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Perspective & Advice for Those Facing Insurmountable Odds

Throughout our journey with Voyage, the one thing we have learned over and over is that hidden within every challenge is a blessing or opportunity. It’s up to us to determine whether a challenge we face will be a step back or the catalyst for a step forward.

We had the honor of connecting with some of the city’s brightest female leaders and role models and we asked them our question of the month: What is the best advice you have for someone who feels like they are facing insurmountable odds.

Below, you’ll find their advice and links and other info so you can learn more about them, their work and how to connect with them. We’ll be interviewing many of these amazing women in the coming weeks, stay tuned.

Julia Russ | Pattern Maker & Runner

I would tell them my life mantra “One thing at a time.” I literally repeat this to myself multiple times a day, every single day. Breaking massive tasks down into bite size to do’s is the only way I know how to work through the overwhelm. 
Pinterest: @thefloramodiste


Nicole Haines | Yoga Instructor & Digital Producer

The real answer to overcoming your challenges is to breathe, move and connect in a way that speaks to you and only you. Meditation with the combination of my yoga practice has greatly improved my confidence and overall quality of life. Before any large meeting or event, I always clear my head through breath work exercises, and focus on tuning into my heart. On top of that, the best advice I can give to others is to look at all challenging situations through the lens of love, not fear. My role model Gabrielle Bernstein says that the universe has your back. Every situation that makes us uncomfortable, is actually the universe sending us an assignment. The next time you face adversity and find yourself in a judgement mindset, take a step back and say “I acknowledge the pain I am facing, but I choose to look at this situation through love, not fear”.

Jennifer Dery | Wellness Coach at Healthy Little Fixes

Many challenges can seem daunting and insurmountable when we look at everything that must get done. For my clients, reaching their weight and fitness goals can seem undo-able. The idea of losing 50 pounds when they’ve struggled so hard to just not gain more seems like so much work! Changing your life seems so impossible. But there is a trick to big goals and daunting challenges: Baby-steps. Tiny, incremental actions that if done daily move us towards what we are trying to achieve. Want to run a marathon but you’re a couch potato? Try walking around the block to start vs deciding to run 5 miles a day. Success breeds motivation. If you set yourself up for success you will want to keep going.

Caryl Silva | dog momma | lifestyle blogger

Only you have control of how you handle every situation that comes into your life. Sometimes, those situations aren’t easy. During those times, take a step back, breath, self reflect, and reevaluate. Stay positive and surround yourself with people who you know will support and respect whatever decision you make.

It’s important not to let your challenges overwhelm or stress you out. It may feel like your drowning at times but remember, you have control. Take it day by day. Eventually, the rain will stop pouring.


Christine Kennedy | Pharmacist turned Model | Actress

No challenge is insurmountable. Maintain a positive mindset no matter the circumstances and continue moving forward. When you truly believe you can overcome the challenge, you will see that you will.



I overcame many challenges in my life that felt insurmountable, but I believe those moments are lessons learned, and experiences that shaped my growth as a person. My advice to anyone that has faced what seems to be an insurmountable challenge is to lead with love along with manifesting positivity & gratitude. Create a goal and work towards that goal. Having a positive attitude makes the impossible possible!


Autumn Metteer | Microblading Artist & Cosmetic Tattooer at Sisterhood Brows

I think it’s important to stay strong and don’t ever give up. Stand in your own power, and stay positive. I just read this quote today that fits perfectly to answer this question:

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” Thomas Edison


YANA KAZBEKOVA | Yoga specialist for Anxiety and Panic disorders  | Creator of ‘Making Peace with Anxiety’ breathing practicum | Founder of ‘Balance for Life’ Program for Seniors

Back in my early thirties I was drowned in panic attacks, chronic insomnia and severe prescription drugs addiction. My life was shrinking in all ways, socially, professionally and personally. I lost my friends, my job, my sleep. I couldn’t walk, neither hold my head upright. I was on a wheelchair and experienced constant tremors.

My blood chemistry was altered to such an extreme that my only chance to survive was to quit all meds cold turkey. I went through a two-week withdrawal completely bedridden, with hallucinations, with no food, no water and no human help around… It was tough… and it was meant to be that way. I needed to go through the hell, to reborn and learn a few important lessons.

As much as we talk about surrender, we don’t get to know what it really means until we have absolutely nowhere to run to and nobody to get help from. When you burn out emotionally and are drowned in chronic anxiety; when you exhaust all your physical strengths and end up peeing in your pants in bed, for your legs cannot take you even to the bathroom… that is when you truly surrender, when you Ego becomes powerless! It is then when concepts like forgiveness, compassion, faith open up to you in their true light. It is only when you are put face to face to your demons and the only help you have to embrace them, is your breathing. And you learn to trust it!

