A New Women’s Business Organization Making a Difference
“Androgyny is a term—derived from the Greek (andros, meaning man) and (gyné, meaning woman)—referring to the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. Androgynous traits are those that either have no gender value, or have some aspects generally attributed to the opposite sex.” (source: wikipedia.org). In the late 1970’s and early 80’s, this was a hot topic for women and men in the business world. Well, here we are in 2011 and at the Power of the Purse Luncheon, Jennifer Buffett was talking about the importance of identifying one’s own male and female strengths (and weaknesses) in order to continue with “Participatory Learning” to help achieve goals and objectives. Participatory Learning helps foster personal, educational, and professional growth.
Why are we talking about Participatory Learning? Professional Organization of Women (POW), a new non-profit founded in January 2011, is dedicated to participatory learning. The mission is to provide professionalism, order, and wisdom for women in the workplace. The founders of Professional Organization of Women are Leesa McKeon, a special events and marketing professional; Beth McTaggart, a Certified Public Accountant; and Andrea Robel, a financial and management consultant.
This will not be a get-together to hear basic “feel-good” topics or what is needed to start a business. Organizations like Mountain Biz Works and Small Business Technical Development Center (SBTDC) provide quality training to start businesses. We are going beyond entry level to discuss what is necessary to sustain our careers and/or businesses and to take them to the next levels. The needs of medical professionals, lawyers, loan officers, realtors, CPAs, educators, entrepreneurs, and numerous other professionals exceed the basics. There is a need to go beyond networking among our peers, to continue learning and strengthening our business and personal skills.
During the course of the year, topics related to growing all the seeds of our careers and businesses will be covered. As professional women working for an organization, we will also be addressing all aspects of management and leadership to help us move up in our career paths. Past events included workshops on tax and estate planning, understanding and clarifying your personal/organizational strengths, and focusing on solutions.
POW has partnered with Robert Half International from Spartanburg, SC to bring quality training to the Western North Carolina area. “Robert Half International (RHI) is an Americanm staffing firm and a member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, RHI is the world’s first and largest accounting and finance staffing firm, with over 400 locations worldwide.” (source: Wikipedia.org)
The July topic is New Rules in the New Age of Digital Media and Networking. Is it OK to friend your boss? Can an e-mail mistake jeopardize your career? There are many gray areas when it comes to communicating in the digital age. This presentation provides guidelines on digital protocols in the workplace, including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as traditional communication tools such as e-mail. Find out what executives say about etiquette in the workplace, and learn how to tend to your network in just five minutes a day. Participants will gain a better insight into their social networking style through an engaging quiz. In addition, one Continuing Professional Education unit will be earned by those attending the July workshop.
This event will be held on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, at the Stone Ridge Tavern, 1003 Brevard Road, across from Biltmore Square Mall. Registration starts at 5:30p.m. Dinner and program start promptly at 6p.m. Training is completed by 8p.m. Preregistration is required. [Go to POWonline.net] Seating is limited.
As a nonprofit, POW supports other organizations that assist challenged women. Success Outfitters [successoutfitters.org], for instance, provides appropriate clothing for a professional interview to women with limited resources. For our July event, we are asking everyone to bring small bottles of shampoos, soaps, and other toiletries like you get from your hotel visits. These will be distributed to battered women’s shelters in the area.
For meeting registration, please visit our web site: powonline.net or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.877.826.9620. Also visit us at LinkedIn and Facebook.
You are invited to join this powerful organization to make it YOUR professional organization!
Manifesting the Magic
There is a theory that the name of your birth town influences your character development. If that’s a fact, Kimberly Hughes is definitely the exception to the rule.
For Kim Hughes, the road from Normal, Illinois to the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, was long and winding…and paved with dreams.
“My first dream was to be a veterinarian,” she smiles. “And to have a horse. I was so insistent about the horse – begging and pleading and in general, bugging the daylights out of my father – that when I was seven, he bought me a little orange pony.”
“We lived right outside of town on about an acre of land, and I rode that pony – his name was Corky —across our pasture as if I were conquering the Wild West. While everyone else was leading a ‘normal’ mid-western life, I was getting on Corky and riding out to see the sunrise.”
It was just the beginning of a magical love affair with horses that would guide Kim’s life forever.
“I knew I was different from my early years,” Kim says. One of two daughters of a musical family, Kim laughed when she recalled that her sister had even told her that she was adopted… or an alien. “I used to cry and ask my mom if I really had been adopted,” she laughs. “They said no, but I’m still not so sure about that.”
Corky and Kim remained steadfast friends until Kim was fourteen years old and the pony began to founder. “By that time, I had moved on to other interests. I was becoming interested in boys. But I never lost my love for horses.”
“When I was in high school, I discovered that I could sing,” Kim says. “My parents both sang and when I was very young, I thought that there was some kind of magic to reading the notes. I thought I would never know the secret.” She chuckled. “I discovered you could learn where the music went up and down… and I found that I had a voice.”
Kim sang in high school and then moved on to Illinois State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in music. “I knew I loved music greatly, but there were other things I was interested in. I was a person who liked to help other people and I wondered what else, aside from singing, I was good at it. One particular evening, as I wondered what else I could do well, I looked down at the books on my coffee table. I saw The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud, and Memories, Dreams, and Reflections by Carl Jung.
Hmm… maybe psychology?”
“Music was wonderful, but I realized early on that it was a singular focus. I wanted to broaden my scope and so I went to graduate school to become a counselor.”
A Master’s degree in counseling under her belt, Kim realized it was time to leave her home turf. She accepted a position in the student counseling center at the University of Maine in Farmington where she spent three years. Following her time there, she moved to an academic counseling position at Burlington County College in Pemberton, New Jersey.
She was just a hop, skip, and jump away from New York City, where her life would revolve for the next two decades. There, music and counseling became her dual path.
“I worked on Staten Island as a mental health counselor, then got (manifested) funding through St. Vincent’s Hospital and the NY State Division of Drug & Alcohol Abuse to found and sell Employee Assistance programs to agencies and businesses in Staten Island. After that I was hired as a counselor for NYC’s Department of Finance EAP for five years, and was then laid off because the program was restructured. Then she went into private practice in 1995, a vocation that continues to this day.
“There was also manifestation when I moved to Maine and got the counseling job. And when I determined that I needed to explore singing in New York City four years later, amazingly I transformed from a choir alto into a Madame Butterfly soprano. Manifestation occurred again (as always, with the help of the higher forces) when I opened my private practice in 1995 in New York after being laid off from my job.”
During these same years, Kim found a vocal coach and began singing again in earnest. And the child of Illinois – who thought following the notes was magic – became a professional opera singer.
