Is the “quest for success” wearing you out? This is a book about being in the world in a new way. Here you’ll read how women from all walks of life broke through to a deeper experience of success in their personal and professional lives. Through their true stories, they impart their wisdom and advice and 27 essential principles you can use as guideposts to a new life direction.
“The Soul of Success encompasses everything I believe in. Integrity, faith, honesty, intuition and courage are traits that we all have, yet we sometimes forget to trust and believe in them. Trusting in your soul is the key to your success. Well written and worth the read.”
“A beautiful book that shows us how glorious life can be when we go within to find the deeper aspects of success.”
“This uplifting book demonstrates how success isn't simply defined by what we achieve on the outside, but more importantly, how we feel about our lives on the inside.”
“Jennifer Read Hawthorne and all of the women featured in The Soul of Success demonstrate authenticity and its powerful influence on our lives.”
“From Baton Rouge to Katmandu, from Mother Teresa to the Masai, Ms. Hawthorne takes us on her life’s journey, a story of inspiration, personal exploration and fulfillment of one’s self—not with material goods but with positive energy and spirit that soars!”
“The Soul of Success gives us a glimpse of what can happen when we dare to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves and live in alignment with our deepest values.”
“Jennifer Hawthorne weaves people and themes together impeccably, creating a rich and transformative experience. I wept many times, laughed out loud, and felt deeply at home with the women in this book—all worthy models.”
“Inspiring and touching. These stories wonderfully illustrate what success really is.”
“A commendable collection of inspiring stories with the energy and heart to ignite spirits and resuscitate dreams.”
“This book teaches us to seek wholeness, to feed the inner self. Otherwise, we may reach the pinnacle of success only to discover a lost and unfulfilled self.”
“The Soul of Success is an inspiring book that encourages women to tap their inner gifts. It will be a source of comfort and courage to all who read it.”
“To find your heart is to find true success. Jennifer Read Hawthorne takes you deep into your heart with a book filled with inspiration, enlightenment, and a new definition of success. I love this book!”
“The Soul of Success reveals the deepest strengths of the feminine. It reminds us that divine wisdom is always available to us, if we just take a moment to listen.”
I sat in my therapist’s office, crying. “It doesn’t matter how much I do—it’s never enough!” I shouted angrily. “I take my supplements, I do yoga every day, I come regularly for my appointments. I still can’t balance my pH, and my cancer still won’t go away.”
Ali, my therapist, sat in compassionate silence while I sobbed. Then quietly he said, “I think the problem, Jennifer, is that you make healing an item on your to-do list. You think it’s something you can ‘do’—like going to the grocery store or picking up the dry cleaning—then check off your list when you’ve completed it. But you’re not willing to change anything about your routine, your habits, your workaholism, your thriving on adrenaline. You don’t make taking care of yourself a priority, and you’re not willing to live your life any differently.” I left his office in despair, knowing he was right.
Three years earlier, a doctor had discovered I had a basal cell carcinoma on the side of my nose. Although not life threatening, it was still enough to demand attention. Chemotherapy had cured it—for one year. Then it came back. I knew that another round of chemotherapy or surgery would likely take care of it again, but the underlying cause of the cancer was clearly not being addressed.
So I had determined to change my diet and work with Ali, a psychologist and health practitioner, to see if I could eliminate the cause of the disease. At this point I had been trying for a year and a half, but the cancer was visibly growing. In complete frustration, I finally scheduled an appointment to see a doctor for a biopsy. I hated admitting that I had failed.
I was relieved to be going on vacation to Hawaii before the appointment. I desperately needed a break, having recently completed a manuscript for a book and working twelve to fourteen hours a day in the final days before deadline. I was exhausted—physically, mentally and emotionally. I knew that what Ali was saying was true, but I didn’t have a clue how to change my life. To make matters worse, my frenetic pace had been completely at odds with what I was writing and speaking about—topics like balance! But I couldn’t see how I could have done things differently and still met my deadlines. Not meeting deadlines and speaking demands would have been unthinkable for me.
Once in Hawaii, I did almost nothing but rest. I walked on the beach at beautiful Lanikai on Oahu, then slept, then walked some more. I had little energy for anything else, and I cried every day. I prayed for answers and met frequently with friends in a support circle.
