Apr 172014
 

Hello friends and family,

Kate Bornstein, my partner in life, love and art, need your help.

As many of you know, Kate’s lung cancer is back. It reappeared in late December in a lymph node behind her collarbone. The good news is that it did not travel far from it’s original site. Recent scans show it’s not in her brain or bones. The further good news is that it did not reappear anywhere that had been previously treated with radiation and chemotherapy. This means that the doctors can treat this new tumor aggressively and the treatment is likely to work. We have been assured that this cancer is still curable.

The bad news is that the treatment for this second round is way more intense than the last (and we thought that round was challenging!) This means that in addition to more intense chemo and radiation, she needs more supplements and alternative therapies to keep her fighting. She’s much weaker with this new treatment and needs to spend more on transportation to and from treatments. She has a hard time doing basic tasks, like preparing food for herself and the pets. Even getting dressed to go to chemo/radiation treatments is a challenge. Small tasks are not just physically, but also emotionally, overwhelming. This “brain fog” and the accompanying extreme energy drain are common, yet hideous side effects of the treatment. Worse yet, these effects will continue for months after treatment has stopped. This means we have no idea when she can return to work.

We are deeply grateful for your astoundingly generous donations of over $100,000 last year. It’s the support of her community—and we mean emotional, physical, and psychic support, as well as financial—that helps Kate #StayAlive. We still have a bit of that $100,000 left and we are stretching it as far as it can possibly go. (Let me take a moment to thank the people who are currently providing their services and products at reduced cost.) But Kate is going to run out of money very soon.

In short, if Kate is going to #StayAlive, she needs the financial support of her community once again. Kate wants me to be sure to tell you how hard it is to ask for this kind of support. She knows many of you have financial challenges of your own. Please give only if and what you can afford. All of the money raised goes directly towards Kate’s treatment.

Here’s the PayPal link to donate: http://bit.ly/1pkRV4K

Whether or not you can donate, you can help Kate #StayAlive by letting others know how they can help. Please forward/post/distribute this message widely. For inquiries and/or offers of help, write to KateStayAlive(at) gmail (dot) com.

We will be posting regular updates on this fundraising campaign on Kate’s Blog. So be sure and stop by.

And just so you know, Kate is truly appreciative of all the supportive tweets and other messages she’s been receiving. Please understand that although it’s hard for her to respond to all of them, they mean the world to her.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Love,

Barbara & Team Kate

Eulogy For My Dad

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Dec 122013
 

Delivered at Jesus Saviour Church in Newport R.I. on the snowy morning of 10 December 2013…

I lost two hugely important influences in my life within 24 hours this past week, Nelson Mandela and my Dad, Ernest J. Carrellas. As I was thinking about their lives I realized how many of—all of us perhaps—have our lives defined by some singular event or circumstance—a circumstance or event so overwhelming and intense that it hijacks our life. When it’s finally over, we find that the course of our life has been irreversibly altered. For me it was the AIDS crisis. For Nelson Mandela, it was, of course, apartheid. For my dad, it was the Great Depression.

Ernest was 14 in 1929 when the stock market crashed. By then he had already been working with his dad at Carrellas Shoe Store on Broadway for two years. Suddenly the country and much of the world was plunged into poverty and joblessness. Ernie had nine brothers and sisters and two parents to help support in a world where the cash to buy shoes—and most anything else—had simply dried up.

The Great Depression lasted for over a decade—that was almost twice as long as young Ernest had been alive when it had started. Do you remember how long ten years seemed when you were a teenager? And, before the depression was over a second tragedy struck—the hurricane of 1938. The hurricane of 1938 was a super hurricane—the kind that only occurred once every 125 years or so, so that literally no one had ever seen anything like it. It swept away a massive portion of this state. A few of Ernie’s high school classmates who had gone to the beach to watch the towering waves were swept away as well. Well into his 90’s he could describe to me in detail the waters from the tidal wave pouring into the streets and up over Newport Beach, sweeping away everything in it’s path.

