I was the teenaged girl who rarely was asked for a date, and never by football players, the kings of the campus. But when a quarterback had a personal problem, he came to me. And brought his teammates with their problems. So it began, though I had no clue then that it was valuable.
It’s not the whole story. I graduated Valedictorian in a class of 580. The trouble was that I didn’t care about it. I had done it to—finally—win some sort of approval from my toxic father. Any of you who have tried a similar thing know that such approval is worth little. Still, I learned how to learn—and I loved it.
There’s more. At about 14, I discovered writings by great mystics like Teresa of Avila, and stories about the Buddha. I was captivated. All through high school I devoured—often with a sense of recognition—any spiritual writings that I could find. I believed them all, though hindsight tells me I didn’t really understand. The formation, however, was beginning in my heart, far deeper than my awareness.
I’d like to say that from those three strands, everything grew. But I wasn’t so savvy about my own problems. For many years, I was afraid, ready to betray myself to be in relationship with peers. I was angry. The possibility of being who I was, wanting what I wanted, and making life decisions—these were too anxiety producing, so I avoided them. It was one among many mistakes. My mistakes, however, taught me, made me grow. I was passionate about growing. I longed for change, especially for spiritual expansion, and followed after it in every situation.
All along the way, my teachers and professors thought I was wonderful, couldn’t compliment me enough, and occasionally—to my astonishment—brought their own problems to me for insight.
In adulthood I followed along where life led. I worked, ranging from managing a halfway house for recovering mental patients, to directing a Hospitality Center for German merchant sailors, to working in a retreat house teaching and leading, to teaching college, to becoming an educator of adults in matters religious and spiritual, and I became a published writer for some 25 years. Through everything, regardless of the form, the essence was always listening and sharing insights, adding learned content, encouraging and showing new possibilities. In all these situations, my work was highly valued, more than I valued it myself.
My work, even my being, was enriched by completing a couple seminary degrees, being ordained as an inter-spiritual minister; I earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Spiritualities (I was 40+ by then). I was trained and practiced in bodywork, and earned certification in Professional Life Coaching, practicing for nearly 20 years. And there was marriage and widowhood.
I’ve been a slow learner—it took years for me to recognize or value what I gave, or even to define it. Even so, I was happy most of the time. I learned from all circumstances, sought help when I needed it, and felt profoundly in love with life—all of it. I loved being outdoors. I created things, usually with needle and thread. I wrote a lot. I danced with joy. I sang, played the piano. I rejoiced in the performing arts. Friendships mattered more than anything. All of which are still a vital part of my life (only now I play the Native American flute instead of the piano).
Today, healing has accumulated enough. I’ve made countless changes through the years and life has taught me, welcomed me, transformed me. I know now what I offer and how helpful it has been to many people. Most important for you: I know how I got here. I know the essential in my work. I call it “Befriending Your Soul.”
The harvest and distillation of all that has expanded me, I offer to you. I invite you to let me come along with you, to let me support you in your change, your transformation, to ease and expand your own precious soul. For that, in the end, is the answer to the inner longing that we all already share.