Years ago, I had my chart done by a wonderful astrologer named Tom Brady from Santa Fe. I’ve never met Tom in person, but have had several readings with him over the phone. He records these calls and sends me a CD so I can listen to them over nad over again. Each of Tom’s readings has contained pearls of wisdom and insight that I’ve chewed on for years.
In the first one he did for me, Tom told me that my whole chart reinforced, over and over again, the message that my life path was to “shine out into the world.” He said I would be an “agent of change” in the arena of communication. This is something I have done consistently throughout my life-as a radio producer, a talk show host, an inspirational speaker, an author, a blogger, a columnist, and now, as a writing teacher and group leader. Inspiring others toward healing, through my gifts with language, has been a thread I have followed my whole life.
Tom also told me that these cycles of shining out into the world would always be followed by periods of retreat and holing up. And this, too, has been true.
The five years I was on the road speaking and leading workshops on healing from sexual abuse, starting in 1988, when The Courage to Heal was published, were very public years. I was a guest on Oprah. I appeared on hundreds of radio shows, dozens of TV programs. I filled bookstores and auditoriums. I spoke in theaters with my name up on the marquis, standing alone on a stage with no props, just a water glass and a spot following me, speaking heart-to-heart to 900 people at a time. I had a taste of fame in my own little niche. It was a powerful, humbling and challenging to be constantly in the public eye. To some of my fans, I was God; to my detractors, the anti-Christ. Those first years after Courage was published was very much a roller coaster ride. And for me, it was especially hard to be up on a pedestal because I had “gracefully survived” trauma and lived to tell about it.
After five years on the lecture circuit, I quit. I wanted to get pregnant and start a family. I no longer wanted my whole life to be associated with the sexual abuse that I was healing from and moving past. I was tired of airports and lonely hotel rooms. I craved a simpler life, a home, a relationship, and at least some degree of anonymity. I wanted to be a normal person with a regular life, not a self-help guru. And so at the peak of my prominence, I quit.
The next years I spent building a primary relationship, bonding with Karyn and my new stepson Bryan, birthing, being a new mom, and writing, all of which were based at home. Becoming a mother cracked me open in a good way and I loved it. My focus remained staying in town while building community for my family and myself. Those were good years for me, years in which I brought my life back into balance. I especially liked it when someone found out what I did and what I’d written after they got to know me.
I published more books in those years, and with each one, there was a spurt of being out in the world, but it didn’t last. I was always eager to settle back in at home.
For the past seven years, I’ve continued nesting. Instead of getting on airplanes to go to work, I’ve turned my energy to serving my local community as a writing teacher instead. As a teacher I am still out in the world, still being an agent of change anda communicator, but it’s a “small w” world. I like it that way.
Cancer, of course, made my world even smaller—struggling to survive, coping with illness and having death riding along as a passenger tends to do that. During my year in the underworld, I reaped incredible riches from the community I had built. And as I moved out of my year in the cancer underworld, I wanted to keep things simple. I had been hollowed out, emptied; I’d spent a year in the vastness of the present moment and I had no interest in rejoining the rat race. I wanted to let go of who I had been before. Ambition? Gone. Drive? Gone. Being out in the world? Not for me anymore. Writing? Don’t know if I’ll ever do that again. For two years after my last chemotherapy drip, I did just what was necessary to keep my business going, to earn a living for my family, and no more.
But now I can feel the unfolding of my wings. I am no longer sick. I am no longer focused on rebuilding my chi, no longer needing to take it easy. I have lost the inner sight I had while I was sick and the world beckons. I am moving from one cycle of quiet and retreat and stillness, from guarding my privacy and my “not doing” fiercely, back out into the sun of the larger world. I think of Tom Brady and what he told me, and I smile. I can sense the great wheel of life turning, thrusting me out again into the world, away from the nest I have made and clung to.
I am moving out of limbo and in-between into another thrust of manifestation. I do not know where it will take me or where I am going, or how it will be, but I am not going to fight it anymore. I am going to step up to the plate and see what comes my way.
Unlike my friends who are still battling cancer, the ones who have had recurrences and relapses, I am not walking through life with death keeping time on the nape of my neck, in the hollow of my throat. He is there, I know he is there, but he has stepped back and is pushing me onward. Resistance is futile. The time of quietude and cocooning is over. The time to step up is now.