After three decades of suffering from alcohol, drug, and relationship addiction, I had finally reached my so-called “bottom.” I had reached a point where I was so ashamed of myself and so full of self-hatred that I could not go on. I had lowered myself to participating in the most pathetic lifestyle I could ever have imagined. How did I end up here? How did I let this happen to me? How could I do this to my children? I had to find a way out. Most of my friends and family had given up on me. They were tired of my selfishness and all my excuses. My children had lost all respect for me and were extremely angry for what I had put them through. I could see my youngest daughter, who was 15 at the time, was following in my footsteps, and I blamed myself for her self-destructive behavior.
So, I ended a dysfunctional, addictive, and abusive relationship that had lasted five long years and checked myself into rehab. That was the beginning of my journey into healing and learning to really love and value myself for the first time in my life. I discovered the spiritual path of yoga at my treatment center in Malibu, California. My teacher’s name was Gabriella Nagy. She was the first to show me a spiritual way of life through yoga’s teachings. I had always thought of yoga as just a bendy, stretchy exercise you do at the gym. I could barely practice the physical movements because of the chronic pain I had been suffering for more than 3 years. I learned that yoga is an 8 limbed path to enlightenment, and only one of the limbs was the poses. Now I was learning how to meditate and breathe, and I could feel the practices were making me feel better.
It would calm my mind and allow me to feel hopeful about the recovery process I was undertaking. I would be in a better mood all day after practice. After 30 days in treatment, I moved into a sober living home for women. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life; I just knew that I would never have fun again and that nobody would want to be my friend now that I quit drinking. I wanted to keep practicing yoga because it was the only thing that gave me relief from my self-loathing. I was able to get Gabriella the yoga teaching position at the sober house. I lived there for 4 months and practiced yoga 3 days a week. I also attended AA Meetings daily, but I did not get a sponsor or start working the steps because I did not have a “higher power,” which I believed I needed to work the 12-steps authentically.
As the months passed, I continued to feel that something was missing. I was still feeling a longing for something more meaningful in my life. I was still broken-hearted, full of guilt and remorse, and was not ready to return home and face the wreckage of my past. Then an acquaintance told me about an online course called “Inner Engineering” taught by a spiritual yogi from India called Sadhguru, so I signed up. I loved it! This course taught me how to let go of the past and live in the present moment accepting what is and taking responsibility for my life. I learned the importance of a daily ritual, and I knew I needed to commit to a daily meditation practice if I wanted to grow spiritually. Not long after this, I came across a book called “Yoga Bitch” by Suzanne Morrison. In the book, she goes on a spiritual journey to Bali and has a profound spiritual awakening. I knew that was what I needed!
So, I packed up my things and checked out of my sober living house, and went to Bali for what was going to be a 2-week trip before heading back home to San Diego. Instead, I ended up spending two months studying, practicing, and learning from many teachers from all around the world. At 48 years old with sciatica down both legs and debilitating back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, I signed up for a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training course from the Yoga Alliance Accredited School Sacred Arts that would be held at The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali. I had never signed up for anything this demanding in my life! The course was 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for 30 days. I knew it would be the hardest thing I ever did, but I could not do it. Something inside me was not letting me say no. I was led to this; the door was open, and all I had to do was say yes to it. So, I did!
It was during this course that I experienced a spiritual awakening. I was finally in touch with my higher power! It was a gradual realization that came to me as I listened to and spent time with the wonderful teachers who were so passionate about showing me the way. Through meditation and other yoga practices, I became aware of my soul, spirit, and true divine nature. Then, suddenly, one day on the mat, I realized that I love myself! For the first time in my life, I truly love myself! I was filled with an enormous sense of gratitude for life, and tears of joy poured from my eyes. Then my heart burst open, and I was filled with compassion for all beings suffering on the planet, and more tears poured out. I could now see very clearly what life was about. I could clearly see my path, my purpose in life. I could now see that my past experiences were lessons, which had brought me right to where I was at that moment, right where I needed to be.
Since then, my life keeps getting better! I found out that I can have way more fun than I did when I was on the rollercoaster of drugs, alcohol, and drama. I can be high on life every day! I love my life now, and I have amazing friends who love me for who I am. My body healed after only a few months of practice. No more sciatica and no more back pain! I changed my diet and began eating healthy organic whole foods, no more processed foods or fast-food restaurants. I healed from my broken heart, and for the first time in my life, I got through the breakup without using other men to get over it. I vowed not to date for a least a year, and I kept my vow. All these experiences have taken me from a sad, broken down, beat up woman with a victim mentality to a grateful and empowered woman who loves and respects herself and live with integrity.
Immediately after my spiritual awakening, it became clear to me what I wanted to do. I wanted to help other women who were struggling with the same issues that I had suffered from. So, I created Villa Kali Ma – A Place for Transformation. I truly hope that you will come with an open heart and mind, as I did, and embrace all the tools and teachings that will be available to you to heal yourself and totally transform your life forever, truly! My goal is to make this an amazing experience for you so that you can discover your own beautiful soul, your own true path and purpose in life, and learn to follow your bliss! This program is inspired by the Hero’s Journey and offered to all women who want to learn how to be the hero of their own life.
