Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you've picked up this book, chances are that you are seeking change in your life -- not just a new hairstyle or a fresh seasonal wardrobe, but lasting, meaningful, and resounding change at the levels of health and happiness.
You have definitely come to the right place! Walking on Air is an anthology of wisdom about how to create a life of robust self-esteem, vibrant physical health, and a deepened spiritual consciousness. Each of the pearls of wisdom in the book is something I've cultivated from over 35 years of experience as an educator, consultant, and motivational speaker in the fields of holistic health and human potential. But I haven't juststudied how to make lasting change in your life -- I've lived it. And for me, the catalysts of change have often arrived in packages I was not expecting.
We've all heard the clichés: "Change begins with you" or "Change begins with choice." While it's true that authentic transformation comes from within and modifying your life necessitates a deliberate commitment to new thoughts and behaviors, sometimes the catalysts of change are delivered from external sources that are very much out of your control. That has definitely been the case in my life. As you embark on your journey of change with this book as your companion, I'd like to first share some of my life-altering experiences with you, to offer hope and guidance to light your path.
The Mind/Body/Spirit Connection
When I was nearly 17, my father unexpectedly passed away. I was devastated. I had no precedent for this type of deep loss and no skills to cope with it. My way of dealing with the tragedy was by, really, not dealing with it at all. I stuffed all of my feelings inside and numbed myself with copious amounts of food -- the typical teenage temptations of fast food burgers, pizza, and sugary sweets and pastries galore. Today, I would recognize this bingeing behavior as a hallmark of deep depression, but back then I didn't realize what was going on. After a year of managing my grief by eating everything in sight, my health took a nosedive. I developed allergies, asthma, acne, and arthritis, not to mention I had gained a considerable amount of weight.
While I suffered physically, the emotional toll was even greater. Before my father's death, I had been an active and social teenager. Now an overweight high school student with acne, I became the subject of jokes around campus and was bullied by people I thought were my friends. I was rapidly losing any semblance of confidence and self-esteem. My heart was heavy, and I was emotionally sinking. The pain I was feeling was devouring my will to live. It was not a pretty picture.
Luckily for me, there was another catalyst of change already present in my life: my beloved grandmother, whom I called Fritzie. Like many grandmothers, Fritzie was kind, nurturing, and full of wisdom, but she also possessed an unusually vast wealth of knowledge about health and the human body. When she saw my physical and emotional state a year after my father's passing, she knew immediately that I needed healing from the inside out.
Her first step was to take me to our family doctor for a check-up to make sure there was no life-threatening disease that had taken hold. When I told the doctor my symptoms, he apprised me that I would have to live with my newly developed allergies, asthma, arthritis, and acne the rest of my life because, as he said, “It was in my genes.” Leaving his office with a handful of prescriptions that he implored us to fill immediately, I felt even more depressed and powerless.
My grandmother, in all her wisdom, instead took me home with her and had a heart to heart talk with me. She told me that if I followed her suggestions 100%, my health problems and depression would disappear within 30 days. She said my acne would clear up; my asthma would dissipate; my energy would soar; the extra weight I gained would melt away; and my attitude would change from negative and powerless to positive and hopeful.
Needless to say, she had my attention. A wise person once said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” and this was definitely true for me with my grandmother’s loving support. I was ready.
Fritzie started by overhauling my steady diet of snack foods and sweets. She was an advocate of eating foods as close to the way nature made them as possible. “In nature,” she firmly reminded me, “we won’t find ice cream trees, potato chip bushes, or doughnut vines.” Though I initially resisted eating the colorful vegetables, fresh juices, and sprouts and other living foods that she prepared for me (what teenager wouldn't?!), soon enough I became a believer. The pounds started coming off, my skin became clear and vibrant again, my asthma was soothed, and my outlook improved.
Fritzie also went to work on healing my spirit. She knew that the problem underlying my poor diet and physical ailments was the loss of my father. I would often hear her say, “The body reflects the mind and the mind reflects the spirit.” She explained to me that even when our lives are burdened with loss and tragedy, we can still find so much to be grateful for. The first thing she taught me was to begin each day with prayer and meditation in the spirit of blessing everything – blessing the sunrise, the sound of the morning doves, my unlimited opportunities, my potential to create whatever I wanted, and anything I had planned for the day already.
Fritzie helped me cultivate and choose an attitude of gratitude and positive thinking, which included speaking only positive words and affirmations, even when appearances showed me the opposite. Ingrained in my mind is her voice saying, “Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush; it can color anything.” She suggested that I recite these two affirmations daily: “I behold the Divine in everyone and everything” and “Only the best for me.” I was surprised by how approaching each day from a perspective of hope and gratitude began to assuage my grief for my father. I started to see the world as an inviting, abundant place once again.