“I had always thought I was a contralto,” Kim laughs. But my coach heard the soprano in me. One day during a lesson, I hit a clear, high B-flat. REALLY hit it. I cried as I came down the elevator from that lesson, and thought, ‘NOW I’m a SINGER!”
And a singer she was. Over the next years, Kim would sing all over the Big Apple. Her knowledge of and love for opera grew as she discovered her voice, and her passion for music grew. She sang with the Regina Opera Company in Brooklyn. Touted as Brooklyn’s “best small opera company,” Kim performed twelve lead roles. She also performed in 1995 with Illinois State Symphony, returning to Normal to sing “back home” and with other choral societies, opera companies, and sacred institutions.
At the same time, Kim was deepening her interest in the spiritual side of the helping professions. Always enthused about a multi-faceted approach to therapy, Kim studied sound healing, life coaching, shamanic practice, primal scream, and gestalt therapies – and combined the alternative and traditional into her private practice model.
And then the manifestation took a turn.
“I loved music,” Kim says. “I was living the life I thought I had always wanted. But more and more I realized that I didn’t have the sole focus that it took to be a really good, long-term professional opera star. I was interested in much more – in so many areas of life, some of which I didn’t yet even know were going to become part of my life. I was rather tired of the company I was singing with, and as much as I loved the stage and the people I sang with, I knew there was more.”
And more there was.
Enter Bob Hinkle, a musician and producer who had managed some of the great music acts of the times.
“In 2001 I determined that I was ready for a partner/husband, and within six months found my Bob, after hiring him to produce my first CD “True Voice”.
Bob and Kim became great friends.
And then. September 11, 2001. Manhattan.
On the morning of 9/11, Bob and Kim were headed into the city. They noticed the commotion, and they stood at the feet of the Twin Towers, a ringside view of the event that would change history.
“We felt helpless, but we went to the hospital to offer blood. It was all we knew to do. But there were so many people with the same ideas that we were turned away. And THAT was a wonderful thing in New York – to see all those people wanting to help!”
And as the world became a sadder, more fearful place, Kim and Bob realized they were in love.
“We didn’t know we were in love on that morning. But as we watched the horror of the collapse of the Twin Towers and the amazing spirit of the people, I knew. We knew.”
Manifestation in the face of tragedy.
“We married in 2003 and co-created the Healing Rain Space in NYC, a noncommercial healing and music venue. But we just weren’t using the city any longer. Even though we loved our time there and the friends we had made, it was time to go.”
The mountains of The South called.
“We drove—to a land that was totally unfamiliar to me. Asheville is Bob’s home, so he was returning to the land he loved. I was to find out that I was a transplanted Yankee.”
But the Yankee woman manifested a perfect cabin, high on the mountain in East Buncombe County.
“As much as I loved the mountains, I looked around and wondered if I really would ever belong – to this strange land and these people who repeatedly reminded me that, coming from New York City, this way of life had to be a big change. And it was.”
“As I meditated one day, I got a vision of a white horse standing on alert in front of black mountains, with lightning over his right shoulder. . . and I saw whitehorseblackmountain.com all typed out in my head, too! I didn’t know what that was for, but I bought the domain name because the experience was so strong and I trusted it. I told Bob, and right around the same time, he had a strong intuition that we should have a presence in the town, and not just be up in our mountain cabin.”
“A month or so later I was still feeling a little out-of-place, and Bob and I went to meet with Bob McMurray, the head of the Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce, to introduce ourselves and say hi. At the end of our little meeting he said. ‘I want to show you something,’ so we headed across town and he let us into the old Chevrolet dealership building owned by his father, right in the heart of town. He didn’t tell us why, he just let us in the door. We walked in and picked our way through the stored antiques and junk. We saw the curved wooden ceiling and clapped and sang a few notes to test the acoustics – they were WONDERFUL!”
“We both started to envision the place as a music venue – there could be a stage there, a bar there, etc. As we were stepping along a narrow path between piles of junk, Bob was behind me, and I looked back at him and said ‘Honey, is THIS White Horse Black Mountain?’ And when we turned around and looked forward again, up on the wall was a poster with five white horses. We got chills—the variety you get when you know you’re supposed to pay attention and make something happen .”
And The White Horse was manifested into being.
“Just around this time I was speaking to a fellow healer friend of mine who mentioned a Peruvian-American healer and ethno-psychologist named Oscar Miro-Quesada,” Kim says, “who had founded a nonprofit called The Heart of the Healer Foundation or THOTH. I’d had previous shamanic training, so this was intriguing and seemed as if it might help me connect with this land. So we went to a weekend-long ceremony with Don Oscar in Cherokee, NC. It was a transformative experience, and Bob and I put the symbol of White Horse onto the ceremonial altar for the whole three days. And when we came back, we did a Peruvian ceremony in the soon-to-be White Horse building, to consecrate the space and manifest investors. I knew I’d get more involved with The Heart of the Healer Foundation someday, but right then we had to give birth to a White Horse!”
“So, with the help of the higher forces, we manifested the investors, renovated the building, structured the business legally and financially, and opened our doors in November of 2008. It was right after the market crash in October 2008. We’ve now hosted two-and-a-half years of fun, kickass, and transcendent musical/community experiences, and also had some extremely challenging financial times – like so many others.”
“Our doors are still open, yet we needed more financial sustenance to make it through. In October of 2010 we realized that we needed to increase our ability to support ourselves and White Horse, and I began looking to manifest a job. Very fortuitously, THOTH was seeking an operations manager, and I was honored to be accepted for that position in November.”
“Together with THOTH and all the higher forces involved, what is now manifesting is a trip to Peru this summer, an apprenticeship in the cross-cultural shamanic Pachakuti Mesa tradition, and more members and donors for THOTH.”
Recently, a White Horse frequenter and friend introduced Kim to her pony Scooter (who looks remarkably like Corky!)
“So now I’m in the mountains, back on a little orange horse! Full circle.”
And what’s next?
“You just never know.”
In the year that I have been writing profiles for WNC Woman, I have met some astonishing women. Kim Hughes is no exception. Busy schedules resulted in stretching the interviews over a long period of time. And by the time we were finished, I knew I had made a friend for life. I like to think maybe I manifested it.
The photos of Kim were taken by Marlisa Mills with Zorro the magical white horse at eponaridge.com. Thanks to Barbara Alexander for allowing us to take these pictures.
Marlisa Mills is a writer and clinical counselor living in Black Mountain
Where Rock & Roll Dreams come true…
Gutting and starting from scratch— things Anne Coombs has done both figuratively and literally in her efforts to bring to fruition The Rock Academy.
The building that now bursts with rock music from floor to rafters every Saturday was once a cold, calculating check-cashing business. This now pristine and organized studio, classroom, and listening room is adorned with concert posters and framed album covers from past and present rock-and-roll, soul, hard rock, blues, punk, and heavy metal kings and queens. A two-tiered twenty-four-foot-long stage down one wall is the focal point of this state-of-the-art performance space.
