Heather Falenski — Navigating Conflict Zones, Recovering from Chronic Illness, and Being Your Own Light

In today’s episode, Brett interviews Heather Falenski, documentary filmmaker, adventure athlete and humanitarian worker. Her early career included several years of working on the African continent with refugees and others displaced by war. She is the founder of One World Media, a film production company based in Boulder, Colorado.

Heather led a fast-paced life working in some of the world’s most remote and challenging environments. Although her work was fulfilling, it was also physically and mentally taxing. It culminated into a severe chronic illness that left her bedridden for over a year. Heather discusses an epiphany that she had after hitting rock bottom that allowed her to move beyond impossible circumstances to regain health and stability.

“The greatest power that we have is to say: I AM that. And whatever “that” is, it’s what we’re defining ourselves to be. It’s what our concept of self is. We can define ourselves in any way that we want. We can say, I’m a filmmaker. I am healthy. I am respected. And once we hold that state as our dominant state of consciousness over a period of time, the outer world will start to conform and reflect that back to us.”

What we discuss in Episode 43:

07:30     The urge to control outer conditions and why it often leads to failure.

10:30     Stabilizing your inner landscape as a way of getting consistent results in the outer world.

14:09     Unconditioned consciousness as your natural state beneath all of the things that you identify with.

19:00     How to consciously shift into a desired self-concept, rather than allowing it to be dictated by outer circumstances.

29:11     Gratitude as a state of allowing a process to unfold, even if it takes some unexpected turns.

32:04     How hitting rock bottom can lead you to the necessary conditions to completely recreate yourself.

Follow us on Instagram at @artofaccomplishment to learn more about our guests and share your own experiences.

Transcript

Episode 43: Heather Falenski- Navigating Conflict Zones,
Recovering from Chronic Illness and Being Your Own Light

Episode intro:
The greatest power we have is to then go I am that. Whatever that is is what we are defining ourselves to be. It is what our concept of self is. We can define ourselves in any way that we want. We can say I am a filmmaker. I am healthy. I am respected. Once we hold that state as our dominant state of consciousness over a period of time, the outer world will start to conform and reflect that back to us.

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves, and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

Brett: All right, everybody, welcome back. Today I am speaking with a very special guest. She is the founder and CEO of One World Media, who also happens to be producing our podcast. How are you doing together, Heather?
Heather: I am doing really well. Thank you for inviting me, Brett.

Brett: Thanks for joining us. Can you tell me a little bit about who you are, what your business is and what you have done in business and in life to get to this point?

Heather: Sure, I have been in film production for pretty much my entire career. However, I started in a much different area than where I am today. I started out working on the African continent, and I was working with a lot of NGOs. I worked with the UN. I mostly worked in areas of the world that had been affected by war, so either areas of active combat or areas where refugees were currently living. I spent a lot of time working with displaced populations and recording their journeys, recording the projects that were going on in the camp.

From there, I transitioned into adventure film, so I spent a couple of years working all around the world, in Europe, in the US and in South America, filming with adventure athletes, and eventually I started my own company, One World Media, about eight years ago. I have been running it ever since. We do documentary film. We also do commercial work and other types of film as well, but we are best known for our documentaries.

Brett: To give the audience a little bit more context here, Heather and I have known each other since 2007 partially from the adventure sports world. That’s how we met. Also, we spent some time together in Africa. I visited her in Zambia for a five-week period while she had been there alone for a year producing film for an NGO and had a lot of really interesting experiences. Some of them might come up in this podcast.

Having known Heather for 15 years, she and I have both had a lot of different experiences where we learn something really important about ourselves, sometimes in a very difficult way and by going through a lot of pain to get there. Heather, I am curious to hear one reflection that you have that we would like to focus on today that really impacted your business and your life.

