Is Your Need To Control Your Life Keeping You Stuck?

When I finally surrendered in December of 2017, I had no idea how my life was going to change. I didn't know that within months I would be driving across western US states for 4 months, and that by June, I would untether myself from all that was keeping me in Los Angeles and move to Canada for the rest of the year.

And WHAT exactly was it that I surrendered to?

That’s perhaps the strangest detail of all: I surrendered to complete uncertainty. I surrendered to being okay with not knowing where my path was leading. All I knew was that there was something within me I needed to share with the world — a message I needed to pass on.

What was the message? You might ask, and at the time I would have answered, “I have no clue…”

“And what about now?” You say, “Do you have a clue now?”

Maybe. I’m still figuring it out. But I can tell you this: I’m a heck of a lot closer (I think) now than I was then.

So what was is that compelled me to leap? Do I regret it? Have I learned something deep and profound from the year I spent living out of a suitcase, creating messages of love and talking about forgiveness? Was it worth it?

I was walking down Santa Monica Boulevard today, decaf coffee in hand and deeply engrossed in conversation with a friend when I was hit with the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my bohemian life of the past 12 months.

The bigger our dreams, the more comfortable we need to become with uncertainty.

This realization hit me hard. 

Of course I needed to step into complete uncertainty before I could find my way into the massive dreams I have constructed for myself. Big dreams CANNOT flourish when you are micromanaging them. If you want to see a brilliant child plummet into the depths of depression and mediocrity, all you have to do is try to control every aspect of his life. 

We suffocate the creativity out of our potential when we don't embrace uncertainty and the many incredibly opportunities it provides.

This week on the Unleash Your Peace Podcast (iTunes, Spotify, Podbean), I share some of the biggest lessons I learned in 2018, including how untethering myself from all physical representations of security (home, car, job, etc.) allowed me to realize that I am supported completely by the universe.

This 9-Year-Old Figured Out The Secret To Success!

What does it take to be successful?
What does success mean in the first place?
How can I set myself up for a fulfilling and fruitful life?
Where does happiness come from and how can I attain it?
What does it take to have inner peace? To love life? To live with joy?

These are some of the most common questions we ask ourselves, but instead of looking for the answers where they are, we bang our heads against the wall, trying to force answers that are not actually answers at all.

We chase wealth, for example, when it is the feeling of freedom we seek.
We chase fame, when we just want to be seen.
We demand people to act a certain way, when what we want is to feel safe.
We overload our bodies with mind-altering substances, when we’re seeking happy.

And when it comes to learning HOW we can feel free, seen, safe, and happy, we look for the answers in all the wrong places. We look for them in processes and tactics we can deploy. We read books that teach us how to make more money, how to build a social media following, how to get people to do what we want them to do, and how to be more fit physically.

Then, at some point, we reach our goals. We accumulate the wealth, we are recognized for our contributions to the world, people do what we want them to do, and we sculpt our bodies into our ideal of beauty, and still…. we are miserable.

There is still a gaping hole within us.
We still feel unworthy.
We still feel alone and unlovable.
We still struggle to connect with ourselves and with others.

But now, there is nothing more to chase, and it’s easy to assume that life is empty and pointless.

If you’ve ever been there, you know how defeating this feeling of helplessness is. So what is the solution? Where are the true answers we are seeking?

This week on the Unleash Your Peace podcast (iTunes, Spotify, Podbean), I explore this topic with the help of my 9-year-old niece and competitive dancer, Launa Shahrestani, who has been inspiring me for years with her dedication and wisdom.

Children have great wisdom. I believe this is because children are closer to the Source of our Beingness than we are as adults.

They have not yet learned to make conditional.
They have not yet started doubting and blocking their intuition.
They have not yet started to cater to their fears.

Here’s a quote from her that gives you an idea of the profound and simple wisdom Launa shares in this episode:

“If you want to do something in your heart, just go for it. It’ll take you somewhere good.”

Launa Shahrestani

To follow Launa’s dance journey, be sure to to root for at The Chavarria Institute of the Arts.

The Difference Between Action and Inspired Action

Have you ever tried to make something work that simply did not want to work out?

Perhaps you had a great idea for a project, but no matter how hard you tried, the pieces would not fall into place.

Or you were trying to land a job, and even though you were completely overqualified for it, every step you thought you’re taking toward it seemed to push you further away.

Now, think of a time when the opposite was true — a time when that which you wanted came to you almost by magic and worked itself out with little effort from you.

You may have barely thought the thought, and next thing you knew, the cooperative components were gathering and the pieces were appearing almost out of thin air. The person you sat next to on an airplane turned out to be close friends with someone you’d been wanting to reach; the book that was left on the table at your doctor’s office held the exact steps on how to do something you’d been wanting to look up. Maybe someone you hadn’t spoke with in years called you out of the blue with an opportunity that aligned perfectly with the project you were working on.