The musicians and singers, who’ve come to learn and jam, range in age from nine to seventeen. They have auditioned to gain a spot in one of three classes held each Saturday that provides them the opportunity to learn and grow from some of Asheville’s most effective mentors, teachers, and coaches.
Fifteen years ago, Anne was teaching all styles of guitar to sixty students each week at the Asheville Music School when it was located on Charlotte Street. After visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, a seed was planted in her heart that thirsted for seven years until she watered it just over a year ago, opening the doors to The Rock Academy in West Asheville.
Little by little, step by step, she kept the faith and took that leap to satisfy her desire to help young instrumentalists and vocalists reach their potential. In her own words: “This program is so great for kids! It teaches leadership skills, social skills, and communication skills—all through playing music! It motivates students that may already be in private lessons, but who never get a chance to practice what they learn in a live group setting. It’s a program that builds confidence and instills pride. What a great opportunity for kids, to have the chance to perform live on stage at some of the best music venues in the country! To actually showcase their skills and be around others who share their passion for playing and performing, and to share their accomplishments with family and friends.”
The Rock Academy program developed as she taught summer guitar workshops at UNCA and in the back of the Music Center at River Ridge Shopping Center, as a way to make money during a time of year that is typically slow for a music teacher. The enthusiasm she found in her younger students was just the fertilizer she needed to sprinkle on her seedling; a year-round music school for kids that would also include vocalists, bassists, keyboardists, and drummers.
“Music bridges generation gaps. As soon as I strap on my electric guitar to shred and rip through a solo, I’ve got their attention―I’m no longer some lady; I’m suddenly cool!” And she rips through and teaches everything from Green Day, White Stripes, Judas Priest, Pink, Lady GaGa, Joan Jett, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin—all of them.
Not too long ago, Anne incorporated the Adult Rock Academy and now holds classes on Wednesday evenings for a generation of closeted rock stars. The curriculum and acceptance process is much the same as the youth curriculum and Anne is constantly awed by the courage and unbridled desire of grownups, many of them parents of the younger students. She stands with pride, watching them play and sing in front of audiences for the first time in their lives.
Founder of both The Rock Academy and Asheville Music School, Anne continues to follow her dream to help make others’ musical dreams come true. Rock Academy’s assistant director, Alec Fehl is a creative and technical partner who’s known for a structured yet spontaneous approach to guitar instructing. Along with Alec is Jae Sedmak, another guitar mentor; both Alec and Jae are Berklee College of Music graduates. Between the two of them, a wide range of genre expertise and engineering skills are offered. Newly formed Teen Rock Academy boasts another instructor; the amazingly talented multi-instrumentalist Andy John facilitates the fifteen-to-seventeen-year-olds. Percussion instructor, Harry Lewis is a seasoned drummer who has played with a plethora of bands from NYC to LA. Kim White, lead singer for local band Unit 50, is vocal coach, and Toni Pisani is the office manager and “go to’ person for everything.
“Paying it forward” is Anne’s mantra. To that end, she and the volunteer board recently added a non-profit music program for at-risk and low-income youth. Her passion for music infuses the kids who discover that this is their calling. She and her partners see to it that students are well-informed and well-equipped. They make sure students know how to tune their instrument, how to arrange a song, how to play with dynamics as well as improvise in order to develop individual style. And so much more. The most valuable lesson learned at The Rock Academy is how to be a responsible citizen in the music business—not only by giving your craft the respect and rehearsal time it needs, but how to be a respectful and responsible team player.
You’ll find Anne and her amazing staff mentoring as many as forty kids each Saturday. For the year-round workshops, a student should have some knowledge of their instrument, from how to play it to how to maintain it. A singer should have a good ear if s/he wants a spot. Summer camp is different—come inexperienced and ripe for learning. The first phase of summer classes started last month but there are spaces left in the second round starting this month. These classes are held daily from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, culminating in Friday afternoon concerts for friends and family. For more information, visit the website and/or call the Academy at 828-275-2587 [ www.rockacademync.com ].
Check out www.rockacademync.com for a complete schedule of upcoming events, especially their annual show at the Orange Peel on September 18th. And please take a look at www.givetothemusic.org to learn more about the Non-profit. This is a great opportunity to sponsor a child who is in need of financial assistance with the gift of music.
The Last Word
Sandi Tomlin-Sutker, Editor
I love to hear stories about miracles; in the midst of challenges that abound in life, it’s reassuring to remember that things can turn around in a snap, or that “the story’s not over yet.”
But, what about when the miracle doesn’t happen (at least apparently)? How do we consider that when we have prayed, asked, begged for an outcome we deeply want?
What I’m particularly thinking about are the situations that result in death: of a child, or of a mid-life mother with children still at home, or an accident where one person lives and the other doesn’t.
Is it fate/destiny/karma? Did we not pray in the proper way? Were we not clear on what we were asking from our creator?
I recently went through a situation (it was really an ongoing challenge that came to a pitch of difficulty) that just seemed irresolvable. I had prayed many times, asked for clarity about what I was doing, thinking, etc., that was holding back the energy.
I know that one of my “issues” in life is ambivalence that keeps me, at times, from simply saying No and quitting a situation that doesn’t seem to work. I grew up with a belief that quitting is not really an option; one just keeps on keeping on, no matter what. So, often in my life I have continued trying to make something work way past the time it would have been better (in hindsight that’s clear of course!) to get out. Yet, at the same time I was trying, I was also frustrated and wanting to be out of the situation.
Unclarity. Too much ego involved. Fear. I sort of imagine the Universe shaking its metaphorical head and wondering, “What in the world does the woman really want?”
So this week, when this ongoing challenge seemed to be beyond my ability to resolve it, I finally let go. I allowed myself to really go into a space where I was OK with whatever the Universe had in store for me. I let go of my fear of loss, or failure, or the unknown future.
At the same time I felt I still needed to be clear on what I Want, but without so much attachment to that specific outcome.
And almost immediately the solution appeared; something I could not have created on my own. So, a miracle—and I am immensely grateful for it.
Yet I was truly ready for something quite different that would not have looked like a miracle at the time. So I guess that is my answer to what about when a miracle seems Not to have Happened. It’s all in the perspective and we humans simply don’t have the full picture, so we don’t know what’s “best.”
What we do have is trust and faith—and I guess that has to be enough.
The Magic Touch:Rachel Clearfield
I first met Rachel Clearfield and her husband Ron when they brought their two gifted kids, Esha and Elon, to participate in my professional training program for young actors. Then their youngest, Raphael, became old enough to join the Young Actors Company. The Clearfields, although very active with their own flourishing careers, were never far away during rehearsals. In fact, in the latter days of the company, Rachel would stay and sketch the cast, or work on the mural that still remains on the wall of our last theatre location on Haywood Street (where the NC Stage Company now resides). Rachel was always busy working on something: costumes, sets, sketches of the actors; always exuding warmth, support and the air appropriate of an artist of her stature. She was such an inspiration to the young actors and aspiring artists. After Raphi went off to college, our friendship endured a natural waning.
Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting in a staff meeting for WNC Woman and hearing the theme words for the July issue―miracles, synchronicities, and magical moments. Rachel Clearfield shot through to my consciousness like a bolt of lightning. I spoke her name and everyone knew her or at least her work. I called Rachel and she invited me out the next week.
It turned out to be a gorgeous day to take a drive into the countryside, the day of the interview. It had been some time since I had been out to the Clearfield’s studio/home, so I referred to the new GPS app on my iphone for directions. It seemed paradoxical, using such technology to arrive at a place that seems other worldly, as if time and technology had not spoiled something organic and beautiful. I noticed that my breathing had become slower and deeper the farther I got from town on the 15 or so miles into the countryside. By the time I got to the little dirt crossroad in the middle of a large tract of pasture land, through which the roads had been carved, a bright green sign said Clearwater Creek Road. I had reached my destination. As I began to climb the long gravel drive, I was flooded with memories of the quaint and prolific gardens surrounding the house. Soon I was beneath the Manchurian Apricot trees, laden with fruit, and the chocolate Hollyhocks, towering over the Gazebo, 12 or more feet into the Carolina blue sky. The air was fragrant. As I was gathering my things, I was warmly greeted at the car by Ron, wearing painter’s clothes and holding a grouting spatula. He pointed to the new guest house that they were building and invited me to come see it after my visit with Rachel.
I’m sure that there was much to see, as the Clearfields had built their studio/home from the ground up and the artistic touches throughout were fantastic. The house had marble tile floors made from chips and chunks of scavenged and reclaimed marble. This theme continued into the bathroom, where (even more creative) the tile work also included bits of broken pottery and china. The ground floor had both a studio for Rachel’s art and a state-of-the-art recording studio for Ron. Ron is a composer for film, an independent musician, a teacher, a cellist with the Asheville Symphony, and Director of the Asheville Youth Symphony.
After a brief chat, Ron said he would announce my arrival to Rachel, but then had to get back to work on the guest house. I paused to look at the garden and breathe in the fresh and intoxicatingly fragrant air. I was soon joined by Rachel. She was in comfortable clothes, with her hair in long braids. After a long, heart-felt embrace, we went inside. Up the spiral stairs, walls were decorated with several of Rachel’s paintings. “Wow! Rachel…” is all I could say. Bright, vibrant colors swept the room, through her paintings and other artwork. Conversation began to flow immediately. We spent the first hour talking about our kids and catching up on their exciting lives. We looked at pictures of her first grandchild and talked about the upcoming visit of the little mommy Esha, expecting her second baby.
Blue Iris Pond, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40
I reminded Rachel what I had said on the phone about immediately thinking of her when I heard the words: miracles, synchronicity and magical moments. She began eagerly talking about the ‘magical’ fundraiser that had just been held on their property, an annual event to raise money to support Food For People, an outreach program through the work of spiritual leader Prem Rawat. Food For People raises money all over the world, for starving people throughout the world. The event, as Rachel described its creation, was a bit of a miracle in itself. She talked of people driving in from far away to help prepare and participate: friends of The Clearfields, folks who study and adhere to the teachings of Prem Rawat, others who knew nothing about him, and neighbors who just came out to help. The day before the event, enough workers came out to build an entire stage, in sweltering heat, to hold the line-up of musical talent―six bands that, in addition to Ron, were donating their talent to the cause.
Rachel was excited and radiant as she talked about the various local community donations―a brewery that donated beer, two other prominent grocers who donated organic beverages, and a local restaurateur who donated all of the food. As she talked about the magical way in which the event came about, she said the weather had also been miraculous. The rain paused at key times to allow for the construction, deliveries, and the event itself. Rachel glowed as she recounted.
An hour or so after I arrived, we sat down for tea at the beautifully hand-carved and painted dining room table and chairs. Rachel showed me a series of floor-to-ceiling draperies that she had made in graduating colors from panel to panel. The first was a clown-inspired patchwork with a multitude of colors, each patch cut from fabric sample books. The second panel was a work in blue patchwork that shifted to greens, yellows, oranges, and reds. Graduating the colors on drapery panels, she said, was an Old English technique called color-shifting. The pieced panels were an example of marrying her passion for art with her passion for recycling. Creating art with found objects is a passion that I enthusiastically share. “It represents the feeling of abundance. Ron and I, both being artists, have had to live creatively on little money throughout much of our time together, as most artists do.”
“What are you working on now?” I asked. “Grouting!” We laughed. “It’s the bathroom in the new guest house. I can’t wait for you to see it!” We drifted back to our tea and conversation. I asked Rachel to say whatever popped into her head when I said the words: miracles and magical moments. “The miracle of breath. It is our breath that begins our journey on this earth, and it is the last thing we leave behind when we die and our kindness merges with the universal kindness.” She went on,“Connecting to my heart. That is the fountain that all the magic comes from―the heart. The love that is universal, that we can feel in our heart, is so powerful that anything can happen―good things. And even when bad things happen we are enveloped and protected by grace.” She began sharing the teachings of Prem Rawat and the Practice of Knowledge from our self-source, and the four techniques of going within. One of the things that Prem Rawat recently said is “If you want to become rich, become generous.”
I asked Rachel what question she was asked most often when being interviewed. She quickly replied, “How can you be so creative?”, and before I could comment on that, she went on, “I was sexually abused by my father before I could talk. He had just come home from the war, freeing prisoners from concentration camps.” Rachel was born in Manchester, England in 1946. “As a resuIt of this happening at a pre-verbal stage,” she continued, “I was spacey in school. I tuned out of academics―except when it came to art, poetry, and handwriting! I was top in form in those three areas. I was very ostracized at school, teased because I was different. People called me a Daydreamer because I couldn’t concentrate on lessons. When something didn’t connect with me I was out the window, floating out of the room into the treetops. The only thing that could hold me was creativity, my art. I just focused on the things I was good at. The other academics had no appeal to me then―now I am busy educating myself. I’m a voracious reader. I just love history, I love biology and natural science, and everything fascinates me.. how everything works.
“I went on to art school. I graduated with three years in Fashion Design and one in Illustration. After finishing, I went to Amsterdam, but I was still very disconnected. I was lost and very, very confused. I suffered with Bulimia; I was a mess and I got into heavy drugs. I was absolutely a broken spirit. I was as low as one could get on this earth. I married a man that was also heavily into drugs, so it was hard to stop―but I did stop. I just walked away from it. I knew this was not what I wanted.
