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“If you are going to be courageous, an example for all those who are ready to step into their power, then you must be willing to show the world all of who you are. You must have the guts to throw off the chains of modesty and mediocrity in order to be the light that the world needs.”
The quote appeared on her Facebook page on Friday, February 15th 2013, three days before she departed this earthly plane after a long and courageous battle with the Big C. Right up until her final exhale, Debbie Ford radiated, enlightened and bestowed upon us her hard-learned revelations and poignant observations that made her one of the world’s most beloved and successful self-help authors, teachers and healers. A brief Google or Amazon surf will edify you to her literary accomplishments. Please join me in celebrating this remarkable woman by permitting a personal anecdote about a walk on a beach and the ineffable power of Synchronicity.
In the summer of 2005, I was living in Las Vegas plowing and sweltering through the manuscript to my memoir, Life on Planet Rock. Putting the finishing touches on my chapter about the legendary masked marauders, KISS, I needed an epigram to open the missive. On the desk where I wrote, I kept a stack of important books – life-changing titles that found me since my own personal shift in consciousness began in 1998, the year all my appeared shadows in full force. My professional hamster wheel came to a screeching halt as I slid crown first into Kundalini Yoga. At the top of the dog-eared pile which included The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, The Artist’s Way, The Prophet, several Rumi and Jung offerings, Autobiography of a Yogi and The Road Less Traveled, rested (like a dove on stack of Bibles), Debbie’s ground-breaking debut, The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. Amongst all the venerable tomes I’d consumed, this mind-blowing analysis and intimate interpretation of our personal shadow resonated most deeply.
I thumbed the pages and found the quote to open Planet Rock’s “Dr. Stanley and Mr. Simmons.” It hit me light a pyrotechnic blast off a concert stage. “When you peel off the mask that hides your vulnerability and humanity, you’ll come face to face with your true self.” Fast forward to the fall of 2006. Morgan Road/Random House had published my first book and I’m randomly delivering copies to friends and family whom I happen to encounter on my own road less traveled, one of whom happens to be my cousin Marsha who lives in the affluent Del Mar Heights section of San Diego. Ten seconds into thumbing my pages, she comes hits the KISS chapter. “Oh my God, Debbie Ford!” vibrated my Chicago-born relation. “She’s a friend of mine. Lives nearby. You want me to give her a copy of your book?”
I contemplated the offer for a nanosecond and responded, “Not really. I’d like to give her a copy myself! Can you introduce me?” Marsha grabbed her cell phone. “I’m calling her. She’s amazing. You’ll love her.” I already did. Light Chasers had firmly planted Debbie Ford in my spiritual bloodstream. She got it, the inside battle, angel on one shoulder, devil on the other, yapping at one another in constant, maniacal dialogue. She got me! The punk editor who started his career ride at Larry Flynt Publications in the early 80s, reviewing porn tapes and interviewing sex stars who went onto an almost famous career documenting the Guns N’ Roses/Motley Crue decade of decadence for RIP magazine and MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, now traversing the choppy seas of mid-life awakening. Embracing and accepting my dark side had become my only full-time gig. And here I was about to have a spontaneous, synchronous conversation with the divine goddess of the damaged.
“I LOVE rock n’ roll!” chimed the globally adored best-selling new age icon. “Your book sounds fascinating. Can you meet me tomorrow? We’ll walk and talk on my favorite beach.” Marsha gave me a brief back-story, that Debbie was going through a rough divorce from an alpha male character that also happened to be good friends with my cousin’s husband. There are no accidents. Everything is connected. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. You know the mantras. You’re yogis. I barely slept, my subconscious in a dervish whirl over my fortuitous morning encounter.
The parking lot was empty save for her new car and my old one. Debbie was gorgeous: adorned in vanilla-colored sweat pants and a tight fitting tee, her short raven hair canopied inside a white hoodie. She gingerly emerged from the driver’s seat, her sagacious smile radiating tangible compassion and familiarity. We hugged warmly, like we’d known each other twenty years, tossed our shoes from off our feet and marched gently onto the misty, moist morning sands of La Jolla. She was transparent and attentive and had no problem divulging her current state of anxiety and conflict over the break-up of the marriage. “He’s battling me for the house – the palace I built and love,” she confessed with visible deflation in her voice. “I’m not good in battle. But I can’t just give in.” We paused and sat on a rock, staring at the foamy tide as it rumbled in and out. “Why not?” I said. “Let him have the house. They’re just things. You’re Debbie Ford. You can do anything.”
It was the surreal beginning of a friendship. I appeared on her radio show soon after she finished reading Planet Rock. Debbie introduced me to her audience as “an enlightened writer who fuses the world of spirit and music.” It was a humbling airwave affirmation that has informed my compositional voice ever since. A couple years ago, while drafting my second book, Sweet Demotion, I tried several times to email and call Debbie. My attempts to reconnect proved successful but her indomitable spirit informed my narrative from page one. Last October, I asked Marsha if she’d heard from her recently. “She’s flying back and forth from New York for treatments,” she wrote. “Not so good, I’m sorry to say,”
That’s when I went on Amazon and bought Courage: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self Confidence, her 2012 masterpiece of candor where she tore the scab off her drug abuse, toxic early relationships, divorce, betrayal, bad business decisions and the cancer she’d battled since 2001. And of course, as she had in every purging title she ever penned, offered tools, guided meditations and methods for embracing and finding your way out of those crippling shadows. It was her sacred charge to lead us to the light.
I know that’s where Debbie Ford is - resting peacefully under the brightest beacon that spirit could possibly awaken. Think I’ll head to the beach today and do some reading. Overcast be damned.