What I Know For Sure Too

Last week I promised you that I would reveal how Oprah is helping me to share the transformational journey that I have discovered in my healing from abortion. I am so excited to share my “aha” breakthrough with you today!

My favorite part of her magazine, O, is the last page entitled What I Know For Sure. This feature is generally about an awareness that she has personally discovered in the course of living her own life. In the August 2014 issue, she shares her revelations from the loss of her dear friend, Maya Angelou. The lessons she learned and the experiences that she has had from this tremendous loss in her life are shockingly similar to the experiences I have more recently felt over the loss of my daughter after my abortion. 

Oprah writes that although “The sense of physical loss is deep and real”…“I cannot tell you what a breakthrough it has been to open myself up to her spiritual presence. I feel her everywhere. In the breeze, in my voice, in every encounter, her spirit abides in me.”

 How stunningly beautiful!

And I know exactly how she feels. 

When I stopped denying my abortion and opened up to the possibility that my daughter (subsequently named Mary) had chosen me as her mother and knew that she would not be born at that time, I felt her presence almost immediately. I still remember being on my Project Rachel retreat, laying down a heavy rock that symbolized my deep desire to let go of the burden I was carrying from that experience. Within minutes of making the choice to lighten my load, Mary appeared to me in prayer – sweet, happy and loving with curly, dirty blond hair and deep blue eyes. I knew immediately that she was my child.

That was just the beginning of my transformation. After that day, I began to feel her presence at other retreats and quiet spaces. Even though I thought I was “done” with my abortion healing work, she made it clear that there was more to do. As time went on, her presence became more and more recognizable in my life. As I work and as I write, it is she and my grandmother who I feel so often by my side, giving me encouragement, wisdom and strength. 

Oprah writes next in that same article that “For years I’ve told people, ‘When someone you love dies, you now have an angel you can call by name.’” And she lets us into the story of her grandmother Hattie Mae, who she believes is the “head of her angel team.”

I believe we all have an angel team with us, guiding us along our path. How brave and bold of Oprah to reveal her belief in the same!

For myself, my angelic daughter Mary and my grandmother, Pauline, have helped me to transform my life from being spiritually and energetically dead to finding joy and freedom in life again. I would not have awoken from the life I was living without them. I also believe I would not be here today without them. I needed something big: "a neon sign so big and bold it couldn’t be ignored” type of deal, to be woken up from the numbness I was in and into the truth of who I could be. My angel team instigated an impressive sequence of events to bring me back to life.

In closing her lesson for this month, Oprah writes “I’ve always believed that death shows up to remind us to live more fully. Now I know it for sure.” 

As do I Oprah, as do I.



What's in a Dream?

“Dream mode – Activate!” my nine year old exclaimed at bedtime the other night. Ahh, the sweet innocence of children!

His words, as they often do, made me think, what do I dream about?

When I was a kid, I dreamt about what I would be when I grew up. My kids inspire me with their dreams of who they want to be. So far I have a budding scientist/astronomer in my house, a future soccer star, and perhaps the first female president living under my roof! I love how bright and big their dreams are!

My dreams are still pretty big too. Where I once used to dream about what I would be, now I dream about how I can bring the gifts I have inside of me to others. How can I bring everything that I have learned about freedom, joy and community from my experience of abortion to those who still struggle with shame, regret and guilt? How can I help others, women and men, to transform their lives from one of constant pain into a life that is more emotionally rich and meaningful?

I dream of a world where everyone gets to choose what they do with their bodies. The right to choose isn’t just about abortion, although it is certainly one of the main experiences where we see extreme polarization. What about countries that draft men and women into military service? What about religions that require surgical procedures on the bodies of its believers? I am sure you can think of many other instances where people are not able to choose for themselves. 

In the United States recently, a new court decision was passed that allows closely-held corporations to decide whether or not to offer contraception as a healthcare choice to their employees. Referred to as the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court in making their decision wrote, "Protecting the free-exercise rights of closely held corporations thus protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them." This decision appears to be saying that one person’s religious liberties, through ownership of a business, can dictate to someone else what choices they can make about their body. Puritanical beliefs permitted the execution of women determined to be witches years ago. Is this case in the broader sense any different? As far as we seem to have come over the years with women’s rights, this decision makes it seem as if we haven’t made any clear advances, and if anything, are taking more than the two proverbial steps backwards in our fight for equality. This decision is not a dream that I hold for myself, for my daughter, or for anyone else who lives and breathes on this planet.  