This is the difference between action and inspired action.

This is the difference between trying to reach your dreams as a physical human or co-creating your dreams with the help of your non-physical Inner Being.

It’s the difference between stumbling through a maze or flying over it.

If you’ve experienced this type of co-creation with the divine, you might have felt like you’re cheating somehow. If you’re still holding on to limiting beliefs such as “easy come, easy go” or “it’s not real unless you’ve worked really hard for it,” you might have forced yourself back into the maze so you could trial-and-error your way into your solution.

We do strange things just to feel like we’ve earned our success.

If you are still entertaining limiting beliefs, you might want to (re)listen to the episodes I shared with you during our “Blind Spots” week.

This week on the Unleash Your Peace Podcast (iTunes, Spotify, PodBean), we take this dialogue a tad further by discussing how inspired action helped my guest Neloo Naderi coast through some of the biggest transitions in her life. By tapping into inspiration, she was able to find a new career path, land her dream job (at the time) and find clarity in the midst of chaos.

During this episode, we will also discuss:

  • An exercise you can do right now that will help you sharpen your inspiration receptors.

  • How Neloo worked through her depression and smile things you can do to pull you out of darkness into the light.

  • A fun way you can keep your brain from becoming stagnant.

As you have noticed by now, I have changed the format of this podcast this year. While the idea of 5 short weekly episodes was compelling, many of you asked for longer episodes. Two episodes into the longer format, I am quite enjoying it. I especially love the chance to bring on guests who can help contextualize all the wonderful concepts we have covered on this podcast thus far.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions, or if there are any guests or topics you’d like me to cover.



My guest this week is my good friend and fellow spiritual pilgrim Neloo Naderi. Neloo is a Heathcare Consultant with a global consulting firm and the co-creator of 20/20 Meditate for Peace, a social movement that demystifies meditation and provides support for those in search of a deeper connection to their True Selves. As the creator of Thriving Ever After, she has inspired a sense of adventure in both her friends and strangers.

Neloo is also my co-host for the LA-based meditation parties that have been inspiring a sense of community and love in Los Angeles, California since 2016. To join the email list for these parties, please send me an inquiry at peace(at)

How To Set Yourself Up For Success In 2019

How To Set Yourself Up For Success In 2019

More than 90% of people will NOT do this simple exercise. They will choose to watch TV or spend time scrolling though their social media feed instead. They will find things to do that may feel more important — activities that will forever keep them stuck in loops of mediocrity.

By NOT participating in this exercise, they will create their lives by default. They will live reactivity, always in response to whatever is NOT going right in their lives, always focused on the things they dislike or fear.

These are the same people who remain stuck at jobs they hate.
They are the same people who complain about horrible their spouses are.
They are the same people who will find something to complain about regardless of the conditions they find themselves in.

Things never go right for them. There is always something they are waiting to attain BEFORE they can be happy. Unfortunately, this something never gets to them.

Do NOT be part of this 90% crowd.

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Part 5: Mental Habits of Peaceful People

Gratitude is perhaps the most underrated and underused tool in our arsenal. It has the power to change our entire life and unlock possibility in our lives, but we are often skeptical of it. Why? Well, because it is way too simple.

Click on the image to download the e-book.

Click on the image to download the e-book.

Peaceful people, however, KNOW the power of gratitude and make it a point to live gratefully.

If you want to learn more about the power of gratitude, click here or on the image to the left to download my free e-book on the power of gratitude.

Part 4: Mental Habits of Peaceful People

Today, we enter the realm of deliberate creation. This is something most people do not practice. Peaceful people, however, tend to be far better at creating the life they actually want than their non-peaceful counterparts.

Why is this? What’s the secret sauce that seems to be reserved for those among us who are unshaken by the storms of life? Why do they get to be so lucky?

It has, in fact, nothing to do with luck.

Peaceful people are just better at choosing their thoughts deliberately. And when they choose their thoughts, they inadvertently choose their lives. So, it’s no wonder that they feel more grounded and in control, because they ARE more grounded and in control.

If you’re being tossed around by life, you might want to watch this video, and then try to practice this today and EVERYDAY.

This is how you take back control over your life and ground yourself in your own power.

And do let me know about your experiences in the comments below.

Part 2: Mental Habits of Peaceful People

Peaceful people have a different relationship with their emotions than most of us do. Mainly, they don't cater to them. They understand that their emotions are fleeting — here one moment, gone the next. So, they weather their internal storms with a sense of wonder and even curiosity as they watch them pass.

If you want to be more peaceful like these peaceful people, see if you can start observing your emotions instead of getting sucked into them. Try to step outside of the emotion for a moment and just watch it.

What does it feel like? How does it feel inside your body? Where do you feel it? What is present when you experience these emotions?