Ernie learned young that surviving both natural and man made disasters took both luck and careful planning. In short, stay on high ground when the floods come and make sure you’ve saved plenty of money. Ernie dedicated the rest of his life to insuring that he and his family would never again go through anything like what he’d experienced in the 1930‘s.

Ernie worked in the shoe store for 50 years—first for his extended family, then to support my mom and me after he finally bought the business from his family. Ernie loved his customers. Since his passing I have heard so many memories from parents and children. My cousin Ann remembers buying her yearly PF Flyers—Ernest always let her think the choice of color was completely up to her, despite my Aunt Mary Lou standing by clearly disapproving of the white pair which would be dirty the next day. A Facebook friend remembered that all the shoe boxes went home neatly wrapped in brown paper and string, with a balloon tied on for each child. (As a side note, Ernie first gave out lollipops until someone accused him of trying to drum up business for his brother George, the dentist upstairs. The lollipops were quickly replaced by the bright balloons with “Carrellas Shoe Store” printed in white letters.)

Ernie may have loved his customers as much as they loved him, but he hated working in the shoe store. He had always wanted to be an accountant. Finally, at 61, he retired from the shoe store to live his dream. He set up office in his basement and became a tax preparer, bookkeeper and investor. He thought it would be a part time sort of thing, but soon business was booming. Yet he always found a way to devote the major portion of his days to investing his hard earned and well saved money. What I found most remarkable about my dad’s love of playing with money was his healthy detachment. He could ride out even severe market downturns with philosophical peace and calm. I could say that this naturally comes with surviving a depression and living almost a century, but it doesn’t. It was something quite rare and unique, and it taught me a great deal about faith, patience and non-attachment.

Ernest was a gentleman and he was generous. When, only recently, he became unable to manage his financial affairs I became aware of how much he gave and to how many charities, including, of course, his biggest charity—me. I will be forever grateful to him and to my mom for the financial support that has allowed me to pursue so many of my dreams.

Since his passing we have all had time to reflect on our gratitude for Ernest in our lives. In the days to come, especially over the holidays, we will continue to appreciate him. This, however, is my only public opportunity to appreciate those of you who made Ernest and Alice’s life so much happier and richer in their final years. So here they are—prayers of gratitude from Ernest, Alice, and me.

Anthony Carrellas, his younger brother, and closest friend. Obviously, Anthony has known Ernie longer than anyone else alive and they’d been thought some…shall we say…interesting times, over the ninety years they knew each other. One of the things my dad most looked forward to was a visit from Antony. Bless you Anthony, and bless my cousins, Patricia, Dave, Bob, Ann and Joan for making their visits possible.

Lucille Silvia. Ernie really really loved Lucille. So did Alice. They also thought she was a great artist (I agree, BTW). Ernie counted on her frequent visits and never ceased to feel guilty (but pleased) whenever she brought him some little gift. Thank you, Lucille, for your constant love and friendship.

Ernie met Peter and Gail Paranzino along with Lydia Reynolds when they started bringing him Holy Communion when going to church became too difficult for him. Peter’s friendship was one of Ernie’s great pleasures these past years. Most of Ernie’s male friends had passed away by the time he was in his nineties and having a guy friend he could talk to and trust was an immeasurable gift. Bless you, Peter.

Arthur Carrellas, Ernie’s nephew, was the accountant Ernie had always wanted to be. He loved Arthur and he trusted him. Plus, he loved their chats about taxes and investments and the economy. Bless you, Arthur.

Jean Carrellas. Both Alice and Ernest adored my cousin Jean, who I agree is one of the most adorable people I know. And also one of the most giving and caring. Jean is a nurse at Newport Hospital and she kept a watchful eye out whenever either Alice or Ernest was in hospital, especially my mom who spent more than her fair share of time at that hospital. We love you, Jeannie.

