When I was a very young girl, my father read to me every night before bedtime. He taught me how to memorize and recite poetry, and shared with me his favorite quotes and snippets of wisdom. By the time I reached the age of reason, I’d already been exposed to every fairly tale, children’s story and nursery rhyme available in books at the time. He’d even read me selections from Shakespeare and impressed upon my young mind the importance of honoring my heart and my own nature, my creativity and passion, my values and truth. It was the greatest gift any father could give his daughter…a legacy that has served me throughout my life.
Dad always treated me as a holistic human being with love, respect, compassion and understanding. He was my first spiritual teacher, and until recently, one of the few people who connected with me deeply at the level of heart and soul. His relationship with God was strong and his intelligence keen.
As an adopted child, I was most grateful to have an advocate in the world. As my guide, mentor and parent, he was there to protect and defend me until I developed the strength of character to take care of myself in the world. My adopted mother was a fearful and controlling woman. Had it not been for Dad, I’d likely have turned out to be as neurotic and emotionally immature as she was. Because of his guidance, I was able to stand up to her unreasonable demands and punishment oriented parenting and stay in my truth.
One of my earliest recollections is a time when I was sitting in my junior chair (a wooden high chair with the tray removed so I could sit at the dining table). I was about 3 1/2 years old and though I don’t recall the specifics of my mother’s issue with me, I do recall the feelings.
She was demanding that I confess to, and apologize for, something that I knew I hadn’t done. I refused to do her bidding. Even at that young age, I knew I was telling the truth and that by apologizing, I would be telling a lie. She threatened to keep me home and not allow me to go with my father on his Saturday errands in town. She knew that this was the greatest punishment she could administer as Saturdays with my father were the highlight of my week.
I can still see in my mind the incredulous look on her angry red face. It was an expression I witnessed many times throughout my growing up years when mother grabbed a wooden coat hanger, yard stick or hair brush and spanked me to justify the anger she carried inside. I rarely did anything to justify punishment, and certainly not the kind she delivered.
The bottom line was that my mother didn’t trust me and somehow resented my relationship with my father, her husband. Even as a child, I knew that the reasons behind her anger were not about me. And thanks to my father’s teachings, I did not embody her anger, shame or guilt.
As I grew older, I realized that her behavior was the result of not trusting herself. The torment she felt came from what she herself had done when she was young. I was the “whipping boy” to assuage her guilt, though I didn’t know the reasons behind this until many years later…but that’s another story. My deepest sadness around my mother is that I cannot recall a time when she held me or hugged me with love. I only recall her touching me in anger.
I am grateful to have been blessed with a father who loved me and encouraged me to be true to myself. Throughout the years he was my rock until his untimely passing at 60 years of age when I was only 21. I shall always remember his gentle loving ways and how he held and comforted me when I was frightened or sad. My favorite Shakespeare quote is: “This above all to thine own self be true.” Thank you Dad…it’s served me well.
Although I had a good intellectual understanding of our family dynamics, it was not until I did some deep inner work that I was able to release the loss I felt upon my father’s passing. My mother, who was 5 years my father’s senior, lived another 25 years, never releasing her fears or her need to control.
While studying counseling psychology at California State University in Chico, CA, I exchanged sessions with fellow students. As an intern at the Human Awareness Institute workshops, a Life Mastery Teacher trainee at Hartmont Institute, and a hypnotherapy student at the Palo Alto School of Hypnotherapy, I experienced a variety of therapeutic modalities including Hypnosis, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Voice Dialog, Guided Visualizations, Focusing, Role Playing, and Transactional Analysis to name a few.
While becoming proficient in these various techniques, students work through their own personal issues and gain experience working with both private clients and groups. I personally love using teaching tales (reminiscent of the famous medical hypnotist and psychiatrist Milton H. Erickson) and drawing on my vast and varied life experience. I also use Tapping or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and my innate ability to read and channel energy in working with clients. Additionally, as an avid student of Spirituality, I incorporate the Universal Spiritual Principles, such as the Law of Attraction, into my work.