The simple act of observation turns you into the observer instead of the emotion. And if you’re the observer, you’re not under the control of your emotion.

What do you think? Have you tried doing this yet?

Let me know about your experience in the comments below.

Part 1: Mental Habits of Peaceful People

Have you ever wondered what makes peaceful people so… peaceful?

In this 5-part video series, I share some of the mental habits peaceful people practice, so you too can incorporate these into your own life and find more internal peace.

On day one, I talk about how peaceful people see peace itself and those events that threaten their peace.

Those who have made it a habit to be unshaken by life’s ups and downs see peace as something that is innately part of who and what they are. And they see all those events that get in the way of their peace as temporary and fleeting inconveniences (even that might be too strong of a word) that will eventually disperse the way clouds might disperse after a rainstorm.

What do you think?

Do you see peace in this way? Or do you feel that peace is something outside of you that you need to attain through some type of effort?

Let me know in the comments below.

Are you sabotaging your success by not keeping your word?

Are you sabotaging your success by not keeping your word?

Last week, I read an interview with Dr. Michael Jensen, Chairman of Social Science Research Network (SSRN) that put me into a momentary internal tail spin.

You see, if you had asked me last week if I am a person of integrity, like most people I would have responded with a resounding YES! That is, if you had asked me this question before I read Dr. Jensen’s interview on the topic of integrity.

After all, as a spiritual teacher who has spent most of her adult life self employed, I’ve had to cultivate and demonstrate incredible amounts of commitment, compassion, dedication, perseverance, and more introspection than most people practice in a lifetime.

As I read Dr. Jensen’s interview, however, an alternate reality began to set in. None of those qualities meant anything in the book of integrity. A set of blinders I had never even noticed dropped away, and for the first time in my life, I came face to face with one of my greatest flaws: If I was perfectly honest, from a scale of one to ten, I ranked at best at a FIVE on the integrity scale.


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Can you win at life without being vulnerable?

Can you win at life without being vulnerable?

I might as well have been naked on stage. 

It was my turn to share a piece I wrote with my writer’s group, which consisted of more than 30 highly-skilled professionals, many of them published, lecturing, or script-doctoring for a living. And this in Los Angeles, where even your uber driver is one meeting away from becoming the next Stephen King, and it takes a whole process to find and be accepted into a group of active, working writers who meet regularly. 

I presented 25 pages of my latest thriller script, which I had temporarily titled “Untitled Femme Fatale,” or rather that’s what it was called in my head. 

On paper, however, written in big bold letters on the cover page that each of my 9 actors received, the title appeared as, “Untitled Femme Fatal.” A simple, yet potentially fatal mistake for anyone not comfortable with rolling with the punches. 

To make matters worse, I did not find out about this mistake on my own. It wasn’t until the table read of my script had commenced that I was alerted to it by my narrator. 

“Untitled Femme FATAL by Ellie Shoja,” my reader began, not without taking pleasure in milking the mistake. Three more times, I would hear the word “FATAL” instead of “fatale,” each time a small jab in my already bruised heart — how could I have not caught that? 

For a writer, this is as close as it gets to a nightmare scenario — to stand in front of a group of your peers and not only share something you’ve written in its beginning stages, but to also expose yourself as a potential fraud by showcasing your ignorance.

In those 45 minutes that it took to read and discuss my script, I clambered through all the familiar emotions that accompany extreme vulnerability: shame, weakness, betrayal, fear. 

But the story does not end here. 

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Why we are haunted by the beliefs we bury.

Why we are haunted by the beliefs we bury.

What if you held the belief that arguments and fights within a relationship are a sign of passion, because passionate people cannot contain their fire?

What if you simultaneously believed that in order to have a good and healthy relationship, you and your partner need to have open lines of communication where you discuss all things honestly, and make an effort to hear the other side without getting defensive?

How would you behave within a relationship if both of these beliefs were active within you at the same time?

Chances are you would find it difficult to feel fulfilled or at peace within your relationship.

You see, whenever you and your partner communicate with ease and listen to each other’s needs, you will most likely start feeling like the passion is draining out of your relationship. Without knowing why, you might pick a fight, in order to inject your relationship with passion. And once you are fighting, would you not feel that your relationship is falling apart because there is no more communication?

We hold conflicting and contradictory beliefs within ourselves all the time. We make something the object of our desire while we simultaneously define it to mean something terrible.

We strive for success at our business while believing things like, “Successful people are selfish and corrupt” and “It’s impossible to break into this industry.”

Then we take these conflicting beliefs and turn them into the foundation of our personalities by burying them into our blind spots.

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How fear shackles us and how we can break free.

How fear shackles us and how we can break free.

Our number one plague as humans is not death, it is the fear of death.

More precisely, it is fear itself.

We use fear to create and justify suffering, we use it as an excuse to inflict pain, we use it to barricade our hearts, our selves, our homes and our countries, and we use fear as a way to keep ourselves away from ever wanting, reaching for, or achieving that which we truly want.