Heather: That’s a really good question, Brett. If I had to distill it down into one sentence, it would be the sentence that I woke up to one morning in December during a really difficult year for me. I had had a ton of health challenges. I was dealing with chronic illness, and my company was in a very big transition point. At the same time, I was starting to come out of it. I had learned a lot of lessons, and I had grown a lot. I was feeling a lot more in my power.
I just woke up one morning with the sentence in my head that said, ‘Be your own light’. Upon first glance, this sentence is pretty self-explanatory, but it means something really specific to me. It was a really important shift that I made during the course of my healing journey. It really impacted the way I showed up in the world and my ability to reach my full potential.

Brett: Be your own light. It sounds like one of those things you might see on a mug that you might find at a garage sale. It is the kind of phrase that people come up with after having a really deep experience. It means something way deeper than just those words. As you mentioned, it means something specific to you. Before we get more deeply into that, I am curious to talk a little bit about what your life was like before you had this particular recognition that led to it.

Heather: In the years leading up to this realization, I had been encountering several challenges at once. As I mentioned before, I had been working on the African continent for nearly a decade at that point. Although it was really rewarding and it gave me a lot of freedom to define my career and understand myself on a deeper level due to the independence that I had and the situations that I faced, the territory came with a lot of stress, just inherently. Working in high-risk areas is inherently dangerous, and it requires you to be constantly vigilant of your own safety.

In addition to that, when you are working in unstable regions. You encounter a lot of logistical difficulties as well. We were constantly battling access to resources and basic living things, for example, not having running water, not having access to regular power. That accumulated into a lot of unprocessed stress from my very fast paced career. I ended up over time developing a chronic illness because of that stress and I also was diagnosed with complex PTSD, which for people that don’t know, that is post traumatic stress disorder.

I was dealing with a lot. I was very burnt out. My body wasn’t functioning properly. I was spending most of my time in bed. Additionally, my relationships weren’t doing that well. I wasn’t sure why.

Brett: You got to this point where you started to feel cornered in by the stress of life, but it was really just this deep low-level stress, a lot of it coming from this complex PTSD from this time in conflict zones and also possibly whatever might have occurred in your life that led you to be attracted to conflict zones. That might be something interesting to double click on as well.

How did it start to bubble up in your mind or the light bulb turn on? Be your own light. What did that mean to you? What was the alternative you had been living prior to that?

Heather: In order for a realization to truly bubble up for me in a meaningful way, I had to truly hit rock bottom. For me, rock bottom didn’t just mean that things were bad, but I had tried literally everything I could to control it. Control used to work really well for me because I am a type A person. I am very organized, and I create strategies. That was my job for a long time. Part of my job was to escort people safely from one town to the next in areas of active combat. Basically your job in that sort of situation is to control the uncontrollable because it is very important that you do so. I found a lot of ways to manipulate my outer world in order to make things safe in order to get my job done.
I think that hitting rock bottom for me meant that there was a situation that I was in, which was my chronic illness, that just would not relent no matter what I did. I tried to do everything right. I tried to clean up my health. I tried to meditate, to see a therapist to resolve my PTSD. I tried just about everything, even just relaxing for months in bed thinking that if I rested enough, it would just go away. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I was relying so much on the outer world, including my outer body, in order to have a sense of safety and security. It just wasn’t happening for me.

I think when you get to that place, demoralizing is a very nice way to put it, but I think I just sort of gave up because even someone who is super motivated, if they try hard enough to get out of this cage they are in and it just won’t relent, eventually they will just relax into it. They don’t know what the next step is when everything you try to do fails. I think the shift that happened for me was that I realized that nothing in my outer world was going to change my situation.
I couldn’t wait on something to come from outside to save me. It just wasn’t going to happen. Also, in addition to that, I realized that I might never have proper functioning of my outer physical body again because of the severity of my chronic illness. I realized that even having a sense of self that relied on having a functioning, able body was not necessarily something that was going to be beneficial for me or reliable for me.