“So I moved out to the country. I lived on this hippie commune where we made and sold candles in Amsterdam. I was really trying to find myself, you know, studying astrology, studying organic eating and organic growing, peripheral things that don’t really take you to the heart of the matter, but which are called esoteric sciences. I was just gobbling up everything that I could get my hands on. And then I thought I could go and help my husband, who was still into drugs. He actually came out to the farm and got me, and within a week I found out that I wasn’t as strong as I thought. I mean I thought I was strong; physically I was strong. I would carry bales of hay on my head, you know, to mulch. I mean physically, I had gotten it together. But within a week, my husband, who was probably more lost than me, stole from me. I had sold paintings to the Dutch Government, I had made my first money and he stole the money and went off to buy heroin. He had beaten up the people who had let us stay in their house, so we were being thrown out―and he just disappeared. He had knocked me around and I was broken. I just remember, I was lying on the floorboards of that house, so broken, yet I had to get out that day.
“I prayed―and I didn’t really ever pray―this was the first time I had sincerely prayed. I cried out from the bottom of my soul, and I said, ‘I don’t know if God exists or what God is but if God is out there, show me, help me and show me!’ I needed a sign, something, anything. Something inside me made me walk out onto the streets. I walked to this little club nearby and on the door was a little sign and it had this picture of Prem Rawat as a little boy. He was eight years old, at his father’s funeral, and he now had become the master. His head was shaved and he had a turban on. His little hands were out in a blessing mode―and they were the most beautiful hands I’d ever seen, like a little Buddha’s hands. He was looking so strong and confident, and with those tiny hands. The words at the bottom jumped off the poster at me. ‘If you want to see God, I can show you God, face to face.’
“A disciple of Rawat’s spoke that night and the people that were there had just come back from seeing Prem Rawat in India. As I listened to the speaker, I thought, this is it! I can still remember the faces of those people, so peaceful and so beautiful. They looked like Madonnas and Saints and they were so calm. They weren’t saying anything, it’s just the look on their faces was so strong… love. It was so beautiful, it was like a classical painting, like ancient beauty that you look for in people, do you know what I mean? It was this stillness coming from deep within them; it was a fulfilled stillness, not an empty one.
“So a week later I hitch-hiked to London, leaving a park in Amsterdam early in the morning while the birds were singing, and traveling through the night on a ferry. I still had a couple of paintings left that I had not sold to the Dutch Government. I sold them both to this little restaurant to pay for the ferry. When I got to England, I hitched a ride in a Rolls Royce, all the way to London. It was just me, alone, hitch-hiking. I arrived at the little house where Prem Rawat was staying. A few days later I received the Techniques of Knowledge. Then I went to Germany and cooked in this big house where people were practicing this technique and then I was House Mother in different Centers of Practice. Then I married the man who had put that sign on the door.”
Rachel and I talked at length about her life from that point. The marriage lasted about four years. Rachel scraped together money and continuing to follow Prem Rawat, found her way to California. Her story continues with an amazing number of synchronistic events that led her to meet and marry her current husband, Ron Clearfield. Together they have raised three wonderful children, have a beautiful marriage, and live in a storybook English Cottage in the quaint rural countryside of Leicester.
The Gift, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 36
I want to thank Rachel for the magical afternoon and also thank Ron, one of my favorite men, a man with also a plethora of talents. Thanks Ron, for helping us through the technical aspects of getting Rachel’s art to the pages of WNC Woman. Rachel’s art can be viewed at www.RachelClearfield.com.
Jerita Wright is Director of Marketing and Advertising Sales at WNC Woman.
And Now, Back to Our Program
I just got back from a three week trip to Europe. Or at least I think I did.
In the film Total Recall, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, Arnold Schwarzenegger experiences a virtual vacation with picture-perfect Alpine slopes, romance and azure skies, which feels wonderful—till he discovers the chip in his head.
As my train clacked through the Swiss countryside, blonde cows wearing photogenic bells munched contentedly on the manicured, emerald slopes. Cottages straight out of a Ricola ad dotted the neat squares of farm and pasture. Picturesque villages with smiling, rosy-cheeked bicyclists whizzed past. Jet-lagged and disoriented, I murmured, “It looks just like Switzerland.” As I disembarked from the train, the unmistakable scent of cow manure dispelled my fear that I might be dreaming.
Then I went to Prague. Like a Disney version of a Kafka novel, the streets of Old Town were a relentlessly cheerful labyrinth of passageways that always led us back to the square with the famous astronomical clock which always seemed to have just finished ringing. Baffled, I’d stand with the hundreds of tourists staring upward at the clock, waiting for something more to happen than the fifteen second appearance of some statues of saints peeking through a door. Many still had cameras raised in anticipation of some grand epiphany; perhaps a precession of the equinoxes or some herald of astronomical wonder to reward their sweaty vigil. I’d leave them standing and resume my Sisyphus-like prowl, searching for a bridge to the other side of the river.
Every street held a tribute to Kafka: a Kafka tour, Kafka posters, portraits, T-shirts and mugs. If Prague Castle was the model for Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Kafka had become its ironic Mickey Mouse.
After about the fourth time of finding myself in the square, I became suspicious. Was I trapped in some sort of Sartre play, doomed to eternity with no exit? I stared at my sister, wondering if perhaps she had been replaced by a virtual model. And then, there it was, The Charles Bridge. Reality snapped back into focus. I wasn’t in a Kafka novel after all.
I was so relieved that I didn’t see the stair I tripped over, falling flat on my face at the foot of the bridge. A concerned crowd gathered as I stood up. I touched my nose. Intact. Looked at my hands, not a scratch. My pants weren’t even torn. It was as if it hadn’t happened. My sister stared. I shrugged. “A glitch in the Matrix,” I quipped.
For those who haven’t seen the movie, The Matrix proposes that all of us are actually living a virtual reality, dreaming a life no more real than the Holodeck on Star Trek. You can manipulate this virtual world once you recognize which program is running. Clearly injury was not part of my vacation program. Still….
I’ve always suspected that life is really a movie where each of us is the writer, director, and star. As I walked through the streets of Cieszyn, Poland, where my father grew up, scenes from my previous visits played out on the transformed yet so familiar movie set of past adventures.
My favorite café had become a Citibank. In fact, it seemed that much of Poland was owned by Citibank, with billboards, buildings, and even the airport shouting its logo. Had I entered a dimension where Poland had changed its name? For a tense moment, I rationalized. After all, in our capitalist country we have places like Toyota Center Stadium, US Cellular Field, PNC Bank Art Center. Why not a country? But surely a country named Citibank would never speak Polish.
Speaking of which, no one was more surprised than I to discover that after not speaking Polish for thirty years, I suddenly knew the language as well or better than I had before. After a dozen people remarked on my fluency, I began to feel for the chip in my head.
