Okay, what’s my story?
Four core phases of my life inform my current work as a catalyst for the clarity you seek for your life.
1. Shutting down at an early age: When I was 8, my mother and I had a painful exchange, which played out in a way that had a life long impact. I was ill and wanted to stay home from my first experience at a local overnight camp. My mother ignored my deep distress and heart rending pleadings. She insisted that I was being foolish. A disagreement on that order is not an uncommon experience between parents and children I am sure. Parents are doing the best they can, using their best judgment about what needs to happen. In that instance my mother’s best judgment prevailed and she sent me back to camp. In that moment, what she did by ignoring my needs, was much less important in the scheme of things than what I did to myself. Although I would not have been able to verbalize this at the time, I made a life altering decision. I decided that my needs were not important. I didn’t deserve to have them met, much less express them, much less even feel them. I hid my feelings and needs so deeply from that point on, that not even I could even find them. I operated from the neck up, with intellect and will, ignoring that I had feelings and needs. I vowed that no one would ever have a chance to humiliate the real me again.
Part of my life’s mission was set in motion by that wound. To relentlessly pursue a path to find myself, trust myself, be myself, honor myself, and express myself, became the journey of my lifetime.
As I look back, creating an impenetrable wall around me satisfied my need to protect my deepest self. It defined much of my young and later adult life. (Not a strategy for a good marriage.) While I did what I needed to do, found jobs I really liked, enjoyed being a teacher and a manager, I always felt like I was efforting through life with one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake, without knowing why. Part of me was out working in the world very successfully, the other part was still hiding in fear. That awareness became my healing challenge.
2. Relentlesssly exploring my denied parts: At 40 my life and work started to converge, as in “we teach what we need to learn.” I became a management trainer, facilitator and coach with my own small business practice. As I discovered processes for unearthing my own erroneous beliefs, and honoring my own feelings and needs, I found myself sharing them with others. I certainly was not alone in my quest. I encountered so many others who were eager to uncover and release the less useful beliefs about themselves and the world they had adopted in their early years. They, too, wanted to be whole, happy, effective and free.
I was the proverbial wounded healer. My programs, no matter the subject, always provided men and women the opportunity to talk about who they were and what they wanted to achieve. Participants were invited to listen to themselves and each other about the things that mattered to them and to gently uncover ways they might be blocking their own desired results. Based on my own series of breakthroughs and insights about how to promote more personal effectiveness, I created Breakthrough, a popular personal growth coaching program mostly attended over a 10-year period by women seeking to improve their results in sales. The program later migrated in expanded form into coaching for government executives as the highly successful Leadership Laboratory, still operating today with the next generation of family. I was happy and proud of my life and my accomplishments.
But I was not yet whole, nor free. I worked hard in my business, most likely too hard, and denied my needs for rest and life balance, thinking I was having too much fun helping others, which, in many ways, I was. I also denied the toll my marriage was taking on my emotional health. Unfortunately, deep needs and feelings ignored, find a way to surface and get met. And so it was.
3. The “knock out” at my professional pinnacle: At 57, in 1997, strange symptoms appeared and I was ultimately diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The symbolism of having a chronic illness in which a body’s immune system attacks itself was not lost on me. The diagnosis became a major turning point that resulted in the dissolution of my marriage and an inability to work in my business. My health was seriously compromised. It was a devastating blow to lose my professional identify, my business, my family and my health all at the same time. A new chapter in expressing feelings and honoring needs was about to begin. I was forced into taking time to learn and to grow and to heal.
4. Affirming a new life and making the journey home: I worked hard to heal. In my mid-60′s despair about a “life lost” began to transform into acceptance and joy in the “life I was creating.”
What was therapeutic? I had time. Time for me. Time to grieve. Time to be angry. Time to explore what drove my illness. Time to explore a slower pace and new and unfamiliar behaviors like amble, wander, linger and saunter. Time to explore who I was without my business framework, and how I wanted to be.
What else was therapeutic? Writing. Early on, in 2001, I found my voice and dared to not only express, but share my feelings even more fully. I tempted visibility and vulnerability to write my first book, Musing Along the Way, recently republished along with a companion volume, together which document a 11 year period of change and loss. In 2010, after working hard at the “healing”, which must precede any “curing”, another book was born. Just as I was posing these very important life questions to myself for my own future, I published Why Not Do What You Love? a useful prompt for reflection, paralleling my personal quests.
Deeply therapeutic has been the space for relaxed self acceptance in which I could begin to answer that Why Not? question and recreate, within the new constraints of energy and mobility, a life that matters for my remaining years. A new peace, new energy, and a new mission coalesced:
“I want to live out my life purposefully and gracefully and help others do the same.”
“I want to invite people into the clarity that will allow them to craft their lives around what they love.”
” I want to especially support you who seek to live with meaning and purpose as elders.”
Fortunately my own emerging clarity and purpose, combined with my conscious entry into the realms of the aging, have allowed me to slowly return to my roots as a laser clear coach, mentor, and facilitator. Here I can once again help others, perhaps you, to gain clarity about what’s next for you and to start making it happen.
Yes, here I am, a healer, born of life’s wounds. Veteran of many healing journeys, mine and those of others. An elder. A sage. An acknowledged “old soul.” Committed to providing safe space for your dreams to be expressed and honored. Discerning and affirming of your unique gifts. Guide to the gentle questions that will both elicit your priorities and address your unmet needs. Skilled at assisting you to release old decisions and beliefs that no longer serve. Gifted at listening to you, in a way that you can hear yourself. A catalyst for deep clarity and action.
Be assured that the act of inviting you to take time––to articulate what you deeply desire and to start doing more of it––is a precious gift and absolute delight of mine.
Out beyond right and wrong there is a field, I will meet you there.”