At the end of the 30 days, astounding transformation occurred. Not only had transient changes in my health, appearance, and attitude taken place, but the tools for deep and lasting change had taken root. With all her wisdom and down-to-earth common sense, she had enlightened me to the benefits of taking great care of my body from head to toe, inside and out. I learned to listen to my body’s whisperings and intuition and look to God’s bounty of natural remedies. It felt like a new and glorious way to live—in God’s hands with nature’s treasure trove as your partner. Needless to say, I threw those doctor's prescriptions away.
In this book, I hope to be a catalyst of change for you just as Fritzie was a catalyst of change for me. Though the wealth of information in Walking on Airhas been culled from my many years of study and my experience working with thousands of people around the world, Fritzie's common-sense teachings are its foundations. Ultimately, change must come from inside of you, but that doesn't mean you don't need the loving hand of a knowledgeable guide to start you down the path.
A Leap of Faith
In the years after I recovered from grieving for my father, I felt as if I could conquer any new problem that came my way and that my vibrant health was foolproof. I was armed with a diet loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, an active lifestyle (I loved baseball and once dreamed of being the first female L.A. Dodgers player!), and an outlook of gratitude and positivity. As long as I continued to tend to my mind, my body, and my spirit, I felt that I was invincible. I was celebrating life each and every day.
But of course, the Universe is never static, and the catalyst of change came knocking on my door once again. Unfortunately, I had to open another unwelcome package.
In my 20s, I was in a terrible automobile accident. Though I felt lucky to have lived, I fractured my back so badly that doctors told me that I would never again be physically active and would live a life of chronic pain. I plunged into despair because all of a sudden my life and my body no longer felt like they were in my control.
While Fritzie's tactics had easily helped me shed pounds and regain balance as a teenager, I knew they wouldn't be enough to heal a fractured back. Something was telling me that in this case, I would need even stronger tools.
Searching for answers, I sat in silence one evening on a bench at sunset, gazing out at the ocean near my home in West Los Angeles, California. In that moment — point blank — I had an “epiphany." I felt God’s loving presence and knew that His plan for me wasn't a life of pain. All at once, I realized: the missing tool that I needed was faith. In all of his sagacity, Emerson also wrote this soul-stirring sentence: The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. I love that passage and am constantly reminding myself of its profundity daily, especially when life sends me a curveball.
In an instant, I decided to refuse the doctor's prognosis and resolved to prove him wrong. From that day forward, I decided to live only from optimism. And although the next few months were ones of pain, I endured. Instead of wallowing in the aftermath of the accident, I attended lectures and read numerous books on the power of commitment and the mind in physical healing. I never let my faith in my own healing waver.
Six months later, when I visited my doctor for a follow-up appointment, he shook his head in bewilderment. "This just can't be," he said. "There is no sign of a fracture, and you seem to be in perfect health, free of pain. There must be some mistake. It's just miraculous." Through my powers of faith and determination, along with the mind/body/spirit practices I'd inherited from Fritzie and my mom June, my back had managed to heal completely! Far from living a life of disability and chronic pain, I was able to resume fitness activities, and today I regularly participate in hiking, weight training, in-line skating, biking, horseback riding, Pilates, and yoga.
I now see the accident as the impetus that changed my life for the better. My recovery proved to me that we have within ourselves everything we need to live life to the fullest. But we also need to learn from others who've walked the path we want to walk. I credit the numerous individuals who shared their experiences with me through lectures, books, and conversations during that painful time with endowing me with the tools I needed to spearhead my own recovery.
Now, years later, I am on the other side of the spectrum, as my teaching, books, and life principles are helping others to live joyful, soul-satisfying lives. Gratefully, I now have an enthusiastic following and am in constant demand internationally as a health and fitness expert, personal growth specialist, leadership consultant, retreat leader, and motivational speaker (lectures, workshops, seminars, keynote presentations) to corporate, community, church, spiritual, and women’s groups. I strive to spread the message that ANYONE can choose radiant health and physical, mental, and spiritual rejuvenation. That's why I've written Walking on Air, so that you, too, can begin to shape your own healing destiny and live to your highest potential.
