Before I knew about the University of Santa Monica, I was pitching television show ideas to production companies. When one network finally loved my show idea and I was to meet with the network head, I felt panicky, realizing, ‘I don’t even like this idea. This is not what I want to be known for.’ So, when I heard they had passed on the show, I was relieved. But it got me thinking, Who am l then? And what AM I here to do? I didn’t want to pitch another show until I had the answers to those questions.
Shortly thereafter, a woman contacted me out of the blue on Facebook saying, ‘I’m a life coach. I pick one person each week for a free coaching session. Are you interested in meeting with me?’ I intuitively said yes, but to be honest, my mind was very skeptical of what a young, single woman could possibly offer a married mother of five.
The moment the two of us sat down to center together, I immediately felt at peace. As we talked, I was blown away by her powerful insights and the way she communicated. She was speaking the language of my heart. I had to ask, ‘Where on earth did you learn this?’ She said, ‘At the University of Santa Monica.’
Later in our session, she asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’ Without thinking, I said, ‘I would like to have a TV show like Iyanla Vanzant to inspire others. I’d spread the love with humor.’ It was my Authentic Self stepping forward. My own clarity surprised me.
As it turned out, my new coach had graduated from the University of Santa Monica with Vanzant. I thought, ‘Wow! Isn’t that interesting.’ When she said, ‘I don’t think you need coaching. I think you’re supposed to go to USM,’ my whole body lit up with a YES! USM’s Program in Spiritual Psychology had just begun that week, so I got all my paperwork in and was accepted three days later. I immediately felt at home.
One of our first assignments was to choose a quality we wanted more of in our lives. I chose Gentleness because I had always been one of those people who pushed and worked hard at everything. When I had met my husband, Dave Koechner, years earlier, his unconditional love showed up in a way that just melted the armor I had built around me from my childhood. Yet I still carried the remnants of my past like a ball and chain. Because my mother had been mentally ill and not accessible when I was growing up, I formed the limiting belief, ‘I am not even good enough to get out of bed for.’ And my father physically disciplined me, so I chose to deal with it by becoming a Supergirl who didn’t need anyone. Those core limiting beliefs were the ball and chain that prevented me from really soaring.
My experience at USM was all about identifying the story I had been living behind, reframing my perceptions, and releasing old ways of thinking. Letting go of limiting beliefs and misperceptions of reality was my liberation. It was like cutting off that ball and chain. My new freedom and awareness allowed me to soar. Since I began taking personal responsibility for my life, I stopped using the pain from my past as an excuse for hiding and started to use it as a platform of understanding to help others. Whenever I am upset now, instead of pointing my finger toward someone else and blaming others, I put my hand on my heart and take care of the place inside where I am hurting. I love this process and use it daily.
During the Program, I chose to create and present five SoulfulLeigh Inspired Workshops for the Center for Living Peace in Irvine, California, where international leaders speak to ‘making the world a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate place.’ I wanted others to know that they were never alone. So I shared my own stories from heartache to healing, using my new USM tools to make a difference in the world. Although I had never presented workshops before, and it was incredibly scary, I answered the call inside of me to share the wisdom of my soul.
As the date of my first workshop was fast approaching, I was getting more nervous. I might have called the whole thing off if it weren’t for the love and encouragement of my classmates! My childhood story of unworthiness almost paralyzed me in the few minutes before I was to step on the stage. My ego was screaming, ‘Who do you think you are to do a workshop? You are not qualified. Don’t go out there!’ Thankfully, I heard a more powerful voice from deep within that said, ‘They’re waiting for you.’
I was instantly calm and walked onto the stage. It was a privilege to share what I knew with others. Choosing Grace over fear was a transformative choice for me. I watched that ball and chain break and roll away forever. I did what I was the most afraid to do, while I was afraid, and then I was free.
I learned so much from my USM experience, my teachers, and my fellow students who shared their hearts in class and in trios. I lined up my personality, purpose, and ego to fully step boldly into being of service. This was how I found the place within me where my true Self resides. As I shifted into the truth of who I am, everything else shifted too.
I am currently leading a series of SoulfulLeigh Inspired Workshops around parenting and relationships. One is called: ‘Intention: Don’t Leave Home Without It.’ I am in development for two television shows and have a segment on a radio program in which I get to use my heart and humor to coach others. I’m also working on a book that will be released in 2016.
Now that I take care of my Self, I can really show up for others, my husband, and my children. In a new place of being of service, my Love is bubbling over.