Where to Find the Courage to Challenge Your Beliefs by Asking what Serves You – On a Road to Self Acceptance with Tara Massan

By Seth Singleton

Rough Starts can still make for a great conversation.

I don’t feel good. Stomach trouble.

Tara hurt her back when she tried a new workout routine called HIIT. 
I forget to ask her to explain what this is and means. 
My best understanding is that it is High-Intensity Interval Training

My stomach, her back, means we are off to a rough start.

But, we both know the remedy. 
Rest enough and we will regain our health.
The body heals itself.

Oh, and I still have a lingering cough, so you hear me opening a cough drop and crinkling a wrapper. 

Maybe more than once.


Today we are focusing on change

Tara came up with this topic and I thought it was important that we did it right, which is why I asked her to take the lead. 

If I was going to contribute to this idea, I needed to get out of the way enough to see what we were talking about. 

When I did, Tara’s purpose and direction led to an amazing discussion. Here are a few of my favorite gems

  • As we get older our life experience compounds and beliefs will be challenged.
  • It takes courage to change your beliefs. We all have permission to change our minds anytime we want.
  • We are often afraid to admit our mind has changed. 

Start Simple

Let’s start with an example like nutrition. It’s a challenge to get the right nutrients from the things we crave. Making a choice to do something for our health can be uncomfortable, and it can even make our personal relationships awkward. 

Tara reads a great passage from White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte that really lends a fresh voice to the discussion.

Many people including ourselves are afraid to change their minds and behaviors because we identify with them. 

This is when an inner conflict will arise.

There are other examples:

  • Career change, quitting a habit
  • finding a new significant other
  • trying something new
  • or giving up something harmful like drinking diet soda and alcohol or smoking.

Permission Slips

One thing that can help is something Tara uses called Permission Slips. I love this idea because it is a way to remember that we deserve forgiveness. Tara’s examples describe a series of specific and general notes that allow each of us to be imperfect.

My favorite permission slip is when I need a day to rest. Taking stock of the work I’ve done that week, whether it is physical or emotional and giving myself a day off.

This is a great way to think rationally about what my mind and body need. It can even be a motivation for taking better care of myself. If I want to keep a successful streak going, I need to recharge for the next set of tasks that I want to tackle. 

‘Tehuantepec’ Photo by Graciela Iturbide, 1980 Courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts (SFMOMA)

We are allowed to be a walking contradiction

What does that mean?

It means to challenge your beliefs and ask questions all the time.

Where do we start?

Ask the question, Does this Serve Me?

We can also remember that it is okay to disagree. 

We don’t have to surrender to our beliefs. 

joseph Campbell 

I go on a rant about Joseph Campbell and his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces. It’s a great read that I return to often. At the end of his story, once he has taken the reader on a tour of the worlds belief systems, Campbell returns to the hero of the story, us. 

We are the star of the story. We are the son, the daughter, brother, sister, father, mother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, novice and sage. 

About Tara Massan


Tara Massan is a Yoga Teacher, Personal Trainer, and Lifestyle Coach. She helps chronically stressed out adults create healthier lifestyles by addressing their obstacles through her 4 Pillars of Health: Mindset-Movement-Nutrition-Rest. 

She is also the creator of Be Moved and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, US Weekly and the Huffington Post. She has also contributed to over 20 publications with one purpose: To help others live a healthier life.

You can connect with Tara by visiting her website www.taramassan.com or emailing her attara@taramassan.com

About the voice behind Storytelling with Seth

Seth Singleton is a storyteller.

He is the writing team editor at Blue Alchemy Studios and its upcoming release, Planet Rise and a free-agent writer who works by project and contract.

Seth believes that stories are a common thread that connects us all and that everyone has a story to tell.

You can visit his website at sethsingletonstoryteller.com.

To contact him about a writing or podcast project email him at sethsingleton@gmail.com

Comicbook Superheroes, John McCain, Thor: Ragnarok, John Donne, and Standing to Face a Challenge

By Seth Singleton
It started on a Saturday morning.

I didn’t mean to watch the service for Senator John McCain, but when it came on I did not turn away. I didn’t even change the channel.

When I listened to his daughter and President George W. Bush and then President Barak Obama, I was moved in so many different ways.

I was heartbroken, I wept many times, I laughed, and I was inspired.

So how did that lead to watching Thor: Ragnarok?

Photo Credit Lobo Studio Hamburg from Unsplash.com

It starts with heroes.

I was raised on the Christian stories from the Bible that were taught in Sunday School. I read them in an illustrated version of that Bible.