Brett: Something you just talked about, being able to control your environment, control is something that had worked for you in conflict zones. Something we have talked about before is there is a subtlety there where you are never really in control of a conflict zone. There is more of a flow, identifying what you can control and then quickly changing and determining what else might be in your control as the situation moves and evolves. There is a certain amount of faith and willpower there and having a goal. Then there is a certain amount of just reading the river and seeing where it goes.
It sounds like what you are describing here is even that process started to get stopped up when your body was no longer responding in the way that you were expecting. Your interface to your environment was no longer responding the way you were expecting. That took you into a deeper level of flowing. That seems to maybe point at the realization that you had. Can you talk to me a little bit about what that realization felt like when it occurred to you?

Heather: I realized after being disempowered for years and years of wanting a functioning body and waiting for it to get better and having it not get better to having quality relationships in my life in certain areas that just weren’t coming in at the time. Waiting for those relationships to really validate me and to basically tell me that I am loved, I am cherished, all of these things, I am looking to all of these outer markers.

I realized that I was going to have to be my own light. I was going to have to generate that from within in order to see it out. I don’t mean that in a poetic way. I mean that in an actual, literal way. That is the nuance of the realization. It was not just that this is a quote to put me in a happy space, but it is an actual reality that if I don’t first give myself the feeling of being loved and cherished, if I don’t feel that way within, then no one is going to come from with out and validate what I am not appropriating in myself.

The same thing for health, because I was embodying such a state of illness. There was a point in my illness when I couldn’t remember the last time I felt happy or healthy. I mean just having the feelings for a small thing. I spent most of my waking hours having thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that only validated being sick and alone. That realization of being my own light made me realize that in order to have consistent, positive results in my outer world, I needed to start stabilizing my inner environment and being consistently my own light and giving myself these things I wanted to see on the outside.

Brett: Can you zoom in a little more on what you mean by stabilizing your inner world? What was the subjective experience that you had? You were laying in your bed, and you were only seeing evidence for how sick you were, and this was the reality that was continually being reinforced by your nervous system. What was the first moment of the subjective experience of something different that allowed you to start giving yourself your own love?

Heather: That’s a really good question. I would say the symptoms got so severe. Initially, it kind of came from a place of dissociation. Full disclosure, I didn’t really want to be completely present to my outer experience, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. What I would do is I would just shut out the outer world because what was happening for me wasn’t desirable for me whatsoever. I would go into this inner space, this very meditative space, like the state you are in right before you fall asleep. I would start imagining what it feels like to have stable health and to be surrounded by quality people doing a job that completely fulfilled me and that didn’t drain me at all, just for fun, just trying it on the way someone would try on a new suit.

At first, that suit felt really uncomfortable because it felt unfamiliar. I started small, but the whole process piqued my interest because it was, like I said, originally somewhat of an escape. But as I started doing it day after day, that suit began to feel more comfortable. I started to feel more at home in it, and it started to shift my entire state of consciousness and concept of self to that of what I was imagining myself to be rather than that which I currently was.
Brett: It sounds almost as though the way you had been experiencing yourself in the world was also a suit. There was a way you were changing suits or maybe just removing one suit and seeing what was underneath it and seeing what it would be like to see yourself. Correct me if I am wrong, but it sounds almost as though there was a suit that was installed by your past experience and this complex PTSD, and you were exploring what was underneath it. Does that sound accurate at all?

Heather: Yeah, it is a little bit of both. That’s a good segue into me explaining exactly what being your own light is because I feel that all of us have this unconditioned consciousness that we are born with. When we are born as babies, we aren’t filmmakers or podcasters. We are just awareness. We are consciousness. Maybe you could say we are a loving consciousness because I do believe when you look at children who haven’t experienced adverse conditions, their natural inclination is to love and be connected. There is that essence, which I could call my ‘I am-ness’. It’s an awareness.
I think the greatest power that we have is to then go I am that. Whatever that is is what we are defining ourselves to be. It is what our concept of self is. We can define ourselves in any way that we want. We can say I am a filmmaker. I am healthy. I am respected. I am lonely. I am alone. We are free to choose whatever we want to define ourselves as. Once we hold that state as our dominant state of consciousness over a period of time, the outer world will start to conform and reflect that back to us. That’s what I discovered in my journey.

