Let me share a little about my journey, and how I came to develop the concept for Strong Spirit Woman. I know it's long, but I think you will find it interesting.
Having a strong spirit signifies many things, most importantly it is a title that we can reach for, and do our best to honor by how we live our lives.
I didn't feel like a strong spirit growing up. In retrospect, it was my very struggles and vulnerabilities that helped me cull out the true strength that lied buried, existing only as pure potential.
I now better understand how our challenges provide the fires for which our spirits are forged, just as the blacksmith uses fire to craft his ideal sword ~ ever so patiently ~ melting, then hardening, then melting again until he gets it right.
My family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1967, when I was four years old. We lived near the lake front, one of Chicago's greatest assets.
We grew up spending much of our time playing outdoors. (Thankfully, there were no computers or cell phones yet!)
We lived in a decent neighborhood, with a variety of old Victorian houses, and newer, 1970s buildings, one of the worse decades for housing architecture, or lack thereof!
We knew many of our neighbors. Friends from school all lived nearby as well. I did not otherwise have much contact with any relatives past my early teen years. I never met my mother's parents, as she herself arrived on Ellis Island, orphaned with only her brother.
Once my sister moved on, and my parents had been divorced, my mom began to work nights, so while still in high school, I was often alone.
I was a pretty smart kid once upon a time! I skipped a grade, and excelled at math. In fifth grade I learned that I loved to write. Sadly, I began to get bullied at that time as well.
Perhaps if I had been less sensitive and introverted, or if I had a better relationship with my father, I would have weathered it better. But I was told that people will be jealous of me for being 'cute' and 'smart', so I unwittingly began to dumb myself down. I went from being a straight A student, to a procrastinator. I quit trying very hard. And I began to drink, and even briefly smoke cigarettes, which I can hardly even believe to this day.
I often acquiesced to peer pressure. I was cajoled into stealing candy from the local store! Getting caught once was all it took to snap me out of my fog, and realize I was not hanging out with a good crowd! I apologized, but carried the sting of embarrassment with me for several years.
I ultimately had one thing after another happen to me, which at one point caused me to feel like I was turned sideways, and could not get my footing.
I didn't drink just because I was bullied. I drank because everyone did. I drank because my parents had a bar, and my father drank every day. Drinking helped me 'come out of my shell' for I otherwise felt a bit shy, and reserved.
I also was pretty lonely. I had many 'friends' however the couple of girls I was closest to moved away, which was devastating for me at that time. While I didn't understand back then, I spent much of my life trying to 'earn my dad's love' as he and I clashed. I did not feel like my thoughts mattered. Over time, I developed beliefs about not being worthy, or valued ~ the primary source of my insecurities, and self-sabotage.
If there was one primary constant in my life, it was my love of nature. And physical fitness. (Yes, that is me hugging a tree while attending Northern Illinois University, NIU.)
I loved being active. In high school, I joined the track team. Since then, I have taken dancing, including ballet, modern, and African dance; I hiked several of the fourteen thousand foot peaks in Colorado, mountain biked, lifted weights, and more recently studied and practiced Iyengar/Hatha yoga. Nowadays, Don and I enjoy doing his customized strength training and mobility routines.
Despite my being pretty active, I was also plagued with health issues, beginning with pretty bad hay fever and other allergies since we first moved to Chicago. I had a tendency towards being light headed, or anemic, and always had low blood pressure, and low blood sugar. I had many dizzy spells. One time, my knees buckled out from under me. I often would just 'drop', bracing myself as the lights seemed to go out. I also had off and on constipation and other digestive issues, and skin break outs.
While still attending NIU, my real challenges began. I had a pretty rough couple of years. I can't even stand the thought of reiterating most of it here. I will say that the peak event was being assaulted, held up by knife point, strangled with a scarf, and forced into performing acts against my will while in my own shower. The perpetrator ~ a roommate of my then boy friend who apparently had a family history of mental issues ~ planned his attack after watching The Boston Strangler, hence the scarf. I would say I avoided the worst, but it left an indelible mark on my life.