When we arrived at our hotel in Budapest, we were greeted by a huge poster announcing that all the art in the hotel was painted by someone named Donald Sultan. The first sentence on his bio read, “Donald Sultan was born in Asheville, NC.” Really, out of all the cities in the world, I picked the hotel in Hungary that references Asheville. A New York friend I haven’t seen since he moved to Hungary fifteen years ago, showed up carrying an Asheville Art Museum tote, with no memory of how he had acquired it. In the movie Dark City, where citizens are re-programmed with different memories every night by evil aliens, William Hurt carries around an accordion that he says his mother gave him. Thing is, he can’t remember his mother’s name.
My sister and I joked about all the coincidences. Being from LA, she couldn’t imagine why Asheville would be so prominent in a city so far away. I tried to convince her that Asheville is famous. “Why even Obama came here,” I said. “He had lunch at 12 Bones!”
I flew home the next day, my sister stayed on. At Atlanta airport I got a text from her. “I just walked across the Danube and passed a guy wearing a 12 Bones T Shirt.” Perhaps, As Marc Talbot proposed in his book, The Holographic Universe, we really are creating reality every second.
The first morning I awoke at home, I opened my eyes. My room was vast, with fresco paintings on the wall, a chandelier, and a castle view outside my window. “Where am I, where am I?” I muttered. I closed my eyes and opened them again to my nightstand, my softly snoring husband, the half open closet door, the comforting sound of towhees in the yard. Finally, I had created home.
When not vagabonding through time and space, Lavinia works in the here and now, teaching the Feldenkrais Method and The Creative Body at Asheville Movement Center.
[ laviniaplonka.com ] Want to read more Lavinia? [ Cosmicomedy.com ]
Drops of the Night
Julia Nunnally Duncan
A Review by Mary Ickes
Drops of the Night, set in Milton (based on Marian in McDowell County, North Carolina), chronicles Nora Lynch’s journey from desolation to introspection. Since childhood, she has attended only the Pine Grove Baptist Church, yet prayed two faiths. Unlike her peers, pompously toting their Bibles everywhere in enormous handbags, Nora quietly prays before the mural depicting the kind face of Jesus as he baptizes John the Baptist.
School bullies chased Nora to Nature, her second faith. She discovered peace in the woods, made friends with her father’s farm animals, and visited with her mother (her best friend and confidante) as they gardened and canned. Gradually, the contacts with nature became an unconscious blessing. She decided to marry a farmer, because that was the only life she knew and ever wanted to know.
Nora, at age seventeen, quit high school to marry Roland Lynch. As they walked the land inherited from his grandfather, Roland promised, “We’ll take care of this land together and make my granddaddy proud.” Nora beamed; she had prayed for a husband who, like her father, intended to provide for her and their children. Instead, Roland considered her an equal partner. For seven years, “As long as Roland was . . . plowing the fields or working on the tractor . . . the farm was home.” The tension in Nora’s marriage erupts from the differences between Roland and her father concerning religion, drinking, and respect for inherited land.
Roland scorns religion, but Nora continues to attend church and change the flowers in the jar between her parents’ graves every week. One day, as she sat on the church yard bench, handsome Reverend Brooks gently unbraided her long hair, quoted Scripture, and spread Nora’s hair “. . . like a dark veil over her shoulders. His hands lingered on her arms.” Nora avoided “. . . his eyes that were as clear and blue as an October sky” but, starved for kindness, she reveled in his compliment, “So beautiful.”
The church fathers immediately transferred Brooks; the faithful manipulated Roland with “. . . lies that had stolen his trust and her happiness away.” His unfounded suspicions and sneers, over the next eight years, petrified Nora into emotional numbness and loneliness as she worked to regain his trust. More than ever, she prayed before the mural.
Nora’s parents detested alcohol, but Roland heads for the bar every Saturday night, often returning so drunk that Nora practically carries him to bed. Roland tries to justify his drinking with poker games to win money for their farm bills. Nora follows her mother’s advice: “. . . as long as he’s good to you, turn a blind eye to his drinking and let him do it in peace.”
Drops of the Night opens with Nora awaiting his return. Her relief that Roland is sober turns to incredulity as he relates the evening’s events. Burgin, a blond, green-eyed Indian, made each poker player swear a blood oath to honor the stakes. Roland, the last to lose his money, continues playing with Burgin for unnamed stakes. To Nora’s dismay, Burgin demands a night with her. She commands Roland to tell Burgin NO! and considers the matter closed. Relentless, Burgin vows to denounce Roland’s honor on the courthouse lawn, unless he forces Nora to consent. Preferring prison to sullied honor, Roland goes to the closet for his shotgun, intending to murder Burgin. Nora knows he’s not bluffing, because “. . . sometimes . . . she had wondered if Roland might be a little crazy, with his wild notions and pride that got ahead of his reason.” Nora leaves with Jeremiah Burgin the next night.
Selling the land entrusted to him never occurred to Nora’s father, no matter how wet the springs, dry the summers, or lean the markets. Roland, convinced that another dust bowl looms, goes to work at Milton’s textile mill, puts his land on the market, and plans their move to a mill house. In response to Nora’s offer to find a job, Roland sneers, “You ain’t never worked a day in your life, and you know how I feel about you working. If I can’t take care of my wife, I might as well hang it up.”
Her faith gone, Nora is trapped! Unable to pray before the mural
because of her shame, the loneliness and isolation that Nora had kept at bay now engulfs her. She’s never confided in Lucy Lee, her cousin and only friend, lest she betray Roland. Nora occasionally visits Lucy Lee because “… she’d come to see her cousin as a refuge and a protection . . . and Lucy Lee’s laughter was always a balm to her.” With earthy energy, Lucy Lee blows through Nora’s life and the story. She likes men; she smokes; drinks wine; adores Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, and saves her money to buy a video store. Lucy Lee never believed Nora’s pretenses about her marriage and doesn’t this time either. Too kind to pry, Lucy Lee, as before, provides Nora with an opening: “People like you don’t leave home for nothing.”
The prospect of a dingy mill house, surrounded by a chain-link fence endears nature to Nora more than ever. She still trusts the land and believes that the “. . . farm won’t let them down.” Each animal Roland sells departs with part of Nora’s being. Sonny, her horse, happily snoozes when she finger-combs his mane; no matter to Roland. For $300, out the gate goes Sonny. Symbolic of her plight, Nora rescues a June bug from Sonny’s water tub, gently returning the frantic creature to freedom.
