She finally looked up and realized that there was a much bigger plan.

I received this email recently: Tonya, My husband just lost his job, and we may be losing our house.  To be honest, I don’t even know where to begin to start nurturing my self-image! 

To you, ma chérie, and anyone who can relate, please know this: you are not alone. When it comes to setbacks, I am a certifiable queen. From a serious heart condition to 75-pound weight gain to bulimia to being a single mom barely making ends meet, I understand what it’s like to feel life is playing a cruel joke on you.

Take this past year for example:  I’ve dealt with divorce, a new home, an injured back and the realization, yet again, that I am human and I’m not immune to challenges in life.

When a woman overcomes hardships, she is given the opportunity to learn something crucial:

Setbacks are part of the comeback. (Tweet it!)

Perhaps you can relate.  Whether it’s the 30 pounds that snuck up on you while working long hours in a cubicle, a struggling business, heartbreak, a sudden diagnosis, financial hardship, a challenging family or home life, feeling unappreciated or like you can’t get ahead, or a myriad of other symptoms of living, I have one message for you…

My dear, look up . . . there is so much more waiting for you.  

11 Ways to Make a Comeback:

1.  Fall Apart

At the beginning of my divorce, I tried to stand tall:  work harder, stay busy, jump on a plane, fill my calendar.

I took immense pride in being that woman who’s “Got this!”. We know how that usually turns out: I was a mess.

It took a dear friend of mine, who was tired of my facade, to throw out the BS card:

She said to me one day after telling her I was “fine” (a sign you’re probably not), “Tonya, you don’t have this and stop pretending you do.”

Before she could get the word “do” out of her mouth, I burst into tears and didn’t stop for about two days.

Best thing ever.

As paradoxical as it may seem, you gotta fall in order to rise again.

Living elegantly isn’t about about being a freakin’ Pollyanna 24-7.

It’s about ease, elegance, and style.  Somedays, this may translate to lounging on your sofa in a nightie, watching Gossip Girl, ordering Thai and sobbing for hours.

You must break open to break through. (Tweet it!)

2   Don’t Blame

As hard as it may be, eventually, you have to stop blaming your parents, church, society, your ex.

Being a grown-up means that you get to choose to be in control of your own life.

Sure, it’s tough.  Looking out means you don’t have to look within and take self-responsibility.

Yet, it’s within that beautiful mess where our solution is found.

If you can find one reason why blame serves you, I’ll step off my soapbox.

But, I know from many years of pointing the finger, it doesn’t.

Take back your power, accept self-responsibility, cry, scream, break down.

But, don’t blame and certainly do not compromise something as precious as your personal power.

3.  Burn, Baby, Burn!

This year, I set myself on fire, yet again.  I have had to burn my old identity, life, and relationships.

Little by little, I have had to let it incinerate and smolder, slowly.  While It hurts like hell when the flames are raging and everything is turning to ash, it’s also incredibly freeing.

I am convinced that God gave me my maiden name ‘Rising’ for a reason.  He knew, like the Phoenix, I would have to rise again and again and again.

You are no different, except your last name may be Jones.  But, you can soar above the rubble.

When you finally get to that place where you’re asking “who am I,” congratulations!

You’ve burned completely.

While setbacks will hurt your ego (guaranteed), they can also bring a spring awakening.

Let her burn!

4.  Simplify

People, clothes, books, ideas, pendants, beliefs, memberships, expired teas….I’ve been letting go to make space. Space for breathing. Room for creativity.  Expansion for time.

A Queen can’t make her comeback when she’s holding on to baggage. (tweet it!)

Graphic designer, John Maeda, once said: “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”

This leads me to the next point . . .

5.  Seek Beauty

When things are dark, my simple prescription:  add beauty.

Rumi said, “What you seek is seeking you.”  If you’re not looking and appreciating beauty, even in your darkest hour, you’ll never discover joie de vivre.

The joy of living isn’t about being blissed all day, every day.  It’s about falling into the arms of life’s mystery, fervent faith and noticing the beauty around you.

Beautiful foods, hearts, conversations, tears, music, thoughts, a flower along the road, whatever it is, find it.

6.  Decide on a Comeback

It’s actually easier to remain in fear, doubt and worry, because that’s just where the mind automatically takes us. It doesn’t require a decision, commitment, or work.

But, it pure misery to live in that place for too long.

