Bart was someone else’s husband. I could not conceive of him – or any other married man - as a potential mate or even a date. He and his wife, who were having their relationship challenges, had become good friends of mine through MLW. They were in my very first workshop. His wife was a “girlfriend” of mine and he was a nice man – her husband. He was shy, he was loving, and in a very brotherly way, very nice to me. We had a growing friendship. His wife often came to me for support. The three of us often met in the Making Love Work setting and frequently went out for Thai food with another female friend on Saturday nights.
Shortly thereafter Bart and his wife amicably separated. He had no immediate place to stay and it was perfectly natural for me to have asked him to stay at my house, as my youngest daughter’s room was empty for the summer while she visited her best friend in Israel. He and I almost immediately allowed our friendship to blossom into a relationship.
One day having just made love, I looked up and experienced a "veil" lifting from eyes and I instantaneously saw Bart as the person I was in love with. I took a very big risk in being completely truthful about my feelings with him when I realized I had fallen in love. He told me he thought “we might have something together” however first he needed to complete his healing from the break-up of his 17 year marriage. My heart flew when he told me that he trusted what my heart was saying.
He was amazing in my experience of men. He was (and is) good-looking, loving, smart, creative, generous, encouraging, nurturing and unswerving in his support of me. I felt so blessed and somewhat tipsily in love.
A couple of months later, Bart decided to move away from L.A. to make sure he had not just become dependent on me. He wanted to make sure that this quick jump from one relationship to another was not just a “rebound” relationship. I missed him terribly: however, we often talked, wrote and visited.
After some months away, Bart called and told me he rented a house – with four bedrooms. “Oh, really?” I realized that he was telling me in his own subtle way that he wanted us all to be together as a family. I made plans for the children and me to move in with him.Twice at the beginning of my relationship with Bart, I allowed my love "trance" and denial to override my responsibilities as a parent. The first was leaving my children with my ex who loved his family but really did not have great parenting skills. My daughter captured the truth of their experiences of living with their dad when she said, “It’s like having no parents.” The second was, instead of waiting until the school year ended, I moved the kids near the end of a before school was out for the year.
In Northern California with Bart, I found out what it is like to be in a healthy relationship daily. When I was with my ex-husband, I used to look at couples walking on the street talking to each other and wonder what they could possibly have to say to each other. With Bart I learned what two people could have to say to each other day after day – that everything we thought about and experienced could be of interest to a compatible partner. I found out what it was like to have someone believe in me and see my Real Self – oftentimes when I could not. I found out what it was like to have my love cherished. I began to realize what partnership was about.
For example, one day I was upset over something. I began to talk about it. We – the kids and Bart and I - were cleaning up from dinner. Bart suggested we continue the conversation while we went for a walk alone. The kids went to do homework. We went for a walk. You'll remember that I was unused to openly expressing any distress in my life when the other person might not like it so it was still a very big deal. Bart encouraged me by telling me that he may not like that I was angry and he may not even like what I felt BUT HE DID NOT WANT ME TO CHANGE. We did not know it at the time, but this was part of the bedrock upon which our relationship was to be founded.
For business reasons and because the children preferred returning to Los Angeles, after a year or so we moved back to L.A.
In our discussions about our relationship, we were not sure we saw a reason to ever get legally married. After all, we have both been married twice and we are 42 and 50, respectively. We certainly were not going to have any more children. However, our relationship naturally grew deeper by virtue of the connection we felt and the openness of our communication.
One day in 1986, we decided to put our money together and opened a joint checking account. The day the box of checks arrived, Bart went downstairs to get the mail. I was sitting on the edge of the bed while he opened the box. He looked inside, got down on his knee in front of me and showed me what the checks said. The bank had given me Bart’s last name!
Bart looked into my eyes and said, “I guess God wants us to get married. Will you marry me?” Two months later, we married. Whenever I tell that story, I fall in love with him all over again.
On May 11, 1986, five of our combined offspring of seven and several friends married us. We adapted and embellished processes that we learned from our Making Love Work experience to include in our wedding service - exchanging love publicly by finishing the sentence “something I love about you. . .” back and forth and “the reasons I want to marry you are . . .” Our vows included “supporting each other in any ways the other wants to grow.”
Our children spoke the actual wedding vows as our loving “ministers”. Several friends expressed their love verbally including Bart’s ex-wife who also catered the feast and baked a wonderful cake decorated with live flowers and little bride and groom bears that my youngest son bought us. John Gray led all present in a wonderful blessing and with an actor’s perfect timing, my 12-year old daughter ended the service by saying, “You may now kiss the bride”. By formalizing our union in front of “God and everybody”, we solemnized our commitment to each other and added another level to our bond.I had become very tired of my low-paying jobs. My inner urgings were leading me to earn more and to create a more financially abundant life for myself and my family. I began a new sales job that came highly recommended by a friend making more money than he ever thought he could selling a financial product to school teachers. I pursued and obtained the job.
