I first learned the true meaning of joy when I was in the first grade, on stage, performing for a small audience of students and parents. My soul felt so big and expansive as I sang and danced in my fancy green and white checked polyester pant suit. The crowd seemed to love me and I was in Heaven! At the end of the performance I opened my arms wide to my adoring fans and took the biggest bow that any first grader has ever taken. This was the life!

Afterward, I was still bubbling from excitement as my mother came over to me and quickly whisked me away and I sensed that she was embarrassed by me. And so ended my first encounter of following my joy. Though I’m sure it was not her intention, my mother’s actions sent me the message that I shouldn’t draw so much attention to myself or outshine the people around me.

I was really confused. How could something that I loved so much make other people feel so bad?

Bring it down a notch. Message received.

But my true soul couldn’t be contained for long and once again I was following my passion. You see, I had always loved to draw and one day in the fifth grade I had the brilliant idea of sharing my drawings with my friends for the bargain price of twenty five cents. Everything was going great until my teacher realized what I was doing and reprimanded me. Apparently it was not appropriate to be running a business during school hours! I couldn’t see why that was a problem as everyone involved in the exchange was quite happy. The message again was to not bring so much attention to myself. Don’t outshine the people around me.

This all caused me to be very self conscious about myself. Maybe I was wrong. I shouldn’t do things that make me happy. Maybe I was supposed to follow the rules and do what everyone else was doing and THAT would make everybody happy. Okay. So I spent the next several years comparing myself to the normal people, the popular crowd and tried to be just like them. But the problem was that by using this approach I was looking outside of myself to find happiness.

I spent the next two decades vacillating between doing the things that truly brought me joy (which by the way were very easy and actually successful for me) and making others happy by not being too big or too important.

In the high times I became a successful artist and had my paintings featured on t.v. shows, movies, textbooks, and even Target stores. Easy. Joy.

In the low times I became a victim to other people’s expectations. I thought life shouldn’t be this easy, I’m just lazy and I don’t deserve all the rewards I’m receiving. Don’t outshine the people around me. So I pulled back. I quit believing in myself. Eventually, the only thing I was holding onto was depression and an extra 25 pounds. Life began happening TO ME rather than FOR ME and I saw no way out.

Until one day at work and quite by accident, I came across set of cassette tapes by Wayne Dyer called Manifest Your Destiny. The title sounded very intriguing to me so I took them home and listened to all six tapes. Something shifted for me as I listened and I began to see myself not as powerless, but as a magical co-creator of my life. I realized that the key to joy and happiness and living life in the flow was to honor myself, my soul, and my truth. I realized that my true joy always involved expressing myself creatively. And I realized that my path in life doesn’t look like most everyone else’s path.

Enter the soul again!

In August 2008 I began a blog, My Juice Cleanse, as an exercise to learn how to make money online by sharing my passion for juicing. The venture made money in its first month (not much, but it was encouraging). It reminded me that every time I do what I love, the Universe responds with love. I kept the project going and mastered the art of creating a tribe of adoring fans. And wouldn’t you know, a publisher contacted me to write a book for them. I didn’t even have to lift a finger to make it happen (other than to write the book!).

7 Things About Me!

1.One of my SuperPowers is … encouraging others to express themselves. I do this through my presence (creating and holding space), my voice, and my words.

2.Something you might be surprised to learn about me is … that I sometimes have psychic dreams and I used to belong to a psychic dreaming club.

3. Something I’m afraid you might judge me for is … my emotionality.

4. I am more comfortable writing my feelings than I am speaking them.

5. Something I’ve struggled with in my life is … depression. There was a time in my life when I forgot that I actually knew how to be happy because I had placed that power in the hands of others. Through the teachings of Wayne Dyer and through the practice of allowing myself new experiences, I have grown into a more confident person, who is mostly at ease with herself. I’m also learning not to give a f*ck what others think of me and it is glorious!

6. Something I’m deeply proud of myself for is … being deeply committed to my children’s growth, happiness, and independence.

7. I don’t know how to … whistle. I can’t. I just can’t.