The night before last, I received an email from Marie Foleo with the subject line “Oprah Wants YOU (time sensitive)”. I knew I had to open it.
The email explained about how “Oprah is working on upcoming episodes of Lifeclass and she’s looking for inspiring success stories. Specifically, from people who have changed their lives by changing the way they think (hence changing what they do and the results they get).”
I had some time yesterday to create a piece for this and was so excited that I initially forgot to read the directions. Initially I wrote an essay of about 2,000 words and the moment I pasted my piece in on the entry form, I saw “2,000 characters”. DoH! Hah, so what I’m about to share with you is the short and long version of my response. I hope you enjoy it, I put a lot of heart into it.
My name is Molly Hahn, also known as Mollycules. At 30 years old, I am a successful children’s book illustrator/writer and cartoonist. I’ve published five books and have a daily comic on the Huffington Post called ‘Buddha Doodles’, which are whimsically illustrated affirmations to help people start their day off right! I was the first person in my family to go to college and now run my own business.
I am very happy.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve believed that the imagination is a sacred space that we can manifest our dreams from. This belief helped me move through what many would think of as a life with little hope: chronic psychological and sexual abuse into my teens at the hands of my father, a mother who abandoned her children, a rare blood disease, alcoholism, mental illness, and a dire financial situation.
The survival mechanisms that I developed when I was younger no longer served me as an adult. Negative thinking patterns dominated my life and hurt my relationships. My nervous system was always ready for war and I suffered often from panic attacks and intrusive thoughts.
After college, I moved to LA in hopes of ‘getting discovered’ and attached so much meaning to fame that I became negligent of my self-care and had a nervous breakdown at the age 24. Suicidal and paranoid thoughts ruled my life and I saw no way out.
With the support of friends, I moved back to Santa Barbara to make healing my full time job. Deep down, I knew that I was worth fighting for and had a higher purpose! By embracing my strengths and creative gifts, I naturally flowed into creating my first children’s book. It was also around this time that I met the love of my life.
Through changing my thinking, I have arrived at a place of forgiveness. We all have the power to create the reality that we dream of by using the gift of imagination, a boundless space of endless possibilities. Namaste.
The Long Heartfelt Answer
The imagination is that sacred space that we can dwell in and manifest our dreams from. Ever since I was a little girl, this belief has helped me move through what many would think of as a life with little hope: chronic psychological and sexual abuse into my teens at the hands of my father, a mother who left her four children for a man in another country, a life-threatening and rare blood disease, alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illness, and a dire financial situation.
I can still visualize myself as a little girl, looking at the tree tops in my front yard and feeling strongly connected to spirit. I knew that my life wasn’t going to end here. I knew even deeper that somehow I had been assigned this ‘job’ by the universe and that I was a force of light put here to do the good work.
My name is Molly Hahn, also known as Mollycules. I’m sassy, successful, prosperous, gifted, and really strong. At 30 years old, I am a successful children’s book illustrator/writer and cartoonist. I’ve published five books and have a daily comic on the Huffington Post called ‘Buddha Doodles’, which are whimsically illustrated affirmations to help people start their day off right! The project came to me last year as a way to recalibrate in the spirit of love and courage at the beginning of each day. ‘Buddha Doodles’ took off without intentional effort of it becoming what it has today. It touches the lives of thousands all over the world and I get correspondence daily from people who are positively affected by the comic and express how much it helps them. I couldn’t ask for more.
Getting ‘here’ wasn’t exactly easy. Going to college was my ticket out of a horrific situation that I had no control over. I was the first person in my family to make it that far academically. When I finally arrived at UC Santa Barbara with some scholarship and student loans, the reality of how I was able to survive my childhood unfolded before my eyes. Having divorced myself from my parents, I finally had space to listen to and heal my heart.
The survival mechanisms that I developed to get through my day-to-day life as a child and teenager no longer served me as a young adult. I felt crazy and like there was a huge negative energetic force outside of myself constantly pulling me down, giving me panic attacks and intrusive thoughts. After 19 years of being bottled up, the emotional pain from being abused swelled to the surface and was so intense that it was a struggle to stay focused on my academic career, let alone take of care of myself.
In college, I was blessed with the support of a compassionate and patient boyfriend, who was the first person that I ever told about being sexually abused by my dad. Thus began the journey through the darkest crevices of my past. Around the age of 21, I saw my first therapist who revealed herself to me to be trustworthy and really understanding of my situation. Through her, I found another therapist who coincidentally did her dissertation work on survivors of sexual abuse. I felt like that little girl staring at the treetops knowing that something out there was conspiring in my favor.
Many things shifted for me in a positive way during those precious years in college. I connected to my love for cartooning, a childhood passion of mine, and was even hired as a comic artist for the school newspaper. Having fun and creating community became a priority. My passion for music lead to me to organize concerts and even to playing in a band! I connected to my body for the first time when I was 22 in my beginning dance classes. I had dissociated so much from the physical realm that I didn’t know left from right or how to move my limbs in simple sequences. While it was frustrating, I knew that my coordination would eventually improve. I was right. Dance and athletic activities have proven to be extremely healing and continue to play an important role in my life. Currently, I am in training to become a Yoga teacher.
