Interview with Debra Meehl and Kristin Smith

I have two
special guests today. Co-authors Debra Meehl and Kristin Smith are joining me to chat about their
self-help, personal growth book, Joyful
Transformation – 22 Keys to Reclaiming Your Authenticity
Debra Meehl is a nationally recognized educator and
author with a truly unique combination of credentials and life experiences that
made her inexplicably qualified to establish and manage the Meehl Foundation.
Among other things Debra is an interdenominational pastoral counselor with a
Doctorate of Divinity, an intensively trained DBT skills trainer, an Amen
certified brain health coach, and a board-certified hypnotist.
As president and founder of the Meehl Foundation, Debra
has worked extensively with clients from around the world; helping them
surmount dogma, ego, expectation, irrational belief, and cyclic suffering in
order to create a life worth living. Her uncommonly inclusive approach to
counseling embraces personal belief and blends this with evidence based methods
to create a customized course of action that is exclusive to the individual.
For over 10 years Debra has dedicated herself to helping countless men and
women heal the negative patterns and trauma of their lives and in so doing step
into a life of authenticity and purpose.
Kristin Smith is a Certified Professional Life Coach with
a uniquely holistic practice. Using the Amen approach to brain health in
conjunction with a multifaceted coaching method, Kristin provides practical
insight and pragmatic suggestions to guide clients toward a physically,
mentally, emotionally, and
spiritually fulfilling life.
Her distinctive approach to coaching blends personal
spirituality with evidence based methods to encourage a life that is
holistically satisfying. Kristin has worked extensively with non-profit
organizations, using this approach as a guide to help others creatively embrace
the lifestyle they desire. For over five years, she has dedicated herself to
helping dozens of men, women, and children break free of the patterns stifling
their potential and in so doing discover, design, and seize the life they
really want.
Kristin is a member of The Meehl Foundation’s intensively
trained DBT treatment team, and a frequent contributor to their blog, and
coauthored Joyful Transformation to
supplement her unique coaching method. She completed training as a DBT skills
trainer with Behavioral Tech™, studied yoga and meditation with acclaimed
neuroscientist and author C. Alexander Simpkins (Ph.D.), and received interfaith
ordination on June 26, 2015.
ladies. Please tell us about your current release.
(Debra) Many of us spend our entire lives running from
feeling, believing that we cannot bear the pain or shame or suffering we
encounter. But the immortal diamond at your core is only refined through the
heat and pressure of both pain and pleasure. Joyful Transformation is about
practical skills (like distress tolerance and emotion regulation) you can use
in everyday life to help you move through the pain; fully experience the
pleasure; connect and unite with, heal and embrace your true self; and thereby
create a life that is truly worth living.
(Kris) Joyful
was designed to be a road map for people seeking a way out
of mediocrity and misery; a blueprint they can follow to systematically build a
better life. Emptiness and disillusionment have
become common and familiar companions in so
lives. Our society has created a culture-scape wherein asking for
anything more or seeking to lead a truly fulfilling life is viewed as foolish
or outright selfish. For decades now millions of people have silently and unwittingly
accepted this unwritten obligation to lead an unfulfilling life; the life that
is expected of them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We were all meant to
live a life of passion, creativity, and joy. And no matter the obstacles, I
really do believe that everyone is divinely equipped to achieve this kind of

