GAR 94 | Self Imposed Obstacles


Elena Sonnino is a life coach, a motivational speaker, a yin yoga teacher, and the author of Inhabit Your Joy: A Book of Nudges, which nudges us to get rooted, get curious, and get alive. Elena blends her personal experiences as a cancer survivor and a teacher leader to inspire people to remove self-imposed obstacles and explore the unexpected with more curiosity, more willingness, and less judgment. Rancho La Puerta Wellness Resort and Spa, Four Seasons Hotel in Washington DC, Tiny Buddha Productions, and the Chopra Center featured her works.



  • What inspired Elena to become a life coach 
  • How Elena coaches people to transform their walls of survival into doors of possibilities 
  • Brain dump – mental and emotional decluttering  
  • Why developing a curious mindset is better than trying to fix our lives 
  • Self-nourishment using delight and curiosity 
  • Finding the “sunrise in your pocket” 



  • What does it mean to inhabit your joy?  
  • In what ways did cancer and yoga teach you to see your body as an ally instead of an enemy? 
  • Why is sending our energy hygiene an important way to say yes to ourselves? 
  • What does gratitude have to do with the sense of being alive? 

    Listen to the podcast here


    Elena Sonnino: Are You Ready To Be A Magic Maker In Your Life By Turning The Walls Of Should And Judgment Into Doorways Of Hope and Possibility?






    I’m delighted to welcome Elena Sonnino, who is a life coach, a motivational speaker, a yin yoga teacher, and the author of Inhabit Your Joy: A Book of Nudges. Elena will be speaking to us from Aldie, Virginia. Elena blends her personal experiences as a cancer survivor and a teacher-leader to inspire people to remove self-imposed obstacles and explore the unexpected with more curiosity, more willingness, and less judgment.

    Her work has been featured by Rancho La Puerta Wellness Resort and Spa, Four Seasons Hotel in Washington DC, Tiny Buddha Productions, and the Chopra Center. I’m looking forward to talking with Elena about how cancer and then yoga taught her to see her body as an ally instead of an enemy, the clarity that came to her when she was on a paraglider over Jackson Hole, Wyoming, her personal mission to help people transform the walls of survival mode into doors of possibility, and her book, Inhabit Your Joy: A Book of Nudges, which nudges us to get rooted, get curious, and get alive. This is surely going to be a motivating and wise interview. Hi, Elena.

    GAR 94 | Self Imposed Obstacles

    Inhabit Your Joy: A Book of Nudges

    Irene, I’m so delighted to be here.

    Thank you. This is going to be so interesting and so much fun. Let’s start with my first question for you. What was your life like before you decided to become a life coach?

    I was living my ideal life in a way, Irene. I had always dreamed of being an elementary school teacher, and that’s what I was doing. I moved from teaching to writing full-time. I was in a place of going through the motions. On the one hand, I’d had these dreams and I had achieved them, moving day after day and realizing that things had gotten a little bit stagnant, perhaps.

    I’ve always been an adventurer, and curiosity is my number one core value. In many ways, I was living my best life until I realized that perhaps there was more, and there was a different way for me to connect to who I was and the elements that I was always doing as a classroom teacher and as a writer of inviting people into their own journeys. I was doing that in different ways.

    What inspired you to become a life coach?

    When I decided to become a life coach, I had thought about it before. I was newly remarried. I had been a teacher for twelve years. I had left teaching to do this writing. My husband’s an engineer. We have spreadsheets for everything. Coaching kept coming up. In fact, I had been trained as a coach originally to work with my staff as a teacher, to work with struggling teachers, new teachers, and parents. I loved asking great questions and helping people find their own clarity.

    Do you remember the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? You could phone a friend when you didn’t know an answer. It was before cell phones were a thing in schools. My students, when they didn’t know an answer, they had to hold the pretend phone with their hands and phone somebody in the classroom, and another student would give them the answer, but then the original student would have to give it back to me in their own words.