The good news is that you get to choose:  remain as is or expand into what can be.

It takes courage to DECIDE that things are going to be different.  But, once you put that stake in the ground and declare that you’re not going to let the past hold you back, it’s better than sex.  Well, almost!  

7.  Get Out of the House

When the world seems like a dark place, the last thing you’ll probably want to do is be in it.

While a woman needs a few days (or even a week) of solitude to allow for runny mascara, snotty noses, swollen eyes, and all the other beautiful attributes of a breakdown, there comes that dreaded day when it’s time to face the world again.

The thought of putting on clothes and playing pretend while forcing that smile can feel like torture, but you gotta do it.

That’s when you’ll see the homeless woman who suddenly makes your problems seem like a gift.

Or the stranger giving you a smile.

Or the laughter coming from the table beside you.

Or the cute dog who somehow senses you need a lick.

Or the sunshine.

All signs that there’s more life to be had.

8.  Partner with the “Setback”

Honest to God, I wanted to bitch slap ever person that told me to “look for the gift” when I was in agony.

However, what I did do on a regular basis was to ask my setback what it wanted from me.

Here are a few things I heard:

Believe in who you really are.

Have faith.

Be kind.

Stay focused.


Read a book





Setbacks are wise.  Just ask what it’s looking to share with you.

9.  Get Dressed

After a week of seclusion, I woke up one morning and heard a whisper:  Get dressed!

It felt like someone had just told me to go run the Marathon des Sables.

But, I knew I couldn’t hoard up forever, so I listened.

In the shower, I thought, “What would I wear if I was the happiest girl on earth (even though, clearly, I wasn’t)?”

Black.  Weird choice, I know, but it’s that color that makes me feel most alive.

Black dress. Black boots. Black sweater. Black shades. Pearls and lipstick. 

It looked like I was going to a funeral.  But, actually, I was on my way to my comeback!

Don’t ever underestimate the power of clothes paired with a strong intention. (tweet it!)

10.  Open Up and Ask

Friends, mentors, healers, books, housekeeper, prayer…you can’t do it alone.  Well, you could, I suppose, but it would be a much longer and much more painful process.

If you’re like me, asking for help sounds worst than drowning in your own sorrow and fear.  You’re strong, independent and you’ve got this.  You can’t let the world see that you’re not . . . well, perfect.  Or, you couldn’t dare inconvenience another soul.  Right?

Uh…so wrong.

I know how your heart would heal so much faster if you’d simply raise that hand of yours (or pick up the phone or knock on your friend’s door), and wave that white flag loud and proud.

Get some help and start filling your well with love, support, and inspiration.

You may or may not know this about me, but I’m not a fan of self-help overindulgence, just like I don’t believe that binging out on a pound of chocolate is good for the soul.  However, in your darkest hour, do whatever it takes to remind you of how powerful you are.  Last year, I spent a lot of time with this book.  

11.  Keep Living and Loving.

Back in the day, a setback would have sent me straight to the fridge for a major binge-fest or worse yet, speaking to myself like trash.

I’d separate myself from love and life.

But, self-love is the passageway to comebacks.

During the past year, I have treated myself like a Queen – weekly massages, daily affirmations, energy workers, weekend getaways, dinner parties, good Champagne (not the best, but good for my budget), snuggled in my favorite blanket, took long walks by the river, lit my best candles and enjoyed leisurely mornings.

During setbacks, choose to nurture your self-image more than ever!

12.  Leisurely Hustle

Not many women have the luxury of being able to completely check out of life and into The Peninsula Beverly Hills.  

There are still bosses, children, clients, and others counting on you.

I can’t think of a better time to learn how to leisurely hustle – taking #11 and combining it with focused time on those areas of your life that require your attention.  If you’ve got that inner “I’ve got this,” now’s the time to use it.

This past year was one of my best years ever in business, all while falling apart.  Why?

From my own pain and humility, I loved more than ever.  From dealing with my own fears, I had such a deeper understanding.   I put my problems aside during my office hours and focused on serving my clients, contractors and my own creativity with my whole heart.   I reached out and finally asked for support.  In my darkest hour, I visualized what I wanted.  I became fiercely determined and committed to my mission.

You don’t have to be perfect.  You can even be a mess.  But, you have to eventually show up.

Your comeback is just a decision away!

Cheering You On,


Self-Image Makeover

Live Your Life With Style, Flare, and Elegance