The Power of Cut and Paste

(As published in the last printed issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines, August 2017)

Niña Terol used old magazines, buried dreams, and renewed faith to turn her life into her best masterpiece yet.

Did you ever wake up one day, shocked to realize that you no longer recognized who you were or the life you were living?


That was me in 2013. I was in a marriage that nobody wanted for me, a relationship that made me feel small and disrespected in so many ways, every single day. I was also 40 lbs. overweight, weighed down by misery and buried under layers of shame and regret. I withdrew from family and friends to spare myself the agony of explaining my choices. But with each day that passed, I knew I was also moving farther away from my true self.


One day, desperate for inspiration, I unearthed old magazines and started to assemble a “dreamboard”–a creative collage representing my dreams. I started dreamboarding back in college, and that enabled me to set and achieve big goals. However, the state of my married life made me forget the power of those boards, and it took my life to crash for me to cling back to my old self and dig out my buried dreams.


Tearing up old magazines felt like catharsis. Cutting and pasting images felt like a metaphor for reassembling pieces of my broken life. What emerged from my little corner was an explosion of color and wonder–a manifesto to “find my muse”, “go where the love is”, “have courage”, and live “the surreal life.” My board screamed for passion, imagination, inspiration, and authenticity–for a partner, a family, and a home life that was filled with love and joy. My life was nowhere near it, and my soul yearned to be set free.
My 2013 dreamboard
My 2013 dreamboard
I needed to recognize that the marriage was long over and that I would have to take the difficult steps to extract myself from that old life and build a new one. It took me an entire year to finally walk away, but once I did, there was no turning back–and no other way to go but up.


I left a government job that I loved for one that allowed me to move out on my own and more comfortably take care of my needs. I disciplined myself to return to a healthy lifestyle, dropping 40 lbs. in six months and regaining the confidence I needed to rebuild my life. I reconnected with old friends and formed a “girl tribe,” and we danced, ran, practiced yoga, and supported each other through our respective journeys. I also welcomed new people into my life, learning more about myself and others in the process, and allowing myself to love and feel loved all over again. I turned my life into an adventure, guided by my dreamboard and driven by a healthy sense of self-love.

I didn’t realize it then, but my 2013 dreamboard unlocked what have been the best years of my life (so far!). In the years since, I’ve unearthed more vivid dreams, created more colorful boards, and brought so much more awe into my life.


From that entire journey, I’ve learned to listen to myself and heed the different signals that my body, mind, gut, and soul were telling me. I’ve learned to honor the different parts of me that needed to be heard, and I’ve forced myself to silence my inner critic and to be kinder to myself.


I’ve also learned that no dream is ever too big or too small, and that if you dream vividly, dare boldly, and do things purposefully, you’ll go further than you ever imagined. Most importantly, I’ve learned to go back to God and trust in His divine timing and abundance. (His sense of humor isn’t too bad, either.)


Inspired by one of my dreamboards, I’ve turned dreamboarding from a hobby to a survival tool to a workshop that I’ve now been able to share with people and groups of all kinds, in different parts of the world. One of my dreamboards says that part of my life mission is to “create change” and “illuminate lives.” Transforming my own life was just the beginning ; with God’s grace, I hope to use the power of cut and paste to transform others’ lives as well and help them create the beautiful, vibrant, and inspiring masterpieces that their own lives are meant to be.
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