    As I kept being nudged into coaching, hearing about it, and realizing that perhaps this was the thing that I was meant to do, everything had been leading to this opportunity to ask great questions and help people find their own answers, which has been that idea of us having our own inner wisdom and being the thing we’ve been waiting for is what I’m rooted in. It was many things.

    I ended up being asked by an energy healer and massage therapist, “Have you ever thought about being a life coach? Have you ever thought of life coaching?” I said, “As in for me or for me?” She said, “No, for you to be.” I had, but it was that nudge from her to help the pieces come together to give me the audaciousness perhaps to go to my husband and say, “I’m going to do this thing, and let’s put the spreadsheets away.”

    He loved you so much. He said, “Honey, go for it.”

    He did it in his own way. He still loves his spreadsheets. I have had many a coaching conversation with him about scarcity and what it means to live in fear. He always does allow me to be curious and knows that if he doesn’t, it stagnates me. It’s much better to allow me to explore.

    You’re living a balance. He gets to have his spreadsheets and you get to do your thing.

    There’s knowledge and empowerment in knowing how to use a spreadsheet and what the numbers are.

    We need those people. You had an experience where a doctor invited you to inhabit your joy when you found out you were pregnant. Do you want to tell us about that and what did that mean to you to inhabit your joy?

    At that moment, I’ll never forget it, it was a morning. I was in the classroom, getting my classroom ready, and I received this call, “Please call your doctor.” I did. He says to me that I was pregnant and I burst into sobbing tears. The reason that I was seeing that particular doctor who was a fertility specialist was that I had spent eighteen months as a patient undergoing treatment for Hodgkin’s disease.

    I had a bone marrow transplant, my own cells. it was autologous. This was many years ago. Transplants have come such a long way since then. At the time, the knowing for sure certainty was that I would never viably be able to get pregnant on my own. In fact, at that age, I was 28 or 29. I had not been able to. We were going down the road of a donor egg, and they were putting my body through the pieces. We had picked out our donor egg. I was weeks away from receiving this egg. When the doctor’s news came, I was devastated because for me to be able to have produced something like this, I had been told it would never be viable. I was overcome with fear and unfairness.

    You were afraid that the baby would never be born.

    I was being given this opportunity to have it taken away. Part of what had happened was when I was diagnosed, I was on top of the world. I had gotten newly engaged to a different man, and life was good until it wasn’t. The other shoe was always dropping at that time in my life, or that’s how it felt. This doctor offered me this phrase. He let me cry, thankfully, and then he said, “You can choose to grieve or you can choose to celebrate until the day you can’t.”

    You can choose to grieve, or you can choose to celebrate until the day you can't. Share on X

    He knew that you were going to miscarry.

    The possibility was that I could miscarry, something would happen to this embryo, and it wouldn’t be viable. He offered me this choice to essentially inhabit joy even in uncertainty, to celebrate, to be so present at the moment, and not be stuck in overthinking and fear. When he offered me this choice, it was instantaneous. I was like, “Option B, please.” I knew the answer right away. I went all in with my whole heart. That afternoon, before I went home, I went to CVS, the pharmacy. I bought a pregnancy test because I needed to see it with my own eyes. I also bought a journal to start writing letters to this unborn grain of rice at the time.

    You had this amazing miracle. You had your own child and the whole thing.

    That, to me, is what inhabiting your joy means. It’s going all in, even when we have no idea what the outcome’s going to be. It’s giving ourselves permission to feel the ups and downs. You and I were talking before we started the interview. Life is not rainbows and unicorns or pixie dust outside our windows all the time. It’s this opportunity to choose to be with what lights us up, to be with the possibilities. That was the moment that the doctor gave me this incredible gift by stating it to me so clearly, “Grieve or celebrate until the day you can’t.” I’ve never forgotten this one.

    Was it a he or a she?

    It was a he.

    He was wise because a lot of doctors don’t have this bedside manner. They don’t have this wisdom, and they’re black and white about everything.

    It was unbelievable.

