It's funny, so many people ask me for this, say I should write a book of all that I've been through. But when I sit to write it, where to begin eludes me every time. I hate to be the one to say "It all started when I was a child" but it sort of did, in a weird way that I am now at 30 only beginning to comprehend. I grew up on a horse farm in southern New Jersey and spent most of my childhood attending my all-girls Catholic school and hanging out in the pool constantly swimming underwater or in the barn with all of the animals. I was perfectly content to be enraptured with my studies, with the water, or with the horses that surrounded me.
I was always most comfortable on my own, not having to deal with other people's drama and instead lost in my own thoughts, reading about myths and obsessing at even an early age over Classical studies- Greece. Rome. Egypt. India. I was constantly told that I was 'too sensitive, too quiet'. I could see things in people and I avoided anyone who I got any sort of 'strange feeling' from. I even stopped talking for 2 years at age 2. No idea why, I just know I only spoke to immediate family & no one else. I contracted Lymes Disease at age 12 and had Bells Palsy for a spell, the right side of my face paralyzed. I still have some remnants of the disease and that was when my right eye began to change color from blue to brown. It is now half way there. I was almost kicked out of 8th grade for refusing to be confirmed (and out of the family by my grandmother) and out of high school for writing my senior paper based on the book "Aphrodite's Daughters" & about Indian temple priestesses and the rituals they are believed to have taken part in. But I was valedictorian and thought I could get away with anything. And I did. I still gave that speech and still have a copy now.
I went to college at Drew University, a staunch atheist (so I liked to think) rebelling against my Catholic School upbringing- although I ironically chose a Methodist university and started by majoring in Classics and Anthropology. I lived in Greece for a winter term and studied the Mysteries at Eleusis. I remember walking into an old temple in Corinth connected with Aphrodite, and I cried and cried for hours on that floor. I felt like I had been there before and I still get chills when I look at the one picture that I took that day.
I loved anything and everything that had to do with ancient history and religion, and my goal was to study it as long as I could and become a professor. I was particularly drawn to all things esoteric, and body rituals to attain enlightenment, particularly those of Native Americans- I am part Cherokee myself. Things like the mystery schools intrigued me, I felt like I was reading of my past lives and I already knew all of it before. And the Native American rituals like hook hanging, and even modern rituals like piercing and tattooing, became my obsession.
But my parents kept pushing me in another direction since I was one of the first in the family to go to college, and I gave in. I switched my major to Economics, and that led me down a deep, dark path of a lot of pain, a lot of confusion and a lot of losing myself. I worked on the 44th floor of World Trade 1 for a semester studying stocks and bonds just months before 9/11- I lost friends that day- and eventually graduated soon after with a degree in Economics and Business and a job waiting for me in finance at the largest company in the world, AIG. I went on to work in Manhattan off Wall Street. I was "living the life" so they say, and yes, I totally bought into it for a while. By the time I was transferred to San Francisco, I had a six figure job, an expense account, expensive suits, a fancy car and apartment, a packed social calendar, lots of 'friends'.
I was absolutely miserable.
But the thing was, I didn't realize I was miserable for a long time. I just partied a lot, drank a lot, beat my body into submission in marathons and triathlons and all sorts of athletic endeavors- seeking happiness in the bottom of a bottle, the finish line of a race, in the arms of men who didn't respect me, or various other avenues of numbing a soul that is aching to be found.
Then in 2007, I stumbled into a REAL yoga class. I had taken yoga before, but this time, something was different. In what has become a huge pattern on this path, I made a last minute decision to go somewhere despite what my plans were or reason told me I should go.
I was supposed to take clients out to a 5 star restaurant, but instead, I canceled and went to a new teacher's class at my gym. Something happened that evening that opened my heart wide open. I remember walking home that night with the first real, genuine smile I had mustered in years, chanting some chant I heard for the first time that night. I felt like my heart was glowing.
I started to go to his classes regularly, but still couldn't quite give up my old fast paced lifestyle. But then New Years Eve 2008, I woke up naked and alone in a man's bed who I despised, with no recollection of how I got there, where I had been, what I had done- and I realized that my life needed to change. Immediately.
