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Life Makeover for the Year 2011

August 2011 – an excerpt from You Can Create an Exceptional Life

August 26, 2011

Dear Cheryl,

This week I’m excited to send you an excerpt from my new book. You Can Create an Exceptional Life chronicles time spent with a woman who’s work has been deeply influential in my life. As a matter of fact, Louise’s first book, You Can Heal Your Life, set me off on my own journey of self-discovery. Who knew I’d be writing a book with her more than twenty years later!

Louise and I spent almost a year traveling throughout the US and abroad, speaking at events, teaching together, and enjoying quiet meals where we talked about everything from how to love yourself and your body, to the benefits of aging, and the simple, daily habits that will truly create an exceptional life. I hope you find yourself in the excerpt below – something you can identify with or a piece of wisdom that’s helpful.  And, I hope you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy the journey with us!

Love,

Cheryl Richardson & Luoise HayI’m at home in Massachusetts, looking out over a frozen landscape, getting ready to call Louise in sunny California. Next to my computer, I have a cup of my favorite tea-Fortnum & Mason’s royal Blend-mixed with the perfect amount of homemade, raw almond milk. I’m excited to get started on our project.When we first scheduled our call, I was caught off guard when Louise suggested that we Skype so we could see each other while we talked. Skype? I thought. Really? I had only begun using the program myself a year earlier. Already I was learning how hip Louise is at 84 years old. This was going to be some ride.In an effort to get to know Louise on a deeper level, and to begin to navigate my way through this project, I was anxious to hear about her personal journey. I wondered what prompted her to get on the self-empowerment path. What guideposts directed her along the way? What inspired her to create a company that has had such a profound impact on the lives of millions of people around the world?My curiosity was tempered with some reservation, though. I knew Louise had shared her story many times before, both in You Can Heal Your Life as well as numerous talks and workshops. And, as someone who has written extensively about my own life, I know that it’s a tedious telling the 400th time around. So I was determined to hear about her life from a new perspective. I was eager to learn about the wisdom gained from age and experience.

With what I would come to recognize as well-honed intuition, Louise addressed my concerns right up front as we scheduled our first time to talk. “I’ve already told my life story in my books, so I think it’s unnecessary to go there again. I’ve been thinking about the things that are relevant to my spiritual growth, however, and I thought we could talk about that.”

I took a deep breath and smiled. “Excellent,” I told her. “That would be great.”

At the appropriate hour, I dial Louise, click on the video button, and we are connected. There she is!  Beaming smile, glasses perched high on her nose, sitting upright in her chair, and clearly ready for business. After chatting for a few minutes, we get to work. I set my iPhone to record, place my fingers on the keyboard of my computer so I can take notes, and listen carefully as Louise considers my first question: What prompted you to get on the spiritual path?

“My spiritual growth started when I was around 42,” she begins. “I had been married to a delightful Englishman who had given me the opportunity to learn the social graces, manners, and ways of operating in the world that had been missing from my childhood. I grew up in a violent family, and we never went anywhere or did anything. I ran away from home at 15, and while I did learn survival skills, I had no skills for living well in the world. So, when I married this man who was very worldly and had the best of manners, I learned a lot from him. We did all sorts of wonderful things together, and just as I was telling myself that good things can last and we’d probably be together forever, he told me he wanted a divorce. I was shattered.”

My goodness, that must have been awful, I tell her.

“Yes. My husband was a prominent person, and our divorce was all over the newspapers. It was a very painful time because I immediately told myself, ‘See, once again, you can’t do anything right.’ But when I look back now, I see that the marriage was an important door that needed to close in order for me to move toward the next step on my pathway. If I had not been divorced, I would never have become this Louise Hay. Instead, I would have stayed the dutiful little English wife-a very good wife according to my concept of it, but not who I was meant to be. It was time for it to end.”

As I listen to Louise, I think about the classic wake-up call, the often-abrupt and unexpected rupture that can occur in a comfortably numb life. I certainly had my share of these before I finally started to wake up – gut-wrenching heartbreaks, the shame of being fired from a job, and an actual fire that destroyed our family business. In fact, it was that fire that ultimately brought me out of my deep sleep and planted me firmly on the spiritual path.

“It was a year later, after dealing with the loss of my marriage, that a new door opened,” Louise continues. “I had a friend who invited me to a lecture at a Church of religious Science in New York. She asked me to join her because she didn’t want to go by herself. I agreed, but when I arrived, she wasn’t there. I was left to decide whether or not to attend by myself, and I decided to stay. So there I was, sitting in this lecture, when I heard someone say, ‘If you are willing to change your thinking, you can change your life.’ While it sounded like a small, tiny statement, it was huge to me. It caught my attention.”

Why do you think that caught your attention? I ask her.

“I have no idea, because I was a person who never studied anything. I remember having a friend who kept trying to get me to go to the YWCA for classes, and I wasn’t interested. But something about this subject spoke to me at that time, and I made a decision to go back. I can now see the perfection in my friend not showing up. If she had, I probably would have had a different experience. You see, everything is perfect.”

Everything is perfect. At first, hearing this phrase is like hearing that everything happens for a reason. It’s a tough message to swallow when faced with tragedy or deep pain of any kind. But, by training ourselves to see the perfection in our most difficult moments- a perspective that can often only be seen in hindsight- we learn to trust Life. We come to understand that, while we might not like a certain outcome, Life may be leading us in a new, more appropriate and beneficial direction.

Everything happens for a reason or Everything is perfect are beliefs born from a decision to see life as a school-room. When we choose to become students of life who learn and grow from our experiences, everything does, in fact, happen for a reason. In this way, we make our most difficult moments mean something by using them to our spiritual advantage.

If you have any questions or comments, or for reprint permission of this newsletter,
please email: cheryl@cherylrichardson.com.

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