Are we, as a society, so unhappy with our lives that we have let go of our own dreams only to go on to control others’ dreams instead? 

I think Marianne Williamson was right when she said “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” If we lived in the light, if we lived in our power, if we lived in love, we would not feel the need to control others. We would live in the perfection of our own being without needing to control anyone else’s body or anyone else’s dreams.

So what do I dream of these days? 

I dream of a world where we are all living in our light and in our highest potential. I dream of a world where my daughter can choose if or when she wants to have a child and where she can also be the President of our country if she so desires. I dream of a world where we see our own greatness reflected in the eyes of each other, where we love and appreciate the gifts and uniqueness we each bring to this planet. 

In the words of my nine year old son, “Dream mode – activate!” It's time to leave behind our fears and bring love, peace and harmony into the world in a much bigger way!


PS: I can’t wait to share with you next week how Oprah is helping to make my dream about abortion being an experience of transformation come true!

The Best Day of My Life

Have you heard the hit song by the group, American Authors, The Best Day of My Life? This song makes me want to dance and sing every time I hear it. Instead of nestling in bed with my usual morning prayer, today I woke up with this song stuck in my head. “OO-o-o-o-o-o, today is gonna be the best day of my life!”

But you know what? I didn’t always wake up humming an upbeat tune, jumping out of my bed before the alarm went off, excited to greet the day. In fact, most of my life was spent doing exactly the opposite. I thought if I pulled the covers over my head and stayed in bed just a little while longer, maybe when I got up, my life wouldn’t be so bad. Oy!

It was almost eleven years ago, in the fall of 2003, that I found myself miscarrying an unexpected pregnancy, which in turn rocketed me back mentally to eleven years before that when I had chosen an abortion from my first pregnancy. Because of my Catholic upbringing, which was further intensified by my husband’s studies to become a Catholic Deacon, the repressed shame, fear, guilt, and regret within me imploded with this second pregnancy loss. At the time I was a mother to two young children, aged 4 and 6, working full-time, and overwhelmed with my life. Now I had two dead babies to grieve over. I was alive physically, but spiritually and energetically I was dead.

I believe I would have died after that loss if I did not have my two living children.

But I did have them and they needed me to take care of and protect them.

As much as I loved them, it was not inspired motivation that kept me going. It was more like a solid knowing such as one gets when you know you need a root canal and just have to suck it up and get it done. You’re positive in the knowledge that if you don’t take care of that tooth right now, life can only get worse. It was that kind of motivation.

And so I cracked opened the door to healing. It began with a Catholic retreat, Project Rachel and continued for many years afterwards with much more soul searching. My grandmother’s death in 2004, my embodied children’s sweet love, and finally surrendering to the Universe to teach me the rest, has brought me to a place today where not only am I alive, but I am joyfully so.

Last spring, my daughter was learning how to drive and we decided to go through the drive-through window at …”somewhere.” As she was rounding the first curve of the building, she took it too tightly and the whole back end of the car scraped the concrete post that protected the corner of the building from cars doing exactly what she was doing – cutting their car wheels too closely. Sadly for her, I was not only the only one in the car with her; so were her brothers and another friend.

We made it out of the drive-through holding our breath, and she stayed focused enough to do her best driving back to our house. It turned out when we got home and were brave enough to look at the car, the indentation was easily popped back into place, and the neon orange color from the pole was easily rubbed off the side of my car. In the end, it was a lesson not just for her, but for the other kids in the car who would soon be learning to drive as well. Her experience gave everyone an opportunity for growth.

That is how I now choose to look at my abortion – not as a mistake, but as an opportunity for something more. You see, I was miserable in my marriage, and in fact, was living most of my life even prior to that from a place of disconnection and numbness. Once I really came to terms with my life, I realized I had to make the losses in my life mean something. I wasn’t going to let them define me or my path, but just the opposite. I was determined to use those losses to learn, to be a better person. As with Uma Girish’s loss shared a few weeks ago, deep pain and despair can be a catalyst for incredible transformation.

I am happy to say that I am no longer in an oppressive marriage or doing a job that I despise. I am the writer and published author I always wanted to be. I am also a coach and advocate for women who have had abortions. Like my daughter’s “scraping of the pole at the drive-through” experience, I hope that I can bring awareness and learning for other women so that their experience with abortion does not have to be as debilitating as mine was. As the guy in the above video clip for my current “favorite” song dances with the monster, we too, can dance with our own gremlins and find the best day of our lives is right here and right now too.


Congrats to a Bestie!