How to Use This Book
As a holistic lifestyle coach, I work with only a few select clients each year so that I can offer each my utmost energy and vitality. Previous clients have included corporate presidents, politicians, world-class athletes, and everyday people who want to achieve a greater sense of purpose. Working on all levels -- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual -- I teach my clients how to incorporate all of my gold-star secrets to being vibrantly healthy and stunningly successful. With a copy of Walking on Air in hand, you can think of yourself as one of my personal clients -- you now have in your fingertips all of my tools and advice to take your life from ordinary to extraordinary! Just for you, I have put my decades of invaluable information and research into this reader-friendly book.
If you have already peeked at the Table of Contents, you will see a theme going on with three of my favorite words: Choose, Cultivate, and Celebrate. For me, this is what we all need to do every day – chose the best for us, cultivate a holistic lifestyle, and celebrate our blessings.
Our countless choices daily determine our level of health and how we feel. And there are three choices over which we always have control: what we eat, how we move (exercise), and what we think, and we have the power to change these at any time. And we also have the power to cultivate our dreams, and celebrate each day and ourselves. It’s always a choice. The power of choice is what living fully and successfully is all about.
The saying, “The ancients have stolen all our best ideas,” remains true. What I’m writing about isn’t new; it’s fresh only in that it’s written from my perspective (combined with the wisdom of my grandmother and mother) and my own daily experiences. For example, I pray and meditate every day, but on a few special days during the week, I couple this ritual with a sunrise hike. I am able to do this year-round because I have the privilege of living in sunny Los Angeles (I’m an L.A. native). Since I constantly push myself to step out of my “comfort zone,” these hikes are not leisurely strolls, but rather are often 1-3 hour adventures along arduous trails. This is my time where only the sounds of nature lift my spirit and nurture my soul. As you'll see in this book, my sunrise hikes allow me to practice the principles of Choosing Salubrious Silence and Solitude, Cultivating Divinity, and Celebrating the Miracle of the Body with Exercise.
I also regularly practice the principle of Choosing to Lighten Up. I simply love to laugh (I’m known to be a practical joker)! My mother called laughter “the body’s elixir” or natural rejuvenator. It is an essential ingredient to daily living and something I use to fuel my spirituality, and in essence, my mental and physical well being. Because of my positive, easygoing, “lighten up” approach to life, I have acquired the nickname “Sunny” because I am always reminding others to play more at this game of life and not take life so seriously.
Another central theme of my daily experience is boosting self-esteem. No matter where I travel around the world and with whom I work, on a universal level, I believe that the thing people wrestle with most in their own lives is loss of faith in themselves, in other words, low self-esteem. In my own life, I fortify self-esteem through the principles of Choosing to Be CEO of Your Body and Life,Cultivating the Art of Perseverance, and Celebrating Your Precious Inner Child. If we remain in control of our own lives, meet our goals day by day, and treat ourselves with tenderness, our self-esteem will blossom.
These are just a few of the 30 principles I rely upon in my own experience and in my practice as a holistic lifestyle coach, and they are all my gifts to you in Walking on Air. I hope my account evokes in you a desire to live your life more from your inner fountain of positive choices and celebration rather than from the demands of the world. You may not agree with my chosen path or what I write; all I ask is that you keep your heart tender and your mind open.
I suggest that you read this book through once in its entirety. Then read it again, slowly and deliberately, reading no more than one chapter a day for 30 days. This is a 30-day, inside and out, rejuvenation makeover program for your body, mind, and spirit. I've chosen this time frame because it is doable and practical, and -- believe me -- it is enough time for you to see significant differences in how you look and feel. Think about the topic for the day. Absorb it. Practice living it, if you feel called to do so, and make sure you participate in the “Today’s Affirmation” at the end of each chapter.
Books are more than just words on a page. You, the reader, bring the words to life. Apply what you read and look for ways you can experience more celebration in your life than you’ve ever felt before. I love what Henry David Thoreau said about the books he preferred to read:
"Books, not which afford us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle person cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institutions — such I call good books."
My hope is that this book, your personal 30-day inside and out rejuvenation makeover, cultivates in you this sense of "unusual daring" to take charge of your life in a powerful way. If you feel stuck or like you’re in a “spin-cycle” lifestyle; if you’ve lost some of your joy in living and would like to experience a lasting happiness; or if you just need some gentle, loving, efficacious guidance to live in a more meaningful way . . . then here you will find the catalyst you need. There is no time like the present. Make your life the magnificent adventure it was created to be. I salute your great adventure, and I wish you a daily welcoming and delightful feeling of Walking on Air.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one least traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost
“Be Quick but don’t hurry.” By that, I meant make a decision, take action; decide what you’re going to do and do it. Keep this word of caution in mind: Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.
~ Coach John Wooden