I met Shiva Rea 3 weeks later. The Yoga Journal Conference was in the building next to my work- by then I had a corner office overlooking the Bay in Embarcadero 4 here in San Francisco. I signed up for her all day workshop the night before, having no idea who she was, and called in sick to work. I just saw that the day was about Agni, and I knew I had a lot of fire to contain at the time (I'm a Leo sun, Sagittarius moon and Sag rising!).
I began to see what this yoga thing was all about, and I found my style in flow. I stopped drinking for the most part and I began to change my life. But my industry did not approve. They all of a sudden threatened to fire me for having a small nose ring that I had for years (I blurted in response, "you can't make me, I'm Hindu" without even thinking, even though I had never affiliated myself that way. Ever.) They threatened to fire me for no longer taking clients out to drink, what they called 'marketing.' They threatened me with a demotion for various other reasons. So finally, after many months of struggle, they just included me in a huge lay-off (after I resigned the day before) at my request to be done with me.
I shook the corporate boat. I went against the norm. And it was not tolerated.
From there, I did a 27 day straight 200 hour yoga teacher training with Ana Forrest. She happened to be in San Francisco right around that time, and her training sort of fell at my feet begging to be done. At the time I said it was hell, but now I see the value in why I had to study with her. She is a shaman and she certainly went deep within me to extract what was holding me back. She told me I was meant to be a healer and that I had to study CranioSacral Therapy, but by that point I was so angry at the whole program that I ignored her advice. By the end of that month, I was left a skinny, shell of a woman, raw and beaten and afraid of the world. I had no job, I all of a sudden hated yoga, and yet, I was supposed to be a 'teacher'. But I didn't want to teach asana! Not at all! I wanted to run and hide and never hear the word 'yoga' again. Yet I went out there and tried to teach at studios in San Francisco- and failed. Miserably. Audition after audition left my ego battered and bruised as studio after studio told me I didn't fit their 'profile'. I had 2 classes a week at a gym and I dreaded every time I had to go teach even those.
I was defeated and couldn't believe that I had left a cushy life to teach something I no longer loved. Something I in no way felt qualified to teach even.
Months went by in a blur, then I saw that Shiva was doing a weekend workshop at Yoga Tree and was going to run a retreat at Esalen the day that ended. I had read about the retreat months before, put down a deposit, but canceled after my training with Ana because the last thing I wanted to do was a week full of yoga! But I convinced myself to at least go to Yoga Tree, and after a heart-opening, soul shattering evening of Trance Dance, I called Esalen the next morning and they told me they had ONE bunk bed left for the retreat- which was to start in less than 10 hours. I just knew I HAD to be there, even though I had no clue even where THERE was.... Next thing I knew, I was on my way to Big Sur for the first time. I walked in late that night, getting lost on the way and having no clue where I was or what I was getting myself into.
That week forever changed the course of my life, more so than anything that had happened before.
I met my meditation teacher, Paul Muller-Ortega, and learned several practices that were instrumental to my path. I got to know Shiva and her tribe more and fell in love with them--I recently spent my 30th birthday with many of them on the beach at Shiva's house, the perfect way to ring in a new decade. I experienced Esalen Massage and CranioSacral Therapy for the first time, which I now do every day. And I met Ellen Watson, who later convinced me to come to Bali to learn massage.
So then came Bali. By now I had realized that when the universe sends me an opportunity, I better take it. I emptied my savings and got on a plane. I got very very sick within 24 hours of landing with a severe kidney infection and stones, had numerous Balinese and Esalen healers work on me, was cured of the illness without going to a 'doctor', and realized, as Ellen so nicely put it, that I was finally deep within 'my healing crisis.' And boy was I.
I completed the Esalen massage program and then decided to stay in Southeast Asia and follow my intuition of the next step. Ellen told me to stay in Ubud & study CranioSacral after receiving a 2 hour massage from me, but I refused. I wanted to see the world! Thus, a 4 week trip turned into 8 months.