    Have you let him know how much that meant to you? He’s a man. Also, for me, and feel free to disagree with me, a lot of people see life as either/or. They don’t realize that you can have joy and sadness at the same time.

    It is the magic of the and. I agree with you. The and is such powerful that we tend to think that one excludes the other, and it doesn’t.

    It is like something awful is happening and I can’t let myself be happy because this other thing is going on, but you can experience both.

    That’s the practice of giving yourself, and it is a choice. It takes effort and work to be able to see and feel both. It is not a light switch that you put on once and you’re done. It’s choosing the and. That perhaps is the crux of inhabiting your joy, of being in it so fully no matter what’s happening around you. It doesn’t always have to look the same. It was a gift that the doctor gave me.

    GAR 94 | Self Imposed Obstacles

    Self Imposed Obstacles: To become happy and sad simultaneously is a choice. It takes effort and works to see and feel both.

    What a gift you ended up having with your daughter.

    My daughter, Samantha, is a gift, even on the days when there are mother-daughter things, but I’m lucky.

    Elena, in what ways did cancer and then yoga teaches you to see your body as an ally instead of an enemy? That’s another amazing concept.

    This was the piece. I had a bone marrow transplant, and the cells that were transplanted back into me were mine. My body healed me. I didn’t see it at the time. I was 23, turning 24. I did not have the clarity or wisdom to put that thing happened.

    You were so young.

    I then turned 30, not supposed to be able to have my own child. I’m supposed to need help. The magic happens again. My body creates this creature, this being who then was born and cultivated inside me. Over and over again, that has been the lesson that I have gotten to keep learning that when I am out of trust with my body, I am not in alignment. When I see my body as my ally on this journey, on this path, that’s where I step into thriving, where I show up as my best self.

    I’ve learned it through yoga. Yoga is a perfect example because, in so many of the different physical asana shapes, your body is different from right to left, from morning to evening. We get to practice acceptance and compassion. That’s when we are in allyship with our body versus the fixing and the force of trying to make something.

    I hear that. It has a little bit to do with also acceptance of your body for what it is and who you are also.

    I’m from Venice, Italy. I adore my mom. I remember there were times when she’d look at me and say, “You’re coming to the gym with me,” or whatever it was. We spent a lot of time in opposition with our bodies, thinking that it needs to be fixed, thinking that we’re broken, and thinking that something isn’t good enough.

    It could be prettier. It could be this.

    Both my cancer and my yoga practice and these life experiences have helped me see. I’m a real person and I still have moments where I’m not an allyship with my body, but it’s what I have and what I get to come back to. When I realize that if I’m not my own best friend and treat my body as such, I’m not going to create the healing. I’m not open to healing at that point. Seeing it as the vehicle for being in the world helps me heal on a day-to-day basis.

    Could you describe for us that inspiring clarity that came to you when you were on a paraglider over Jackson Hole? First of all, it sounds like a lot of fun. Being on a paraglider over Jackson Hole, Wyoming must have been beautiful. What was that inspiring moment that came to you at that time?

    At that time, we were in Jackson Hole for a half marathon. I was not there to paraglide and I had no idea what paragliding was. The first thing that we saw on our first morning in Jackson Hole, I remember having breakfast looking out instead of looking at the Grand Tetons, all I could notice were these beautifully colored things flying down from the sky.

    Were you there to ski or to visit?

    It was early June. We were there to run a half marathon. We had gotten in a few days early to acclimate to the elevation before running. My husband and I were having breakfast, and I see these paragliders coming down. I became fascinated with them and then realized what they were, and then inquired, “How can I do that too?”

    This was the experience that, to me, all the puzzle pieces came together. Eventually when I did get to fly, several days later, we run off the mountain and I’m with the pilot. I’m there and taking it all in. You’re soaring above the village. You’re at eye level with the birds. There is this vastness and this sense of expansive freedom. The pilot says to me, “It’s your turn to steer.” I said, “I don’t know that that’s such a great idea.”

