Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin!
I was born in London, England, in December 1952, in the worst smog in London’s history, which killed at least 4,000 people and made another 100,000 ill with lung problems. Maybe that’s why I care so much about environmental destruction and the resultant climate catastrophes.
Anyway, I tell you when I was born because I believe it’s important to be upfront about age. As feminist Gloria Steinem says, “I always try to say my age because I figure it’s a form of coming out.” If women continue to buy into the story that age diminishes us, that story will never change. And I’m all about change for the better.
“I’m all about change for the better.”
Besides, if I hadn’t lived for as long as I have, I wouldn’t have the wealth of experience I’ve accumulated along the way. I’ve lived through an abusive live-in relationship as a teenager with an older man; abduction and rape at age 21, when I first arrived in Canada in 1974 to start a better life (ha!); a bad marriage to a mentally cruel and controlling man who kept my hard-earned money when I left him; a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt (that was not a good day); living below the poverty line; the sudden death of two boyfriends; and losing a fortune.
Wow. But to quote writer Phyllis Theroux: “Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom.”
Along the way I’ve successfully overcome binge-eating (I used to weigh 45 lbs more than I do now); an alcohol problem; and drug addiction. I’ve also radically changed codependency, low self-esteem, debilitating depression, self-doubt and an all-pervading and paralysing fear.
“Openness gives other people the confidence to share their own painful experiences”
I tell you all this – even though we’ve only just met! – because I believe it’s crucial to talk about the things in life that aren’t “nice.” Otherwise, once again, nothing changes. I’ve always found that my openness gives other people the confidence to share their own painful experiences, instead of trying to pretend they didn’t happen, or, worse, feeling shame about them. We need to shine a light on secrets that fester in the dark in order to transform what they mean for our life.
And speaking of transformation, the foundation of all my changes is my Buddhist practice, which I discovered on a Saturday morning in April, 1983, when my friend Amber showed me how to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. And I’ve never stopped, not even for one day, ever since. (A major achievement, I might add, as I was the most inconsistent person in the world before this!) The practice opened my heart, and the philosophy, which I also teach now, opened my mind. Bit by bit. Day by day.
Another kind of practice I started doing consistently twice a day since March 2019 is the Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as Tapping. The combo of spiritual practice + Tapping supercharges my ability to master my mind and redirect my thoughts and feelings so I can break through my fears. So my heartfelt gratitude goes to Daisaku Ikeda, my spiritual mentor, and to Jessica, Alex and Nick Ortner of The Tapping Solution, for helping me to free myself. Thanks go also to qualitative researcher, storyteller and plain-speaking truth teller, Brené Brown, who, courtesy of YouTube, has become my personal development teacher. She even inspired the name for this blog!
“By helping other people become happy, we too become happy.” ~ Daisaku Ikeda
You know, we’re all in this together, here at Earth School. One of the important lessons I’ve learned is that to live a happy and fulfilling life, and graduate successfully when we die, we need to help each other grow. And glow!
And that’s my hope for Wholehearted.blog.