Brett: It also even sounds like there is an aspect of falling more in love with the part of yourself, the identity of yourself as ill, as sick, recognizing that even that part is you, and it doesn’t fully define you. It is just a part of your experience, and it is not the whole thing.

Heather: I think that’s a very important part of integrating these parts of ourselves that are wounded is to love those parts because I think that that part comes from an unconscious aspect of ourselves that hasn’t been integrated from an earlier adverse experience. It will keep showing up for us until we bring light to it, again, being your own light. Shedding light on it, acknowledging it and then reintegrating it into our system, and I think that’s a really important thing.

In addition to that, I think it is just important to realize the power that we have in our ‘I am’, in our ability to choose because a lot of times it feels like life is choosing for us. What I have discovered is that we do choose what our ‘I am’ is. If we hold strongly and steadily in any ‘I am’, it will start being rejected into our outer reality. Obviously, if I say I am secure but then that lasts about five minutes and I go back into my state of mind of not feeling secure and not feeling loved, I haven’t held on to it long enough for it to really take effect.

But if I hold on to any state of consciousness for long enough, it will eventually start shifting my dominant state entirely. The that is the ego portion of our unconditioned consciousness. It is what makes us into the personalities we are. It is very malleable. It is not as fixed as people think. It is only fixed whenever there is some charge behind it that we are unwilling to look at.

Brett: It sounds like the journey you are describing here is becoming more aware of all of the different possible ‘I am’s we can be as different suits we can wear and take them on and put them off as well or just as the situation calls without even having to invoke our will, just to see what happens. I think a lot of this really harkens back to what you have described in active conflict zones or in adventure sports and being in the flow, being in the place of trusting yourself.
For me, when I walk a slackline, for example, one of the ways I like to describe walking a slackline is that to learn to walk a slackline is to learn all of the different ways to fall off and how to bring yourself from the edge of each one of them. There is a certain symmetry there to our identity, too. I think there can be a common misconception that our belief creates a reality so if we only believe the things that we want to believe about ourselves, then that will create the reality that we want. That can also put us into a trap or create shadows.

This process you are describing is really breaking free of any particular self-concept and then loving more and more of who you might find yourself to be in any moment.

Heather: Exactly, and just realizing that you have the power to do that, too. For example, if you came from a wealthy household, it is easy to have the ‘I am’ concept of I am secure. I am abundant. But if you came from a less wealthy background, then trying on that suit is not going to feel so natural at first.
I think that my message to the world, if I could distill it into this sentence by being your own light, is knowing that no matter what your outer circumstances are, whether this shift is going to be a little one or if it feels so far fetched that you can barely imagine yourself being financially abundant is that if you are able to stabilize your inner world enough in order to shift your ’I am’ to a different self-concept, over time what I have discovered, not just through my health but through many different suits or self-concepts, is that it will eventually take hold and it will start showing results in the outer world. It just has to be consistent, and so in order for it to be consistent, you have to be your own light.

You can’t rely on getting a big paycheck in order to feel abundant. You might be in a financial desert. There might not be anything going on, or you might be so sick like I was that you can’t get out of bed, and I had to teach myself how to hold the state of feeling healthy even under those circumstances, which were extremely trying. But I feel that it is a powerful message to share that it is possible to actually shift your self-concept from within and to be your own light without having to receive validation from the outer world in order to start making that shift and therefore seeing the changes you want to see.

Brett: It sounds like what you are talking about is really deprogramming a lot of these concepts we learn about ourselves from the outer world and going back into that childhood, not even that childhood, that babyhood love that we just are. That consciousness, that awareness.

