Seek help as you set out to align with the present moment by de-cluttering your mind of those things that no longer serve you and pay attention to ideas born in your childlike imagination. For example, while anxiety is overwhelming, worry about the future- find ways to integrate the mind and body. So I would take Zumba or go to spinning classes where great music and dance helped me stay present in my body, simultaneously clearing my mind.
The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.
Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.
How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?
In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Meg Nocero.
Meg Nocero is a former federal immigration prosecutor who took a leap of faith to realize her dream to become a TEDx inspirational speaker, a leadership/success coach, and the award-winning author of The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss and Sparkle & Shine: 108 M.A.N.T.R.A.s to Brighten Your Day and Lighten Your Way and Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
As the middle child of three girls only a year and a half apart, I was raised in a wonderfully close, tight-knit Italian-American family. My parents instilled in us values based on a passion for learning, a strong faith, a solid work ethic, and a desire to be of service in this world. My mom made sure her girls knew that we could do anything that we put our minds to as long as we were ready to work hard towards our dreams. And all three of us earned professional degrees-two attorneys and a doctor. Even accomplishing so much as an adult, I never lost sight of my dream to become more creative as I shifted away from law to fulfill a career as an author and speaker. My parents told me that the sky was the limit, and I believed them. With a lot of perseverance and faith, I have continued to set goals and have never given up on aligning my passion to my purpose.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is from the late poet Mary Oliver, “Instructions for Living a Life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” It simply communicates the importance of consciousness on your journey to bliss. For many years, I felt like my life was at the mercy of external circumstances. When I started to understand the power of awareness, I understood the importance of intention while asking for what I desire, believe in possibilities, getting ready to receive. This shift in consciousness changed everything for me. It had me paying attention to the synchronicity, getting excited about the people I would get to meet, and creating a better life sharing my story of hope and transformation with others.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
I am a magical collaborator. I love to connect and collaborate with people who see the magical synchronicity in this world. I love Roald Dahl’s quote, “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in the magic will never find it.” It perfectly encompasses how I see the world- always looking for those somethings wonderful. And, I know that what you look for you will find every time. So I look for the happy ones who believe in and act from a place where magic and miracles come to life. In those collaborations, I come alive to the joy that is waiting.
I am stubborn and determined. When those around me tell me I can’t do something, I figure out a way to do it. If I want something bad enough, I do not give up. I do not let perceived failures stop me. Instead, I learn and move on.
And I am open and curious. The poet Rumi advised long ago, “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” So, to me, that means everything- not just the good. So, whatever happens in life, I get curious as I remain open to learning from whatever experience.
One of the best stories that embodied my magical collaboration, determination, and curiosity was when I met Oprah Winfrey on stage at the Life You Want Weekend in Miami, October 2014. It was the second day of the conference. Two days before the Miami event, I had a dream. In it, I
was sitting in the audience at the Oscars chatting with Steven Spielberg and his wife, Kate Capshaw. After a short time, I looked up and saw Oprah in the crowd coming my way. When she was about two feet away, she stopped, looked at me, then turned and walked off. I remembered wanting to scream, “Come Back! Why are you walking away?” I woke up in a panic, having to convince myself that it was not a premonition but only a dream. So, without ruminating
further, I let it go. Besides, for the entire month before, I had been visualizing that I would meet Oprah on stage in front of the whole crowd, and determined, I fixated only on that possibility.
At the Miami event, I was spotted by my friend Mari who somehow made her way down to the floor from the nosebleed section to find me. And, serendipitously, there was an open seat right next to me. At the end of the meditation, Oprah came into the audience to pick people to share how they felt on stage. Because I was sitting right in front of her path, Oprah was heading for me. She stood right in front of me, looked me in the eye, and smiled; I was bursting with excitement. Then, Oprah glanced at Mari sitting to my right, read her journal entry, smiled, said, “I like you,” grabbed Mari’s hand, and walked away. Initially upset, I got curious as I suddenly remembered my previous dream with Steven Spielberg and, coupled with Oprah’s message shared the night before about how she got her part in the movie The Color Purple. Oprah said she desperately wanted to play the character Sofia and worried that her “dream role” was slipping away. That was until her life whispered for her to trust and let it go. When she did, Spielberg called her that same evening, and she got the role. That was it. There are no mistakes in life. As soon as I let go of my fear of not meeting her, I, too, turned to possibility again. Not even minutes after I did, I heard Mari on stage say my name followed by Oprah asking, “Where’s Meg?” Then, Oprah invited me to join them. Again, our magical collaboration helped my
visualization unfold in real-time; I climbed up the stairs from the left, hugged Mari, and took my place center stage. A dream come true!
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?
Yes, in April of 2011, not only did I lose my mother to breast cancer, but I also lost my way. I retreated into my closet and did not want to come out and face a world without her. Finally, I showed up to my responsibilities at work and home, but I fell into a depression where I did not want to live anymore. It was a terrifying feeling. My kids were 2 and 8 years old when my mother passed away. I knew that I could not abandon them, but the sadness and disillusionment enveloped me.