In later years, my biggest regret was hesitating to 'not hurt' him ~ whether for fear of consequences, or some other reason, I'm no longer sure. You see, at one point, while locked in my bathroom, now naked, and with only one entrance in and out of our house, during an early winter snow, with nobody around but a deaf neighbor, I managed to get a hold of his knife. But, I hesitated. I could imagine thrusting this knife right into him, and doing some serious damage. So, in those fleeting moments in which I had thoughts pass through my mind, I surmised that I either endure the ongoing breech of my sanctity, but come out physically unscathed, or I cause a blood bath, with who knows what consequences.
I believe that fight got choked up in me for years. I did my best to defend myself. Yet, I could have done more. I didn't fight back when I was bullied in grade school either.
Was I operating from some subconscious belief that you 'turn the other cheek' or was I just plain afraid? I know that fight didn't leave me because years later, now married, I began to imagine myself stabbing my own husband over and over. Thankfully, he understood. It was the unexpressed fight from all those years earlier.
There were so many other issues that occurred. Thefts, loss, major disappointments, embarrassments, and shame inducing events. It all added up ~ my 'story' was being woven in ways that I had never imagined. After all, I was that 'cute and smart' girl who was also gifted. How could all this be happening?
Later in life, I began to think that being 'gifted' was a curse. If I wasn't intentionally trying to 'dim my light' life was helping me do just that.
My ongoing nightmares began after being assaulted during college. I still have dreams to this day where I awaken in fright from yet another dream of being chased and attacked. I even felt myself get stabbed in one dream, years ago.
One night, while still in college, I jolted out of bed with a thought clear in my head: "What was I doing to attract all this negativity (or crap) to me?"
After college, I began to devour many self-help and 'New Age' books. I was looking for answers. I'm not sure I knew the questions. I just knew that I wasn't fitting in to any of the prescribed roles or boxes.
I took an interest in food and cooking and experimented with using food to help me overcome some of my nagging health issues. While I grew up eating a classic meat and potatoes type of diet, we also had the standard American processed fare ~ cold cereals, and an occasional weekend of donuts, and/or fried chicken. My mother also would make us crepes with canned fruit pie filling. They really were delicious. And full of sugar! My dad also enjoyed eating spam, and egg sandwiches with Velveeta or Cheese Whiz.
Later on, I avoided eating red meat for several years. I didn't feel like I digested it well. I also believed what I was reading and hearing ~ that we should all cut back on red meats, and saturated fats.
I also was navigating towards whole grains, beans, greens, and vegetables. I enjoyed the nutty textures, which were initially sort of exotic for me, relative to pot roast, chicken, potatoes, white rice, and white bread.
In 1991, I moved to Aspen, Colorado. Prior to moving, I had contracted hepatitis A from eating bad shrimp in the gulf of Mexico. Since that time, my immune system didn't seem as strong. I became pretty sick, four times during my first year in Aspen, each with a high fever ~ once with a kidney infection!
I began to see an acupuncturist for my allergies, hypoglycemic symptoms, digestive issues, and skin break outs. At one point, he suggested that I eat a higher protein diet. I had also gone to other doctors, one of which put me on a strict rotation diet. The acupuncture greatly helped boost my immune system. Slowly, I was regaining physical resilience. Slowly. Eating beef again helped me overcome my sugar cravings. My experience with receiving acupuncture during my first six years in Aspen was in part what inspired me to go back to school.
One of my bigger regrets was not going through the nutrition and dietetics program as an undergrad at NIU, although I maintained my interest in nutrition and health. Rather than 'start over' with another undergraduate degree in order to get a Masters in Nutrition, in 1997, I left Aspen to start the Masters of Oriental Medicine program in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the now defunct International Institute of Chinese Medicine.
While I seemed to be getting ever more on track, I never really recovered from my earlier life challenges and traumas. Those beliefs of low self-worth were still undermining my decisions, and ability to create a successful professional life.
To sum up this already way too long history of my life, I ended up studying a variety of holistic healing modalities. I took a 100-hour massage course, and was first attuned into the Reiki system in 1997. I continued on to study more Reiki, completing my Master level degree in 2000 in Colorado, then going through an entire Transformational Reiki program (2010-2011) while attending the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, SWIHA in Tempe, Arizona, where I first met Don, who was teaching my very first class there in, you guessed it, nutrition.
