Some people turn to booze, gambling, or drugs. Throughout my life, I turned to classes, seminars, and books on health, growth, and empowerment. No, you wouldn’t find me at the local bar or sleazy gin joint—instead, I was hanging out, bleary-eyed, at the local library until closing time, wanting “one more book for the road.”
My learning addiction started when I was about 14 years old. My dad, who grew up dirt poor and became a self-made man, got me hooked on his countless tapes on positive thinking, visualization, and success principles. As a teenager, I put his advice to the test: I visualized myself winning a contest for Teen magazine, being chosen from thousands of entrants and celebrating the prize of an all-expenses-paid weeklong trip to California. Living in the Midwest,I saw this as an exotic, dreamy adventure. The visualization tapes instructed me to imagine every detail of the scenario, so I made it into a game. First thing in the morning and before I went to sleep at night, I visualized myself winning the contest. It didn’t take much effort to do this; it was actually fun to imagine more details to add to my picture. I even marked the dates in my calendar when I’d be vacationing in California.
When I got the official call informing me that I’d actually won the contest, I was excited but not all that surprised . . . I felt more like, Oh yeah, I’m ready for it! For years, I played similar “imagination games.” I guess I still do, because in this book I talk about how to view Nature and life in fresh, imaginative ways. I’ve developed a “habit” for mainlining Norman Vincent Peale, Wayne Dyer, and Napoleon Hill—each one of these wise teachers taught me to create by painting pictures on the canvas of my mind. For instance, I painted myself as an actress, which eventually resulted in an exclusive contract with NBC, followed by roles in numerous movies and TV shows with A-list actors, including Madonna, Bruce Willis, Courteney Cox, Larry Hagman,Mark Harmon, Kim Basinger, and Kate Capshaw. I also appeared in more than 75 TV commercials.
I then went for a new high, which fed my learning addiction even further. In order to stretch my mind and abilities, I started a business creating presentations on health, mind, body, and soul for corporations and speakers such as Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Barry Sears, Ph.D. (the author of The Zone). Over the years, I’ve developed and attended hundreds of presentations, absorbing countless gems of wisdom that now enrich this book.
Then I got sick. Really sick.
A nutritionist gave me vitamins made by a small, unknown company, which had processed the ingredients incorrectly, causing me to ingest highly toxic levels of minerals. I became so ill that I lost all of my hair and fingernails, and my upper body was covered in rashes. I learned firsthand that poor health is the gutter of all lows. Norman Vincent Peale, where are you?!
I also experienced the incredible power of words. Before I lost my hair, I often complained, “Oh, I hate my hair!” But when I was sick and it started falling out in clumps, I cried, “Nooo! I love my hair!” Too late, unfortunately. Now I’m grateful that my hair grew back, and that I have hair. I’ve come to believe that one’s soul is deeply injured by those types of loathing, glib remarks. During this dark time in my life, I realized that battling a disease or illness has a way of consuming all energy and thoughts, leaving sufferers gripped by fear. I often found myself wondering, Will I ever get better? Is this a permanent way of life? When life is engulfed in a gloomy fog, how do we find our way out?
For me, my illness was a bottoming-out experience. Now I’m amazed when I see people treating their cars better than they treat themselves. They think nothing of spending money on premium fuel for their engine, but skimp on their own body, choosing low-quality “fuel” and ignoring the ways in which it influences their health, weight, energy, mood, and mental ability. Our bodies drive our lives—we must do whatever we can to keep them running smoothly.
My illness also fueled my learning addiction. I grew passionate about restoring my health, which led me to complete a master’s degree in psychology, become a nutritionist, earn a Ph.D. in naturopathy (healing through natural methods), and even earn a certification as a Kundalini yoga/meditation instructor, and become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited. I began to discover Nature’s profound secrets and ancient mysteries while writing my Ph.D. dissertation. As I pored over countless studies and texts from ancient through modern times, and as I interviewed scientists, researchers, farmers, healers, shamans, ethnobotanists, and herbalists from all over the world, this “information-oholic” was on a tremendous high.
I found Nature to be the most fascinating, inspiring, and charismatic teacher I’d ever encountered. And by relying on Mother Nature as my guide, I began to assemble all of my knowledge (a smorgasbord of Zen, Christian, Taoist, Kabbalistic, Chinese, Ayurvedic, American, Native American, shamanic, and botanical wisdom, as well as various other teachings and traditions) on even deeper levels. This freed me from my information addiction. Today, I access my inner guidance and consult with Nature one day at a time.
What I’ve Gathered from This Intensive Learning, and How It Can Help You
I propose that Nature is more profound than anyone can imagine and is always giving you signs. Learning Nature’s “language” can be life changing. Nature is your most vital teacher, the one you’ve been waiting for.
This book presents Nature’s prescription for better health and a deeper connection to yourself and the planet. You’ll reconnect with the wonder and imagination you felt as a child, helping you to see yourself, the earth, and the food you eat in a whole new light. It’s a one-way ticket to a fresh, exciting way to create positive inner and outer changes.
For me, tuning in to Nature’s intelligence was like when Dorothy entered the magical Land of Oz: everything suddenly changed from black and white to Technicolor. My eyes opened to the marvels of colors and shapes all around me. I noticed things that I never had before and discovered newfound comfort in the natural world. In the past, I’d been very similar to Dorothy, who had been wearing the ruby slippers the entire time but didn’t know that they had the power to take her home. I had the magic within reach, but I had to discover how to access it. Like Dorothy’s slippers, Nature’s wisdom can go unnoticed in today’s busy, technologically intensive world.
Try imagining a well-worn trail on the ground, and alongside it, grass that could become a trail, too, if walked on it many times. You’ve been traveling the same worn path over and over, but what if, instead, you started forging a different route through the grass? All you have to do is choose to move in a new direction. Now is the time for a magical voyage into Nature. Prepare to experience the world, and yourself, in fresh, wondrous ways. And if questions come up on this unfamiliar journey, which they will, all you need to do is simply ask, “What would Nature do?”
My sincere wish is that Nature becomes your true friend and mentor, and that this book fills you with many “awe-ha” moments. Let Mother Nature’s show-and-tell begin!