my energy aligned with fear, lack, and separation at any point in time.
Feelings are healthy allies until we deny, suppress, avoid, or blame others for them. That’s when they turn into toxic energy, which creates more of what we don’t want to see in the world. That’s why I make it a part of my self-care to be present with them and feel them through. When the feelings are fully aligned with the energy of love, abundance, and peace, I do my best to spread that energy as far as I can, because when I’m in that space, my self-care is through connecting with others from a loving place.
NS: TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK.
RW: I’m a speaker for both professional and personal growth. I speak at workshops and seminars, live and virtual. My goal as a speaker is to help people connect to what is holding them back and give them opportunities to change what is no longer serving them. People come out with tools to improve their situation no matter what their situation is because what they will uncover is their ability to change their story from the inside. I absolutely LOVE seeing or hearing people’s AHA moments. It’s one of my favorite parts about the work I do.
NS: WHAT LED YOU TO THIS PATH?
RW: My interest has always been in understanding people. I’ve noticed signs guiding me down this path since high school. I won awards for Public Speaking, English, and Guidance. I was writing a sales tip column for a trade magazine, developing and leading training programs, and speaking all over the United States and Canada throughout my 20’s.
In my thirties, I became a preschool teacher, a full-time single mom, and a college student, which is where a deep shift happened. I became aware of the dangerous path my own stories took me down. My inner dialog was BRUTAL and the things that were happening in my life were a reflection of what was going on inside of me.
When I changed my internal stories (with a lot of help), my life began to transform in the most AMAZING of ways. My insides began to match my outsides. It was in this shift that I learned the impact of what it meant to live life from a loving place. In my 40’s, I began sharing my new stories with the world on FromALovingPlace.com. As I practiced living this way daily the way I see the world changes, which keeps creating physical changes in my reality. Now, I keep getting opportunities to help others do the same for themselves. I love how the Universe works.
NS: DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO OR SLOGAN YOU FIND HELPFUL? IF SO, HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THAT?
RW: My perspective is my freedom or my prison. I follow it up with the question: What am I creating for myself right now? This gets me to question the stories I’m weaving in my head. Are they coming from the energy of love, abundance, and peace or fear, lack, and separation? This came to me from the awareness that if I let my stories get away from me, I’m creating a prison for myself. The motto helps me stay accountable and responsible for EVERYTHING that I’m projecting out to the world. It helps me to find clarity in the confusion.
NS: WHAT’S THE WORST WELLNESS (MENTAL HEALTH, SELF-CARE) ADVICE YOU’VE EVER HEARD?
RW: “You can’t do it that way and get results.” I’ve heard this a lot in many different ways. What people forget, including me sometimes, is that we all have our own journeys. That’s what makes us uniquely us. When we embrace our unique and authentic selves, we live empowered.
I do my best to remember that someone else is living their own perspectives of truth. It’s their choice to figure out if those perspectives work to serve them living their best lives, just like it’s my choice to figure out what works best to serve me living my best life. If we convince ourselves that something doesn’t or won’t work, it won’t for us. It doesn’t make that reality true for someone who believes differently.
NS: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE?
RW: For me, that means living from a loving place. In order to do this, I’ve seen the importance of staying aligned with the energy of love, abundance, and peace over fear, lack, and separation as much I possibly can. I do my best to align my thoughts, feelings, perspectives of truth (beliefs), actions, responses, and reactions in accordance to aligning my energy there. I don’t make excuses when my energy is not there, I simply take responsibility and accountability for where I am and I use one of my many tools to help me to get back to being aligned with that energy. Sometimes this can take seconds, other times it might take a day, but with LOTS and LOTS of practice, it rarely takes more than that.
One time, it did. I sought professional assistance working through my grief of losing my dad and stepmom within a few years of each other. The other time, I started writing my daily blog because none of my other tools were working. Too much of the energy of fear, lack, and separation kept taking me over and that affected my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, and OH BOY my reactions. I was struggling to live from a loving place during that time period and the people who were close to me were the ones feeling it most.
Living my best life in the moment includes a lot of reading, writing, connecting with others, and connecting with nature. When I do these things, I naturally take care of my body, mind, and soul without shaming or forcing myself to be or live differently than I am in this moment. My outer world reflects my inner world, so I love what comes out of me living in this place.
