Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back from Bosch part 1

(Angela's note: It's interesting to read these posts over a year later. The changes in my life have been wonderful, disconcerting, frightening, and humbling. And I credit my current participation in recovery and a over 100 pound weight loss since the day this post was written, to a beautiful young woman living in Australian who read this three part series of posts, and sent me that generous and loving email response. Her willingness to reach out and help a fellow sufferer of food addiction has transformed my life, and I can't thank her enough. One form of gratitude is to work the program to the very best of my ability each day, so I can be present for someone who needs to hear experience, strength and hope from someone who has really been through the dregs with food addiction. I can also share my story here, and that's what I'm choosing to do, just for today.

I've resisted the urge to edit these posts, even though I feel they desperately need them. But since they indicate the state of mind I was in at the time, I am leaving them as is.)

I've been avoiding the word "trust" in reference to my relationship to God for a long time now. To be more precise, I've mistrusted God more than I've mistrusted people. And I've trusted people very, very little. Now, I don't want to get into the twisted myriads of reasons why this has been. At this point, that particular discussion is irrelevant. All that matters is that I've opened the door to trusting God wider than a tiny crack, and already I've experienced more miracles in the past three days (or coincidences, for those of you who would rather believe that) than ever before. And believe me, I've seen and experienced a lot of what other people would call "pretty weird stuff", although to me it's just life as usual. I mean, doesn't everyone have doors that open and close by themselves, or lights turning on in a room before you enter it? That's so ordinary to me that I didn't think about it until someone happened to be around and made a comment about my bedroom light coming on by itself. It usually took a moment to understand why they were so excited.

Things like that have always happened in my family, which is probably why I'm so neutral to them. Looking at it from an objective perspective, one would assume that since I've grown up around "weird things" being an almost every day occurrence that I would readily accept the idea that there are mysteries in life that cannot be easily explained, and the Supreme Force behind those mysteries certainly must be more powerful and all knowing that anything I've encountered. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case.

Why is this? A fair question, which I will try to answer as coherently as possible. In spite of all "weird stuff", I've had to face the very same real-world problems like any one else. And unlike any one else, I haven't fared very well. My struggles to overcome compulsive overeating has been a catalog of repeated failures. Then there's the debt-to-income issue, which is something most people in America have to deal with. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone, but at the same time, it's disconcerting to realize that my debt factor, due to student loans, is fairly high while my income is pretty much below the poverty line. At my age, that's down right scary, considering that I should have built up a tidy little nest egg of IRAs, 401Ks, mutual funds and bonds for my retirement by now. I maintain the minimum balance in my savings account each month, and that's about it.

Add to that relationship problems with opposite sex, on-going emotional issues that originate from growing up with a very stubborn alcoholic father and an equally stubborn co-dependent mother, and you can see how I came to the conclusion that while there is God, who has created the universe, that same God hasn't been much help in a very practical manner in my life. A more precise distillation of the situation would be, "I'm fat, and God hasn't helped me with that."

I've turned an important corner in debunking that belief this past weekend with Linda Kavelin Popov and Dan Popov this past weekend. The only way I can describe how this happened is to tell the story of my Labor Day weekend with the Popovs.

It began with my friend Mari calling me last Thursday to ask me if I wanted to attend the Popov session at Bosch. I gave her the same answer the last time she asked--no. I couldn't afford it. Then she told me that she would ask the Rancho Cordova Baha'is to grant a scholarship to attend. I was reluctant because I knew the community has limited amounts of available funds, and I didn't want to add to the problem. She assured me that there was money for the scholarship, and told me to call Bosch to see if there was any more rooms available.

When I called Bosch, I was told that the session was completely sold out. Even the summer cabins were filled. When I told Mari this, she told me to check back with them in the morning. I did, and apparently a few people changed their plans for the weekend. I went to Bosch with Mari and another friend, Dianne. In spite of the fact that the Bay Bridge leading to San Francisco was closed for the entire Labor Day weekend and the usual Bay Area traffic had to be diverted to some of the freeways we had to use, we had a relatively smooth ride way to Santa Cruz.

