From Mafia Wife to Nomad Entrepreneur
7 Key Lessons I learned for Reinventing Myself
Time and again, the very nature of life brings us face to face with reinvention. It is something we cannot escape. As we cross each new threshold we evolve towards new beginnings.
Growing up in the ideal town of Santa Barbara, California was perfect, until I was up-rooted at age 16 with a move to a Native American village in the far northern wilds of Alaska.
My father worked at a government base 200 miles from Russia. This is where I spent my last year of high school in a classroom with 12 native Eskimos.
There, at 17, I was noticed, coveted and “claimed” by a powerful Mafioso 20 years older than me.
He was infamous, as one of the most powerful men in America. He had the power to decide which companies would get the multi-million contracts for building the Alaskan oil pipeline.
He saw me, coveted me and decided I would be his wife. My life quickly became a fast lane to chaos; politics and uncertainty.
By the time I turned 21, I had given birth to three children.
My world came to an end when my two-year-old son was killed. That same night our house was burned to the ground, in a Mafia deal gone bad.
How does one deal with such deep loss? My heart said, “God please take me, and stop this torture.” Over the course of many months I passed through different stages of wanting to live or to die. My heart was dead. The emptiness was so incredibly deep. I went inward to seek spiritual peace.
I had to leave this marriage. But, I was filled with fear and uncertainty. It took another five years to gain the courage — then, I escaped.
”When the pain of the problem becomes greater than the pain of the solution is when you’ll take action.”
I left with my two young girls and little funds just to be free. I did not fight over the enormous amounts of money that I could have gone after.
I cannot accurately describe the fear in making this decision — just to leave, let alone fighting over money.
You cannot just end a mafia marriage, there are all kinds of repercussions including the fact that the man believes he owns the children.
I had a do or die feeling in my gut. I was not strong — I was very weak and naïve with no inner power or essence, as I was not allowed to work, pursue a career or find myself in any way.
I was miserable, even though I had luxury and money. But I had no interest in money as I had no spirit or life in me.
And, I left it all behind.
I discovered that taking the first step is what frees you. It can be so fucking scary, but once you make the choice, you get stronger by the minute.
To start a new life, I invested the small pittance I saved and bought ten acres of raw land in Arizona for about $5000 down.
I had no formal education beyond high school, but I was immersed in the world of the best “deal makers” out there, so all I knew was to go out and “do a deal.”
I built a subdivision.
The land I bought did not even have water! I had to bring in the water lines and build a road.
This became my first entrepreneurial venture.
I financed the build out by selling lots. It became highly profitable.
My ascent into freedom became literal as well as figurative. I did not know what I was doing, but moved forward in little baby steps every day.
Move forward in baby steps when you need to — but whatever you do, just keep moving forward.
I took up skydiving.
Then, I leased the airport and started a skydiving school. I was 24.
I was determined not to fail. After all, my husband said I would never make it and that I would be back within six months.
I became a master of observation. I saw how other people would think and talk about an idea, then “get ready forever” and never accomplish their dreams. I was determined not to go down that road.
Skydiving was way beyond my comfort zone. I had a lot of fear and was totally out of my league. But, my spirit did not want to give up.
My fear and intimidation of what I could do or not do was always with me. I learned that managing fear was partly about seeing the message that fear brings to you.
It is said that everywhere one goes and everything one does propels a person to where they’re supposed to be. The unknowns of the frontiers I embarked on came with great risk, but also great reward. I used pain to push me forward.
An extreme life will take you in and spit you out. This kind of journey makes you very honest with yourself. Whether having success or experiencing a failure, I studied the cause and the effects of both. I became a scholar learning the alchemy of the internal martial arts and strategies.
I started studying the Taoist philosophies and began to find my inner warrior. I learned how to bring my mind into my body with power and clarity.
This energy became the fuel that started the foundation for new adventures.
I became a pioneer in extreme sports.
With skydiving, I took interest in the Style competition, which is gymnastics at 200 mph with only 26 seconds of free-fall airtime.
I won a spot on the U.S. Parachute Team and went on to win four gold medals and a bronze in the World Skydiving Championships, the first American woman to do so.
Fully out of the box that had defined my existence, I excelled in other extreme sports. The changes in my life were dichotomous and I found I had a knack for the perilous.
On icy 45 degree mountain slopes, I competed in giant slalom ski racing and parachuting accuracy in the Para-ski competitions. My reinvention paid off again in a trio of National Championships.
In the midst of these successes, tragedy struck again. The home I built on my subdivision was burned down — dashing my dreams and depleting my finances to nothing.
I lost everything — again!
Tragedy always brings about change. It happens like a large space, which opens up so you can fill it with something new. And, to fill the space requires the courage to let go of certainties. I learned to not become attached to owning “things.”
I continued traveling with the U.S. Parachute Team competing in world competitions. After years of competing and traveling, I had no desire to stop and settle into a normal routine — which is called “getting a JOB.”
I started living the life of the nomad, seeking the unknown, blazing new trails and making new discoveries long before “nomad” was acceptable.
I was growing an entrepreneurial spirit, and started working different gigs and starting cool ventures and adventures worldwide.
I failed often.
Failures became like the mystical sage teaching me lessons. I grew depth through living karmas of lifetimes.
After some years, a glimpse of a powerful new me started to form.
Although I was young, dharma was already teaching me old age. I was inheriting an old soul spirit.
If I had stayed in one place — got a job and tried to live normal, I would never of learned the deepest lessons and gained the depth.
I lived my entrepreneurial ventures. To date, I’ve started 15 business ventures across 20 countries. They where never planned.
I learned that the more you are open to life — the more new doors will open. You need to keep walking through them and not worry about where it all ends up.
Challenges became my teacher. I developed the fighters heart.
I decided that giving up would never be my style. I could try and live with more certainty, but that was like being in a box, one can stay there, but I thought it was a complete waste of time.
I think lives become like a battlefield from the fear one feels when they have not developed their inner essence and power. This battleground becomes a major energy drain. Learn to use fear to fuel your spirit and keep moving forward.
As I competed in a dangerous sport, the thought of death was there each time I jumped out of the airplane.
Through the fear of dying, (which I did have) I learned to accept it and manage it.
It’s called focus.
I learned that pain and challenges would not destroy me. I am glad to have paid my dues.
There is no better way to find your inner strength than to head into the unknown. The warrior receives their power in the unknown.
When you contemplate that big change in life — like the scariest thing you are facing, well, I think this is the time you should go travel. Alone!
Once my high-adrenaline pursuits had ended, I realized the true essence of my journey emanated from the experiences which were achieved through falling and rising; from failing and then achieving new learning. That is what mastery is built on and where the alchemy of knowledge comes from.
Through many diverse experiences, the raw reality of survival in tough situations brings out the soul’s fundamental strengths and weaknesses. The driving force has to be a balance between the heights that you reach inwardly and outwardly, physically and spiritually.
Go be a nomad for a while. You will figure things out.
Then start living the legend you were meant to be.
You become better.
You gain a more thorough grasp of who you are and of what you are capable of.
Experience cultivates wisdom.
If you do not take risks, your character has no chance to flourish to the depths of its true potential. Through hardship and suffering, and the ability to overcome, one realizes self worth.
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