Having just spent a 35th annual gathering with my wonderful women's group, followed by delicious time with my daughter and grandchildren, I'm aware that I've put in some miles on this planet. And so what are the themes I can share?
Right away, I think about my name, and my Dad. After he died in January of 1992, I changed my name. Dad married my mother when I was six and was my father in every real and good sense, except the biological one. So in first grade, my name changed from Pam Hale to Pam Lochhead. Even though I appreciated (an understatement) being brought into my Dad's fold and having the family name, it had always bothered me that a piece of my identity was lost forever. (No blame, Dad--there is probably no good answer for this one.) So I chose to take it back and place it right in the middle of my three names: Pam Hale Trachta. And when I became an author, I began to use the name Hale.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one is the meaning of the word "hale. The oxford dictionary says, " (of a person, especially an elderly one) strong and healthy." Or, take the definition I like even better from Websters, "retaining exceptional health and vigor." You might remember the old British phrase, "hale and hearty." That's who I want to become, hale and hearty.
The themes in my own journey began with a mother who suffered from undiagnosed bipolar disease and alcoholism. Add the challenges I must have felt as a little child without a father (Robert Hale went overseas in World War II when I was 18 months old and did not return), and it's no wonder that my childhood longings centered around finding true love.
First that was centered on men, of course, and then increasingly on the search for the Beloved, the true divinity I could know and rely upon. In the midst of all the twists and turns were experiences with both physical and emotional pain and dis-ease. Including two bouts of breast cancer, followed by Graves Disease. It's no wonder my response was to dive into my own therapy and healing path, to get training in counseling, and to find tools for thriving in the midst of an array of physical and emotional challenges.
What kept me going? My children and family, photography, a community of women friends, my spiritual path, an increasing number and depth of mystical experiences, and acquiring tools for wisdom and healing from many cultures and indigenous traditions--all this became the roots of my future practice. Now I'm fortunate enough to help other people become hale. Not become me, you understand, but to become their own unique and divine version of strong, healthy, vital and "hearty," or full of heart.
Can you trace the themes of your own journey? You might ask yourself, "What kinds of challenges has life brought me so far? What are the themes?" And then ask, "What has kept me going? What has been healing for me?"
The things that have kept you going could be called your personal medicine. Your way of becoming hale. And also the medicine you have to share with others. It doesn't matter whether you do that sharing professionally or informally. It is who you are. And becoming that medicine--embodying it--is why you came here.
So in this year of 2015, treasure your journey. Give yourself a big bowl of flowers to celebrate it. Each flower might represent a piece of the medicine you've gathered, as you become the strongest, healthiest, most vital and hearty version of your real self.