was designed to tackle
the social gag-order on suffering, candidly examine how it has shaped our lives
and our beliefs, and provide a way to change all of that one simple step at a
time so that we – as a whole culture, one person at a time – can achieve conscious,
measurable, lasting change that improves quality of life, reduces the burdens
we carry (willingly or otherwise), and frees us to live the best life we can –
a life worth living. 
inspired you to write this book?
(Debra) The concept for Joyful Transformation was birthed out of my own life experience,
both with my family (which is touched on in the book) and further in my
founding of and work at the Meehl Foundation.
(Kris) When I started working at the Meehl Foundation, I
had already worked in the mental health field for three years and was extremely
disillusioned with the whole experience. I couldn’t figure out what was
missing, but I knew that what I’d seen just wasn’t working… and it wasn’t just
in treatment centers. I saw this yawning, glaring gap everywhere in life. We
all seemed to be doing the very best we can, doing everything right, and still
somehow missing the mark by a mile.
It wasn’t until I learned about DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and the
“skills” it teaches that I realized, no one ever taught me how to actually live this life. We learn reading,
writing, arithmetic… we, as a society at large, never learn how to process
emotions, cope with stress, or handle interpersonal relationships with personal
integrity. Sure a few kids get lucky, but by and large the most important
skills we ever learn are never actually taught.
And they ARE teachable skills. DBT
showed me that. But it’s very treatment specific. And I knew that very few
“normal people would ever pick up a DBT skills book, even if it would change their lives… and I
whole-heartedly believed it would. So, I sat down with Debra and in a matter of
hours the concept for Joyful Transformation was born.
exciting story are you working on next?
(Debra) While it’s not a story, per se, we are currently
in the process of organizing luxury retreats, wherein readers – or anyone
interested, for that matter – can enjoy an exclusive three-day weekend
including personal coaching with Kristin and myself to apply the concepts and
master a lifestyle of Joyful
. Details are on our website.
(Kris) Well, we have a few big and exciting things in the
works. First, we’re working on this idea of hosting Joyful Transformation
retreats, where people can come stay at the retreat center over the weekend and
spend personal time with Deb and I, learning how to apply the concepts in the
book and really step into their authenticity, connect with their personal
values and beliefs, identify what’s holding them back, and lay the foundation
for really mastering a lifestyle that’s in line with what they really, truly
want out of life.
And then, we also have a second book concept that kind of
in its infancy. Joyful Transformation is a really great, really basic kind of
field-guide for life. But I really want to delve more into the spiritual aspect
of our lives and of the human psyche. Because our spiritual selves (whatever
that looks like for you) are so integral to really leading a fulifilled life,
and so much of that is either over looked or dogmatized to death. So we’re
working on a concept (working title: Spiritual Transformation) that ties the
spiritual together with this physical life to kind of move people into the next
phase of truly joyful living.
did you first consider yourself a writer?
(Debra) To be honest, I have never considered myself a
writer. My goal was to produce something that would help others reach their
goals and dreams, and fully realize their potential in life. Writing just
happened to be the medium through which I can do so for the largest possible
(Kris) I guess I’ve always considered myself a writer in
some respects. Throughout my career-life it’s always been in the background in
one way or another – grant writing, publicity, research papers, treatment
plans… in a more corporate/professional sense. I blog regularly for the Meehl
Foundation and on several spirituality-focused sites. I dabbled in playwriting
and fiction in college, and for most of my life before that. Storytelling has
always been an integral and vital part of the way I communicate. It’s like part
of my soul, as silly as that sounds. So transitioning into this world of “being an author” was really just kind
of a natural progression for me.
Do you
write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other
than write and how do you find time to write?
(Debra) No. Most of my work is centered around operating
the Meehl Foundation. A typical day involves a lot of managerial and
administrative work, with a hefty dash of coaching and coordinating services.
Writing is usually haphazardly smashed somewhere in my free time, right between
grandkids and fireside reading. I fit it in where I can, when I can. And just
do the best I can, which is all anyone can really aim for.
(Kris) No. Not by a long shot. I try to fit it in as much
as possible, especially when inspiration strikes. But between coaching and
managing the Meehl house, my work day is pretty full. There’s yoga in the
morning with clients, meal prep during the day, blogging and publicity for the
book, coaching in the afternoon/evening, plus shopping, coordinating treatment,
entertainment, and transportation, and then some semblance of a personal life…
and writing just kind of falls in there in between all of that. It’s kind of
the thread that weaves all the fibers of my life together; the weft to my warp.
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
(Debra) I read along to myself as I’m writing. And as I’m
reading, I have a bad habit of putting a comma anywhere that I pause to take a
breath – in any sentence, regardless of proper grammar. My editor hates it.
(Kris) I have this one
that I play when I’m writing: River Flows in You by Yiruma. I don’t
know why, but it really helps me focus. I just put it on in the background or
put my headphones on and let it play… over and over and over… until I’m done
with whatever section I was struggling with. I think I’ve easily looped it
six-million times in the course of publishing this book.
As a
child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
(Debra) You know, John Lennon was asked the same question
in school. His answer was, “Happy”. And I think more than anything else “Happy”
is exactly what I’ve always wanted to be.
(Kris) I think more than anything I wanted to be someone
to help heal others. For a long time it was a pediatrician, then a missionary,
then a teacher, then an herbalist (which I still study academically) and
eventually I came to this epiphany that all of that boiled down to one really
simple basic idea… I just want to help people. And so that’s what I started
additional you want to share with the readers?
(Debra) Initial consultation is free when you book a
coaching session through the Meehl Foundation.
Please follow us on Facebook to learn more about our
upcoming retreats. And feel free to reach out or interact. We always love to
hear from our followers.
(Kris) Just that I’d love to hear from them. They can
find me on Facebook, or the Meehl Foundation website. I’m super approachable
and always excited to help or just listen. Initial consultation is free if they
want to book a coaching session, otherwise I’m always tickled pink to have
someone drop a like or comment on one of our pages.
Thank you, ladies!

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