    What he said to me was that all that needed to happen was that I needed to turn a finger super slowly, and that’s what would help us change direction. This is subtle, no big movements because big movements are not good apparently when paragliding. You’re going to not be with the wind. It was this subtle movement.

    This realization came to me that so often, we think that to transform our lives, we need to blow things up or turn 180 degrees. It’s those subtle shifts that, over time, move us in the direction that we want to go or that we’re meant to go. Between taking off and then landing my feet on the ground in the village, everything had come together. That was the weekend that cemented my questioning, “Would I go into life coaching?” It all came together. I could help people experience this to create their own small shifts.

    Small shifts are inch by inch, and those are your nudges. Let’s talk about your personal mission to help people transform the walls of survival mode into those doors of possibility. Describe how you coach people through those nudges.

    I mentioned that I was a cancer survivor, and for those eighteen months, I was focused solely on survival. I realized that there had to be something more because when I was so focused on survival, I was numb to everything else. I moved from thinking that survival was the only thing to moving to breaking down walls and finding these doors of possibility, new chapters, or whatever it is we want to call them but thriving at the moment into this aliveness.

    Thrive at the moment into this aliveness. Share on X

    When I do that with the amazing clients that I have, we start from this perspective. I was introduced to a mantra when I was in Costa Rica. “The more grounded you are, the higher you can fly.” That put all of my experiences together because, in all the work that I’ve done, it’s always been, “Let’s start with the foundation with your roots. Who are you? What makes you, you? What is unique to you? What are those limiting beliefs that have somehow become the bricks that aren’t supposed to be in the soil?” We built a house years ago, and when we’re doing work in the yard, we still find concrete that is there that shouldn’t be there.

    It’s this idea of what is in your foundation. We start there. What makes you, you? We then begin to think about, “What could you be curious about? What new doors might you even begin to name?” Part of what gets in our way is that we say we are not sure of what we want, of who we are, of all of these pieces. Let’s pretend that we did know and start getting curious about that. We move into embodying or inhabiting this version of ourselves. How do we begin to show up as that version of ourselves every single day?

    One of my favorite things to do with my clients comes from my work as a third-grade teacher, when I taught my students about Greek mathematicians. We created these large stick figures, and they had to read about these Greek mathematicians, and then teach these mathematicians to the rest of the class. I had them create these large stick figures on big paper about all the different parts of their lives.

    I remember I was getting ready to lead a workshop at Rancho La Puerta in Mexico and realized I could put these things together. Now I use this truest self stick figure that I created to think about, “What’s in your roots? What are you lifted by? What are the things that this version of you sees and says? What are the resources and practices that you use? What are the to-dos that you do on a daily basis? What do you love? What is your why and your inner fire?” It puts all of this together and gives people their own personal definition of how to thrive on a day-to-day basis.

    You answered another question, but I want to ask you about it. When you nudge people to get rooted, get curious, and get alive and what it means to get rooted and what you’re talking about, do people sometimes need to revise a little bit the way they have been rooted? Sometimes those roots have been fed by some dysfunction. They’re not on completely solid roots as they’re trying to fly.

    I often talk about, “What are your truths versus the truths that you’ve subscribed to from somebody else?” for whatever reason. Sometimes some of those truths have served us until they don’t anymore. It becomes this opportunity. One of the things that I do on a regular basis is this idea of excavating or unearthing. What’s in my foundation? Does anything need to be shored up or restrengthened?

    A client once said to me that this work helped her feel like a redwood tree. I said, “Say more.” She said, “I can be jostled, but unmoved.” It was this idea of being rooted. I have since learned, and I don’t know if you know this. I did not know that redwood trees do not have deep roots. They have shallow roots that are all interconnected. For a long time, I went around saying, “Deep roots.” Somebody sciencey said to me, “That’s not accurate.” I went, “Okay,” but I also love the idea of the interconnectedness of our roots. The things that make us are not one thing over here and another. They’re not isolated. They are interconnected.

