This is going to be a long blog entry. I’m saying that so you’re prepared. But it’s worth it to read.
My friend G (not to be confused with FG) had been staying at my house for a couple weeks. He is interested in moving out here and wanted to give it a “trial run” by taking over my living room for a couple of weeks. I said sure, why not, and we definitely had a ton of fun. I do think we will work out as roommates (as long as he has his own car, haha.) We’ve agreed to not date (yes, I am blogging this so it’s an official contract!!!) and honestly, I think it’s great to have a best friend whom I’m not dating!
So. On to the weekend. We drove to IBI, which is in LA–about a 5-hour drive from my house. Poor G is 6’5″ and leetle zoom could not quite hold him, so he was scrunched up in the passenger seat the whole way. I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it, but he did–and without complaining! (This whole trip made me realize I need more people with a positive outlook like G has in my life, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog entry.)
Oh man. IBI was crazy. I could sit here and write for about 3 hours about everything that happened. I had a chiropractor straighten out my back. I’ve never heard so much cracking in my life. It felt great. Makes me realize I need to go to a chiropractor more often. (Like, for the first time in my life!) I gained several new hosting customers. Everyone was overjoyed to see me. Paul Hoyt, my strategic planner, was fighting to be the president of the Erica Douglass Fan Club. I told him he could only be president of my fan club if I became president of his fan club. I love Paul and he is great. He is now the first member of Simpli’s newly-appointed Board of Advisors, with several more people to come. He and I came up with that idea because I feel it’s important to have some older people on my team to lend credibility to investors. Paul is definitely a mentor for me — he has a son who is a year younger than I am and views me as a sort of successful daughter type. Paul, for me, is like my “business dad”. I trust him completely to tell me when I’m doing things right or wrong and I take his advice quite seriously! We had dinner Saturday and went over strategy, which again, is another blog.
But on to the real meat of this blog entry. (I told you it was going to be long!) I was sitting in the lounge, talking language with Bill Ayers, who has made a quite successful business out of door-to-door sales (he owns one of those companies that sells discount cards door-to-door.) Bill makes his money by teaching people (in his case, high school and college kids) how to overcome objections and close sales. Since he recently moved to San Francisco, I asked him to do some 1-on-1 coaching for me in the next 2 weeks on how to become a better closer. It is all about understanding body language and looking at people with a keen eye. He brought up several good points about overcoming objections before they can be stated by watching body and expression cues and figuring out what people are thinking, reading doubts, and speaking out about how that’s not a problem. Bill is writing a book on this stuff and this will be great advice for me to have.
Anyway, Bill and another woman were down in the lounge teaching me how to read cues and working on my investor presentation. One of the most valuable tips I learned: don’t ask for money; present it as an opportunity. The more “limited” and time-sensitive you can make it, the better. There’s a huge difference between “My company is looking for $75,000” and “I am presenting a limited opportunity for just 3 investors at $25,000 each.” 😉
Bill introduced me to a guy he said I definitely needed to do a session with. That person was Michael Peak. Michael comes to IBI weekends just to do sessions with students. In fact, he says word of mouth has spread so far within IBI that he doesn’t even do any of the networking events available on the weekend; he just does sessions nonstop. Michael’s one-on-one sessions last about an hour and he promises to “eliminate all fear, anger and other mental blocks” that prevent you from achieving your goals. Since I’d had about 5 people at IBI that I trust recommend a session, and I figured I didn’t have anything to lose (except $200 for the session, but eh), I went for it.
Michael said we’d be working through a sort of directed hypnosis where I would be fully aware of what was going on. He asked if I had any concerns, and I said “I’m sort of prematurely embarrassed for what I might say.” I had no idea what was going to come out. Some people have stuff from past lives come out, he said, and I knew my last previous life was pretty ugly. I didn’t really want to go through that again. He said to just relax and we’d see what happened.
He started with a quick relaxation session to get me OK with the whole process, since I was still really nervous. At first I couldn’t adapt to it, but I quickly settled in and began. He asked me when the first time that I was angry was: before I was born, while I was in the womb, or after I was born. He said I’d know the answer immediately and to say the first thing that came into my head. “After,” I replied without hesitation. Then, to my amazement, he stepped me through it. I could actually feel it burning inside of me, like my feet were on hot molten lava. He asked me to describe the scene that I was seeing, and my mind’s eye placed me in the kitchen of my parents’ house. I was about 3 years old, and I really wanted something. I mean, whatever it was, I just wanted that darn thing. And my mother said “No.” I was SO MAD at her! (Looking back now, I laugh, but we all have this stuff floating around in our subconscious…you’d be amazed at what really shapes your emotions on a daily basis!)
After describing the scene, Michael encouraged me to tell my three-year-old self that I was okay and that I turned out just fine, and I was asked to replace the anger in the scene with a color, a symbol, and a reminder to myself. I chose purple, a daisy, and something about how I am unique. He then asked me to invite “my older and wiser self” into the picture to see what the learning experience was for the situtation. I invited Julia (my spirit guide; yes, another blog entry I need to write) in and she said “Your mother wanted you to understand that you couldn’t have everything you wanted in this life, but you were too young to understand this at the time.” I thanked her for her insight; we did some more exercises, and Michael moved on to fear.