I continue to work in a recovery program, which includes attending AA Meetings, Refuge Recovery Meetings, serving others in recovery, and practicing the 8-limbed path of yoga. I have been able to repair my relationships with my friends and family. Although it may take years for them to completely heal from the pain of growing up in a dysfunctional environment, my daughters have forgiven me, and our relationship keeps getting better. I am now a good example of how to live and to love in this world and how you can change your life if you want to. I have never been happier. I am in love with life, with nature, with Mother Earth, and all the wonderful beings I get to share it with. I am excited to share everything I have learned with every woman who comes to Villa Kali Ma to heal and transform their lives. It is possible! I did it, and you can too!
NAMASTE: The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.
SAT NAM: I bow to the truth, the divine essence of being.
I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to those who taught, guided, and inspired me to discover my true self. Some may not know how they helped me, but they encouraged me to heal and transform my life through their teachings, energy, and love. I now feel a profound desire to share what I have learned to help people, as others have shaped and helped me.
GABRIELLA NAGY: Yoga Teacher, Sober Fun Adventure
JUSTIN J LEITSTEIN: Marriage & Family Therapist, MA, LMFT, Malibu
AUDREY HOPE: Spiritual Addiction Therapy
SADHGURU: Isha Yoga Foundation, Inner Engineering
SIMONE MACKAY, TROY MCFADDEN, BEX TYRER, TINA NANCE, CAT KABRIA, AND CLASSMATES: School of Sacred Arts, Bali, Indonesia
DEBORAH WILLIAMSON: Live, Love, Teach Yoga
CHERIE RAE: Peace Yoga, Los Angeles, CA
AMY WEINTRAUB, YOGINI ROSE: Lifeforce Yoga for Depression
REV. MICHAEL BECKWITH: Agape Spiritual Center, Culver City, CA
TOM AND TRISHA KELLY: Soul of Yoga, Encinitas, CA
TONY AND MARCIA FRESCURA: Soul of Yoga, Encinitas, CA
NISCHALA JOY DEVI: Abundant Wellbeing, A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutra’s
MARK WHITWELL: Heart of Yoga
ASHLEY TURNER: Yoga, Spirituality+Psycology – The Hero’s Journey
BHAVA RAM, LAURA PLUMB: Deep Yoga School of Healing Arts, San Diego, CA
GURMUKH KAUR KHALSA: Golden Bridge, Kundalini Yoga, Los Angeles, CA
TOMMY ROSEN: Recovery 2.0 Beyond Addiction Online Conferences
SAUL DAVID RAYE: Yoga/Spiritual Teacher – Ritam Healing Arts
GOVIND DAS: Bhakti Yoga Teacher, Bhakti Yoga Shala, Santa Monica
TOM SHADYAC: “I Am” Documentary that continues to inspire me, please watch it!
PATTY H: My Sponsor
To My Family and Friends
I want to send my deepest appreciation and gratitude to my family and friends who stood by me (put up with me) while patiently waiting for me to stop my destructive behavior and seek help.
Thank you to my two beautiful daughters, Courtney and Mckenna, who were forced to watch helplessly as I self-destructed and neglected them. I know I cannot undo what I did, but I wish I could. I had all the love I could ever want right in front of me, and I did not realize it. I do now. I love you both with all my heart, and I am extremely grateful to have you in my life. You have both turned out to be amazing young ladies, and I am so proud of you! I promise to do my best every day to be the mother you both deserve. Thank you for giving me another chance to be part of your lives. I am here for you now and always will be!
To Jessye, David, Crystal, and Bill, who were always there for my children when I was not, which was often. You supported me even when you knew I was wrong. Thank you so much for all the love and support you gave to the girls. Thanks to all of you, they were not alone in the world with no one to turn to. You gave them a family when I did not. I know that those family experiences of love, support, and belonging that all of you provided are what saved them. You have all done so much for me, and the girls and I will always be grateful. You set great examples of what parents should be like and how families should be together and love each other. I am lucky to be able to call you my family, and I love you all!
To my lifelong friends Stacy and Wanda, who have always been there for me, even when I was a horrible excuse for a friend. Through all my selfishness and neglect, through my disastrous love life and endless hours (years) of complaining, somehow the two of you have remained with me. You are both amazing, wonderful, loving friends, and I am so lucky to have you in my life. I will do my best from now on to be the friend you both deserve. Thank you! I love you both!
To Betty, thank you so much for always being there for me! I know how horrible I was sometimes, and no matter what, you always went above and beyond to take care of the girls and me, and you never complained once. You are an amazing woman, and I am very grateful to have you in my life. You are a kind and beautiful soul, and I love you!
To Stephanie, who was always there for me no matter how much drama I came with, which was a lot! You are a great friend, and I appreciate having you in my life. Thanks so much to you and Danielle for taking me in when I was homeless! I love you guys!
I don't believe it to be an exaggeration to say that Villa Kali Ma saved my life.KRISTEN B.
I couldn't have asked for a better environment to heal and redirect onto a path towards true living.
This place completely changed my life. I needed a drastic change from the typical recovery environment in order to stay sober long-term. I can honestly say that I love who I am today and I am forever grateful for Villa Kali Ma!CYNTHIA B.
I am so grateful I found Villa Kali Ma, it has truly changed my life. Kay is awesome and the entire team who works there is absolutely amazing. If you need treatment, I highly recommend making this the start to your recovery.SUZIE H.