Heather: Exactly. It is a deprogramming, but not through mental gymnastics. I don’t think it is a matter of- I did a lot of healing work, and I did get to the root of a lot of my limiting beliefs, but that’s not what this necessarily was. It wasn’t a mental exercise at all. It was shutting out my outer experience, getting to the state of neutrality of just this dark beginning we all came from, and then imagining myself in this new state so that I could catch the feeling of it. The feeling doesn’t necessarily mean an emotion. For example, wealthy people are not happy all the time.
If you want to imagine yourself as abundant, I don’t think that it is making sure that you are feeling happy and upbeat all the time at all. It is how a wealthy person would feel as they move throughout their day, and what sort of thoughts they would have, positive and negative. I started just imagining myself, to try on this suit, to catch that feeling of what it would feel like if I didn’t have to constantly worry about my health and that was all stable. I realized I wouldn’t be having all these thoughts. I just caught the essence of it, and it is really hard to describe other than just through imagining feeling it to the point where you start to actually catch as if you already were it before it is actually being shown to you in your outer world.

Brett: I want to hear a little bit more then about how having had this deeper reflection, which of course as so many of the reflections we have in our life are, they are things we have learned all along in newer and deeper ways. A lot of what you described in this epiphany was actually very related to many of the ways you moved around in the world, being a founder, being an adventure sports athlete, being a documentary filmmaker as a female in Africa alone, in conflict zones. How has that deepened your relationship with yourself and your work and your flow in the world, having had this experience and come through it?

Heather: It has made me much more authentic and much more able to stand in my integrity because I no longer look for validation from others or from outer circumstances. I decide who I want to be and what state I am embodying. It is a totally internal process. I feel completely liberated. I don’t feel like I am at the mercy of circumstances even when they are adverse because I know from experience from doing this so many times that whenever I hold my inner world steady, the outer world will eventually reflect it even if it is not in the moment.

For example, maybe I am finding a situation where I might be traveling as I often do for work and I am unable to connect with people the way that I want to, and so I am feeling a little bit lonely. In the past, I was sort of embodying the state of loneliness and also just hoping someone would show up in my life to relieve me of that, but what I do now is I go into my inner space. I get into the state of being connected and being supported by others. I imagine, even though I don’t have at the moment in my outer world, what it feels like. It feels so warm, fuzzy and just fulfilling. I get that state in me and then I just hold it. Because I am able to cultivate that feeling for myself, I am not addicted to any sort of outer band aid or fix to relieve me of my loneliness. I walk through my day without discomfort because I am cultivating that inner state independent of the outer circumstances.

Inevitably, someone will come up to me and strike a conversation. Before I know it, I am having a deep conversation with a stranger. We are exchanging numbers and planning another adventure together.

Brett: I find it interesting you have used a couple of times the word ‘holding steady internally’. The way you just described that was holding internally the feeling that I am connected. I feel like in order to do that, it is actually not very stable. There are actually changes going on in internally, and part of that is grieving the feeling of not having been connected. In order to want something that we don’t have, you have to feel the not having and feel through that enough to feel the want and enough to feel the other alternate reality. There is actually something profoundly shifting in even that description of holding steady. There is actually something going on, moving emotionally inside you. Does that sound accurate?

Heather: What I have discovered is the holding steady for me comes first. There is a bridge that leads me from holding steady to actually seeing it in my outer reality. That bridge is what I like to call the purge. Let’s use a different example. Let’s do something anyone can relate to, which is relationships, romantic relationships. Everyone wants to feel loved and stable, romantically. No one wants to feel in limbo or that they are in a hot and cold situation. It is a great example, but most of us still have a lot of strong feelings both positive and negative that are often churning inside of us when we get romantically involved with another person.

What I would do is I would stabilize the state of imagine I already have my life partner, and that we are old. We are sitting in a rocking chair, and we are 80 years old. We are smiling back on the last 50 years of our life. Every morning I embody that state. I get into it by imagining it, and then I hold it. What happens when I hold it is that it initiates a purge of all of these contradicting beliefs that I am holding inside myself that contradict the state that I am trying to shift to.