    Another thing I want to ask you is what you talk about in your book, which I truly enjoyed, about a brain dump and how that can be helpful in full and grounding us. Do you want to explain that to us?

    I started adopting a brain dump based on the work of Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, where she talks about the morning pages as a way to cultivate creativity. I recognized that as I was doing that on a regular basis, I was also decluttering my brain. I was taking all the stuff that’s in there that a lot of us would like to ignore, shove away, pretend, or judge.

    Instead, if I could allow whatever’s in my brain to exist, even for a moment for enough time for it to go on paper, then suddenly I had space. It was mental and emotional decluttering. To me, a brain dump has become one of my go-to practices to give myself permission to be present. Part of what keeps us from being present is this idea of everything that’s in the past, all of the drama.

    Do you often write it down to expel it, or do you have different methods?

    I’m writing it down. I only have two rules. A brain dump has to be written, and there’s no censoring of yourself as you write it. If you’re censoring, then you’re in your brain. You’re thinking about it. True confession, I am an Olympic-level overthinker and catastrophizer. A brain dump is real for me. I do it almost every day. It could be 5 minutes, 2 minutes, or 30 minutes. It’s the idea of taking whatever’s there and putting it on paper so that you don’t have to hold onto it quite so tightly anymore. That helps us be present.

    It makes you more aware of what you’re realizing too. Tell me about energy hygiene and why is sending our energy hygiene an important way to say yes to ourselves.

    Do you perhaps remember the book, Harold and the Purple Crayon? It’s an old school picture book where this young boy, Harold, had a purple crayon and he drew these scenes that then he would step into. I love this idea of creating space for us, saying yes to you. What I’ve found is that we give our energy away a lot. When we show up with our families out in the world, we take on other people’s energy. We become what other people want of us, and we stop saying yes to ourselves, to our needs, to our desires, to our wants, and all of these things.

    Energy hygiene is the idea of almost creating this energetic boundary to keep what matters inside. We think about boundaries often as the things we want to keep out, and that’s true too. I often think about when we tend to our energy hygiene, we are insulating ourselves with what it is we want to keep in. I have a few different ways, and I always give people a choice because it’s about making work for you. You can pretend you have a gold or a purple crayon, and imagine drawing a boundary around your entire body, so it moves with you. That’s one way.

    When we tend to our energy hygiene, we are insulating ourselves with what we want to keep in. Share on X

    The other, because I love to be a child, apparently, is imagining that you’re blowing a big bubble. Not the little ones where you get the little sets, but imagine that you have a big bubble wand, and you can blow a bubble that is big enough to fit around you. It walks with you. What I love about that is that it’s fluid. It bends a little bit, it pushes out sometimes, and sometimes it bursts. We get to blow the bubble again. We get to choose. To me, this energy hygiene is tending to what you want to create space for. When you do that, you are saying yes to yourself.

    Why do you suggest we replace trying to improve or fix our lives with a curious mindset? That’s interesting because a lot of people go to therapy and go to different things to supposedly fix themselves.

    That’s trouble with fixing. There are certain things that need to be fixed in the world. If you’re bleeding, please put on a Band-Aid.

    Internally, physically, or whatever.

    Often, we go into this mindset, to this place in our brain and in ourselves that believes that we’re not enough. We have to be fixed. We’re broken. Sometimes that feels true, yet when we are in that place, it’s hard to see the possibility. My sense is that when they’re in that fixing place, all of these solutions we come up with are temporary. They’re the short fix versus the long-term transformation that we’re craving.

    When we lead with less judgment, more curiosity, and wondering what could be possible, that’s where I’ve seen both with myself and with the clients that I work with, creating the possibilities and the steps to move forward rather than staying in that quick stand of the fixing. It’s this idea of offering yourself self-compassion, acceptance, and noticing. I think about it oftentimes in yoga. Any time that you ever feel an ache in your body because we do and our body likes to talk to us, we tend to label it as, “I’m tight. I must have done this. I did something wrong.” This was the first access point.