It was the illustrations that really struck the deepest note. They were gorgeous. The men had bold jawlines and the muscles of an elite athlete.

The women were noble and graceful. The stories presented virtue, compassion, and love. They portrayed the dangers and the pitfalls of selfishness and pride.

When I started to read my first comic books, I made a connection with every element triggered by the sensory experiences of my childhood. The art was a continuation of those same strong lines I remembered. The goal — to stop evil by advancing the cause of right, it made all the sense in the world. But, aside from a trip down memory that was enhanced with new generations of art and storytelling, there was something that kept me coming back.

It was the moral questions that were always challenged by new villains, new agendas, and new dangers that drew me back again and again.

John McCain

That made it easy for me to look at the same war stories that my friends and I saw on television and in movies with a graduated understanding. I don’t remember how old I was when I made the connection that my father had served in the military or that the Vietnam War was more than just the name for something I didn’t understand.

When I did, I tried to put a shape around the things I had seen and heard. I had questions about why it had so much meaning. It made people so emotional. But, there was the problem with my level of understanding. When I was 13, my dad handed me the book When Hell was in Session by Senator Jeremiah Denton.


Denton was a pilot who was shot down and held captive as a Prisoner of War in the City of Hanoi. Denton described a gruesome experience at the hands of guards in the North Vietnam Army. He also provided a first-person description of John McCain’s actions as a fellow prisoner. The stories of leadership and faith that they both demonstrated were described with such humility that it was moving to read such simple displays of bravery.

It created a problem for me when I grew older and began to shape viewpoints and opinions that were different from men like McCain and Denton. These were men that I looked up to for their example. Now, I disagreed with our conflicting viewpoints of the world and what it needs to thrive. When I voted against him in 2008, it was less against the man and more the platform.

The announcement from McCain’s family that the senator would no longer receive treatment for the rare brain cancer he had been fighting was disheartening. I knew that it was not about giving up. This decision was about the time and the toll that his fight was taking on the people he loved. John McCain believed in choosing his time and making sure that his decision was ultimately the best for others and not just himself.

His funeral service was a rebuke of the climate that continues to erode the social and political decorum that once defined Washington, D.C. It was a choice to make a decision about how he would face his end. It’s something that I have to remember when I talk to my dad.

My dad has been in a fight with prostate cancer for a few years now. The how and other pertinent details are his to tell and he’ll tell them if and when he wants that information public. What has been a challenge is the need to understand that in the end, this is his fight. It’s his life and he gets to decide what he does about it and what treatments he will use to try and save it.

I have my views and opinions about his treatment. So does my sister. Then there is the first doctor that he talked to, followed by a urologist, then a different one in another state. Then there is my sister’s husband who manages a medical center and consulted experts in oncology and other specialized cancer departments.

My dad listens. He weighs the pros and the cons. He has spoken with homeopathic herbalists. He has tried two courses of treatment using modern medicine. He has been concurrently following three different herbal regimens.

I don’t agree with everything I hear, but I would like to think that I have come to an understanding that I can support no matter what happens next. It’s not my body.

It’s not about me.

When I first heard the news that my dad had cancer I wanted to do something. I made suggestions. So did my sister. We found more things. We found new things. But, he kept trying what sounded best to him. There were conversations and a few arguments. But, he kept choosing the options that he read or heard about and his reasons were anecdotal and factual.

It took some time for that to sink in. Eventually, it did. But, it bears remembering and repeating. Sometimes in a shorter form. It’s his choice. And that’s how I get to Thor: Ragnarok.

The third installment in Marvel’s Thor franchise is a tale of destruction and loss. It is the Norse apocalypse that features the death of Odin, which leads to the fall of Asgard.

Odin, Thor, and Loki

There is a touching scene when Thor and Loki find their father — Odin — in Iceland. Standing on by the shoreline and watching the water, Odin tells them that it is his time. His mother is calling and he wants to go. He departs in a glitter of sparks. His final words are, “Remember this place.”

“When the fall is all that’s left it matters very much…” —  The Lion in Winter

We don’t always get a choice to decide our time. When that time is chosen for someone, those remembering them will say that they were taken or stolen. Others might add that they are gone too soon.

Having the right to make the choice is a gift. Choosing how to face a threat to your life is an option that not everyone is given. Taking that choice away from my dad would be wrong. For as long as he is able to make that choice, I have a responsibility to support his freedom to make decisions about his quality of life.


The poem Death Be Not Proud by John Donne is a perfect example of this choice. The speaker is challenging death by questioning the power it claims to have over men. By the end of the poem, a final claim is made that death too shall die.

There is no power greater than choice. Even death is humbled by such might.


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