What happens is all of these fears and doubts will bubble up. I am about to turn 40. What if I am alone in another five years? But people aren’t reliable, and they are constantly fickle. It is this sort of maelstrom of thoughts and difficult emotions that end up coming up, but the more I hold steady in that state, and I don’t allow it to sway me back into my former, disempowered state, they come up and they get processed. They release out, and then almost like a storm in the ocean at sea, it will calm itself back out again eventually until the next wave hits. I continue doing that until there are no more waves. It is a natural dominant state.

Brett: It sounds like a lot of what you are describing is gratitude, holding yourself in gratitude, perhaps a pre-gratitude for what you imagine might come to your life and just being grateful that this can be you.
Heather: Or that it is you, I would say. I think gratitude is a great way to describe it because you aren’t thankful for something you are not sure that you have. You can know that you actually are embodying the state as the new you, not as a potential new you. I feel like that’s not quite it, but once you actually get into the state and you are like this is how I am now and this is what I did with my illness, I said I am healthy. This is who I am. I know that my body is going to eventually reflect it because I completely misidentified with illness. I had identified with illness for most of my life, so this was really challenging at first to switch from dominant states. I think you know you are getting close, and that you are almost there when you start feeling gratitude because it is like when someone gives you a gift. You are holding it in your hands, and you know it is yours. Then you are going to start feeling really thankful for it.

Brett: I think what you are describing with that purging process is really interesting as well. When I imagine first trying this out and being grateful. Let’s imagine somebody is talking about a romantic relationship, so they are feeling lonely. They tried this thing, and they are like I am going to just feel grateful for having the partner I want. They might go really specific. It is going to be a blonde who is six foot five inches and into this and that thing and checks all these other boxes.

That might not actually lead to that person coming into their lives because that might just be way too specific, but feeling the gratitude deeper, under that just for wow, I am a human who can connect. The awareness underneath everything else that is me is connection and love. Feeling that leads to that state of being that attracts partners.

Heather: Definitely, gratitude is a lovely state to be in just in general because I feel that gratitude is the closest to love. It is a very open and receptive state and also a state that minimizes resistance. Resistance in its essence is fear, so when fear is your dominant state, which I think illness is a form of resistance and a form of fear. Being in the state of identifying with illness, it is being afraid of being constantly, as I was, and understandably because I was experiencing PTSD at the time. I think that gratitude is really that state of surrender, of allowing the process to happen, and knowing that you already have it even if you don’t see it yet.

Brett: I think you could have a similar self-concept of being unlovable or of being incompetent or of being unwealthy or of being insecure. Being an insecure partner in relationships, having that belief.

Heather: That’s very fear based. I think the reason we are insecure is because we don’t know when the ball is going to drop, and we are assuming that the ball is going to drop. We are waiting for it to happen. We are trying to protect ourselves in advance, and all of the while we are stymying the love that may be very well trying to come in. It is very self-sabotaging, and I was in that space for a long time. I have a lot of empathy for it. I also know it is possible to move past these things.

In essence, when you are being your own light, it is like being perched on a ledge. If you are perched on a precarious ledge of a branch of a tree, for example, you are always going to be wondering if this branch is going to hold me. Is it going to break? Am I going to fall 100 feet to the ground? But birds don’t worry about that because they trust in their wings. If the branch breaks, then they are just going to fly away. They are not going to be harmed, and I think this being your own light business is about growing your own wings so that you can put yourself on the edge and be vulnerable without getting into that fear based space of insecurity because you are so secure within yourself to be able to provide everything that you need that even if it doesn’t work out, even if the worst happens and someone betrays you or just completely leaves you hanging, you can still fly away. It doesn’t mean it is not going to sting, but it is not going to decimate you.

Brett: Interesting. There is another thing you mentioned earlier that I am curious about. You had said admittedly this was partly dissociation. Two parts of that are interesting to me, and part of it is there is something to admit about having disassociated. Then there is also something interesting about just disassociation as having been a part of this process that was a healthy process for you. I think it is very common that especially in emotional development circles or in spiritual practices that disassociation has sort of a negative connotation. It is leading you away from the source of your awareness. It also just seems in this case and maybe in many other cases it was actually a tool that allowed you to feel safe enough internally to try on this other suit and see what another self-concept might feel like.