When you reconnect to your breathing, your mental clutter steps back and your beautiful Self raises up from under the layers of old thinking.

It is not the circumstance what is insurmountable, it is your belief system, the way you see things.  When you get in touch with your breath, you set yourself free.

Your breathing is your most mighty tool. Your emotions and state of mind affect your breathing. You have power to reverse it and use your breathing to affect your emotional and mental state. Knowledgeable use of your breath changes the way you see life and teaches you to trust your body’s healing mechanisms.

When the challenge you go through feels insurmountable, do nothing, just breathe.

Lucie Mills | Co-Owner and Esthetician @ LUCO Hair and Skin

Whatever challenge you might be facing at the time just take a deep breath, take a step back and create a game plan. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. You might be surprised at how many of your peers have been in a similar situation. Success is built from many failures. …….If all else fails pour yourself a stiff drink


Kasey MacNair | Executive Director of Girls on the Run San Diego

Break the task down into small parts. Write down three things per day you will do to conquer the challenge. Many challenges do feel insurmountable and can be difficult to resolve in a day, but that doesn’t mean they are impossible to overcome. Give yourself time that is needed to tackle them successfully.

Alejandra Gonzalez | Gardener | Owner & Creator of Alesthetic Designs

In my line of business and in life…growth is everything. We are constantly taking up new challenges, starting new beginnings or dealing with tough endings. If we don’t experience life’s hardships we aren’t growing and if we aren’t growing as individuals, we are stagnant. Hardships are just a part of life, we can’t control everything that is brought our way but we can control how we react and handle these difficult situations. Growth is in the ability to not just overcome obstacles but also in how we deal and process them. Someone once told me, “If a tree isn’t growing, it’s dying.” Whatever it is that may feel insurmountable at the time, can and will be overcome if we just give it our all and handle life’s storms with grace and strength like a tree.


Iris Moné | singer | songwriter & artist

Kristy Walker Photography

When a challenge feels insurmountable to me, let’s be clear: it’s just a feeling, it’s not the truth. But the first thing for me is to accept and embrace completely what I feel, then to change perspective and take the challenge as a opportunity to find creative solutions. I love to call a friend I trust, or I take a walk and connect to nature, or take a nice guided meditation, just to have more clarity. Then I start to figure out the best path, and when it’s clear to me, I start to climb the mountain. Every step brings me closer to the top, even if it’s a long way.
Focusing on little progress at the time and being convinced to be on the right path helps me a lot.
I feel blessed that I have a supporting team I can count on! Create yours if you need one. Be the support for others too, so you create your empowering network.

Catherine C. Nguyen | Mom, Salon Owner | Published Stylist

I believe that with today’s society and with the amount of access we all have to social media, we can’t but help compare ourselves to one another. Social media is a great outlet for everyone and super resourceful. But anyone who is facing a challenge that they feel is insurmountable should also know that what you see is not what it always is. It’s easy to say, don’t compare yourself or your life to anyone else’s, but the fact is that we are all guilty of it. The truth is, we should all live our own best kind of life!
Despite having a great childhood, life was never easy. I’ve had experienced many challenges, heart aches, lost loved ones, and been let down multiple times. Resulting in learning that life will always continue to throw you challenges. Try to reflect and grow from every experience by staying positive vs focusing so much energy on the negative. Live, learn and move forward. I believe what you do and how you handle your challenges is a a true testament of who you are and your character as a person. No one will ever believe in you until you believe in yourself first! The strongest factor for any success is one, taking chances and two, your self esteem. Believing you can do it, believing you deserve it and believing you’ll get it. Always remember no matter how bad your day is, there is always someone out there that could be going through the same thing or even worst. And when you find yourself hitting rock bottom in the darkest hole, always remember there is no way, but UP!


Kelly Pappas & Tiffany Alblinger | Licensed Midwives and owners at Beautiful One Midwifery

When you’re working on something hard, and it feels like a tidal wave, you think you’re drowning and you have no idea why you ever wanted to do this in the first place- can you hear us say that it’s worth it? That it’s going to evolve; you’ll find the space in the achievement to breathe; you’ll rediscover that you trust yourself; you’ll rest a little and reach for those that are coming up behind you; your longing for change will take shape and you’ll have the energy for action… try to believe that with us.

