It was with great sadness that I learned about the passing of Louise Hay, a woman whose influence had a significant impact on me personally and professionally.
My introduction to Louise’s work was in 1991. I came across her book, You Can Heal Your Life, while doing research for a new workshop I was designing called Cancer as a Chance to Live. The workshop was focused on helping people with cancer to use their illness as a pathway to changing whatever wasn’t serving them in their lives. At the time, my German husband and I were living and working in Munich, and involved in the study of Psychoimmunology (the interaction between psychological processes, and the nervous and immune systems of the body). I was fascinated by Louise’s writings on the mind-body connection, and I started recommending her book to clients, family members, and friends.
In 1993, life as I knew it had fallen apart. My marriage had collapsed, and the adversarial separation resulted in the end of my work as a therapist in my husband’s medical practice. I wanted to start my own psychotherapy business, but struggling financially and being in the throes of my own depression, it was an impossibility.
Alone with two children, unable to pay the rent, and wanting to stay in Germany, I took a job as a waitress. I worked until one o’clock in the morning, then got the kids up at six to get ready for school. It was the beginning of the worst time of my life—a period that would continue for the next couple of years. Getting to the breaking point physically and emotionally, I finally sold nearly all we had to pay for three planes tickets for the children and me, and returned to the U.S. in 1995.
One of the reasons I was able to get through those two years was Louise Hay. I was plagued by self-loathing and panic at what felt at the time like a very bleak future. As someone who had survived her own adversities, Louise Hay became an important lifeline. I listened to her tape when I awoke in the morning, and I fell asleep to her soothing voice every night. Her words comforted me and gave me hope that I could rebuild my broken self and life.
By 1997, I had made significant progress toward that goal. I was back in school to get my American credentials, and used my studies of family systems, trauma, and relationships to better understand what old patterns had drawn me to—and away from—the man I had married. Combining my personal needs with a school project, I created a program called the Self-Renewal Program, which was a structured process to habituate healthier patterns of thought and behavior.
Experiencing the benefits of the renewal program first-hand, I realized it could help others to change their lives. I re-structured the program into a 12-week support group and renamed it Mastering the Art of Aloneness. The focus was on reclaiming what I call our “innate wholeness” so we can experience love from the inside out, and a sense of joy and completeness on our own and in relationship.
Ten years later, literary agent Al Zuckerman suggested that I turn the Mastering the Art of Aloneness workshop into a book. Easing into retirement, Al couldn’t take me on as a client. I mailed my book proposal to several agencies, and was fortunate to sign with my incredibly wonderful and talented literary agent, Molly.
Meeting Molly brought me full circle with Louise Hay. On a beautiful summer day in 2007—and 10 years after the creation of the Self-Renewal Program—Molly called to let me know we had two publishing offers for the Mastering the Art of Aloneness book. One of the two offers came from Hay House, the publishing company Louise Hay had started in 1984 while in her fifties. I was beyond ecstatic. Not only would my work get out to help more people, but it would be done by the publishing house founded by a woman who had profoundly touched my life over the course of what had then been 16 years.
While speaking at my first I Can Do It! Hay House conference in 2009, I had the opportunity to meet my teacher, role model, and publisher in person. She was sitting at a large table in the authors’ lunch area. I went up to introduce myself and she invited me to join her. I thanked her for publishing my book (the main title of which had changed to Solemate) and I shared with her how she had helped me through one of the darkest times of my life.
The last time I saw Louise was at her 82nd birthday party in 2010. In her eighth decade, she was as beautiful, vibrant, and powerful a life force as ever. When she spoke to the group, it was with the same grace, humility, authenticity, and wisdom that emanated from her cassette tapes that I had played over and over again nearly 20 years before.
I have much for which to thank Louise Hay. Her work served as a resource in my own professional practice, and thanks to Hay House, I achieved a long-held goal of becoming a bestselling author. But the greatest gift I received from Louise—and without which the other things would not have happened—is the hope that I could overcome emotional and financial devastation, re-create my life as a single mother, and use my own adversities in my work helping others.
Thank you, dear Louise, from me and on behalf of the millions you touched throughout your inspiring journey and magnificent life.