Exiting college, on the other hand, disrupted my stability immensely. The cocoon that had held me safely for many years suddenly burst and my wings weren’t fully formed. On the quest for finding direction and meaning in my life, I ended up in LA (I’ve learned this is not uncommon) to pursue the dream of becoming a successful artist.
I attached so much meaning to the idea of fame during this time in my life that I began to regress in my ability to take care of my base needs. I took on projects that didn’t pay well and made choices that put what made me ‘look good’ or connected me to famous people in my field over my general well-being. Pangs of hunger were common as well as feeling embarrassed that my friends and colleagues had to buy me lunch and dinner frequently.
Barely getting by wore on my mental health and my negative thinking hurt professional relationships and friendships. After about a year of self-negligence and a string of bad luck that included car theft, getting evicted, and losing work, I had a nervous breakdown at the age 24. Suicidal and paranoid thoughts began to rule my life. I saw no way out. The obsession with fame and approval drove me into the darkest hole that I thought I would never emerge out of. The breakdown that I had included schizophrenic symptoms. I became afraid to leave my house for fear of having a trigger that would lead to a panic attack and flood of intrusive thoughts. I was certain that I had contracted the mental disease of my parents…forever.
With a hugely bruised ego and great sense of despair, I called a old friend from Santa Barbara to come scrape me out of my whole and bring me back ‘home’.
Moving back to Santa Barbara was the best decision of my life. I knew that I needed to heal my heart, mind, and soul before anything else. Immediately I was embraced by open hearts, friends new and old, and an unconditionally supportive community. I put the desire for ‘fame’ on the back burner and took my healing seriously.
What made me decide to stop the pain? Knowing that I was worth fighting for and that somewhere deep down, that little girl that radiated light wanted to shine and had a higher purpose. I was blessed to have friends and a therapist that helped mirror and remind of this often.
From the age of 25 to now, 30, the dedication to this healing work has revealed itself to be the most invaluable experience of my life. The progress in changing my thinking took the form of the smallest baby steps you could ever imagine! However, every experience along the way that helped shift the template of trauma to one of expansion and trust has affirmed the possibility of the human spirit’s ability to transform suffering. The more that I had faith in this process, a greater sense of courage and self-trust was cultivated.
My attitude of the glass being ‘half empty’, whether it was the story of despair, abandonment, or nobody loves me, shifted to a ‘it’s such a beautifully full glass’ the more that I embraced my strengths. The creative gifts that I cultivated throughout my life became my primary focus along my healing journey. From that vantage point I saw the tree tops again and connected to the possibilities of how I could shine this light.
I was not concerned with ‘making it’ in the way that had fueled me during my time in LA. By focusing on my authentic voice and the sacred space of my imagination, I naturally flowed into writing and illustrating my first children’s book, Under the Sneep Tree: the Wamboozling of a Village. This story was inspired by a terrible fire that had swept through Santa Barbara, consuming many homes, including several friends of mine. While the hills were on fire, I felt called by a higher power to write this book. It was as if it already existed in my minds eye and all I had to do was open up to letting it flow through.
It was around this time that I met the love of my life. For a solid year or so prior to meeting Ethan, I was consumed by sharing my light through my comics and illustrations. I exhibited at all sorts of shows and conventions. The love that I brought to the work was authentically mirrored and inspired me to keep listening to my heart. At the time, I was not looking for a romantic partnership. I hadn’t even kissed anyone in over a year when I literally walked through Ethan’s door, my twin flame.
The relationship felt so natural and took on a slow pace organically. I was not in a rush to get anywhere with him. Our connection revealed the spaces within myself that were still healing. I was so afraid of intimacy and getting lost in love. I was on a winning streak with my career finally! However, the more I took risks in communicating my fears to him, the more that I learned that I had truly found someone that listened and understood where I was really at. I was not rushed into anything…it took us a month to even kiss! You can imagine then how long other steps of intimacy may have taken. It was all perfect. I fell completely in love…and still am.
My romantic relationship strongly supported the manifestation of my dreams. In the last few years of being together, I have grown to become an extremely strong and successful woman. I truly believe that success is self-defined. For me, it is a slow brew of ingredients that require tending to on a daily basis. Everyone’s recipe and flavoring preference is different, but what we all have in common is the fire that burns to heat soup. This flame is ever present and resides within our being, accessible at any moment.
I know deeply that I can never change my past. My nervous breakdown at 24 was my ultimate test. At that time, I knew deeply that I was at the most important crossroads of my life. Without my friends and community that supported me during that fragile time, I’m afraid that I would have traveled down a road of deep suffering. I chose to stop victimizing myself because I knew that there was something greater in store for me and I needed fight for myself! “The story can’t end like this,” I remember saying to myself. There was no way that I was going to let those who had traumatized me win. I chose to have faith that I could heal because one day I was certain that I would be able to help others.
Deep down, there is a sacred space that I always believed in and I call it ‘my jewel’. Nothing can scratch or touch this and everyone has one that constantly emits light. As I type these last sentences, I am able to see so clearly that I am not my story. Everyone has the power to inquire within and shift their reality. We all can create the reality that we dream of by using the gift of imagination, a boundless space of endless possibilities. Namaste.