And one day I met Ginny. My friends had told me about her, and I wanted to interview her for this book, which was in the beginning stages. We sat in the hot Hawaiian sun as she told me her story and changed my life forever.
Before I met Ginny, I thought I knew what self-love was—despite what Ali had said to me. I had been speaking professionally about self-esteem for more than ten years, always defining it as how much you like yourself. But as many times as I had stood in front of audiences and talked about how self-esteem is deeper than achievements, deeper than possessions, deeper than relationships—I was defining my own self-worth by exactly that: my material and outward success. I knew that I was successful in terms of the way our society defines success, so it was easy for me to think of myself as having high self-esteem and to like—if not actually love—myself very much.
But when you really love yourself, you do not put your healing on your to do list. You get very real, willing to go deep within yourself, to expose yourself, to become vulnerable to yourself and to show yourself that you care.
This will mean different things to different people. But I’d like to share Ginny’s story with you. Perhaps, like me, you will read it and come away with a deeper understanding of what self-love means—for you.
As for me, Ginny helped me understand that self-love is really compassion directed towards one’s self. Her story went so deep into my mind and heart that one month after meeting Ginny, I canceled my doctor’s appointment. My cancer was gone.
It was ten o’clock at night and all was silent on the hospital ward. I went to the bathroom to wash, and as I filled the sink, I looked into the mirror. I saw my bald head, my skinny body and the dark circles under my eyes. I saw a body wounded from six months of cancer treatment. The irony of my situation was not lost on me.
As a child I was an avid swimmer and athlete. To get away from my difficult family life, I poured all my energies into my dream of being on the Olympic team someday. By the time I was fifteen, I had started training myself by swimming between the buoys and the small islands in Long Island Sound at Rye, New York, where I grew up. At seventeen, I was training seriously for the 1964 Olympics. I had already qualified for the 100-meter freestyle when, at an unofficial meet two weeks before the Olympic trials, my coach asked if anyone wanted to swim the 1500-meter. I timidly raised my hand—and then proceeded to break the national record for this event. I would later learn that my unofficial time was only thirty-five seconds behind the men’s world record!
At my coach’s urging, I called my family and asked if they would send me to Los Angeles to compete in the last meet in the nation where I could qualify to go to the Olympics in this event. But, no surprise, they refused. So I didn’t get a shot at qualifying for the 1500. And ultimately, my time at the trials was not fast enough to make it in the 100-meter event either. I was truly a long-distance swimmer, but I had learned that too late.
Angry and frustrated, I gave up training for the next Olympics. But I continued to swim and then coach swimming, just to stay in shape—and for the joy of swimming. For the next thirty years I led a very active life. I spent a lot of time outdoors in nature, ate healthy meals and rarely ate junk food. I stayed in peak condition and eventually went on to break five national Masters swimming records for my age group!
Meanwhile, my professional life was also flourishing. When I was twenty-one, I had moved west to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to pursue my other calling as an artist. Now, at the age of fifty, I was a regionally known sculptor and loved my work—carving stone and creating bronzes. I also wrote poetry and performed and taught classical and flamenco guitar. In my personal life, I was in and out of relationships and therapy, learning about me through the school of hard knocks.
Then, in August 1997, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 advanced breast cancer. A mammogram three years earlier had shown a pea-sized spot, but I had been told it was no big deal, nothing to be alarmed about, and to come back in three years, which was the norm at that time. I increased my commitment to wellness by adding emotional healing to my fitness program. I started “working on myself,” letting go of many of the destructive patterns in my life related to my work and relationships. I had always had trouble seeing the value of my work or myself. I had typically lost myself in relationships in an effort to please others and tended never to ask enough for my artwork. After a life of much inner and outer conflict, however, I was finally beginning to feel truly happy.
But in three years the spot had grown into a lump; the doctors told me it had probably been growing for eight to ten years. The thought of cancer was so far removed from my healthy, fitness-oriented reality that I couldn’t even relate to the diagnosis. And I felt so good that I couldn’t quite buy into the fear of the illness. I told my doctors that I was not going to stop being happy just because I now knew that I had had cancer for ten years. My oncologist approved. He said with great seriousness that the American Medical Association (AMA) now approved a positive attitude. I laughed and asked, “And how much does that cost?”