Church precepts that Nora has accepted since childhood ensnare her. After the Brooks’ episode, she dutifully submitted to being prayed over by the church women, hypocritical biddies more eager to hear Nora’s confession than save her soul: “Talk to us, Sister. Confess your sins and they will be cleansed.” Nora finally consents to being prayed over for Roland’s drinking – their logic being that she drove him to drink. She schedules a night when Roland will be home, and then visits Lucy Lee. They practically demand to pray over her about Burgin, because, “We got you through that situation with our former pastor, and we’ll pray you through this, too.” The biddies are not pleased when Nora balks.
Finally, Roland unwittingly tightens Nora’s trap. No longer requiring her to help earn a living, Roland turns to his mill cronies for companionship and after-work drinks. Increasingly suspicious, he accuses Nora of daytime trysts with Burgin. Nora longs to meet with Burgin, but not for romantic reasons. She wants to confront his selfishness that shattered in a few hours the modicum of Roland’s trust she struggled for eight years to regain.
For the first time in her thirty-two years, Nora must independently decide her future: should she make the best of life with Roland in the mill house, demand new terms for their relationship, or strike out on her own? For a woman new to introspection, Nora is perceptive, thorough, and, fortunately, open-minded enough to follow an unexpected path to her answer.
Julia Nunnally Duncan grew up in a North Carolina textile community, playing in the hosiery mill where her parents worked. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the Warren Wilson College and teaches writing at all levels. Her other works include poetry, Blue Ridge Shadows: Stories, and Stone Carver & Other Stories. Her awards include a Blumenthal Writers & Readers Series Award. She currently lives in Marian, North Carolina, with her husband and daughter.
Mary Ickes was in heaven when she attended the Blue Ridge County Bookfest. She already has her calendar marked for next year’s Bookfest on May 18 and 19, 2012 and would like WNCW readers to mark their calendars also. OK! So it wasn’t really heaven, but darn close.
Funny, Isn’t It?
My priest said something interesting at Mass last Sunday. He spoke to the fact that most professions, including his own, require continuing education to ensure that the person functions properly in their position. (Yeah, I know—the Bishops turned their heads on some major problems. Shame on the Bishops! Helpless victims are still paying for that head-turning. And so are good priests, like mine.)
But this column is about continuing education. Not about eviscerating the hierarchy of my church. So that’s my only comment about that—for now.
My friend, Jim, recently had to take a real estate test although he’s been in the biz practically since Vanderbilt built the manse here in Asheville.
And that’s a good thing—because things change constantly.
Going back to my priest’s homily—stick with me, I’ll get to the point eventually. He commented: “Sadly, there’s no continuing education for relationships, especially marriages.”
Bingo! Now isn’t that the truth? Unless your marriage has an exemplary H.R. Department. Which mine does not.
How would you score if you had to take a test on how you treat your spouse or significant other? Your children? Your parents? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? What would your grade be?
I think I’d pass cum laude as a mother (my four daughters live in Maine, California, New York, and Raleigh, so our brief times together are too precious to mess up with squabbles). My neighbors would call me neighborly (I think) and, if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that I am a very good friend. My co-workers loved me because I was fair and mentored many of them. As to my parents, there were some rocky spots, but Mom and Dad are no longer in this universe, and memory has turned the rocks to grains of sand—on both sides, I hope.
So, let me focus on marriage or intimate partnership—that 24/7 relationship which, in my opinion, challenges most anyone who attempts it.
Let’s see. What should be the questions for a husband-wife, a live-in union, or a same-sex cohabitation test? I’ll take a stab.
1. Are you cheerful around this person—90%, 60%, 40% of the time?
2. Do you smile when he/she enters the room?
3. Do you thank him/her for favors—like not telling your friends what a miserable schmuck you can be sometimes?
4. Do you scratch his/her back?
5. Do you have his/her back?
6. Can you control your tongue when he/she has bad breath?
7. Or when his/her hair looks like the head of a Chia pet?
8. When he/she asks if he/she looks fat, do you answer honestly or kindly?
9. Do you say, “I love you” at least once a day.
10. Do you ever go to bed mad?
I fear I would flunk my own test. Especially that 10th point about going to bed mad. Sometimes, it feels so good to climb into bed furious and roll over with my back to him.
Plus, it gives me a chance to read with the light on, which I know will piss him off royally. Touché, darling!
You might ask of my beloved—what’s he ever done to deserve such treatment?
1. Not smiled when I came into the room, hair and teeth unbrushed.
2. Not told me a dress is pretty when I had forked out $79.00 for it on sale
3. Not accompanied me as I walked my diarrheal dog at 3:00 a.m.
4. Said I looked “matronly,” because he thought it meant “womanly.”
5. Not noticed the one time in my life I lost that last five pounds.
On the other hand:
1. He did smile and hug me after I complained about point #1 above.
2. Never complained about my buying that dress.
3. Loves my dog and my daughters and my friends.
4. Looked up the word “matronly” in the dictionary and apologized.
5. Did not notice when I put the five pounds back on.
A friend and I sometimes discuss how difficult it is to live with another human being for many years. We gripe, knowing full well that our men are among the good ones. Can you imagine how nasty life would be if Matt was a lout?
It is my nature to sometimes act the witch. (Change the w to b.) I will never be canonized a saint. Or even beatified. And I know it.
Then again, neither will he. Funny, isn’t it?
Jeanne Charters is a writer, wife, mother, grandmother and happy faux Southern lady since moving to Western North Carolina nine years ago from New York. Her book funny, isn’t it? is a collection of her favorite columns and makes a great gift of laughter for you or a friend. The book is available at Malapropos, Mountain Made Book Store in the Grove Arcade, or at jeannecharters.com. Jeanne recently completed her second novel and resides in Asheville with her husband, Matt Restivo. Contact her at email@example.com
Back row (from left to right): Nadia Paz, Trinidad Delgado,
Marisol Ceballos, Antonieta López,
Front row (from left to right): Alex Villanueva, Alberta López
A year ago, the members of Green Muse Home Cleaning might not have imagined they could own and run their own house cleaning business. But in May 2011, the Latina women in this Hendersonville-based cooperative hired their first manager, and they’ve already begun cleaning. Despite having a manager to deal with finances and clients, Muse Home Cleaning has no boss; the same six women who clean houses also collectively wrote their bylaws and contracts, decided their wages, and are responsible for hiring new staff.
The process began in late 2009, when the Latino Advocacy Coalition (LAC), of Hendersonville, received a grant to help begin a cooperative of Latina women from Henderson and Transylvania counties. The following summer, a group of four women recruited by LAC enrolled in a business training program with the local organization Mountain BizWorks. They received additional support from the Center for Participatory Change (CPC) and the Latina cleaning cooperative Home Cleaning Professionals, which are both based in Asheville.
In April 2011, after recruiting several new members and meeting weekly for over half a year, Green Muse Home Cleaning became an official business. Green Muse’s mission: to offer high-quality residential cleaning services with products and services that promote healthy and sustainable lives for their clients and the co-op members and their families. Many Green Muse members have years of experience cleaning houses, offices, and factories, but this is the first time they have managed their own business. Here’s what a few of them had to say about Green Muse Home Cleaning.
