How My Career Influenced Me
March 18, 2021
Such a great topic for me. I love being at this later stage in life where I can look back. and looking back, I really see, I mean, as Joanna said, we can interpret life in different ways and we can choose interpretations. And I like to think now that I’ve been somehow guided into exactly what I’ve needed to develop personally and spiritually throughout my life.
So I was born and raised in a well, first lower class than suburban lower middle-class culture and I always felt like I didn’t belong. I always felt like there was something more, especially in the suburban life of the sort of constrictive values and women’s place in that world. And it just never sat well with me. So when I left at age 18 to go to college, I really felt like I was finally perhaps living my life. And I did get to study in France like Beverly’s daughter, and that really opened me up.
I just loved being in another country. And coming back to the US and judging some of our cultural norms with respect to France. And finished up at Berkeley. Then had to live with my parents again, out in Moraga, in a senior townhome settlement. And then I became, I studied French and I became a foreign language tour guide. So that was nice. And, you know, in San Francisco, and… But when I was sent to do the Sausalito tour and well, first of all, I was hired because I said I spoke Spanish, but I really spoke French, not Spanish. So I had to memorize the tours in Spanish and luckily could understand enough. But boy, when they asked me questions, I was at a loss. Anyway, they, he assigned me, it was a small agency run out of a home to the Sausalito, the Marin County Sausalito tour.
I was raised in the Bay area and I never knew about this. I felt like I was back in Europe and I just…so I discovered the No Name bar and hung out there when I could and found a flat, I mean, a funky apartment in Sausalito and my life changed. And I encountered what I would have called Bohemians, I guess, it was slightly pre-hippie. And then the hippie era started. And I just dove in and ended up moving out to Forestville to a sheep farm. And the commune sort of gathered around. And I just finally was feeling I was living. And while I was living in Sausalito, I turned on the TV one day and discovered yoga. So that started this body-oriented thread in my life. I’d been very intellectual and I just longed to get out of that.
So the threads that have continued throughout my life is exploration of the body. And throughout the experience in Big Sur, I was guided into a massage career, but then, I mean, just a massage experience. Then I left to travel around the world at 25 with a French woman who ended up… We split up in Bali because she met the man there that they’re still married 55 years later, whatever it is. And I went on alone and finished my travels around the world in what we call the hippie trail.
And when I came back, I fell into running this woman’s massage studio and I got certified. And this was sort of alternative. This was not just massage, this was massage with a bath and a glass of plum wine, and it was sort of the alternative world. And through that in Berkeley, I fell into the whole beginnings of alternative health and the body and body psychotherapy-oriented skills and fell into therapy and just, it was such an exciting time.
And through that and having my own massage workshops, I ended up finding this work called Trager, which involved meditation and hands-on and teaching people how to take care of themselves. And that became my career, teaching it and practicing it for 30 years. Now, before I had fallen into this in Sausalito, I’d had a brief stint as a dress designer because I’d always loved clothes, and making Renaissance clothes for the Renaissance fair. And then as I traveled and got into the body work, I sort of fell away from the clothing but always loved it and loved home design.
And after 30 years teaching Trager around North America and Europe, and I was supposed to go to Japan to teach. And I had a stroke at age 53, and my a very interesting, not interesting, but a very minor form of stroke. And so I stayed home after that and resigned from Trager and went into image consulting and home staging. Which brought back out the clothes and design and interior design.
When I was 12, when I was asked what I wanted to do at the graduation, I said, interior designer or psychotherapist. So, you know, these threads are just woven throughout. That I have to say that bodywork, especially with the spiritual overtones, getting into my body and living in it has been the richest experience of my life. And being able to share that with others of how to come into and through pleasure because Trager is not a painful work. It’s very gentle and yet opens the body and the mind and quiets the mind. It’s just a beautiful form of work.
So the threads throughout my life of taking this intellectual person, who’s quite bright and learn things quickly into aesthetics and then into the body, and having that be my form of personal development, and spiritual development, and ability to share with others has been such a gift. And then falling back into the clothing world. And I’ve tried painting I’m hopeless. I mean, I can do dots. I would have been a great Aboriginal painter, but that’s about it.
And then home staging, working with colors and shapes and, and I’ve done mosaics in some of the photos you’ll see behind me, you’ll see some of my mosaics. But throughout my life, I’ve just been developing these threads all the while. I mean, my intellect is much less functional, although I’ve kept up French and learned Italian, I love languages. I’ve lived a very rich life. I just wish. I mean, I wish that the demons of thinking I’m not good enough and thinking there’s something wrong with me, you know, those voices in my head were strong enough to diminish the pleasure I took in my life. Whereas looking back, it was just a really, even glamorous, but not my style and fulfilling sort of life.
But it’s only, now that those voices have lifted, I can look back and see how much I’ve lived a charmed life. And part of that is due to being born white. And part of that is due to being born in California and raised here where the cultural pressures about being a subservient wife were not as strong, maybe as on the East coast or the Midwest. I’ve been able to live a life of expansion.
And just now I’m beginning to explore the undercurrents even though I consider myself a great liberal, and have black women friends and all of that. There are still some really disturbing threads of unconscious racism in me. And I’ve just signed up for a course in that. And I’m always looking to expand and explore and uncover the darker places within me that I can bring into the light. And this is the one that’s surfacing now, and I’m very glad.
I also have taken into improv theater, which just scared the hell out of me, but I’m doing it. Done it for four years. I do 20 hours a week or so. It’s just been exploring, letting my imagination come out. It’s just, I feel really blessed. I feel really blessed and blessed to have found this group and some friends of you women who I feel connection with, even though we’ve lived very different lives.