And surround yourself with people who believe in you and aren’t afraid to speak heart and encouragement into your circumstances- that’s your lifeline.

Dahlia Strong | owner of Dahlia Traveling Boutique, Carlsbad, Ca

I personally understand that feeling.  I fact I wrote about it on Instagram this past July. I thought my experience was insurmountable, it was circumstances beyond my scope of control. My advice is to muster up strength that you never thought you possessed, but the truth is you do. Never, ever give up, do what you have to do, you’re smarter than you realize and never be scared to ask for help, you will actually end up making new friends. Know that you will come out of this stronger,  brighter, more insightful and have a deeper compassion for people.  With hard work and perseverance you will find success again.


Jessica Albee | Founder & Bookkeeper at Sparkle Bookkeeping

If I’m facing a challenge that feels insurmountable, I meditate. Being a business owner, I have days where I feel like I can’t keep up with my thoughts, tasks, emails, deadlines… whatever! I’ll get so overwhelmed that I’ll freeze. But the more overwhelmed I feel, the longer I’ll make myself sit still & meditate. It may seem counter intuitive, but I’ll totally spin my wheels if I don’t! Meditating slows my mind down to a pace where I can get my footing and start tackling things, one at a time. So once I’ve slowed down, I remind myself that is all I can really do, just one thing at a time. Oh yeah, and Lil’ Jon “Outta Your Mind” helps too.

Kaitlin Moran | Work at Home Mom & Crafter

My biggest piece of advice for people dealing with a challenge they feel is insurmountable, is to ask for help. I think it’s so important to remember that there is always a community of people to lend a smile and a helping hand, or even a listening ear.


Sydni Fox | Hair Stylist | Yoga Instructor

Whenever we face something that feels insurmountable it’s so important to remember that we’re not alone on this journey of life.  I know for me, when I feel stuck it’s so easy to feel alone.  We always want to “look confident”, like ” we’ve got this”… but truly being vulnerable and opening up to someone reminds us that we all face challenges. A little love and encouragement from your community goes a long way.

Dr. Colleen Mullen, Psy.D., LMFT | Psychotherapist and Relationship Expert

My best advice for conquering a seemingly insurmountable challenge is to start at what you want the solution to be and work backwards from there.  When we know what the end goal is to be, we can then piece together the steps to get us there. Often the steps start small and grow from there.  For instance – you get laid off from your job.  Now what?? Instead of wallowing in what a terrible circumstance that is, you figure out what the solution to that problem is- obviously, the solution is to get a new job. With the goal of getting a new job in mind, you can then build in the steps to get yourself there: call contacts, build a resume, submit to resume sources, apply for positions, go to networking events,  interview, and so on.  On a simpler level you might’ve always wanted to become a good home cook, so to get to that goal, you can build back in the steps to get there: take a class, watch videos, get decent equipment, deliberately practice your new skills on a regular basis.  Deliberate practice is a particular type of practice which is focused on improving performance. Keeping the system of figuring out what you want your end goal to be and working back from there to implement the steps to reach it, will help decrease your anxiety, increase your focus, and help you confidently move towards that goal.  What was seemingly insurmountable becomes achievable.

Kristin Iizuka | Tresses & Twine Hair styling

The best advice I can give when facing an insurmountable challenge is to keep calm and not overwhelm yourself with all the details. When I encounter difficult situations, I break it down into smaller, more manageable goals. Taking small steps along the way towards overcoming the bigger challenge gives me confidence and validation that I’m making progress. When I look back and take the time to appreciate the journey of overcoming my challenges, I realize there is truly nothing in life I can’t handle.


Cissy Phillips | Functionally Creative Stay-at-home Mom with a little side hussle that doesn’t Succ

I myself faced daunting challenges, both physical & mental, this past year while undergoing 3 back surgeries and spending many weeks in the hospital. I have found that lightening the mood with a little humor combined with finding a way to use creativity as an outlet, can help manage through the tougher moments. How did I cope? By creating: Cissy’s Succulents- DIY Succulent Planting Parties and Cards that Succ- punny greeting cards with live succulents on them.


Miranda Guiles | Head of Cake and Cookie Science and YUMology, Owner at Mirami’s Cookies | Entrepreneur

My best advice is to break down the challenge into smaller achievable bits. That will give you the jump off point to start working towards your goal. Define your end goal, what steps you need to take to achieve it within a realistic time span, and most of all remember the big picture. Don’t be afraid to change your goals while you’re working through the challenge and learning new things.