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
As an empath, someone who can absorb another individual’s mental or emotional state, I am sensitive to the energies in this world. My mother grounded me when the world became too much. She was my safe place. However, when she died, I felt like my connection to my mentor/guide and unconditional love was cut off. As a result, I felt like I was left alone to navigate the confusing grieving process. Additionally, I burnt out from traveling back and forth from Miami to Orlando to help with her care while managing my own hectic family life, a full-time job as a federal immigration attorney, and raising young children.
The scariest thing for me was seeing her suffer and not being able to help her. And, I tend to be a hypochondriac; I started to believe that something terrible would happen to me too. I became very anxious, I began to experience panic attacks where my heart would start racing, and I felt like I would die.
How did you react in the short term?
Fear took over, and my overrun nervous system gave way to a ringing in my ears, tinnitus, that was maddening. I tried to numb out on most days; when I returned home from a full day at work and took care of my children, I retreated to my walk-in closet where I felt safe and just cried and cried because I did not know where to begin to move on without her.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use?
On the verge of what felt like a nervous breakdown, I chose to ask for help. I sought out the assistance of healers who practiced the following modalities: acupuncture, body talk, Cranio-sacral, E.M.D.R., Psych K, and restorative yoga and massage. Desperate to find something that worked, I was on a mission to save myself.
Before my mother died, she shared two bits of wisdom: stress will kill you, and you have no regrets at the end of your days. So, first, I knew that tinnitus worsened by stress, so I had to figure out ways to reduce the tension in my life. Next, I sought out the best healing tools for me to navigate the grieving process. Then, when I felt a sense of equilibrium again, I started questioning how to align my passion to purpose better. Eventually, I decided to find a coach to help me take a leap of faith, exploring a new career path as an educator, writer, speaker, and coach with no regrets.
I have always had a journaling practice — using writing as a tool to work out so much. So I looked for a way to navigate the grieving process and started to write as a healing tool. I started simply. I would wake in the morning and read from a book that resonated with me. When a quote or a passage spoke to me, I grabbed my journal and channeled at least three pages of longhand about what I felt my mother would want to communicate to me about it. One day led to the next, and this routine led me to complete my guide that I would later call The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss. I intended to empower myself to figure out how to will myself back to life, step into the unknown, and wake up to life again. In addition to allowing me to feel connected to my mom, it helped me muster the courage to make a career change after 20 years as a federal prosecutor. The writing was the first step towards what helped me trust my transformation; it was my cocoon, a safe place to strengthen my budding wings so that I could imagine metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly.
Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?
When I was moving through grief, I promised that I would share the vulnerability of my story in service to others when I healed. I held tight to the metamorphosis of the butterfly and the lighthouse as inspiration on the way to bliss. Choosing to never give up on me, I looked for the positives along the way. Committed to face my fears, I did the hard things that surround transformation. In the end, I ended up embracing my inner beauty — not needing approval or permission from others to be here. Now, I want other people to know that there is always light, even in the darkness and that they are more than enough, just as they are. Shifting what happened to me as a catalyst for positive change, I learned to reframe my situation, asking what it was trying to teach me.
Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?
I would tell myself that each day was a new day. And, with it came opportunities to heal and do better. I embraced a “progress, not perfection” mindset. I did my best to celebrate my accomplishments-big and small. I recognized that the small incremental changes I made consistently would prove beneficial in moving me forward. And, I looked for ways to bring more joy into my days and appreciated my blessings.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?
Looking to the expert storytellers, I embraced the books written by the mystical Paulo Coelho to help me navigate the grieving process. I am grateful for his book The Pilgrimage for leading me to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. While I would never describe myself as a hiker, reading about all the spiritual signs Coelho encountered on his pilgrimage, his journey to the sacred place where St. James was buried with Petrus as his guide, I too wanted to go on that kind of journey. I was curious as to what lessons I would learn along the way. As the story in his book unfolded, I felt like I was peeking into a crystal ball, looking at a possible future event that was waiting for me. I even googled the history behind El Camino and saw for the first time a picture of the lighthouse at the end of the journey at Finisterre; it was the same lighthouse I’d seen in the vision that I received sitting with my mother right before she died. So happening upon Coelho’s work was a good omen for me. As I better navigated through grief, I felt the same as Coelho did at the beginning of his travels: “This immensity made me very anxious; it created a terrible fear that I would not be able to succeed — that I was too small for this task.” But in the end, knowing he did succeed, I had hope that I would too.
And, embarking on the spiritual pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain in April of 2018 to get to the lighthouse at Cap Finisterre, I set out to wake up and live again. It will always remain one of the most important journeys that I have taken in my life. I faced my fears to discover the light at the end of the way, knowing that all would be well as long as I didn’t give up.
Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?