Our 6’ 1” female sales manager was an inspirational, bossy powerhouse. She knew how to motivate her team of top-performing salespeople to new record successes. She knew that using my love of Spirit and of helping others was the best way to get me to work 70 – 80 hours per week. I cried almost every day, finding the rejection of cold calling and prospecting for clients very painful. I learned to use affirmations for the first time. My first affirmation created with the help of my boss was, “I easily earn $100,000.” It worked so well that my IRS 1099 for that year was “$99,999”! I met many new people and made friends with someone very special, Beth.
I misinterpreted some of what I learned in my spiritual meetings about “surrendering my ego” by letting my boss control me more than was perhaps healthy for me. Whereas other people on our sales team succeeded without domination by our manager, I began to feel that my success could never have happened if it were not for my boss. We were two players in my school of life – me once again being the “good little girl” and she being the almost not-to-be-pleased mother figure. The way I could please my mother was by doing things exactly as she wanted me to. The way I could please this woman was by doing things the way she wanted me to – even if it was at the expense of me. Other team members overcame their discomforts by creatively approaching prickly sales situations in their own unique ways. I, however, became stuck in trying to do it “her way” thereby continuously feeling ill at ease.
Even as I experienced this pain coupled with accomplishment, I had a feeling that I had an opportunity to heal the relationship I had with my mother by overcoming how I childishly dealt with my boss. Awareness – messages from my Real Self – arrived and ultimately taught me the subtle ways I continued to give myself away.
My teenage daughter told me I was a workaholic. I did not want to hear it. I had to work this hard and this much. Isn’t it amazing how wise 14-year-old girls can be? First, my oldest daughter virtually sent me to OA as I freaked out about my puffy face and now this daughter saw what I could not. Unfortunately, I still could not listen or hear. I was definitely working out my “mother stuff” with my boss.
The company promoted me to manager as my boss was promoted to vice president. Because I still thought I could not do the new job without her support, we followed her to Dallas. I once again moved my kids. By this time my youngest son, age 13, was living with his dad and over the four years we lived in Dallas moved back and forth several times. My 14-year-old daughter came with us. My oldest son, then 18, came with us also and tried out living nearby but on his own. My oldest daughter was now 22 and independent. Bart had his own business that he could run anywhere.
In 1989 I finally, and in a friendly way, broke the employment and emotional ties with my boss and began to work independently. Because I finally knew I could, I attracted the perfect financial services job for me. I worked with doctors at the Dallas Medical School helping them with financial and retirement planning. I continued to make very good money now working days and a very rare night. For the previous 3 years, I had worked four or five nights a week.
I had never feared not having enough money until I made lots of it. No matter how much I made, I still had fear.
For months early in 1990, I felt strange - somewhat separated from my inner feeling. I had a vague sense that something important and challenging was trying to surface to my conscious mind. So I began to look for some help. I found a 4-day program that worked with people who had had abusive childhoods.
Over the course of that program and in the months following, I began to have Twilight-Zone-ish memories of childhood sexual abuse by my father. As horrific as the thought was, I knew it made sense because of some of my behaviors, inner restrictions, body hang-ups and self-esteem issues. I was once again one of the fortunate ones. My willingness and ability to heal emotionally helped me through the pain and unreality of it all. My husband was very supportive. Those memories came up only when I was in a caring, loving relationship with a uniquely gentle partner. My unconscious mind knew it was the right time to heal.
Bart and I traveled from Dallas to Houston several times to see our friend, John Gray, and attend his new workshop, The Power of Love. A few Dallas friends came with us. Bart and I convinced John to come to Dallas to teach and when he did, we rented space and enrolled participants for his workshops.
In 1992, Harper Collins published John Gray’s book, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Dallas was one of the cities on his book tour. Bart and I worked with a very large church in Dallas to help create an event for the still largely unknown John Gray. Six hundred people attended! The excitement about his book and his gender communication information grew.
By this time, my children were scattered. My youngest son and oldest daughter were living in Los Angeles. My youngest daughter was in college in San Francisco. My oldest son was in the Army. I wanted to return to Los Angeles so I could be with my family and friends. What were we still doing in Dallas? Almost as soon as we decided to return to L.A., I unexpectedly made a very large commission and we were able to move much sooner than we thought possible. Around this time, I was beginning to notice some subtle physical symptoms of weakness, soreness and ill health.
