Soul Food

How to Use Struggle as a Catalyst for a Big Change

Holidays can be some of the greatest times of year full of family, friends, and connection, but for many, they can also be the hardest.


I know the feeling. I lost my mom a few years ago, and I still miss her every day, especially during the holidays.


But at the same time, I recognize my mom’s passing was the catalyst for one of the biggest changes I ever made in my life.


I ended up rebooting my entire life. I dove deep into my own self-love and wellness during this dark time and ultimately decided to dedicate my life to helping others do the same. I became an entrepreneur.


Instead of being a victim to this difficult moment, I used it to spark a huge, lasting change in my life. But how??


I found a way to be grateful even during the hard times.


As Thanksgiving approached last week, someone asked me….”I don’t get it, you lost your mom. How did you manage to be grateful for something that caused you so much pain?”


My mom’s passing was one of the most challenging moments of my life. During this time and following her passing, I was a wreck. I had no idea how to move forward. It was very hard to find motivation.


But then I thought about how my mom handled her illness. I thought about her “F you cancer” attitude ever since the first day of treatment.


And her “we won’t give up, we will never stop fighting” calm spirit she had when the doctors told us, Mother’s Day weekend, that she wasn’t going to make it. We laid in bed & cried together. Unsure if what we had just heard was really true. I then called our loved ones to tell them the news. That we were coming home. Meanwhile, my mom sat in her hospital bed, on her computer researching, looking for another way.  She was in the care of one of the best cancer research teams in the country who had just told her there is nothing more they can do… & here she was — my resilient, brave mother — googling ways to cure herself.


When I was struggling the most I knew I needed to find motivation, and I did so by being grateful for my mom and the example she set for me.


I knew my mom would not want me to live like I was living. I completely lost myself and let myself go for a period of time after she died. However, even before her illness, I had a job that didn’t make me happy, but I was complacent.


I knew I needed to make a big change, and I was grateful I could look at my mom’s courage to garner courage of my own.


I starting FINALLY taking care of myself. I became a certified personal trainer. I began helping others become healthier from the inside out, and it LIT ME UP. Soon after, I decided to leave my unfulfilling job to become a full time entrepreneur.


The toughest time in my life became the catalyst for me to make the biggest and best change I ever could of asked for, all because I found a way to be grateful.


Gratitude is the secret sauce that allows you to turn moments of struggle into success. It’s what gets me through the process of healing from my mom’s loss (an ongoing process), and it’s what allows me to create success in all other areas of my life too, regardless of the circumstances.


Remember, there IS ALWAYS something to be grateful for.


xo, Sierra


I’ve never shared this photo with anyone. I know some people may look at that photo & see weakness. They may see a dying woman who only has 26 days left to live. But all I see is my beautiful mother, in the most powerful moment of her life.

THAT is why I am grateful. THAT is why I keep fighting….


Click image below to read more about how I found gratitude after her death…

Sierra Nielsen Finding Gratitude during struggle

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