This one came a bit more easily. I knew what it was almost immediately. I was 13 years old and in 7th grade. My best friend had just moved away, and I had my had on the door at school, ready to go out on the playground at recess but knowing that there were no friends for me there and that I was all alone. It was the first time I really felt fear. After painting it over with yellow and giving my 13-year-old self a golden ring and telling her I loved her, I asked Julia what the lesson was here. It was quite powerful and it was at this point in the session that I started crying. The lesson was so heartfelt and amazing that I was almost shocked I hadn’t realized it before. Landmark Forum had helped me realize that this moment when I was 13 was a pivotal moment in my life; it allowed fear to enter, which in turn caused depression (it’s all in my blog somewhere.) It created what Landmark calls a strong suit, which for me was “I don’t need anyone”, which has also carried itself as a theme throughout my life. But Michael helped me realize that this moment had even deeper meaning. Julia said, quite clearly at that point, “You are never alone.” She’s told me that over and over again, but I didn’t get how important it was until I returned last night to my 13-year-old self and watched Julia bend over and whisper in her (my) ear, right by that school door, “You are never alone.” That was the first time she had said that to me, and it was powerful.
That moment doesn’t hurt any more. I used to wreck myself over that; it was a huge root of depression for me… “knowing” that I was all alone. That moment, that day, would haunt me and torment me in dreams, making me cry myself to sleep with depression. And now I know that that was the moment that Julia told me that there was love in this universe and that none of us are ever alone, that there is always someone there to talk to and God, who loves unconditionally and will pick any of us up when we feel alone and unloved by everyone, when we open that schoolyard door and think that there are nothing but angry people out there.
After breaking through that and handing my 13-year-old self that beautiful golden ring, I realized that I had learned the lesson (finally!!!) and that there would be no more torment or nightmares about being alone. From now on, that moment, for me, could only hold the most powerful love in the universe.
I was smiling after that, but I think Michael still sensed that there was something else there within me. And indeed there was. As soon as he said “sadness”, I knew I was going to get hit hard, but I didn’t know what it was going to be. This moment was by far the most difficult to find. I said “after” with some hesitation. He had me search for it and I couldn’t find it. “I see lots of little sadnesses, but no big ones,” I told him. He asked me to jump back 20 years on my timeline, and WHAM, it hit me so abruptly that I was pulled into it without warning. There I was, in a hospital… Michael cut me off and eased me out of it to figure out a color (pink) and a symbol (heart) and a saying (“I am beautiful”, which I said so powerfully that for the first time, I really believed it.) “Alright,” he said, “we’re going to ease into this one…NOT YET!” (he could see me slipping into it again) “…and remember, you have a protective shield…” His words faded, as I was already there, in the hospital, and someone was crying. Wait. I looked up. My mom was crying! But it wasn’t my mom… it was my birth mother, so young, crying and crying and crying. I knew what this was. “Oh no,” I said out loud. “Oh, no, she’s giving me away! And she didn’t realize how much it was going to hurt, because it’s like giving part of yourself away…” The words were coming rapid-fire as the scene unfolded. I had just been born, and I knew so much sadness already in my life, because she knew she couldn’t raise me, and it was her sadness… her sadness and anger at having to make the hardest decision of her young life by giving her child away so I could have a better life. I remember her looking at me, kissing me, the pain, oh, the infinite sadness in her eyes that seemed to reach on for miles, and I could do nothing but be that sadness, because I had no idea how to do or be anything else.
I had no idea that this memory lurked inside, but it was there, and it was that infinite sadness that I woke up with every morning of my life until THIS morning, THIS day, August 1, 2005. Every single day of my life until now had started with sadness, and often I talked about it but I never understood what it was until last night. I had carried with me for 24 years the sadness of the woman who birthed me and then, a scant 3 days later, gave me away, never to see me again or even know my new name.
Michael gently asked me to remind my very small and young self that it was not my sadness, but her sadness, and to invite my older and wiser self in. I called Julia in again, and all Julia said was “She loved you and wanted the best for you.” That was an amazing moment; the sadness was wiped out and replaced with infinite love.
Michael continued the session for a little while longer, but I knew right then, after I saw that scene and remembered the smile on my birth mother’s face, that my life would not be the same again. Never again would I wake up with sadness that I couldn’t explain. Never again would I be wracked with sobbing pain that I couldn’t identify the source of. I had finally been able to let that go and replace it with love.
This morning, I woke up at 7AM after a scant 5 hours sleep, but I felt amazing. For the first time I can remember, I didn’t wake up with a knot of sadness in my heart. I woke up only with infinite love and the blessings of a woman who gave me away in order to make sure I could have the best life I could have. So I did everything I could do — I smiled, got out of bed, and thanked her for her sacrifice in loving me enough to give me away. And I looked in the mirror, smiled, and realized I am beautiful and unique.
As Julia would say, that chapter of my life is now written. I can move on. And my life is going to be amazing…if it isn’t amazing enough already. 🙂