Guiding powerful creative breakthroughs that transform your future.
I´m Maya, and this is the work I love.
My role in facilitating your transformation is informed by my:
✔️complementary roles as an author, artist, educator, change strategist, business mentor, mindfulness trainer, non-profit leader, and digital course coach
✔️focused training and unique method of accelerating the effects of transformational coaching
✔️extensive specialized experience in guiding my clients to see and embrace transition opportunities
✔️perspective as a positive disruptor successfully creating new ways to solve problems in the areas of mindfulness, education, and now, breakthrough coaching
✔️global opportunities to work with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds
✔️deep understanding of trauma, both studied and gained from my experience surviving and healing complex childhood trauma
Your beliefs, habits, and choices are inextricably linked to your early life.
Whether you recognize your limiting beliefs or not, it´s likely that at least one is getting in your way.
I (over)share my story here to help you see how switching your story can change your life.
Let´s just say I walk my talk. 😊
It´s compelling evidence that once you can imagine it, you can create it.
Warning: the following section has multiple references to trauma.
Can you spot my switch?
Loss, change, and trauma.
I was adopted at two days old. My parents divorced when I was five. (When my father told my mother he was ¨homosexual,¨ she had to look it up in the dictionary.) We moved to Oregon to live with my mother´s parents. Six months later, my grandfather died suddenly while mowing the lawn. My grandmother (primary caregiver) spiraled into early dementia and attempted to kill me (twice). My father attempted to kidnap my two brothers and me, resulting in a ban on visitation for five years. My mother remarried to a divorced man with four children. We moved into a garage we built in rural Oregon. Sexual abuse began immediately.
I had just turned 10.
⬆️ complex childhood trauma
Me at age two.
My response was to show up as smart, hard-working, and nice.
I studied, worked in the fields, saved my money, and acted like I was just fine. ⬅️ denial/suppression
Then, at 15, I was the sole survivor in a devastating accident. Because it happened in a different city, my parents and the police insisted it would be best if I never mentioned it to anyone, ever. Nobody suggested counseling. ⬅️ lack of acknowledgement of suffering
I did not tell a single person, not even my siblings, for years.
The garage in Gaston, Oregon, 1970.
Silently reeling from survivor guilt, I began to engage in self sabotage.
I suffered from depression, developed an eating disorder, and was suspended from high school for showing up drunk at the homecoming dance when I was the homecoming queen. ⬅️ people-pleasing behavior
[The mindfulness game I created during this time kept me alive, and was a potent force in my healing, but it didn´t address everything.]
Smiling through the pain.
At 17, I met my birth mother. We began a difficult relationship.
[Backstory: She had become pregnant at 21 after falling in love with an older married man who lied to her about being separated (his wife sent him love letters daily) and infertile (he had impregnated his secretary six months earlier). My birth mother attempted suicide twice while pregnant with me, and showed up at my birth father´s workplace with a loaded gun, threatening to kill herself unless he married her.]
She never had any other children, and was diagnosed with MS at age 28. (Research now shows that MS is related to repressed anger and its impact on the nervous system.)
⬆️ intergenerational trauma
She´s 85 now, and my only living parent. We have a good relationship, and laugh at the absurdity of our trauma stories.
Longing to break free from my past, I plotted my escape.
As the valedictorian of my high school class, I got a scholarship/financial aid package and headed off to college. I double majored in psychology and Asian Studies, and spent my senior year studying in nine Asian countries.
When I returned to Oregon, newly graduated, it was the middle of a recession. Stuck at home and unable to find a job for months, I became depressed, convinced that the future I´d imagined was slipping away from me and I would be unlucky forever.
⬆️ persistent limiting belief despite recent fulfillment and success
Me with friends I met while trekking in Nepal, 1981.
I knew I needed a fresh start, a clean break from my past.
So, I legally changed my name.
I was ridiculed by friends and family, and ¨disowned¨ by my adoptive father.
I did not care.
I went from Greta Welchoff to Maya Talisman.
And I fully committed to believing that I was magically LUCKY.
⬆️ switch to a new story to replace the ¨unlucky¨one
I breathed it in. I chanted it to myself.
I saw ONLY good things coming my way.
Ding ding! Now watch how everything shifts...
Almost immediately, I landed a job teaching English in northern Japan.
Within two months of arrival, I met my soul mate, who grew up just ten miles from my hometown.
A couple of years later, we got married, and had four daughters within five years, fulfilling my dream of creating my own family and doing things differently.
After five years in Japan, we settled in a college town in Oregon. My husband started an import/export business with Japan, and I taught ESL classes at the university.