When I was still in high school, I would sit at the end of Pratt Pier (pictured above) and 'talk' ~ in my mind, and from my heart ~ with someone I 'knew' was out there, for me to meet. I was quite convinced, despite the naysaying of others.
In 2011, Don ~ the man of my dreams that I 'knew' I was supposed to meet my entire life ~ and I were married. Little did I know that while sitting on that pier, facing East, my dream soul mate was living in Ohio! Dreams do come true!
I have already written a lot here. My ongoing history of going from paleo to plant-based, and back to being hypercarniovres has been chronicled in several videos (which are linked below) on my Strong Spirit Woman YouTube channel. I also discussed my health journey in each of my first five books ~ the first four of which are now out of print. (For those interested in learning more simple and delicious produce-rich, plant-based recipes, you can download all of my first four books for Free, by clicking here.)
You can also read more about why we are now eating a hypercarnivore diet, consisting of mostly animal foods, here.
If you want to know where my money and time were spent, just peruse the list below!
I continued to study a variety of holistic and esoteric practices ~ including Reiki, Magnified Healing, Re-An, and channeling ~ primarily as I was attempting to heal myself, and define my purpose.
Before moving to Arizona, I completed Dr. Hart's Holistic C.O.R.E. Counseling certification course in 2009. I was immediately enthralled. Finally, a program that provided me with the MAP I needed to break free, and bring resolution to those parts of me that were frozen in time, still holding onto the past wounds and disappointments.
I completed certification as a clinical hypnotherapist in 2011, and as a yoga teacher in 2016. I continue to write books, and read, two of my earliest love. My greatest remaining desire is to finally own a home on a piece of land, which in itself is another story, for another time.
I am very grateful for learning Dr. Hart's Holistic C.O.R.E. Counselor/Educator program as up until taking his course in 2009, none of the programs I studied, or therapies I tried had helped me fully integrate, and become more in control of not only my emotions, but every aspect of my life. It was another eight years before I could finally taste the mental and emotional freedom that I so yearned for. My mantra up through that time was to be in dominion of my life, and realize my full potential.
I have now created my own MAP, using many of the tools I learned from the C.O.R.E. program. You can read about The Strong Spirit Self-Empowerment Plan, Your MAP to Consciously & Effectively Create YOUR Most Illuminated Life, here, or here.
For those interested in learning about my credentials and accreditations:
Have I finally realized my most illuminated version of herself? Not really. I'm a work in progress, however, I no longer feel turned sideways, and my very struggles have illuminated my Divine Purpose in life! To help others awaken to their most illuminate life as well!
I have learned that once we decide to find our own personal most illuminated path, all we need is a MAP and compass ~ our innate and personal guidance system. With the right tools, our journey becomes far more elegant and enchanting, less filled with crisis, drama, and endless struggle.
It has been my lifelong quest and investment of my energy and life's resources to break free of all that held me back, and caused me to feel somehow less than ~ not worthy of greatness. Rather than acquire things, I strived to acquire good health, and mental, emotional and spiritual alignment with what I hoped would be the Divine Will for me. My quest has been for Truth, Freedom, and Divine Alignment.
My own painful struggles etched into my cellular and energetic imprint have been, and continue to be, transmuted into golden nuggets for which I do my best to translate and transmit as teachings and guidance for others.
If I can be of assistance to you on your journey in any way, and help you avoid some of my own many and often costly mistakes, than I will feel as though my struggles were not for naught, and I am indeed fulfilling my Soul's Divine Mission, to be of service.
If I can inspire striving for greatness, and being strong of body, mind, and heart, rather than falling into the heavier, denser vibrational expressions of weakness, victim-hood, degradation and degeneracy, than I feel hopeful for our future, and vindicated in my total immersion and commitment in my life to realize my own divine potential, and fight against the very forces that appear to be working against us, while allying with the light.
My greatest yet fulfilled dream is to finally own a home on a magical piece of land, surrounded by trees, animals, birds, and all of Nature's glory, among the region where I/we (my husband and I) will most resonate as per our own genetic, familial and ancestral roots.
I humbly trust the Universe to work out the details.