The trip took me to Ubud, to the Indian ocean and the volcanoes, to the Gili Islands, to the jungles of Thailand where I learned Reiki and Shamballa healing, to the dirty streets of Kuala Lumpur where I experienced discrimination that almost crushed me, to the pristine beauty of Singapore, to the islands of Thailand where I fasted alone for a time- this was where I first felt what I can only describe as a kiss from the divine. I was meditating during a monsoon and all of a sudden, everything was a deep dark purple orb, and then Shiva was there, and I was with him. A connection so strong that it shook me to the core, a love so deep that I see it every time I close my eyes to meditate. I'll never forget that day for as long as I live...
I very soon after I wound up back in Bali, funny enough, to study CranioSacral Therapy. Again last minute. I woke up one day at sunrise and randomly emailed Leonid Sobeleff to see when he was having a class. He said in 2 weeks, he just had someone cancel THAT morning, and next thing I knew, I was scrambling to get another Visa and going back to the Island of the Gods. He only takes 8 students at a time and has a wait list. Yet there I was with another last minute invite to join....
I found my calling in that jungle, with a small group of 8 people who helped me find my gift. I had found what I was 'looking for.' I stayed and lived in Ubud and meditated for a few weeks on my own, and it was at this time that my visions started-- first with green faces (most Indian and Native American), then growing into many scenes both dreadful and peaceful. I began to have nightmares of wars, of great divides, of earthquakes and tsunamis. I experienced a 5.6 earthquake five days before I left Bali, then 5 days after I left a huge earthquake in Pedang killed 100k people in 2009. I still wake up about once a week convinced we had an earthquake and waiting to hear the tsunami sirens as I live at the ocean now. I also began a series of dreams in which I was preaching, teaching or something to very large crowds. I could never tell what I was saying, but I was always wearing white and the crowd was very obviously entranced with what I was saying. I very soon returned home......
But "home" meant nothing anymore. I thought that now that I knew what I was 'here to do', I would find work at a wellness center and it would all simply fall into place. I still had some savings left, I had a wonderful apartment and a nice car and all those 'things' that spell success.
But I no longer fit into any of it.
I looked for work as a healer, but found very little. I tried to go back to corporate, but they wouldn't have me. I tried to move in with friends, but found they were no longer my friends. I met a man who I fell in love with instantly, and we are still happily together today <3 But the rest of it continued to unravel before my eyes. In the first 6 months of my return, I lost my house. I lost my car. I lost the space I did my bodywork out of. I lost my best friend. I lost all my money. I was broke.
I lost everything in the eyes of society. Yet I gained one thing I always thought I had, but really did not.
For the first time in my life, I was free of all those things that I had acquired in my quest to fit in, to be successful, to live up to other people's dreams. In my journey to find myself, what I had found, ultimately, was freedom. It wasn't easy. In fact, there were days when I would be sitting on my bare floor in a tiny apartment attached to a friend's garage and just imagine myself back in that corner office, walking into meetings in my $500 pumps and making million dollar deals. But looking back, I would not trade anything that I went through for the millions of corporate dollars I handled over the years.
Now, I have an apartment at the beach in San Francisco and a land lord who lets me do my healing work out of my home. I am in a very loving relationship with a very patient man, a Sagg to my Leo and we are quite the pair!! I have a cat named Shakti and she chose that name, not me. She is the biggest love bug of a cat and her favorite thing is to sit in my lap during meditation, then plop down right over my heart during savasana after, purring away. I've started my own company called Green Star Holistix, which was actually born out of a vision I had of the Green Tara during a meditation in Bali. I was meditating and it came to me, the Tara, the Green Star, empowers us to heal ourselves. I realized that this is my message, that all healing takes place within ourselves, by ourselves- in our own hearts. No 'healer' or guru can heal us, they can only give us the tools to empower us along the way. When I came back to the US, that stuck with me and became my vision of how I am here to help others, to empower them to go deep within themselves and release what they need to release in order to heal. It is the basis of CranioSacral healing, and my work has become very strong.
I feel like it's all happening.
It's such a stark contrast to what I went through earlier this year, and over the past 30 years, that I have to pinch myself some days and ask if it is really happening.
It has been a Journey So Far, and I know it is still just beginning....