There are so many aspects to a life. Now that I have reached the middle of mine a lot more of it makes sense than it used to. Maybe that is what wisdom is all about — perspective. And, it is with that wider vision I am sharing a little bit about my journey here. In choosing how to share with you, I have decided to focus on the five main themes I emphasize in my retreats. To let you know, these retreats are customized, so often I mix things up. Your retreat may include some emotional healing, self care, spiritual reconnection, or even experiences not listed in the five main categories. Keeping this in mind, let me use the five categories to share a little bit about me.
Emotional Healing. When I was a child I use to pray to be a compassionate person. I had no idea then what that might mean. Later I learned compassion is the ability to stand with the suffering of others in a way that can hold that suffering with insight and love in order to open us up to the humanity inside ourselves despite the wounds we all endure. I’ve been with a lot of people in a lot of pain as a counselor, healer, and friend. Like many of these people, my life was also filled with adversity and trauma. Most of it I never expected to happen. Life incidents included abuse, heartbreak, feeling lonely, struggling to survive, triumph, having my face put back down into the dirt, getting up and moving forward again, at times wanting to completely give up, things turning around for the better once more, always moving on. Through the highs and lows of life what I learned the most over time was how to discover the “I” in the center of the storm. That “I” is what I have come to call the Peaceful Self. By staying in the center I was able to see that in fact my life experiences had given me what I asked for – compassion. Because of my experience with the highs and lows of life, I wrote a book on how to work effectively with the various emotions. Now, with that compassion, knowledge of the Peaceful Self within, and insight into emotions, when I work with people I often know from the inside out what it feels like to go through the joys and sorrows life may offer. Having survived so much and worked with literally thousands of people going through all kinds of adverse life situations, I have come to a place of inner peace. I also know the strength, dignity, wisdom and even joy that can be found as people heal. I am honored and amazed by us all.
Real Love. Relationships, what a ride! We dive into them fully expecting that we are in love, or that this person is finally the one! Then the infatuation and chemical brain dump high wears off and what you have is the real stuff. The real stuff isn’t always as easy or as fun. Since I started off in my early twenties already getting a Master’s in Marriage, Family, Child Counseling naturally I wanted to know a lot more about how relationships work at an early stage of my life. What I discovered is that I had a lot of redefining to do, mainly regarding this word called love. Over the years what I came to understand is maybe 90% of what we call love, isn’t love at all. It is codependency, infatuation, addiction, lust, even abuse. Over time I wrote a few books about this topic trying to sort all my learning out. I began to get rid of a lot of false notions about love, like love hurts! On the contrary, love is a healing force. It is the lack of, or loss of, love that hurts making us I.L.L. (I lack love). As I discovered what love really was, I learned how to really love myself. Only then was I able to establish truly loving relationships. That meant setting boundaries, learning how to let go of people who were not meant to be in my life anymore graciously, building a field of mutual respect, not being afraid to be alone without being lonely. Wow! What a journey. In the end it has paid off. After a life long struggle, love is now in an abundance in my life. I hope it will become abundant in your life too.
Self Care & Stress Relief. You can’t have as many professional degrees as I have (going on six) and not be a bit of an over-achiever. Striving, striving. Have you been there? Not to mention being a typical woman — pleasing, pleasing — and putting others first. Until the health gave out. That was “fun.” Actually, no fun at all. Mandatory rest was what my naturopathic doctor ordered for me, or I might not be able to recover at all. It wasn’t easy, learning to relax. I channeled the insights into what became a Daily OM online course and later another book on how to Take Back My Life and Love Myself. Practicing what I preach, I got off the treadmill. I allowed for my imperfections. I stopped trying to live up to everybody else’s expectations. I began to regularly take breaks. In short, I let myself heal and started to live more than just make a living. To let you know, my life is not perfect. I am not perfect. But, it is still all wonderful. That is good enough for me. And, if you work with me I will help you make your life imperfectly wonderful too.