Kate Bornstein. Kate is my partner. For the 16 years she knew Ernie and the 9 years she knew Alice, she consistently strived to make their lives more comfortable and pleasurable—often against their will. (They were neither pleasure nor comfort focused, my parents.) But Kate wore them down. My mom loved the steady stream of soft stuffed animals and fairy figurines that poured into the house. For Ernie, it was the food. My dad loved sweets, especially cookies. He’d only buy the cheapest ones for himself—the ones on special at the Stop and Shop. For Ernie’s 90th birthday, Kate gave him a HUGE shopping bag of gourmet cookies. He ate like a prince for months.

Now to the real Bodhisattvas of Alice and Ernest’s lives. A Bodhisattva is an ordinary person who takes up a course in his or her life that moves in the direction of buddhahood. Which means, a life dedicated to easing the suffering of others.

My cousin, David Roche, was adored by both Alice and Ernest. As my parents became less able to do things for themselves, he quietly, surreptitiously, took on more and more of the small tasks they could not do. Whenever my dad couldn’t do something, needed something, couldn’t figure something out, he could call David, who’d appear—usually within minutes. As he did yesterday, BTW, when I locked myself out of the house!

When my parents were younger they made elaborate plans for their old age—none of which they executed. When the time came, they did not want to rearrange the house to bring the bedroom downstairs. They did not want to move into assisted living. The Bodhisattva that made our lives possible, bearable, pleasurable and sane for the past decade is Carol Yount. Carol came to assist my mom after she’d broken her hip. After my mom died about two years later Carol said she’d be going back to her job at a nursing home. On the day of my mom’s funeral my dad asked her to “stick around,” as he put it. And she did—for 7 years. Carol was my mom’s last best friend. She was my dad’s last best friend. And she’s been mine. I have no brothers and sisters and I live in NYC. Carol has been the only person I could count on to keep my parents safe and to tell me the truth. My gratitude to her knows no bounds and I hope to keep her as a friend for the rest o my life.

In closing…

As we go forth into this holiday season, we will all celebrate the Rebirth of the Light in different ways. Whether you call that light God, Goddess, Creator, the Great Spirit, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, the Universe, All That Is, or as my partner Kate says, “The Great Big Good,” I invite us all to remember that Ernest and everyone else who sheds the flesh suit that we all take on at the time of our earthly birth, is reborn into this light. May every holiday candle and bulb, every ray of returning sunshine, remind you of how much Ernest, Alice and I appreciate all the love, courage, support and light you’ve all shown us. Happy Solstice, Merry Xmas. Blessed be.

 

Sep 172013
 

There have been 19 mass shootings (defined as killing more than 5 people in each) in the USA since 2009. In Australia? Zero. Why? The Australian government passed strict gun control laws following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

In an interview on The Takeaway on NPR this morning Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave a history lesson on the 2nd Amendment. She explained that in the early days of the USA there was no organized army—there wasn’t any money to pay soldiers. The country’s defense relied upon the state militias who could be called up when needed to defend the country. These militias were made up of volunteers who were required to own certain specific weapons (like muskets) for this purpose. The “right to bear arms” was more like an obligation to bear arms so as to be ready to defend the country. This is the history behind the 2nd Amendment.

It’s time for a reality check and a move into the 21st century.

Sep 092013
 

What a wonderful time I had at my Urban Tantra workshop the Open Center on Saturday, 7 September! I was assisted for the third time by the gorgeous and talented Zahava Griss.  Zahava has some wonderful workshops of her own coming up. Check them out!

Sacred Woman Alchemy (Oct 1 – Dec 13) Now accepting applications for this 3 month immersion combining dance, energy skills, sacred sexuality coaching, & Esalen bodywork to transform what is not yet love into love.

Alchemy of Sex & Spirit for Women (Oct 14 – Nov 10) An online course for women to connect to the loving, healing, creative power of our bodies through: dance meditations, sacred agreements with rage, cultivating sexual energy practices, and group calls.

Zahava Griss is the founder of Love Making Dances, offering performance, dance, coaching, and bodywork. She has 30 years of dance training, which she combines with the sexual and spiritual arts of Sufi dancemeditation, sexual shamanism, tantra, bioenergetics, and transformational group dynamics. Learn more at http://www.LoveMakingDances.com/.

