When I was in my early fifties, I met the psychologist, shaman and poet, Gwendolyn Jansma. While living in San Diego, she offered events called Heart Seek Gatherings in the U.S. and Canada. Gwen, as many of us called her, was intuitive, insightful, fun-spirited, creative, healing, and loving. She spoke words of wisdom.
Many times in a fifteen-year span, I gathered with about a hundred people to meditate, explore my shadow-side, and celebrate our gifts and light. She influenced me to stop calling myself Pat and use Patricia, to re-write my book, Love Her As She Is with more love for myself, and to recognize I thrive on creatively helping others. She was a transformational healer. She died in her late eighties with many, including myself, lamenting her passing.
Gwen mentored me during the years our daughter, Kelly, was in an out of jail and our daughter-in-law, Chandra, suffered and died from breast cancer. I mailed her numerous letters in which I poured out my troubled heart. She would respond with acknowledging, comforting, soul-full and sometimes challenging messages.
My hope, in sharing some of her intimate messages, is that you read them as if the good-fit ones are sent to you with a caring caress:
Reframe Your Challenge
- “I am pleased you are holding to your course through all the unhappy waters and sink holes. You must be destined for big work to be presented with such big challenges. I think the goal is to live your own life to the max and allow those you love to self-destruct . . . if that is what they need to do.”
- “Who are we to judge the different paths our children and others take? They live to their max in productive or destructive ways. And what a struggle not to judge!”
- “Thank you for your note letting me know Chandra has passed over. The angels that are gathering for her event are beyond counting. Sometimes this is called the long good-bye, but it could just as well be called the long hello. I know you will write wonderful words about your and your family’s experience of her impact on your lives. She has soared, and once more made a perfect choice. I hold your hand.”
- “As I look over the shoulder of your life I can see the high road of the gift of it—the opportunities for deeper connection, blessed service, and expansion of your soul. I can also see the low road of concern, worry and fear. You really can’t stay on the high road without putting your foot down on the low road for balance. How could you recognize the high road without the low road? How could you love through the low road without the reality of the high road?”
- “Evidently, your friend puts professionals on a pedestal instead of seeing that the wounds of the healer are the ingredients of healing.”
- “The next time you receive a nasty letter consider exchanging it for one of mine. We might find each other’s amusing.”
- “You would do well to redefine conflict energy from draining to energizing. I know its muddy water but you are a very good swimmer. If you will insert this into your brain you will feel lighter.”
Celebrate Your Wonder
- “Thank you, for helping the planet laugh!”
- “Keep traveling and talking. I often see your star in the San Diego sky!”
- “Your She Said book is a treasure. I just glow with awe and wonder at your multitude of talents and kick-ass, go-for-it energy.”
- “You broke your toe. That’s good! Your toes are your future. Just go off in all directions at once and you will stay healthy. It’s time to put the spot-light on yourself.”
- “But most of all be in gratitude for the wondrousness of you.”
Just for Fun
- “Always put new whine in old bottles so you can re-cycle them.”
- “My mother left me an oversized funny bone and manual for using it. When our over-zealous minister paced the podium he fell off into the potted palms, Mother laughed so hard she wet her pants. She made me walk close behind her when we walked out of the church.”
- “My favorite quote is by Emily Dickinson, ‘To live is so startling that it leaves little time for anything else.’”
Perspective on Resilient Aging
- “Life without John (Gwen’s late husband) is challenging. Walking towards my fears I have found my single ME. She cuts quite a caper! There have been layers and layers of living; sort of like a layer cake.”
- “Two-some was so familiar. I never applied for one-some because I believed it could never happen to me. Denial is a wonderful thing.”
- “I am doing well living as a single person for the first time. It takes a while to get the hang of it. The other morning I woke up and it was totally quiet. I said to myself, ‘Nobody is here.’ Where upon I replied, ‘Hey, I’m here!’”
- “Living on this planet is all TRUST!”
- “Sorry to hear of your mother’s death. It leaves a hole in your heart that goes on and on. However, it doesn’t fester and even comforts. And, you get to be the one carrying the sky on your shoulders.”
- “A card on my desk has an Emily Carr quote: “I don’t want to trickle out. I want to pour until the pail is empty, the last bit going out in a gush, not in drops.”
- “The lovely thing about growing old is having so little to lose when you audition for being the poster girl!”
- “I am in good health with an all-is-well attitude. Acceptance goes along with that as I decelerate. Laughter is still my favorite medicine.”
Blessings to those who guide us, kindly tell us the truth, and lift us up. Call them friend, elder or mentor, they leave their legacy in our hands. Thank you, Gwendolyn Jansma!