Heather: Disassociation is a double-edged sword. Disassociation is what gave me my PTSD. It is sort of what PTSD is, when you allow enough emotional content to build up in your nervous system by dissociating that it actually just manifests into a full-blown psychological condition and physical disorder. I will say disassociation is a boomerang because it is not just going to keep getting worse, worse, worse and worse to no end. What it does is it gets worse until you hit rock bottom, and then it actually propels you into the completely opposite direction.

As I said before, I had been disassociating for years. It had been quote unquote working until it wasn’t anymore. Then it made me really sick, but that sickness forced me in bed. Then my last resort of dissociation was actually blocking out all of this mess that I sort of created for myself in allowing me to get into a neutral space in order to redefine myself and to reidentify with the things I actually wanted to experience and start dis-identifying with the things I had created for myself that I no longer wanted to be.

Brett: Something that’s really striking me about the way you speak of this is I detect that you have come to a love and acceptance for that whole part of your journey, for the dissociation and for the rock bottom that you hit. Really I do feel from you gratitude for all of it. I feel like that’s really an important component of this being your own light, this practice that you are talking about.

Heather: It definitely is, and I don’t think it is something that can be forced because if you had told me two years ago to be grateful, not that I should or that I should consider it maybe, I probably would have reacted badly to that. I was in the throes of it, and I think it is also important to realize where you are. When you are in the throes of it, sometimes you can’t be grateful for it. That’s totally okay because even that is part of the process.
Gratitude is something that should always come naturally, and it does if you just see the process through. It should never be forced but just keep stepping is how it was for me, just keep taking steps. Eventually it just rose up in me naturally. I didn’t try to be grateful for anything. I just was. It is like the clouds clear when you enter them, when you are flying in a plane. Before you enter those clouds, they still look scary. It is not something you can relax into and be grateful for, but after you enter the cloud and then fly out the other side, you have this greater perspective. You are able to naturally have the gratitude for the experiences that got you there.

Brett: It sounds like what you are describing there is rather than having a top-down imposition of gratitude, which could just feel tyrannical to parts of your system that are not feeling it, what you were doing was really looking for the gratitude that was there and cultivating that and drawing that up and letting that transform you from within.

Heather: I never, throughout my entire journey, even in changing these states attempted to control my emotions. I think that’s a form of resistance and that actually slows the entire process down. I always allowed myself or not feel whatever was naturally occurring, but what I did control, again, was getting into the state of imagining what it would feel like, not emotionally, but just the sense, the vibe of what it would feel like to be healthy, to be abundant. Like I said, it is not dependent on emotions. Emotions can flow through all of those experiences. Rich people are just as unhappy as poor people are in certain instances, so it is not about controlling your emotions. It is more just reimagining yourself in a new role. It is like a character that you play. We are that essence, but we are also the characters. It is the unified whole that comes with the human experience.

Brett: Beautifully said. To close this episode out, I would just like to ask you where you see One World Media and your craft headed. What is most exciting to you in life right now?

Heather: What’s most exciting for me in life right now is to create films that are more authentic and that are more in line with this new sense of self I have that I have cultivated intentionally. I feel that processing difficult emotions helped release the bondage of these weird attachments that I had to projects that weren’t completely aligned. It allowed me to remove those projects from my life and really create a wide space for new projects, projects that related to people that have gone through a similar journey of self-discovery and also just trying to illustrate things in the world that are beautiful, that are good and that are happening right now, basically to say that not all is lost right now because I know it is such a difficult time. I think there is a lot of beauty that’s being created in the world right now, and something is being born. I would love to be the one to tell those stories.

Brett: Beautiful. I would love to tell them with you and thank you so much for producing this podcast. I am really looking forward to continuing working with you and telling more of these stories.

Heather: Likewise.

Thanks for listening to the Art of Accomplishment. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe and rate us on your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions or comments. You can reach out to us, join our newsletter or check out our courses at artofaccomplishment.com.

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