    GAR 94 | Self Imposed Obstacles

    Self Imposed Obstacles: The long-term transformation we’re craving occurs when we lead with less judgment, more curiosity, and wondering what could be possible.

    Do I hear a little judgment? “I must have done something wrong.”

    What if we could see those sensations as benevolent messengers saying, “You’re alive. Here’s what I want you to know. Maybe I need a little bit of nurturing or nourishment versus this thing that has to be fixed.” It goes back to seeing the body as an ally, for instance. It isn’t a bad example.

    What does our inner landscape have to do with being curious about aspects of our lives? How do you personally self-nourish using delight and curiosity?

    When we’re gardening outside, before we plant seeds, bulbs, or anything, we have to nourish the soil first. We have to make sure the soil is good. We have to take out the weeds, the rocks, or whatever it is. Our inner landscape is the same way. It’s this idea of how we can tend to it. Are there mindsets, beliefs, or patterns that perhaps we’ve gotten stuck with, that have become clutter, that have become the weeds? I don’t know about you. I’ve become a gardener in the last few years, and it is amazing to me how quickly weeds grow. I’ll go out and spend an hour in my garden one day and, two days later, I’m like, “This is exactly where I was.”

    I’ve experienced that.

    It’s the same thing. Could we tend to our inner landscape, the messages of our heart, our breath, our body, the wisdom, the intuition that’s inside with curiosity versus force, judgment, or fixing? It’s this, “I wonder what will happen if I remove this weed.” I’ve started now to see weeds as growth. I’m going to see it as an opportunity to pay attention.

    For me, self-nourishment is breathwork. The things that help me self-nourish are coming in, noticing my heartbeat. It doesn’t even matter. It could be 2, 5, or 30 minutes, but one hand over my heart, another over my belly and breathing, and becoming aware of my heartbeat. That’s the first way that I tend to my inner landscape every day. I remind myself of the fact that I’m alive and breathing, and I have this ability to be my own inner wellspring. I then can ask myself a question like, “What is the message of my heart? What do I need to know?” It comes with the curiosity of allowing things to emerge.

    It’s almost like you embrace yourself every day. It’s overall self-love. What does gratitude have to do with the sense of being alive? That would be my favorite subject.

    I see gratitude as nourishment or fuel. When we are filled up with things that we are grateful for, it’s like when we plug in our phones to be charged. It’s our internal charging system that then helps us be alive in our life. It helps us embrace being in the moment and open to what’s here. It’s harder to do that when we feel depleted. I find that gratitude is that thing that helps us fill up on a daily basis.

    My first gratitude practice was a breath practice to help me go to sleep years ago. I remember learning about sleep routines and different things. At bedtime, I would take six breaths and, with each breath, I had to think of one thing I was grateful for. It could be anything. It could be the sun shining that day or the fact that my husband had gone to the grocery store. It filled me up. Over the years, my practices have changed, but it’s this idea of allowing your heart to be filled and expand that then sets us up to not be as reactive, to be more present, and to be more open to receiving whatever it is that might be there for us.

    I resonate with that. Elena, what is the determination with that expectation? That’s another one of your concepts.

    I’ll turn the question to you. Have you ever set a goal and been particularly grippy or forceful about what it had to look like when you got there?

    Sure, but then you realize, “What control do I have?” You have to go with that.

    This is something that I’ve realized over the years. Expectations are my kryptonite, and my antidote is curiosity. This phrase, determination without expectation, was given to me by a young surf instructor in Panama. I decided I wanted to learn to surf. I had this revelation when I was traveling with my husband and saw this group of kids taking surf lessons. This young girl with long brown hair and a blue rash guard was coming out of the water. The expression on her face was pride and joy like I had never seen. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “I want to feel like that.” He was like, “What?” It was a little bit like the paragliding. He said to me, “You’re bananas.” I said, “I want to look like that.”

    You’re very adventurous.

