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FEATURE - September 2015

Living Proof

by Denise Palmisano, CHPC


“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”

~Dalai Lama


Life in the outer world appeared to be picture perfect. I was married, had a beautiful daughter, all the money I needed, great friends, a loving family and a beautiful home. I was also worn out, unhappy, resentful, depressed, lacking self-confidence and self-esteem. I no longer had the energy to pretend I was living the life of my dreams. My inner world was starving for connection, joy, freedom and confidence. I chose to confront my life exactly as it was and I told my truth. I was no longer willing to pretend it was okay to do what others needed and wanted me to do to make them happy.


I got involved with personal development workshops. I discovered I was not alone. I learned that while I couldn’t control every life situation, nor the people in them, I still had choices. I revealed several blind spots that were keeping me stuck. I had given up my authentic voice in exchange for the approval of others and the need to belong.


I felt peace in the knowing that it didn’t have to be this way. I learned about effective communication, authenticity, factoring my longings into the equation and having a plan to reach a desired outcome. I set out on a mission to re-invent myself, my relationships and my life. Happiness emerged the moment I took responsibility and started taking action.


“We grow because we struggle, we learn and overcome.”

~Robert C. Allen


Armed with a renewed sense of self, I expected the journey to be steadily moving forward in alignment with the life I envisioned. It was a brief high. The stark reality of not having many marketable skills or substantial work experience brought up issues that I had never faced before. Suddenly I was single, alone, working for minimum wage and living in low income housing. My teenage daughter was out of control and my friends and family had their own situations to manage. It was a very dark place even though I was the one that designed the interruption in my fairytale life.


Many nights of either crying or drinking myself to sleep, I felt defeated, scattered, afraid, broken and unclear about what to do next. In a matter of months I had traded one nightmare for another.


“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”

~Gail Devers


Nowhere else to turn, I continued to dive into personal growth workshops, books and groups. I had a hunger for anything that could offer me ideas, suggestions and education about how to turn things around. Those teachings spoke of acceptance, reinventing interpretations of situations, clarity of vision, creating a plan of action and following through on my commitments to myself. I had to put myself first.


I created vision boards, set goals, learned marketable skills and did the best I could at any given time. Over the next fifteen years there were more career changes, short term relationships and several moves that created the constant need to reinvent myself. It seemed as though change was constant and I was getting a lot of practice with my new tools and resources.


My health and finances were screaming for my attention. I was then diagnosed with Hepatitis C and back then, all available treatment was in the research and development stage. My insurance plan did not cover experimental drugs. I had just moved into a new house with a huge mortgage. Prior to the diagnosis, it was an affordable investment. The out of pocket financial burden took its toll. My friends rallied and donated to my medical expenses however it wasn’t enough to cover the year-long treatment plan. I missed a lot of work and in the end, I had to sell my house. The good news was, my body did respond to the treatments and no visible sustained activity was present. The bad news was I had accumulated enormous debt.


A bright spot in the process was that soon after my treatments were complete I became engaged. In preparation for the marriage and move out of state, I gave notice at work, got rid of my furniture and sold my car. The plan was unfolding. I had secured a job and had another car waiting for me.


Joy came to a screeching halt when my fiancee’ called off our wedding. That was one of the lowest points in my life. In my numbness, I picked myself up and started over.


 “A new way of thinking has become the necessary condition for responsible living and acting. If we maintain obsolete values and beliefs, a fragmented consciousness and self-centered spirit, we will continue to hold onto outdated goals and behaviors.”

~Dalai Lama


In 2005, additional personal and business loss with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The hits kept coming yet I met each situation with acceptance and self-trust. I had developed a connection so deep with my inner truth that I no longer feared what would come next.


I learned whether change comes into my life as imposed or designed, I am still at choice with how I respond to it. Today I am happy, healthy, successful, engaged and deeply connected to myself and others. I have everything I need within me to turn any situation around.


“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”

~Dalai Lama


I am living proof that you have the power to reinvent yourself moment by moment to create a life you love regardless of your life situations.


Evolving Magazine

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Denise empowers and inspires people to reclaim their authenticity, wholeness and potential moment by moment. Her motto is, “You Have

Everything You Need to Handle Whatever Comes Up”. Learn more about Denise and

her work at

or call (985) 860-8861.


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