Transforming Lives From the Outside In
Terry Grahl -
a lifechanger who has helped rebuild lives from the outside in for women and families living in homeless shelters. As an award-winning interior decorator, Grahl is using her creative eye for design and her love for making a difference to help improve and brighten the lives of the less fortunate. Her passion? To inspire people to dream while they’re awake. As a visionary and as the founder of Enchanted Makeovers, her love for decorating has resulted in amazing transformations for shelter residents living in her community. She’s found her true calling.
community. In addition to transforming shelters into enchanted havens, she is providing tailored solutions to meet the needs of women and children who are rebuilding their lives, helping them to realize their true worth, and teaching them life and coping skills to prepare them for a successful future. Grahl enthusiastically shared her vision with the founder of Exceptional People Magazine. Monica: You are an interior decorator, but at the same time you're helping to transform the lives of women and children by redesigning the shelters they live in. Where did you get the exceptional idea to start Enchanted Makeovers (EM)?
Grahl realized that change can often begin from the outside. When you change your physical surroundings, you inspire change from within. You instill in others, hope, renewed vision and the desire for change. People begin to envision themselves and their lives beyond their current circumstances.
Terry: Divine intervention. It was nothing I came up with. Of course, I had a decorating business that I started in '05.
“Today, my calling is to transform shelters into beautiful sanctuaries, uplift the human spirit and empower individuals from all walks of life to pursue their dreams,” Grahl says.
Terry: Well, for me, dreaming means action. I think you've got to put footsteps to your prayers. It's not just lying in bed and dreaming. It's dreaming. It's visualizing. It’s taking action. The imagination is powerful but it’s about taking action. There's no time to waste anymore.
The people that she has impacted through Enchanted Makeovers have new attitudes and see a brighter future for themselves. It is amazing how a change in your surroundings can ultimately change your attitude and outlook on life. Through her organization, Grahl is broadening her reach well beyond her
Monica: You said your mission is to inspire people to dream while they are awake. I know what you mean, but can you expand on that?
Monica: Do you believe that many people don't take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them, or maybe they just don't see them, though they are surrounded by them.
Terry: I think that people don't see them. I always say it's an awakening. For me it's about nurturing the child from within. That's how I'm awakened. How many times have we not noticed butterflies or noticed even a hummingbird. I think people expect a grand finale. But I never take any small blessings for granted. When this all began in 2007, I noticed I was finding dimes. It wasn't pennies. And I thought, “This is strange. I keep finding dimes.” And to this day I still find them. And I decided that that was hope for me. In that moment it wasn't just a dime. No. It was a sign that I'm on the right path. And that's the awakening for me that I share with people. All of us hold that golden ticket. Monica: When you began your mission, although you had no money and you didn't have any volunteers lining up to help you, you continued to press forward. What does that say about the power of positive thinking and having faith? Terry: For me it's everything. That's the foundation for Enchanted Makeovers and for my life. It just feels right and I don't question it. When people walk away saying, “I don't want to do this anymore,” I have to go by how I feel. It feels right for me, and I'm going to keep pushing forward. I really believe this is my true calling. If I deny that, I deny myself, and I deny that many women and children will hopefully find their purpose or true calling someday. Monica: Pride can keep you from receiving your blessings.
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Terry: Yes, absolutely. What you're putting out ultimately is what comes back into your life. Monica: That is so true. You said that the first shelter you transformed
took more than just your decorating skills. In order to make the physical transformation of the shelter happen, you had to begin a transformation within yourself. You had to utilize all of your inner strength. Terry: Yes. I had to strip away all those things that I really hated about myself to begin to work with people and to understand the true mission of what we were trying to accomplish. Monica: What were some of those things you hated about yourself? Terry: Well, I hated that I was shy. I still am shy in many ways, but with
EM I'm not. I feel an enormous amount of inner strength with EM. I think there were many parts of me that had a lot of ego, and I believe that my ego was edging God out.
her doors to us to allow the women from the local shelter, Safe Horizon, to attend. I had entrepreneurs come in. I already had spoken with a lot of these women about sharing their stories. I said, “I want you to share that
with everyone that's going to be at this event. You have to trust me on this. You have a powerful message that needs to be heard,” and all of them agreed. There were six women who stepped up, and they shared their stories with the women from the local shelter and the entrepreneurs and staff at Martha Stewart's. It was amazing because I knew what was going to happen. I've already been through it. I knew that that's where the unity would begin and the walls would be torn down. I see the greatness in the women and children, and that's what I want other people to see, not the images that you see on the television. That's not what EM is about.
