When I look back I can see the Holy Spirit, the Christ, God—whatever you want to name it—working magic in my life. The babysitter I had from age 3 to 9, who sent me birthday cards every year until she died. The nun at the Catholic school where my stepfather taught, who befriended and encouraged me. They were angels, placed there to help me get to the next step. Unity was an angel in my life too.
I discovered Unity during my second year at Cleveland Chiropractic College in Overland Park, Kansas. Mark Victor Hansen, the motivational speaker who’s known for the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, gave a talk at the college. My personal chiropractor had introduced me to Norman Vincent Peale and Leo Buscaglia, so Hansen’s positive message truly resonated with me. When I heard Hansen was going to be speaking at Unity Church of Overland Park, I knew I had to go.
The whole self-help movement interested me because I was suffering from a broken heart. By the time I was 17, my mother had been married four times. One of my stepfathers was an alcoholic. I was molested as a child. All of those experiences shut me down. I didn’t feel safe.
Even though my stepfather taught at a Catholic school, I wasn’t raised in any church. Thanks to neighbors, I had attended a number of different churches and had even been baptized. But after discovering Unity, I never went anywhere else. I felt at home in Unity. I felt love.
To me it was always about love. How could we love ourselves enough to do what the Christ in us wants us to do? Take care of ourselves. Take care of other people. That resonated with me at the ripe old age of 24. For the first time in my life I was able to breathe and feel safe.
I also credit Unity for waking me up at age 31. Even though I had this wonderful life on the outside—money, the respect of my peers, a great chiropractic practice—I started sabotaging myself. I didn’t feel I deserved all of the good I was experiencing. So I called my Unity minister, Rev. Mary Omwake. I told her what was going on—I had a great life and I was ruining it—and I knew I better do something.
She told me I was right. She said I was giving away my joy. Rev. Mary then guided me to the Hoffman Process, a weeklong retreat that helps you identify negative behaviors and ways of thinking that were conditioned in childhood. For me that included: I’m not good enough. Who do I think I am? I’m a fraud. If I do enough for you, you will love me. Thanks to Rev. Mary’s guidance, I emerged from that experience openhearted for myself—not in a selfish way, but in a “self-full” way. From there I could give back to the universe.
What I’ve learned through Unity shapes my work as a chiropractor, a speaker, an author, and a radio show host. Unity gave me acceptance of who I am and assurance that I could let my light shine—realizing that I am enough. Because I know that, I can reflect to others that they are good inside, that they are loving—and if they believe that about themselves, then they will do whatever they need to do to take care of themselves.
I used to be quiet about my faith. I didn’t want to push anything on anyone. I was content to show my faith by the way I walked through life. After a serious bike accident before I turned 50, I made a conscious choice to share my spirituality more and to share prayers such as James Dillet Freeman’s “Prayer for Protection” that have helped me get through my life. These days, thanks in large part to Unity, I’m walking my talk at a deeper level than ever before.