The workshop was facilitated by Linda Kavelin-Popov, who founded the Virtues Project (www.virtuesproject.com) and her husband, Dan Popov, who is child psychologist and an excellant storyteller. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the workshop, except for one thing: I already knew what they were going to say. Arrogant. I know. But what I didn't know was how their words would affect me on a very profound emotional and spiritual level. My brain stores copious amounts of information, but very little of it seeps into my emotional center. That tender, vulnerable heart chakra is walled off to the public, surrounded by a nearly impenetrable fortress. I have read a lot of self-help and inspirational books, attended many 12 step programs and went through the clairvoyant training program at the Berkeley Psychic Institute. All of those ventures were helpful; they helped me scrape off the outermost layers of resistance to change. Without those experiences, I wouldn't have been so deeply affected by the events that transpired during the workshop.

The change began rather innocuously. After the first two sessions on Saturday, we had an hour break before dinner. I had been instructed to give my friend Mari an energy-clearing healing, so I took advantage of the free time to follow my instructions. When I finished, Mari and I were discussing the healing when somehow, the conversation switched to me. Then Mari, who is not only a UC Berkeley graduate, a well-respected high school math instructor and a loving mom to her children, but also an incredibly powerful Virtues Project facilitator (yes, Mari, I am validating you, and I don't care if it's embarrassing), began using a technique called spiritual companioning. It is a very potent means to cut through all the formidable emotional defenses that I have placed around me. One question led to another, until she asked, "what do you need to heal?" I listened for the answer, and when I heard it, I didn't like it. Have a very good cry. It should suffice to say that I rarely, if ever, cry. Every once and while, something might happen that makes me shed a thin trickle of tears, but not often. I shut down my tear ducts when I was very young. So I told Mari, no way. I'm not crying. It's not something that's easy to do, and I would be very upset if it did happen in front of all those good people at Bosch. Crying seems to make one vulnerable to others, and that's the very last thing I want to do. Especially during my holiday weekend up high in the gorgeous Santa Cruz mountains overlooking the awe-inspiring Pacific coast.


  1. Soooo much healing needs to happen in this broken world. Nice post, one day I'll get myself to Bosch they seem to have really good sessions.

  2. Oh this workshop at Bosch sounds lovely. I haven't been up there since I was pregnant with my first son, so it's been awhile. And your abilities are really something else. There's a whole lot of fear of what you experience, and lots of misunderstanding. I have a friend whose abilities are so heightened that he can "see" different things that are happening to friends of his. He says it's a blessing but also very difficult thing emotionally, especially when his friends later lie to him about what's going on in their lives. The other thing you make me think about is how I used to very rarely cry, even when I was really hurting. I had so much pride, so much hardness that I'd developed. And it's interesting when that switch happens, when you go to letting that shield down. The shield can only come down through trusting God, but sometimes it's hard to remember that because we get so caught up in all the madness of this world. Good for you, Angela that you got to experience this.

  3. Phillipe and Liz,

    Bosch is a very special place for me. I used to take my kids there during the Winter session when I wanted out of the holiday madness. I'm the only Baha'i in my nuclear family, so I caught some flak for not celebrating Christmas. Bosch presented a very enjoyable alternative. Now my family accepts that I'll celebrate with them (for as long as I can tolerate my Dad's inebriation), but I don't do so in my home. I don't miss the shopping and cooking, actually.

    This has been a time accelerated change for me. I don't see to know which way is up, and that is so disorientating. Is there such a thing as falling in love with God? My sister said to me the other day, "I hope you aren't turning into a Jesus freak."

    Jesus freak? Because I'm reading the Writings and I have music by Baha'i artists playing on my stereo whenever she stops by? "I'm a Baha'i," I told her. "It's the same thing, " she said.

    Habit dating back childhood commanded me to pull elder sibling privilege and sock her one time. Baha'u'llah asked me to demonstrate the virtues of patience and understanding, even though she gets on my nerves mightily. So she is without a black eye because of my faith and trust in Baha'u'llah. (Actually, I haven't done that for at least three decades. But I've often thought about it.)

    I just pray that someone, preferably a tall, handsome, well-educated Black man, comes along to teach her Faith so she will have someone else to focus her unending attention. :)

    Some things in life change radically. Being an older sister to an irritating younger one doesn't.


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