It's all those things that I try to pass on to volunteers and donors to help them realize that this is a bigger change. If we can start with an inner transformation, that's where unity begins. I always say, “She is me.” All of us want to feel worthy. We want to feel loved, and we want to be recognized. Monica: Are you expanding into other states? Terry: Yes, yes. In 2010 we did several events. Our first event was at Martha Stewart's office. She opened
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Monica: Oh, absolutely. What do you believe or what do you hope the women and families in the shelters that you work with will gain from your contribution? What is your dream for them?
Terry: My ultimate dream is that they realize it doesn't matter how much money you have or where you come from. It happened in my life. We were on food stamps. We lost our home. We've been through horrible things, all of our family members, but guess what? We're still moving forward and accomplishing great things, and so it's no different. This is just another -- this is a stepping stone in your life. It's part of the journey, but this it's not the end of the story. Monica: Some of the people on your team provide various services. I think you have a gentleman who actually does makeovers.
Terry: Yes, that's my brother. He has his own store, and he's been a makeup artist for 20 years. He works with celebrities and has been in a lot of national magazines. I'm very proud of my brother because all of us,
Terry: Well, I have a stronger faith in God, enormous strength. I mean my faith is everything. I have better coping skills. If something goes wrong with my house or if my kids do something, I have a different way of
coping with it. It seems like I'm just more at peace. I never had that before. Before, my first reaction was to just panic and cry. Now, I approach things differently.
we're a tribe because a lot of my family members are on the team. My mother does the cooking with the women and children, and Kevin -he's the handyman. He's a gentle giant. And then my sister does the volunteer coordinating, and she's the protector because Tracy has been through a lot of rough times in her life. She doesn't know how to save herself, but she wants to save everyone else. So we call her the protector. Monica: Yeah. In what ways has your life changed since you began changing their lives?
Monica: You have certainly made a difference in so many lives, and I know they truly appreciate it. Terry: Yes. I've sat and listened to many women in the shelter because it's all about listening. I think all of us want to be heard. Monica: What are your plans for the next couple of years? Have you redecorated shelters in other states?
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Terry: We want a national headquarters, and I have already found a home. People from Paris to Hong Kong have contacted us and said, “We want EM here. We need EM here.” Well, I can't be everywhere, so we need a national headquarters where we can train people. It starts with that one person. This is a transformation of one person who will go out in the community and empower all people. It will empower the women, the children and the community. Monica: How can people support you and your organization? Terry: Well, we have several projects. One is Capes for Kids, a sewing project. We have the doll project, which provides handmade dolls. The idea of things being handmade is very powerful to us. We don't believe in buying everything from a store -that's how I was brought up. My mom made everything, and I believe that's where the love is. That's part of the healing process for the giver and
the receiver. We also have the pillowcase program. People can learn more about these programs on our website. It's an emotional investment, because ultimately you're giving yourself away. You're sharing yourself. We have donors from Australia to Singapore, and people share their stories. That's what's so powerful about it. There was one woman who was making artwork from Singapore, and she talked about her dreams for the women and children. I remember all those things. You can't purchase that from a store. Monica: I love what you're doing. What legacy would you like to leave? Terry: She is me, that we see each other. We don't see the mistakes; we don't see the past. We just see that we all have dreams. We all want to feel worthy and loved, and we want to have a voice. That's it. We're not looking at the past.
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Monica: I think one of the most important things that people can learn from you is faith, patience and allowing God to act in your life. Terry: Yes. That has been the biggest thing. It's helped me so much, and I want to share that with people. I have to show them examples because a lot of people are kind of leery. Monica: It is absolutely amazing what you're doing through Enchanted Makeovers. Terry: I'm just very grateful that you let me share my story and the mission, and I'm very grateful for the people that believe in the mission. It's been a blessing. ♦