Nadia Paz (back row, far left) is originally from Mexico and has lived in the United States for ten years. She has three children.
Q: How would you describe the Green Muse cooperative?
A: Lots of people don’t know the term “cooperative”… and for me it’s also something new; it’s new for women to work in a team, learn how to direct ourselves, and to maintain a dialogue. I think that a cooperative is two things: it’s your work but it’s also learning how to be a leader. You learn how to speak, how to listen, how to work in a group… and when we are not in agreement, each one uses her imagination and thinks: ‘How can we make this better?’
Q: Are there times when it’s challenging?
A: There are some days when we have meetings and I wonder if it’s worth it to go every Friday, traveling almost an hour… but after almost every meeting, I leave happy and energized.
Olimpia Carachure (back row, far right) is originally from Mexico and has lived in the United States for twenty years. She has three children.
Q: Why were you interested in Green Muse?
A: There is very little opportunity for one to excel economically here, so I took a lot of interest in this job. I said to myself: ‘Here is work for us, and [it will allow me to] forge ahead here with my kids and succeed economically’.
Q: Do you have advice for other women interested in starting a cooperative similar to Green Muse Home Cleaning?:
A: This kind of work is a very important opportunity economically but also socially, because you’re with other women and you get to learn about your coworkers. I’ve often been alone and don’t have lots of family here, so it’s good for me to work with and also get to know [the other members of Green Muse].
Q: In three years, what do you hope Green Muse will be?
A: I hope that it will have progressed; that it will have more employees, more houses to clean, and to have worked well, not only as a cooperative but also economically for the employee’s families.
Alberta Lopez (front, far right) is originally from Mexico and has lived in the United States for eleven years. She has two children, and her sister, Antonieta (back, second from the right) is also part of the cooperative.
Q: What’s exciting about being a part of Green Muse?
A: The most exciting thing is that we’re going to work for ourselves, that it’s our company, and I think [because of this] we’re going to get more time to spend with our families.”
Q: What’s hard about it?
A: It’s hard because we have to come to all our decisions together…For us as women it’s even harder because we have kids, and when there are issues at home, we are still working to make this cooperative. [In the future] if the cooperative has a problem, it would be difficult, but I believe that if we talk together in those meetings we can find solutions…
Q: What’s your advice to other women?
A: I think that just as men do, we women have to find ways to develop ourselves, to leave our houses, and to learn more… Women have rights to go forward and reach their dreams!
If you want to inquire about Green Muse Home Cleaning, you can call Marisol at (828) 233-6251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Susie Greene is Quite a Woman
She’s only in her 50’s and has already accomplished a great deal in her life. I’m sure she’d probably tell you one of her greatest accomplishments would be raising her son as a single mother, and of course that’s a very big deal.
But add to that her life as an actress, minister, singer, motivational speaker, with a kick-ass sense of humor and a deep connection to spirit. That would seem to be enough for any mere mortal – but no, we now have her new book, A Pocket Guide to Riches − a formula to create money on a consistent basis, published by Balboa Press, a division of Hay House Publishing.
In our conversations about her life and the writing of the book, one of the things that struck me was how she felt when she began her spiritual journey. When it came to creating real abundance in her life, she didn’t get it. How many of us have had that experience?!
When she read the books about abundance and creating riches and listened to people, especially the really smart people who seem to have all the answers, she didn’t get it. It was all an intellectual concept, which on that level was easy to understand. But when it came to actualizing the concept, making it real for herself, it didn’t happen. And Susie’s a woman who commits to things. She doesn’t walk away just because something is difficult. She gives it her all. And still, she thought to herself, “I don’t think I can do one more affirmation!” She had immersed herself in everything she knew to do: meditating, workshops, retreats; she had read books, chanted, changed her thinking, even walked on fire. Still, something was missing.
What she came to realize was that the missing piece, the essential missing piece, was that she hadn’t made a decision. Yep, it turns out we don’t get what it is we’re trying to manifest until we do that one thing first. We have to make a decision. And the way she came to that conclusion was when she started to investigate how, in her past, she had created a significant chunk of change.
Susie doesn’t remember a time she didn’t want to be an actress. In her twenties she moved to the City of Angels, where all aspiring performers go to get their big break. The “big” break didn’t happen but she worked hard at her craft, spending lots of money on workshops, portfolios, agents, classes, head-shots, etc. She also spent a summer in New York attending The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1988 she moved back to her home town, Asheville. Still pursuing acting, Susie auditioned for everything, got some small gigs − but still, nothing substantial.
Then the big moment came.
She was in her parents’ home, in the kitchen talking to her dad, when he inadvertently gave her the magic key. He told her that if she hadn’t made it as an actress by then, she wasn’t ever going to. She was devastated. Acting was her life − and here was one of the most important people in her life telling her it was never going to happen.
What she did next is at the crux of everything that came later. After all the tears, the fierce anger, she decided. She would show him and she would succeed. A month later, a big New York director came to town casting a Tide commercial. Susie and 300 other people auditioned and she got the gig − earning a cool $30,000.
Time passed. Years later, she was struggling with money concerns and wondering, after all the effort she had put in to creating abundance for herself, why nothing was working. It was then she looked back at the time she had created just what she had wanted and what the determining factor was. And just like that it came. She had made a decision! Yes, it was made with tears and with an I’ll show you attitude, but that was part of the discovery. It’s decision with an attitude. It’s passion. It’s believing. It’s FEELING.
If you want to create big stuff, there has to be big feeling involved. As you read Susie’s book you’ll notice that time after time there’s passion. Not from the head, but from the heart − and all those other places you feel your truth. Your gut. It’s the voice that is always only saying yes when it’s yes.
This book is full of simple yet powerful ideas to help figure out where to go next on your abundance journey, especially if you’ve experienced frustration around issues with money. And since it seems everyone we know is having a smidge of an issue with money, this book will probably be a best seller! You can order it at Susie’s web site: www.abundantlife2day.com
Read this book. Read it if you know instinctively there’s more for you to have and to hold. Read it if you know you’re ready (or want to be ready) to make that decision. And then relax. The best is yet to come.
Susie Greene is an Abundant Life Mentor and Speaker and helps clients in achieving more joy, more freedom, more abundance, and an everlasting feeling of true success. Her website is www.abundantlife2day.com and she can be reached at email@example.com or 828/989-0248.
Rivkah Koppel is in her 3rd act. She has decided to spend it sharing her wisdom and humor as a Spiritual Mentor as well as her experience in the Pure Land of the Present Moment. Her 2nd act professionally was spent as an Advertising Executive, Licensed Massage Therapist, Yoga Instructor and occasional writer. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org