NS: WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT COPING YOU WISH YOU’D LEARNED EARLIER?
RW: Something funny, but yet Divinely perfect happened to me while reading this question. I had a reaction to the word coping, which means I had an unhealthy attachment to the word from some point in my past. I’ve found when that happens it’s VERY important to look the word up, because it usually has nothing to do with the actual word, it’s my story around the word that tends to be the problem.
That is probably one of the things that would have been useful to know earlier. I used to get so unconsciously bent out of shape by the way words were being used. In the past, I may have gotten very defensive because of my internal reaction to the word. When I realized we are all just interpreting words through our own perspectives of truth, understanding this helped me to ask more questions instead of jump on the judgment bandwagon, which just keeps me in a toxic story in my head. I used to have so many rage-filled conversations in my head because of a word that I could be seeing completely differently than the person saying it.
EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE ON MY FROM A LOVING PLACE FACEBOOK PAGE, I WILL GET A REACTION TO A WORD I’VE USED.
I’ve learned to explain my vision of the word while also letting them know that I see that they are looking at it through their lived experiences. I thank them for sharing how the word affected them. The responses usually thank me for explaining my view more, and 9 times out of ten they take their original comment down. My mom taught me, “You can’t make me feel anything.” Other people offer us tools to see ourselves, but they don’t have the power to make us happy, sad, crazy, etc. When I fully absorbed this lesson, I got my power back.
I learned to live and feel my feel MY feelings. That means if I have a reaction, I’m responsible and accountable to become aware of what this word, feeling, person, or situation is showing me about myself. I’ve healed and grown so much from learning to do this. I even had a healing moment from simply looking up the word coping, because the definition in my head took me back to a toxic situation where an addict would refer to his abuse of alcohol and drugs as “coping,” which triggered feelings of anxiety and fear along with a knot in my stomach. It wasn’t the word; it was the story I was tying to the word. Seeing the actual definition changed the story behind the word to a much healthier one.
NS: DO YOU HAVE A WRITING TIP FOR THE WRITERS OUT THERE?
RW: Write in your authentic voice and stay open to learn how to be a better writer while remaining true to that voice. Nobody can write in your voice better than you. I struggled in my writing until I found my voice. Trying to mimic other people’s voices did NOT serve me well, but remaining open to learn, I not only found my authentic voice, I found ways to make my voice shine through using lots of wonderful suggestions and skills I was taught along the way. I’m open to constructive criticism, which is one of the ways I attracted my agent to me. She loved that I didn’t get defensive when she had ideas or suggestions to make my writing stronger.
NS: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
RW: I’m not sure about the worst, but when it was suggested I write like someone else, that didn’t work at all. Nobody wanted to buy that book. It was only when I read the book back later that I saw the difference in the book that sold and the book that didn’t. I was trying to write like a particular best-selling author, but that wasn’t my authentic writing voice.
NS: And the best?
RW: The absolute best advice I ever got was to study and write poetry. I took an independent study of poetry my senior year of high school. Learning rhythm and flow has made the process of writing magical to me. If I don’t feel the flow and the rhythm, I’ve noticed the reader doesn’t either. I’ve seen this in critiques of my work and others too. If something comes back feeling choppy, it’s usually because I fell out of that flow and rhythm.
NS: HAS YOUR LIFE TURNED OUT DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU EXPECTED? IF SO, HOW?
RW: My life is definitely different, but what I realized is that it turned out to be perfect fit for me. I used to put other people’s ideas of how my life SHOULD look at the forefront, and that only ever kept me from living my authentic life. Now that I’ve become clear on the importance living my own journey. I live both authentically and abundantly. It doesn’t matter how anyone else judges it. I love my life, and because I love my life, I serve the people in my life to the best of my ability. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be given healing opportunities in my interactions with others, I will and I do. I’m a single mom with two teenagers, LOL. I get LOTS of opportunities.
NS: Is there anything you would change about your journey?
RW: I wouldn’t want to change one thing, because it wouldn’t be my journey if I did. If I changed one thing, a string of things would change. I love what I have to give because of my journey. Some people don’t realize the levels of trauma I’ve experienced in my life because of how I choose to live now. I refused to believe that I would remain a victim of my perpetrators my whole life, so I didn’t give up until I found a way to live my life on my terms. I’ve gone through tons of different belief systems along the way, and I learned to effectively weed out the ones that don’t serve my highest good. Each experience I have leads me to more opportunities. I love that!