Yes. There is a quote by Carl Jung that I love. It goes as follows: “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Simply put, to truly become “Meg” means to let go of my need to seek approval from others for my value or worth. I know a divine source loves me and put me here on this Earth for a reason. So, when I began this journey towards healing from loss, I knew that it is my job to pay attention to what makes me come alive and do more of that. And, to be alive means to have incredible experiences. Then, I get to forgive and be forgiven, love and be loved, cry, get angry, dance, sing, and experience all the emotions life has to offer, but most of all, embrace the possibilities each day as they unfold. And, that ultimately is where peace lies and a freedom that is like no other.
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example?
I am stronger than I thought I was. While I still experience dark times, especially after the pandemic year, the evidence shows that I can push through. I am still working to overcome pain to varying degrees. I don’t think that pain in life ever ends; my father has said that is the price we pay to be human. However, the key, I believe, is not to unpack and stay there. The root of the word emotion is e-motere, to move through. With all feelings that arise from different circumstances, instead of pushing them down or ignoring them, it is imperative to feel what you feel and trust the process of life to learn thoroughly. On the other side of the coin, this is a welcome bit of advice when you feel joy or happiness, truly embrace that and feel every bit of the good stuff as you can as well. We are here to enjoy the process too!
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Seek help as you set out to align with the present moment by de-cluttering your mind of those things that no longer serve you and pay attention to ideas born in your childlike imagination. For example, while anxiety is overwhelming, worry about the future- find ways to integrate the mind and body. So I would take Zumba or go to spinning classes where great music and dance helped me stay present in my body, simultaneously clearing my mind.
2. Get in touch with your dreams so that you can visualize all that is possible for your life. There, start anew to live from a place of consciousness where magic and miracles reside. I loved to get creative. I would grab magazines that would inspire me and make decorative vision boards that highlight dreams and goals.
3. Breathe deeply again and slow down the pace a little bit. I fell in love with acupuncture as a healing modality that helped calm down my anxiety and allowed me to focus on taking deep breaths. After spending an hour with the needles placed at various points, I felt relaxed and renewed.
4. Look for a community — those helpers who are your angels ready and willing to help. I sought groups where I could get intentional, taking in all that life has to offer one day at a time. I joined author cohorts, ran monthly mastermind groups, and volunteered to serve others.
5. Start to tell a new story as you wake up and begin to rejoice in something extraordinary that is always about to happen. You get to create a better narrative for your life this once around-start writing. When I am struggling, I sit down and set out what I want to happen as if it has already come to pass. It is very empowering.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
By introducing these five things above, I was inspired to start a movement where I could empower others to come alive to their dreams to make positive differences in our small corner of this world and have a ripple effect on others, one person, at a time.
In 2015, I founded S.H.I.N.E. Networking Inc.Spirit Hope Insight Networking is a 501(c)3 non-profit that hosts networking events and provides educational scholarships to support and benefit young innovative, creative leaders who make a difference locally and beyond. We gather a community to raise the energy and positive vibration through incredible speakers and opportunities to network with movers and shakers. Our non-profit also has set up an educational scholarship to benefit young innovative leaders who have made a difference in our community through acts of inspired service. Our first SHINE ambassadors were Coral Reef High School students Anna Patricios and Carlos Talavera, who raised money through the Rainbow Connection revue to benefit and support homeless L.G.B.T. teens. In 2017, we chose Miami Children’s Theater to receive a grant. This organization has proven effective in raising the confidence of our next generation to go on and become inspirational leaders out in the world. Their students performed for us in October to showcase their unique talents. In 2019, we chose Sawyer Garrity and Andrea Pena, two of the M.S.D. Parkland survivors who have shifted their pain into healing through the arts with their non-profit. In 2020, facing pandemic restrictions, S.H.I.N.E. Networking Inc. chose 12 exceptional high school Seniors from the Overtown Optimist Club and presented them with 12 laptops to complement our vision; no student should be left behind during virtual learning.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, V.C. funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Oprah. I would want to thank her for her words of inspiration over the years when I needed to hear them most.
Listening to Oprah’s speech at the Elie Wiesel Foundation Gala, I started to ask myself the questions that she posed so eloquently: “Dear God, how do I fulfill my potential here on Earth? Dear God, how can I be used in service to that which is greater than myself? Dear God, am I on the right path?” Then, on stage with Oprah in Miami, she encouraged me to live the life I wanted. She challenged me, saying, “I want you to open up your heart space and be able to dream for yourself.” She inspired me to show up in my life authentically and unapologetically.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Manifesting with Meg: Conversations with Extraordinary People.
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCati3jiHnBi5ym6z8Pcu5iQ
Anchor Podcast: https://anchor.fm/meg-nocero
Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/meg-nocero-esq-686b8715
My three books The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss and Sparkle & Shine: 108 M.A.N.T.R.A.s to Brighten Your Day and Lighten Your Way and Butterfly Awakens: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief are available on Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!