While it is true that fear also has the power to save our lives, to help us think more quickly and efficiently when we’re under immediate threat, and even could help us trust our intuition in high-stake situations, still in our modern day existence, fear has become more of a liability than a blessing. In fact, fear, in many ways, has become the bane of our existence.

But what exactly is fear? Why does it exist? And how can we use it to improve our lives rather than ruin them?

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What is the one thing no one can live without?

What is the one thing no one can live without?

We spend most of our time on this planet focused on our differences.

This is well and good for the most part. After all, if we don’t, there is no reason for us to identify problems, which lead to solutions, or ask questions, which lead to answers. In other words, without our differences and without acknowledging them, we have no reason to create anything at all. So, it makes perfect sense that we evolve seeing what is NOT the same.

But as important as our differences are, and as much as they lead to our growth and evolution, I believe the amount of time we spend on them compared to the amount of time we spend feeling connected, satisfied, and unified is skewed. When we made our transitions into the lives we are living right now, I don’t think it was our intention to spend such disproportionate amount of time focused on problems, and so little time feeling satisfied by where we are.

Unfortunately, we are so used to focusing on what makes us different that we have forgotten that we are, at our core, the same. What unites us is far greater than what separates us.

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Is It Reckless to NOT Teach Spirituality in Schools?

Is It Reckless to NOT Teach Spirituality in Schools?

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak to a group of 11th graders about Paulo Coelho's deeply impactful book "The Alchemist." I was the expert on the internal world who would explain the many spiritual themes and ideas presented in this small yet profound book, and answer any questions that had come up for the students during the reading of it. 

The students were wonderful. They and their teacher asked poignant questions and listened intently. Later, I received a message from their teacher telling me that the insights I had shared had inspired lively dialogue after my departure. I felt elated. 

A few days later, I was sharing this experience with a friend who is the mother of two young children. She was shocked that a public high school had allowed for such spiritual dialogue to take place during school hours.

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Can forgiveness set you free?

Can forgiveness set you free?

Most people do not know what true forgiveness is, and so, most people are not able to take advantage of the vast benefits forgiveness offers. 

Forgiveness has the power to set us free. It changes the way we see hurtful events and dissolves the past so we can move forward without the weight of unforgiven events. 

Forgiveness is always for our own benefit first. Sometimes, people are unwilling or unable to forgive because they feel doing so will somehow invalidate their experiences. Or they feel if they forgave a hurtful act it would somehow make that event okay. There is nothing farther from the truth, however. Forgiveness doesn't change events, it only changes what those events mean to us. It heals our relationship with those events so we can review and learn from them without the emotional baggages that compromise our ability to see clearly.  

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Your thoughts made you sick. Can they make you well?

Your thoughts made you sick. Can they make you well?

Most people believe they shape their lives and their futures with their thoughts.

And yet, most of those same people have never written down what they would like to achieve in their lives, they believe their happiness is dependent on circumstances and events beyond their control, and they think their beliefs and emotional states don't have an impact on their health. 

In other word, most people, while intrinsically knowing the power of creation embedded within then, give this power away completely and choose to sleepwalk through life. 

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Are your dreams on the other side of Thank You?

Are your dreams on the other side of Thank You?

Gratitude is perhaps one of the most popular tools used by anyone in the business of wellbeing. Whether you're a life coach, a psychotherapist, a spiritual guide, or someone's best friend or parent, ignoring the powerful effects of gratitude in the guidance you provide can be borderline irresponsible.  

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful. But how can this simple act of giving thanks be so powerful? 

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Are false beliefs keeping you from living your life's purpose?

Are false beliefs keeping you from living your life's purpose?

What is our life's purpose? 
Why are we here?
Is there something we're supposed to do?
Is there one unique gift each of us is given? One unique purpose we're supposed to accomplish? One major test we need to pass?
Or is our purpose a moving target -- always evolving, always changing? 
How can we find our life's purpose? What do we look for it, and where? 
And if there is something we need to do, why does life get in our way?
Why does it often feel like we're swimming upstream?

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Is life some big test you have to pass?

Is life some big test you have to pass?

What is life? 

No, seriously. What is it? And why are we doing it? 

Sometimes -- well, maybe most of the time -- it may feel like life is nothing but a succession of obstacles strung together for the purpose of testing our endurance. Or perhaps, for the amusement of some celestial beings sitting far above, enjoying the ever-burning flame of our never-ending drama (not unlike our own love of reality television, I suppose).

When we do find brief pockets of relief, we often stumble into them almost by accident. Seldom, can we revel in our momentary joy without anticipation of its inevitable end. Phrases like, "waiting for the other shoe to drop" and "seems too good to be true" are sprinkled freely and frequently across every experience that does not feel like a test.

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