For the next nine months, I embraced conventional treatment with the attitude that I would pull out all the stops and take a stand for my life. I had surgery, during which my doctor removed a tumor from my breast the size of an orange. Then I sailed through three months of chemotherapy with no ill effects. I believe I did so well because I had researched alternative options, and I had embraced acupuncture, meditation and a macrobiotic diet as an important part of my healing regimen. At one point, a Native American shaman told me that my illness was leaving because I was not giving it a home. I also asked Dorje, a Tibetan monk in Santa Fe connected with the Dalai Lama, about cancer. He said, “Ginny, do not be fearful. Fear increases illness. Do whatever medicine you choose; it does not matter. Just be joyful, be happy! Do what makes you happy!” This appealed to me, and I continued to maintain a truly joyful attitude throughout the nine months of treatment.
I also continued to search for alternative therapies, hoping that I would not have to go through more of the conventional treatments. My doctor assured me I’d die if I chose the alternative approaches at the expense of the traditional. He recommended a risky new treatment called “stem cell rescue,” in which stem cells are extracted from bone marrow, frozen, and later put back into the body after high doses of chemotherapy have theoretically destroyed all cancer cells. I elected to do the treatment as an outpatient, believing I’d be more exposed to infection in the hospital.
The treatment was brutal. I threw up, fainted, had epileptic fits and suffered internal bleeding as well as a nosebleed that lasted seven hours—my platelets were so low that my blood couldn’t clot. I couldn’t hold down food, so I lost fifteen pounds and was skin and bones. After the stem cells were reintroduced, I was just waiting for the tenth day, at which point the stem cells should have kicked in and started rebuilding my immune system. But on day nine my white blood cell count was so low that I had to be admitted to the hospital. My doctor said my immune system was so depletedthat if I scratched myself, I could infect myself and die.
In the hospital room there was a large red notice on my door stating “Neutropoenic”—which, loosely translated, meant that I could die if someone breathed on me. The nurses and doctors looked at me gravely and said I would need to be there a month and a half or two before my immune system could return to normal—if it returned to normal, I read between the lines. I could not have visitors and would be alone a lot. But I told myself I could do it and proceeded to fix up my room.
Now here I was, late at night, regarding myself in the mirror, as bald as Tweetie Bird. I looked like Death.
And then something odd happened. Friends had always told me, “Ginny, you need to love yourself.” Never having experienced unconditional love, I had no idea what it felt like. But in that moment, looking in the mirror at my wounded body, a deep feeling came upfrom my belly, through my chest and up to my eyes, and I started to cry.
For the first time, I felt compassion for me. Tears came down my cheeks as I slowly and gently bathed my body the way a mother would bathe an infant. I pressed the hot washcloth against my skin with love and compassion, saying “I love you” and “thank you” to my body with every touch. I bathed my whole body in this manner. And for the first time, I felt unconditional love for myself.
Afterwards I felt light and happy. I tucked myself into bed, somehow knowing I would make it. I had seen cancer treatments kill so many people,and deep inside, I knew that there had to be other ways to heal—the body is always healing itself naturally. But how could I facilitate that process? I made a promise that I would help teach others how to heal if I were shown how to do it. I went to sleep feeling safe and happy.
That night I dreamed of the Dalai Lama. He came to me inside a tall, clear crystal, his head bowed, his hands in praying position as he said, “ Now, Ginny, remember—be joyful!” When I woke up it was sunrise, all gold and blue over the Sandia Mountains. I felt so good that I danced around the room singing my favorite song, Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” which I played daily to inspire me.
The nurse came and took my blood sample. Minutes later, the doctor returned with my report. Suddenly, he threw up his hands and shouted “What?” All the nurses came running; they probably thought I had died! He said, “Yesterday her blood counts were 600. Today they are 7,700. They are normal!”