Jun 252013
 

Today we have a guest post by my friend and colleague, Artemisia de Vine, conscious sex worker, kink practitioner and author of the upcoming book, “Lessons from a Whore”. www.consciouseroticarts.com and www.consciouskink.com. Artemesia and other graduate members of the Urban Tantra® Professional Training Program frequently discuss the practical applications of seeing  gender beyond the binary of masculine/feminine. Here Artemesia shares her recent “Ah hah!” moment. I think it’s beautifully stated. Thanks, Artemesia!

So excited that I was finally able to articulate something that is so important to me. Funny how I can instinctively know something for years but just can’t put it in words…so I get all frustrated and hot under the collar because I know it really matters but can’t communicate it properly, even to myself. I can just feel that damage is being done and it needs to change. Suddenly it is so simple and I can just say it.

Worshipping the gender binaries of masculine and feminine encourages us all to project stereotypes onto each other rather than be present and truly see, experience and connect with ourselves and each other. Today I’m making the effort to approach each individual person as a unique being I know nothing about and allow them to unfold in front of me like the exquisite mystery they are.

Yes there will likely be recognizable gendered patterns that emerge but the difference is, I will allow them to emerge naturally rather than assume they are there in the first place. That way I won’t miss the times when they are not there. I won’t be blind to the unique combination of characteristics in each person. I will unconsciously assume power dynamics less often…

Feeling into myself in each moment and experiencing what is… What’s there beyond gendered boxes? The words “masculine” and “feminine” are being banned from my vocabulary today so I can see and be beyond them.

May 222013
 

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This live online course in partnership with Hay House incorporates all the most popular segments of my in-person workshops. So now, no matter where you live, you can attend a workshop with me!

The core of my work is the connection between sexuality and spirituality. In this 4-week workshop, you’ll learn techniques that will add sensuality to your spirituality and sacredness to your sex life. You’ll learn the importance of ecstatic experiences and practice simple, powerful techniques that will increase your desire, expand your orgasms, reignite your relationships, and bring sensuality and pleasure into every aspect of your life. The cornerstone of this class is the connection between breath and erotic energy. You’ll even get a chance to experience one of the most effective ways to connect spirit and sex-a breath an energy orgasm-literally, an orgasm with spirit.

As an added bonus, when you purchase this course you’ll receive a FREE copy of my best-selling book, Ecstasy is Necessary! Register now and take advantage of the early bird price! 

Lesson 1: Orgasm: The Totality of Possibilities
July 17, 2013, 4:00 pm –5:30 pm, Pacific / 7:00 pm–8:30 pm, Eastern
We’ll begin by expanding our definition of orgasm. We’ll explore the many different types of orgasms beyond those achieved solely by stimulation of the genitals. Next, I’ll introduce the energetic building blocks of sex: breath, imagination, movement, sound, touch, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to practice each skill in short guided meditations.

Lesson 2: How To Have a Breath and Energy Orgasm
July 24, 2013, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm, Pacific / 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, Eastern
This week I’ll teach you how to put all the energetic building blocks of sex together to have a breath and energy orgasm, full-body orgasm. I’ll not only explain the technique, I’ll give you the opportunity to get comfortable and breathe along during a guided how-to meditation. You can have a breath and energy orgasm in the privacy of your own home during this class!

Lesson 3: Sacred Sex with a Partner
July 31, 2013, 4:00 pm –5:30 pm, Pacific / 7:00 pm–8:30 pm, Eastern
This week you’ll learn Tantric techniques for building and sharing sexual energy with a partner. Simple techniques such as breath, laughter, ritual, movement, and conscious touch can expand our concept of gender roles, help us transcend fears of intimacy, and enable us to build and share enormous amounts of sexual and spiritual energy and power. Whatever your gender, sexual preference, or sexual style, you’ll be able to adapt these techniques to create unlimited erotic possibilities.

