Glad to meet you!
A bit about my background...
From the time I was a small child, I looked at the world not only with a sense of awe at all of the creatures, clouds and trees, but also with the question, "Why isn't anybody else wondering what's going on here?" As well as the inner knowing, "This can't be all there is to life!" I fumbled my way through school until I discovered, at the tender age of fourteen, that there was such a thing as a "spiritual path" - and that I needed to be on it, ASAP.
My quest for answers and ultimately for freedom from the presumed human malaise and suffering led me to some great depths and heights. I graduated college and got sober by the time I was 25, started a small business and along the way fell in love with eastern traditions like Taosim, Buddhism and eventually Advaita Vedanta. I went to China, India, Nepal, Kenya and across Europe following teachers, traditions and healers. I read tirelessly, meditated, did every healing work I could get my hands on and hosted and attended spiritual study groups. This led me to join the New Seminary, NYC, in order to become a spiritual counselor. I found this to be the most joyful and meaningful work I had ever encountered!
After being ordained as an Interfaith minister at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC in 2002, I quickly realized that I wanted a higher level of education in order to help people heal on a greater scale. I went next to grad school at Southern Connecticut State University and became a licensed social worker.
For the past fourteen years I have worked as a spiritual counselor for local Hospice organizations, ministering to terminally ill patients and families, grief counseling, officiating memorial services and doing educational outreach and speaking engagements at community-supported events. It has been a complete honor and privilege to work with people at such a sacred and personal time of life. Though I am now working solely as a freelance minister and counselor, I will always have a place in my heart for Hospice work. Today I see clients privately for psychotherapy, life coaching and Reiki (I am a level three practitioner of this ancient Japanese healing art ).
A few years ago I began doing public speaking through Conscious Campus, an organization that provides renowned inspirational speakers and entertainers to colleges with the mission of building social and cultural awareness. Since being on their roster, I have had the great privilege of speaking around the country educating students about the importance of faith diversity and learning the art of self love.
I became a minister so that I could help people heal in the same way as I had taken on the work of healing, through spiritual growth and development. Being a minister in the religious sense was never my objective. And you will often still hear me qualify, "I am a minister but I am spiritual, not religious." Religion never made sense to me. Picking one way, following only one tradition felt like picking one color of the spectrum and only seeing that for the rest of your life. I had personally felt so enriched by a multitude of faiths and traditions from all over the globe: Native American traditions - doing my first sweat lodge at 21 and many that followed to present day, Celtic and Goddess rituals and practices, The I-Ching, The Course in Miracles, Mindfulness meditation, and in depth study of Vedanta (the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads) which has allowed me the great pleasure of traveling to India each January.
I was stunned and delighted when I was asked to officiate my first wedding, sixteen years ago. I had never endeavored to be a robed minister and yet I found it was deeply satisfying to lead people through rituals of all kinds. Rituals allow us to touch the mystery of life and to activate a power within the creation that connects us to our ancestry as well as to a universal wisdom that so enriches and enlivens our life experience.
I made this same discovery when I was asked to lead worship and give sermons in local churches. I have always considered nature to be the most sublime and complete church possible. It was a stretch beyond my comfort zone to stand at a pulpit in a robe and speak to a congregation. This too was a great surprise of my life. I realized that the perspective that had so often helped me through challenges and pitfalls was useful to others as well. I could now draw upon the sources that had so inspired me on the spiritual path.
I draw from prophets and poets, mystics and sages, literary figures and humanitarians for my inspiration. I keep it very eclectic and expose myself to as wide a spectrum as possible. Some of my favorites: Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Rumi, Wangari Mathai, Meister Eckhart, Marianne Williamson, Nelson Mandela, Mary Oliver, Black Elk, Carl Big Heart, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Wally Lamb, Marilyn Robinson, Paulo Coelho, Anthony Demello - to name just a few!
Who I am...
My friends would call me a clown and report that I will do just about anything for a laugh. Humor is so important to me as a tool to get through life. Years ago I joined an acting class that - after years of being a spiritual seeker and workshop junkie -became the most important healing work I had ever done. Learning how to "be present" and communicate in front of others in my acting class helped me to access parts of myself I thought should remain buried. By unearthing the characters and voices that fully expressed my creativity and creatively expressed my full self, I finally began to love and accept myself as I am - what a concept! The result was a more peaceful and loving version of myself but also what came: a self-written and directed one-woman show entitled “Full of My Selves" and a children’s CD entitled, “Me and the Moon,” designed to connect children with an appreciation of nature. Who would've thought?!
But most importantly, the healing work led me to be able to co-create a healthy partnership. Meeting and marrying my husband, Rob Silvan (gifted pianist and composer and great human being!) has been the greatest gift of my life. To meet a lover who becomes a true partner for life is what makes life truly a joy and an adventure. Together we brought in a child in 2007 who is the light of our lives. And for as much as these relationships bring supreme love and abounding joy, they take work and are the source of growth and expansion - which often means - gulp - ego-puncturing, i.e. growing up! I thank God for them every day!
My personal mission...
As a wife and mother, a minister, counselor and speaker, I feel a sense of calling to be a force of light in the world -as much as I am personally able, as imperfect as I may be. I believe each one of us has a particular contribution to make in this world that is totally unique to us; And so, in everyone that I work with whether I am sitting with an individual, a couple or family or in front of a large audience, my fail-safe prayer is for that light that we all are to work through me, speak through me and move into the world to create unity, healing, love and transformation.
I seek also to cultivate in myself and foster in others a global perspective that every seemingly separate human being is part of the unfathomably whole and perfect One Being that sustains us and connects us - every single moment. This is the fundamental meaning of Interfaith - We honor the vast, diverse expanse of faith, perspective and tradition, while holding the truth that All is One and God is Love. And all paths that lead to love are good and honorable whether they be spiritual, religious or atheist. This vision is a working means to manifest personal peace - and therefore the potential to manifest a unified planet where people of all faiths can coexist peaceably by practicing tolerance and respect for all walks of life and the planet we call home. ...Imagine!