    I am. The expectation then sets in. I found a surf retreat. I was going to go. I went, but I had, in my mind, what surfing looked like. It looked like standing on a surfboard, arms out, that expression. We go out on the first day, and I don’t look like that at any stretch of the imagination. I pretty much stay on my belly or on my knees the whole time on the surfboard. Afterward, I was in tears. I also cry a lot apparently. The surf instructor and I started chatting later, and he said, “What would happen if you went out there with determination? You’re going to show up, go all in instead of expectation.” I said, “That would be interesting.” He said, “What might you notice?”

    When I had no idea what I would notice, he said, “Did you pay attention to the fact that you’re an amazing paddler?” Every time I would not catch the wave or catch the wave, but not standing and then have to go back out, I was a good paddler. I was indeed catching the energy of the water and moving with it, just not upright. Determination without expectation helps you be present with what’s there. We come back to this being present without being so bogged down by what it has to look like.

    That makes a lot of sense. Talk to me about what is in your mind a soft place to land. How does that work with one of your nudges?

    We are made to connect with others. We are made to be in relationships in the community and connections with others. I find that sometimes we seek out others or external things for those comforts, for that compassion, for that sense of allowing and acceptance. This idea of being your own soft place to land is being your own best friend and being that warm hug. I have a shawl on that I bought, but sometimes I’ll wear a shawl that was my grandmother’s. When I put that over me, it’s like a warm hug.

    It’s that idea of giving that nourishment to yourself just because you deserve it, even doing this with your hands. It’s this idea of just because, and that is this idea of being your own soft place to land. It’s something that I come back to often for myself with my clients because we have to give ourselves permission to be that thing that we’ve been waiting for instead of always craving it from somebody else. Being your own soft place to land helps you receive from others as well because you’re filled up and not expecting or needing it from somebody else.

    You’re not as needy as the rest of the world because you’re providing so much for yourself. What do you call the Sunrise in your Pocket? I love the visual of that. How do you help people find that for themselves?

    I love the sunrise. I’m a sunrise girl. Sunsets are beautiful but, to me, the sunrise is all about curiosity. It’s darkness to sunrise. This light comes up and you never know what it’s going to look like. Sometimes it’s cloudy. You don’t see the sun coming up. Sometimes it looks like cotton candy. Sometimes it’s bright and full, bold and fiery. It’s this idea that we don’t question or doubt the fact that the sun is rising even when we can’t see it. Being the Sunrise in your Pocket is reminding ourselves that we have the inner wisdom, the inner strength, the knowing to be everything we need, even when we’re not sure what that looks like or means even on the days that feel gray.

    GAR 94 | Self Imposed Obstacles

    Self Imposed Obstacles: Being a Sunrise in Your Pocket reminds us we have the inner wisdom, strength, and knowledge to be everything we need, even when we’re not sure what that looks like or means, even on the days that feel gray.

    It came to me honestly because one of the first things I remember after my daughter was born was the morning after she was in the room with me. The sun was rising and the light was coming in through the windows. I remember her being there in my arms and this feeling of possibility that emerged from them. When I work with my clients and how they inhabit that is leaning into, “I don’t know what this is going to look like.”

    In fact, I had a client once who planted mystery seeds. She got a packet of seeds. She had no idea what they were. For her, playing with this idea of Sunrise in your Pocket and curiosity and possibility was planting these mystery seeds, tending to them, and being surprised at what grew. In fact, they’re still growing a few years later.

    Were they flowers?

    They were flowers that, because they keep coming, they must have been perennials.

    You have these wonderful retreats, and it sounds to me that anyone who goes to one of your wonderful retreats is going to be so exhilarated and inspired. Why don’t you tell us about your retreats? I know that you’ve got a special one coming up this June 2022. Share.

    Retreats for me are where we come together as a community. We come as individuals and we create.

    Do they physically come? Is it a physical retreat?