Spiritual Reconnection. As a child I was a natural mystic. Raised Christian, my spiritual life was deeply meaningful to me. Then I went to undergraduate school. Regardless of our educational discipline we all had to take a number of science courses. In addition to the science classes, I decided to take a series of classes near my dorm on different belief systems because I didn’t want to walk across the snowy part of campus we called the “tundra” at Michigan State University. By the time I left my undergraduate degree, I felt my spiritual connection had been cut off. Between the scientific materialism and the variety of views from different spiritual traditions, frankly I was agnostic and confused. Since that time, I have spent the majority of my life getting that connection back. That involved a lot of spiritual practice. At one point I spent two years meditating up to four hours a day. Over time my mystical experiences returned. Because I was an educated philosophical seeker, I wedded those with what different spiritual traditions had to say about mystical episodes. To date, I am what you might call Interfaith. But, that is simply a label to account for my vast understanding of various spiritual belief systems. If there is a label I hope to leave this life with, it would be along the lines of having tried to be a kind and loving person. Though it is always good to wed head and heart, the heart is what people remember in the end.
Visioning. When I wrote my best-seller Beyond the Secret the notion of how to use the Law of Attraction in a spiritual way was not that popular. As I wrote, too often we come from ego in our desire to attract something, instead of from our spiritual nature. I’ve learned in my own life experience and through my clients (some who are multi-millionaires), that having it all materially in the end truly doesn’t matter much. Still, a certain baseline is good. It helps you turn your vision into reality. And, what good is it to be spiritual if you don’t have the resources to do good in the world? In my early years I was on stage in musicals. One of the leads I had was Dolly in Hello Dolly. I always remember one of my last lines, “Money is like manure. It’s not worth a damn unless it is spread around encouraging little things to grow.” That is what I want, to encourage people to grow into their full potential. As we do this in a spiritual way we experience fulfillment, because we have found the way to utilize our full potential in service to the greater good.
Well there it is. No, there are not many details. Are they really as important as the lessons that were learned? Ok. You want some details here are a few. When I first came to California in my twenties I was one of the original singing telegram girls. I could be found all over the place as Dolly Parton, Cleopatra, a short Wonder Woman, the Tap Dancing Heart, and more! I used to sing in a small band, but it wasn’t my passion. I gave it up. In the 1980’s when AIDS broke lose I was asked to teach meditation to men who had AIDS, a very scary disease to have at that time. I always remember how one guy was highly suspicious of me and asked me in the first class what a heterosexual white woman had in common with the rest of them. I quipped, “At least we all like men.” That broke the ice and we had a great time, until we went down to see Louis Hay in Los Angeles. There I was quite mopey because they took me to a gay bar where not one single good looking guy noticed me. Total bummer. By the way, gay, straight, mars, venus — all I know is we are meant to learn to love one another.
Fast forward, in the early 1990’s I was living in the Central Coast of California. Not sure how to make a living while I built a private counseling practice, I started to do retreats along with working for a small startup company known as America Online. HA! I didn’t see where that one was headed. In hindsight I should have bought stock. My responsibility was to pioneer online teaching. My first online class was to teach meditation. This was in the days when you would sign on and wait maybe thirty seconds to get connected. I used to sing the “waiting song” to stop my boredom as I waited for the obnoxious connection noise to stop. At first the only way to teach was through “chat rooms.” It is like constantly texting back and forth. Imagine that, teaching people how to meditate through texting. It wasn’t easy. But, I took it on and pioneered so many innovations in online teaching America Online had me teach 200 of their Online Campus faculty my innovations. They are all common place now.
What these two stories tell you is that I have always had a playful side, been curious, a pioneer, an innovator, a risk-taker, and willing to embrace people who are not like myself. All of this has taught me a lot. Some of it has taught me to be a lot less stupid. Like when I use to rock climb, sometimes you are better off with a buddy system and a rope. In other words, don’t go it all alone. Let others be there for you who know how to guide you. I hope that is what I offer you. Contact me if you feel so inspired. Let’s take the inner journey together.
Peace – Love – Light,