Newlyweds at the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, Japan, 1985
When our youngest started preschool, I opened a vintage/resale clothing store that catered to local students and international resellers. Those were fun seat-of-our-pants years, with four young children, three businesses (including a snowboard/skateboard shop), and a long list of community activities. We organized the building of a skate park and a Saturday Market for vendors ages 10-20, and won awards like Hometown Hero and Best New Business.
Very 90s me at Retro Active Clothing Company, 1996
In 1998, we took a three-month trip with our four daughters to Nepal and India, where my husband had spent a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student at 16.
I got certified as a mediator and conflict resolution facilitator.
I served as the national outreach director for an environmental education organization, and the executive director of a peace and social justice non-profit.
I started my mindfulness training work and first digital course. (See story on the HOME page)
Three of our daughters went on their own Rotary Youth Exchange years abroad.
Next, we sold everything and moved to Mexico. A year later, we moved to Argentina.
Our daughters were graduating from U.S. or Canadian universities at 19 or 20.
People asked how they did it. I wrote a query letter, and got a book deal.
My book, THE NEW GLOBAL STUDENT, was published by Crown (Random House) in 2009.
"Funny, innovative, and meaningful...a how-to guide with heart."
The Boston Globe
"Tremendous insight...essential reading for families yearning to step off the treadmill and plunge into the world."
Daniel H. Pink, New York TImes' bestselling author of DRIVE and A WHOLE NEW MIND
¨[This book] will open your eyes, get your heart pounding and your mind racing, and maybe set you off on the adventure of a lifetime.¨
Eric Maisel, author of CREATIVITY FOR LIFE and COACHING THE ARTIST WITHIN
As new empty nesters, my husband and I bought and refurbished a farmhouse in rural Uruguay.
That was great fun, but we missed being around kids. We decided to return to Asia to teach young children again.
We got jobs teaching at a private kindergarten in Beijing. I was promoted to vice principal.
Weeks later, I was recruited to serve as the private English tutor for the family of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, in Hangzhou.
After four years in China, we moved back to Mexico, where we immersed ourselves in creating art.
During an epidemic, I got chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that causes severe joint pain. (Chikungunya is an African Makonde word meaning ¨bent over in pain.¨)
A year later, I developed a related autoimmune condition similar to rheumatoid arthritis. It came with a terrible prognosis of a shortened life span due to progressive joint and organ failure. I skipped the chemo-drugs-for-life prescription and focused on natural healing methods. I became completely symptom-free and healthy without ever taking medication, with no flares or relapses in 8+ years.
Cala, from my Cucina Tradicional series of 12 art tortillas celebrating Mexican Independence Day (flour, corn kernels, and hand embroidery on fresh tortilla) 2015
We moved back to Buenos Aires, where our youngest daughter was living. We spent the pandemic there during one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world.
I started creating digital art. I turned my work into NFTs that sold to collectors around the world, and donated the proceeds to organizations working effectively on climate change solutions. I published articles on sustainable blockchain practices and participated in international panels on ethical AI standards and artists´ rights.
My art was shown in exhibits in the UK, Spain, France, and Italy.
My digital art piece, Bridal, shown at Poble Espanyol in Barcelona, Spain, 2022.
Also during that time, I started Switch Strategies for Change to offer support to women who were struggling with income insecurity due to closures.
I helped women over 50 in 18 countries create digital courses that expanded their impact and created a sustainable income stream. They went on to start new businesses and non-profit organizations as well as a wide range of change initiatives helping their local communities.
It was during this pro bono work that I developed my accelerated breakthrough transformational coaching technique to quickly help my clients release the limiting beliefs that would block their success.
In 2024, Switch Strategies for Change became Switch Transformations with a focus on helping women and men over 40 experience bold creative breakthroughs in their personal and professional lives. (I no longer offer digital course coaching.)
My ¨lucky¨ story keeps leading me toward new dreams.
These days, my husband and I spend most of the year in Buenos Aires, just a couple of blocks from our youngest daughter and her 4-year-old son. Every year, we all gather with our other three daughters and their families (we have 5 grandchildren under the age of 5) who live in Amsterdam, Dubai, and Sacramento. This summer, we´ll spend a month together in Portugal.
Two daughters, partners, and grandchildren during a visit to Buenos Aires, 2022
My dream life may not look anything like yours. And that´s the point!
We each get to choose what we want for ourselves.
I choose to work with creative people over 40 like YOU who want this chapter of life to be thrilling and fulfilling, and who share my passion for awareness, creativity, growth, and fun.
I believe you are here for a reason.
(And not just because it´s the bottom of the page.)
Whether you are:
*feeling stuck in your creative project
*facing a major life setback or transition
*re-examining your purpose at this stage of your life
*wanting to start an exciting new chapter for yourself or
*trying to dismantle trauma-related limiting beliefs that hold you back