    This particular one in June, Inhabit Your Joy Live, is in person in the Virginia area. I’ve been leading virtual retreats and I will still continue to lead virtual retreats. I have great fun leading virtual retreats. A client once said to me, “I have no idea how you did it, but it felt like we were shoulder to shoulder around the fire.” It was such a sense of pride for me. Inhabit Your Joy Live will be June 11th, 2022 in Lovettsville, Virginia, in the Northern Virginia area. This is a day to come together as individuals and in connection to step into getting rooted, curious, and alive. We will be practicing yin yoga in the morning. I have a guest instructor who will lead groove sessions throughout the day.

    What’s a groove session?

    Groove is dance meets yoga, meets your five, and skipping around a playground. It is total freedom, non-choreographed. It is a beautiful embodiment, allowing the music to move you. It’s this idea of connecting to the possibilities within you. We will be looking at whatever brick walls we’ve created and see where we can create windows or doors through those walls to step into the remainder of 2022 and beyond.

    How long will this event last?

    This will be a one-day retreat. It’ll be Saturday, June 11th, from morning until afternoon. There will be an opportunity for a VIP experience in the evening with a beautifully curated dinner out as a picnic. It will be tremendous and delicious. My hope is that experience creates a mid-year reset for people to step in. It’s summer. It’s this idea of what’s growing. What can you allow to expand? It’s also the weekend of my bone marrow anniversary, which I celebrate as a birthday. June 12th is my bone marrow birthday. We’ll be doing some celebrating.

    What a wonderful gift you give yourself with that. Tell us what are the best ways for people to connect with you because they want to sign up for your retreat, get your book of nudges, and all of that. How do they connect?

    I have a free download that they can receive to practice filling up gratitude in their body. They can go to That will put you also on my list to get information about the retreats. You can go to my website, You can follow me on Instagram at my name, @ElenaSonnino. I would be honored and delighted to connect.

    Is the actual retreat going to be called Sunrise In Your Pocket?

    It will be called Inhabit Your Joy Live.

    What is the Elena Sonnino message about the importance of healing that you’d like to share with all of our audience?

    It’s that our inner healing is inside of us, and it starts from our body when we connect to that inner wisdom and what we know for sure, which comes from that place deep inside us. It doesn’t come from the outside. A lot of people can help us on our journeys, but to me, healing starts inside when we allow ourselves to connect with that wellspring that is always with us every step we take.

    You have to learn to identify it.

    Healing starts inside when we allow ourselves to connect with the wellspring within us. Every step we take, we have to learn to identify it right. Share on X

    Also, get out of our way long enough. You and I were joking. I broke my wrist months ago. For me to heal this meant reconnecting with trusting my body instead of pushing it, which I talk about all the time. It was this extra little exclamation point of, “Do you really?” and allowing it to heal on its own.

    What’s the difference between what you would be doing if you were pushing as opposed to trusting?

    Pushing was, “I should be better by now. When am I going to be able to put weight on this?” Maybe I can try forcing against it, wishing it weren’t so, to allowing this, and saying, “This is what’s happened to my wrist. How can I work with it and offer it the time it needs to heal?” versus constant being frustrated that it hasn’t healed faster.

    What would your important tip for finding joy in life be?

    My important tip for finding joy in life is to allow yourself to explore what would feel delicious to you in your heart, in your soul, in that place that touches you. What is it that would feel delicious and light you up? Practice that in small steps one day at a time. The more you do that, the more joy you will cultivate and experience.

    It’s been a joy interviewing you. I want to thank you for motivating people to open to self-awareness so that they can thrive with more curiosity, purpose, and delight. That’s wonderful. I encourage everyone in our audience to go to your website and learn more about your uplifting retreat, Inhabit Your Joy Live. I thank you from my heart.

    Thank you, Irene.

    It was a very inspiring and wise interview. Here’s a reminder, everyone. Make sure to follow us and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and be sure to subscribe to the show on YouTube. Like, subscribe, and hit notify so you’ll get all these inspiring and insightful new interviews coming your way. As I like to say, to be continued, many blessings, and bye for now.


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