In Los Angeles, I was running out of physical, emotional and spiritual steam. In roughly a year and a half of making almost no sales in my financial business, I could not seem to make myself do this unloving-to-me job any more. Concurrently, I physically crashed. My intuition guided me to a nutritional solution for my many symptoms including the early stages of breast cancer. I made healing my full time job. I was never afraid that I would not get well. I knew I would. I knew I was doing the right things for myself. I finally and fully saw how unloving and unnurturing to myself the financial services work was for my non-confrontive nature. I vowed, “I will never again do work I don’t love.” I was still not completely clear on what all my gifts were; but I knew I wanted to help people heal their childhood hurts, as I had been able to. By the end of 10 months, I was almost fully recovered and ready to move on in my life.
My younger daughter was getting ready to graduate from the Drama Department at San Francisco State. We were going to see her last college play. We gathered our Northern California friends and family for the event. By this time, John Gray was famous. We had not seen him much because I had been sick and he had been busy becoming famous. He and his second wife of 10 years, Bonnie, wanted to attend my daughter’s performance and invited us to stay at their big new house on the top of a hill in a town north of San Francisco. Over the course of the weekend, John wished aloud to find a way for us to live near them and work for him again. As if by magic, the opportunity arose.
I was so excited. I was finally going to be doing work that was almost my dream – helping others by teaching them some of what I had learned. This journey’s path was a winding one. The job John offered us was giving Mars Venus workshops on a cruise ship line for about six months. Having almost fully recovered from my illness, I was ready to start something new and Bart had been tinkering with ways to teach John’s material for some time. We decided that we would take the job. It meant putting our stuff in storage and packing up our life for a short time.
Just when 75% of our belongings were in storage and we were expecting to leave in a matter of weeks, we received a call from John’s office that the whole cruise ship thing was postponed. I freaked. Not only was our stuff in storage but we had given notice on our means of making a living and our apartment in Los Angeles. Two hours after the first call, John Gray called with a solution – to come stay in his now empty “old” house until the date for leaving on the cruise ship arrived.
We left for Marin County. While waiting for the cruise line arrangements to be made, we realized that there really were not any Mars Venus Workshops without John. We began to mull over what that kind of workshop might look like.
The date for departure never came. The whole cruise thing fell through permanently. We didn't care. We had created something we thought was quite wonderful and felt highly energized by it. We created the concept of Mars Venus Institute.
We had never been that eager to spend six months living in a tiny ship’s cabin. We were now living temporarily in a large home in a redwood forest in one of the most beautiful spots in the country. And, we were creating.
While hanging out in John's Mars Venus environment we had been hearing that many people around the country had made inquiries concerning the possibility of teaching John’s material. Some people had even taken his Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus book and started teaching the material on their own. An idea hatched. What if John Gray had an organization that created workshops then trained people to give them?
As Bart and I were putting the final embellishments on a proposal to John on the subject of creating a workshop training company, the doorbell rang. It was John. He asked if he could come in. He then proposed to us exactly what we were about to propose to him! Mars Venus Institute (MVI) was born.
We officially began to create workshops based on John’s Mars Venus material. We then began training corporate speakers – Mars Venus fans and therapists from all over the world who wanted to teach these workshops. It was in this role that I discovered other Real Self talents. I not only found that I could write but I could create and lead trainings to instruct those interested in gender communication and then instruct them how to teach their audiences. I was a natural born Life Coach. I had no formal training thus far; however, in my coaching role I helped our Facilitators figure out marketing plans. I helped them sustain their personal power by releasing ineffective behaviors to step into their real and successful selves.
For the first couple of years this job was wholly satisfying. Creating and supervising workshops was fun. Meeting people from around the world was very cool. Occasionally getting to travel on a big private plane was exciting. For three years, my youngest daughter was our employee and creative partner. I loved working with her and seeing her daily. However, my workaholic ways continued to plague me. I had little life outside my job, the people I worked with and my husband. There were politics in working in any company. I naively believed that would not be true in a communication company. I was wrong. There were jealousies and favoritism and hurt feelings.
In June of 1999, we purchased a fantastic condominium in beautiful Sausalito and felt blessed to be able to do so. Logically we couldn’t qualify for it or afford it; however, our magic continued and we unearthed exactly the amount of money we needed in stocks that Bart’s dad has willed him to complete the deal.
In 1999 and 2000, the Mars Venus world was going through a great upheaval. I had several upsetting experiences with a newly hired and offensive CEO. Since I no longer allowed any ill-treatment in my life, it seemed like the right time for me to quit. The Universe had once again cooperated by giving me a nudge. I stepped down from my job as director of Mars Venus Institute. Bart remained as president and tried to save the floundering company. I was deeply upset over the loss of my adopted Mars Venus family. Unconsciously I had appointed John and his wife as “parents” and the other employees as siblings.