NS: WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING FOR INSPIRATION?
RW: I’m reading four books right now: You Recharged by Polly Campbell, Conversations with God Book 3 by Neal Donald Walsh, Hiring the Heavens by Jean Slatter, and The Wisdom Codes by Gregg Braden. I tend to have a couple audiobooks and a couple physical books going at all times. Most of the books I read investigate people’s perspectives of truths because I love learning about people. I love looking at it from every angle and belief system. The books I align with feed the energy of love, abundance, and peace within me. I love personal growth, academic, memoir, biography, spiritual, and pretty much anything that dives into the human experience. There are so many perspectives to explore, which is usually why I have four books going at a time.
NS: IS THERE A WELLNESS OR INSPIRATIONAL BOOK YOU COULDN’T FINISH? WHY?
RW: There have been a few books, but what I’ve realized is that if I’m meant to pick a book up, there is a reason. If I’m meant to put a book down there is a reason. I get what I’m supposed to get from every experience in perfect timing. It took me three tries to read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I wasn’t ready to see the whole book until I did. One chapter that helped me get out of an abusive relationship was towards the end of the book. I KNOW I wasn’t ready to fully absorb the wisdom until the moment I read it.
There have been other books that I’ve struggled through, but couldn’t put down, and EVERY TIME there was either a line or a chapter that had a lasting affect on my journey. I’ve learned to trust where I’m led and when I’m led there. It’s one of the many reasons I don’t usually get rid of books related to wellness or personal growth even if I don’t connect with them right now. The only exception is if I feel a book is attempting to get the reader to align with the energy of fear, lack, and separation. If they are doing it intentionally to enlighten the reader on how the brain works, I will keep reading. If they are using it to manipulate the reader into feeding it, I either put it down or use it for research in understanding humans better.
NS: WHAT WELLNESS BOOK COULD YOU NOT PUT DOWN?
RW: Loving What Is by Byron Katie
NS: What’s next for you writing wise?
RW: I’m going to complete my 365-day adventure of writing my daily blog “Daily Aligning with Love, Abundance, and Peace.” Then, I’m diving into writing a series of books to make the path inward an enjoyable adventure.
NS: Mermaids or Goddesses?
RW: Depends, if I get the feeling of empowerment by looking at her, I WANT her!
NS: Toast or bagels?
NS: Ocean, mountains, or forest?
RW: I love them all. I appreciate whichever one I’m offered in the moment. All three can move me into grounded and centered energy that take me to a state of AWE.
NS: Leggings or jeans?
RW: Soft yoga pants for home and jeans or cargos for adventuring.
NS: Dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, or horses?
RW: I’m a lifetime cat person who now has a dog that is my baby.
ABOUT RACHAEL WOLFF
Rachael Wolff is an author, speaker, and blogger. Wolff got her professional start traveling the United States and Canada in the 1990’s as a sales trainer performing at conferences, sales seminars, and for individual distributors, manufacturers, and retailers. She graduated from Eckerd College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and a minor in Anthropology with an award in “Excellence in Human Development.” She continues to use her 30 plus years of personal and spiritual development, along with her professional and formal education to inspire individuals to make positive changes in the world by becoming their best selves.
Inspirational Facebook Page: https://Facebook.com/FromALovingPlace
Author Facebook Page: https://Facebook.com/LettersfromaBetterMe
How Becoming an Empowered Woman Transforms the World
THE EMPOWERED WOMAN follows the belief system that is best explained in a quote by Byron Katie: “The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world.”
The letters work in different ways depending on the chapter and part of the book.
How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink (Running Depression and Anxiety Therapy, Bipolar)
It’s never too late to chase your dreams. Before she discovered running, Nita Sweeney was 49-years-old, chronically depressed, occasionally manic, and unable to jog for more than 60 seconds at a time. Using exercise, Nita discovered an inner strength she didn’t know she possessed, and with the help of her canine companion, she found herself on the way to completing her first marathon. In her memoir, Sweeney shares how she overcame emotional and physical challenges to finish the race and come back from the brink.