Dear Girlfriend,

I am so excited for you! It’s time to celebrate!

For over twenty years you’ve done what so many women do after an abortion – you decided that taking a stand for yourself hurt too much, caused too much harm and therefore withdrew from life and taking a stand for yourself (or anyone else for that matter) ever again. In my case, for so many years, it was impossible for me to see what I was doing with regards to dealing with my abortion. Now that I understand, I can see so clearly and identify with many other women who have made this choice.

But this weekend, you stood up for yourself and put your foot down! No more! No more allowing people to walk all over you as if you are a doormat! No more treating yourself like a servant and a slave! No more abdicating your power to someone else! Dear girlfriend, I love it!

I did not take a stand for myself until I was spiritually and energetically dead. I had nothing left to give. Even then, I have to admit, I stood up for myself only because of my children. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today. Literally, they saved my life – both my born and unborn.

I am so happy that I could walk through the flames with you out to the other side, to have the honor and privilege of seeing you standing up for yourself the way you did this weekend. You are choosing life – YOUR life – and that’s what this after abortion journey is all about. Choosing, honoring and loving you!

It will take effort to continue this journey. Change doesn’t usually happen overnight. You have taken a huge first step. If I could offer only one nugget of advice to you, it would be to see the little girl inside of yourself and take care of her. In every moment where you have to make a choice between yourself and someone else’s happiness, look at your little girl self and ask her who needs you most. She is still inside you and is part of who you are. When you are conflicted, remember her. It may be easier to stand up for her than for your adult self.

I love you so, so much! And I am so happy to sit beside you on this journey of realignment and transformation! You are an amazingly beautiful human being!

It’s time to celebrate a brand new world opening up for you.



Single Mothers Rock!

“Single mother.” What words or thoughts come to mind when you hear these words?
The ones that immediately came to my mind were poor, ignorant, loose, even slutty. I felt a certain pity too, but in a “thank God that’s not me” kind of way. In many ways, my attitude towards the term “single mother” was not unlike my previous attitude about women who had abortions.
And then one day, I found myself fitting that exact description: Single mother.

For the last seven years, I have been a single mother and wrestled with the idea of what it means. My judgment about the terminology and experience was so deep that I needed to have a personal connection to it in order to really heal my mindset. The things we resist, do persist, until we come to terms with them.

Growing up, my family and religious traditions had taught me to judge many experiences that didn’t fall in line with their framework as bad, even intolerable. There was no room for a mistake, and if, God forbid, I stepped out of those boundaries, a deep and pervading shame arose within me. I can still remember the time, about five years ago, when my mother said to me with great sadness in her voice, “Honey, I never thought in a million years your life would turn out like this!” Ouch!

Her disappointment with my circumstances hit me like a ton of bricks.

Moving across the country three years ago was the beginning of a huge shift for me. I made new friends and “family.” I discovered a phenomenal tribe of people who don’t think with judgment showing in their eyes, conveying the hardness they feel in their hearts. They have shown me, by their own lifestyles, that there is a different way of thinking about being a  single mother, and how to release the remnants of fear-based thoughts that kept me locked up in my own world of negativity.

What I have discovered as I surrendered and opened my eyes and my heart, is that there is always – ALWAYS! – a different lens to look through at my life. I learned that my experience with abortion was a catalyst for personal growth and transformation that was essential to my health and well-being. Part of that growth, I have more recently discovered, included throwing away the last vestiges of rigid thinking around being a single mother.

For much of the last twenty years, I kicked and screamed, withdrew and cried about my life, not wanting to accept the experience of being a single mom as part of my path. On a subconscious level, I know I was afraid of that same scenario when I had my abortion. And yet, twenty-two years later, here I am parenting not one, but three children, on my own. The more I refused to accept changing my mindset around this concept, the deeper I fell into denial.

In the last few weeks, I have surrendered to that part of myself that fought with and labeled the single mother experience as something negative. The more I embrace this aspect of my life, the more at ease my family life has been. The changes in me are directly tied to the positive changes I see in my kids.

The results? I realized just this weekend how much I LOVE being not just a mom, but a single mom. Seeing my experience as negative or lacking in any way made it so. But changing the perspective to one of positivity and joy shifted everything. And the best part? My experience of my circumstances is all up to me. I get to choose whether or not I want to be a victim or a martyr, or an empowered woman, in charge of my own destiny. I am almost giddy with excitement today as I feel that knowing flowing through my being.

I know that all is absolutely well and beautiful in this moment.

Single mothers rock!