He said the only reason they would be so high was if I had a fever or an infection, but I had neither. And I had been there only three days! The doctor and nurses looked at me as if I was a ghost. The nurses said they had not seen anyone recover so quickly in the entire five years they had been there. The next day my count was again normal, and they sent me home.
Less than two weeks later, I heard about a Chinese exercise called Chi-Lel, the form of medical qigong (pronounced “chee-gung”), considered the number-one self-healing method for chronic illness in China. Watching a videotape, I gazed in awe as an ultrasound showed a patient’s malignant bladder tumor, the size of a tennis ball, disappear in forty-five seconds while four teachers practiced the techniques, saying affirmations and moving their hands over the area of the tumor, never even touching his body!
Thrilled by this discovery, I went to a workshop to learn Chi-Lel for myself—and found that the personal technique involved patting the body with the center of the palms methodically and rhythmically, all the while “talking” to the body. It was almost identical to what I had done spontaneously that night in the hospital.
At the workshop, my teacher suggested I begin teaching others, as healing take place faster in a group. She said I was a natural, so, before even starting the radiation treatments that followed my release from the hospital, I began practicing the techniques myself and teaching them to others. Over the next four months I taught 800 people for free or by donation, while I was receiving radiation and recovering from the stem cell procedure. A fitness center donated space for my group’s Chi-Lel practice: we had as many as fifty people at a time. Healings occurred regularly. I had been shown a way to help others, as well as myself.
I had been advised that I would be in bed with severe burns on my chest for two weeks, but after six weeks of radiation, I was not burned at all. I also healed the devitalized tissue inside my right breast from the scars of the lumpectomy, which my doctor said was impossible.
In the following years, practicing Chi-Lel would help me complete my physical, emotional and mental healing, as well as detoxify my body from the conventional treatments I had received. My oncologist said that the cancer would probably be back within a year, but I have now been cancer free for six years. I call my new hair my $100,000 haircut! In 2002 I was honored to be promoted to Senior Instructor of Chi-Lel, one of only five worldwide, and I have now had the joy of teaching the Chi-Lel self-healing method to more than 3,000 people.
Most important is the emotional healing I’ve experienced. My heart has opened and I feel like everyone is my family. When I learned how to feel compassion for myself, I learned how to feel compassion for everyone and everything. Compassion is the essential flow of the heart that connects us to the world. It has allowed me to feel a oneness with all of life—and this has empowered me as a woman, an artist and a human being.
Feedback from readers…
“Every woman will see herself in these stories. Guided by nature and intuition, Jennifer Hawthorne and the other women in this book overcame obstacles to achieve success of a different kind…soulful successes based in truth and right action that came straight from the heart of femininity.”
“[I’m] wild about the book—a great service to humanity! Why? Truth, vulnerability, freedom from fear, change—a demonstration of growth and power and how “everything happens for good.”
“[This book] inspires me to live in a way that is just so good, happy, and feminine. Not in the “fluffy frills and pink” feminine, but in the way that tells me that what I am doing is right and okay—and that makes me glad I’m a woman.”
“I would definitely recommend this book to others. Everything in it is from the heart and rings with truth and sincerity. What a beautiful expression of life!”
“I liked this book very much. Many of the stories are riveting, inspiring and eye-opening. I often felt that these were women I would like to know. Jennifer’s often eloquent descriptions of her own experiences make an important contribution to the richness of the book as a whole.”
“[The book] gave me different viewpoints to filter my own experiences through.”
“Something here for every kind of woman.”
“[This book] redefines what it means to be successful in terms of true success, the emerging feminine values that are key to the salvation of the planet and the thriving of the human species.”
“So many times, books that offer a new way to look at yourself and evaluate your life become intimidating, even “preachy,” and in the process start to dictate the things you should do in order to attain what the author defines as success. This book leads you to think about yourself and your life, and realize that you have the strength and power inside to make the decision that works best for YOU.”
“Compelling, moving, inspiring and authentic.”
“I think this book is good for teens all the way up the line. It is something to help me remember things I might have forgotten about my strength. It touches each of our hearts.”
“Real life experiences lead by example. This book is filled with the realities women encounter each and every day. I laughed and I cried. I am so thankful I was a part of this [advanced panel of readers] process.”