Expose yourself to new places, thought-leaders, media, experiences, and experts in your realm of work for the chance to learn from others and continue to grow.

If you are feeling like the challenge is insurmountable and you’re losing steam, read up on and talk to others who have gone through similar experiences, learn how they tackled their challenges, then apply your learnings to your method. It’s very important to surround yourself with a support group of friends working towards similar goals to learn from each other as well as share in experiences. You can volunteer, actively reach out to people and ask them for advice. It’s amazing what you can achieve by just asking. The worst thing someone can tell you is no, and the best thing that can happen is that you gain a new friend so don’t be afraid to get out there!

It’s also important to not focus on the emotions you’re feeling, but instead turn your challenge into actionable items that you can complete, so you can think clearly about how to tackle and solve your problem. It’s not always easy, but it does make a huge difference!

Nubia Enriquez | Personal Trainer

The great thing about situations that may seem insurmountable is that it forces us to change. Little changes add up to big results. Challenges aren’t made to break us but made to mold us in ways that only challenges us to evolve into a stronger you. They require us to change in ways we never knew we could. Choosing not to give up is where the mental strength endures. Once we change our perspective and understand and accept that things don’t happen to us but instead for us we can then learn to grow! We are stronger than we think! Never give up! Choose you, choose life, choose happiness! You can do this You deserve it!

Facebook: Nubia Enriquez


Juliette Adel, RDH | Oral Hygiene Educator and Smile Creator

Never give up. Giving up takes away the chance of things ever getting better. You are strong enough to make it through even the toughest moments. These times are what will make you stronger and wiser. Allow it to elevate you in ways you could never imagine.


Mallory Plemons | Photographer

I think the most important thing to remember when going through an insurmountable challenge is that a creative outlet can really help, especially when used as a form of therapy. I have always used art and photography as a way to get my mind off of the hardships I face in my everyday life. Finding something that you are truly passionate about will always help you overcome what you are going through.


Andrea Contreras | Insurance Agent | President | CEO of Tropical Insurance Services

Elicia Contreras

I am a woman of faith but faith without action is dead.Sometimes you have to dig deep and take things one step, one hour, one minute at a time. Create a mindset of belief to bring momentum to help you get through your toughest challenge.Challenges help you grow and failure helps you learn. The harder the challenge the greater the victory. Push through…. 

Ariel Richardson | Founder  ASR Design Studio

If you feel like you are facing a challenge that is insurmountable, break down the challenge into smaller parts and pieces.  This will allow you to take your time and focus in on whatever your dealing with, without feeling feeling overwhelmed.  Once you break through each part, then you can move on to the next part until you have faced all the parts of the challenge to come up with a solution that is meaningful and well thought out.

Tamy Anderson | Functional Health Coach | Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner

While in the heat of a difficult situation, challenges may seem insurmountable, but they’re not. I think that the most empowering understanding that any person can have is that we each have within us the power to overcome any obstacle or challenge that life throws our way. Adversity is a part of the human experience…part of the ebb-and-flow of life. Whether it be a challenge with your health or that of a loved one, a relationship, career, the loss of a loved one, or finances, each challenge is a new opportunity for learning and growth, and it is in how we choose to respond to those challenges that matters. For myself, having overcome a two-year struggle with chronic illness, the near death of my son from a car accident, and the suicide death of my husband, I speak from experience. Through each of these challenges, I leaned into gratitude and appreciation for all that I have and all the loving support surrounding me, and I sought out the support and resources I needed to get me through. There’s no need to struggle alone. The Universe holds more love and support for you than you can even begin to imagine, so be open to receiving it and know that the power is within you to get through any challenge.   

Samantha McFarland | Yoga

In 2017 I had open heart surgery and at moments I felt like getting back to my day to day would be an insurmountable task. When I’m feeling down I think of all the things I want later in life whether it’s mental like being happy or materialistic like a house in Hollywood hills with an infinity pool. The best thing I learned from surgery is that you have one life and one day when you’re old and grey you’re gonna wanna look back and say “I did absolutely everything I wanted to do I lived my life to the fullest.” Live a life with no regrets and more importantly live a life where your mental health comes first cause once that is in check nothing is insurmountable.

Daniela Azeredo | Career Coach and Journalist

You will fail many times. But the problem is not failing, it is how you turn failure into success.


1 Comment

  1. Barbara

    April 5, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    I can especially relate to Allison Lindblom’s home organizer. I moved from New Jersey to Florida. New home/new job with a lot of “baggage” I took with me. Thank you for your insight and positive feedback.

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