Lesson 4: Sex Magic
August 7, 2013, 4:00 pm –5:30 pm, Pacific / 7:00 pm–8:30 pm, Eastern
This week I’ll introduce the concept and practice of sex magic, or erotic prayer. We practice sex magic when we consciously and ethically use our sexual energy to fuel our hopes, dreams and desires. Sex magic is the art of transforming real but invisible sexual energy into real and visible results. You can dedicate your sexual energy for the benefit of yourself, your community and your world. Tonight’s workshop will end with a breath-focused, sex magic, chakra meditation that will allow you to practice sex magic for a personal desire or cause.

If you can’t make the live airdates, you can still join me! For your convenience, all participants automatically receive downloadable mp3s of all 4 lessons. Each lesson will be uploaded into your account within a few days of its live airdate and will then be available with unlimited On-Demand access! Hay House will send you a notification email when each lesson is available to download from your account. So you can still take the course no matter what your schedule!

As an added bonus, when you purchase this course you’ll receive a FREE copy of my best-selling book, Ecstasy is Necessary! Register now and take advantage of the early bird price! 

Feb 272013
 

Today we have a guest editorial by Stephanie Cohen, a writer and sex toy enthusiast from South Carolina, who has kindly offered to answer some questions I have been receiving about vibrators. Thanks, Stephanie!

Keeping yourself satisfied in bed is important, whether it be with yourself or your partner, but figuring out different ways to do so can be difficult after awhile. Perhaps you feel like you’ve mastered all of the positions with your partner or have already gotten to know the touch of your hand? Maybe you’re just looking for a safe alternative for foreplay? Whatever the case, it just might be time to change things up.  The easiest way to do this is to introduce a sex toy into your love making, specifically a vibrator.

However, simply saying you should use a vibrator isn’t as straight forward as it sounds—there are a lot of factors involved when choosing one.  Use this vibrator guide as your jumping off point and then continue to investigate and explore on your own.

To begin, a vibrator is a sex toy which can be used to stimulate any erogenous zone or part of the body. Many are also designed for vaginal or anal penetration. Vibrators can be purchased at adult novelty stores and online websites. I personally recommend buying adult toys from Adam & Eve. You’ll find that they can range in price and can be purchased for as little as $10 and go as high as $200.

Vibrators can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. One of the most common shapes for a vibrator is a penis shape. However, don’t fear if that’s not your thing. You can find ones that are small enough to go on your finger, ones that are egg or bullet shaped, and even ones that are disguised as lipstick or a rubber duck.

When purchasing a vibrator, you’ll have to decide how you and your partner will want to use it. Do you want to use it for clitoral stimulation or for penetration as well? You can skip the phallic-shaped vibrators if you’re only looking for clitoral stimulation. If you’re looking for penetration, you can choose between a vibrator that has an additional clitoral stimulator or not. These will typically be shaped like a penis and have an additional attachment that protrudes out from the base. A full on vibrator with options like this, such as a Rabbit vibrator, will give you the most variety, but a small bullet or finger vibrator are also great, straight to the point and full of fun.

You’ll need to pay attention to the material once you have decided on what kind of vibrator you want.  Sex toys are not regulated by the FDA, meaning that while there are plenty of safe toys out there, there are some unsafe ones as well; it’s important to know the difference.  Look at the packaging and make sure your toy is made with medical grade silicone or metal, hard plastic, elastomer or glass. These five materials are safe for your body, while materials such as PVC, jelly, and non medical grade silicone and metal are not. Want to know more? Go here.

Finally, you’ll want to take the cleaning process into consideration. The cleaning process for silicone is different than the one required for metal sex toys. Check out this guide on how to clean sex toys based on material. Using the correct process can ensure that you and your partner are safe and that you get the maximum life from your toy.

Once you’ve taken the time to look into these options, it’s time to make a decision that best fits your needs and desires. It may take a few trial and errors to find one that really works for you, but luckily the world of vibrators is vast and full of options. Remember to keep an open mind, relax and have fun.

Thanks, Stephanie! I just couldn’t close without putting in a plug for my favorite vibrators—electric body massagers. These powerful massagers give orgasm after orgasm with a surprisingly smooth vibration. Check out this one.

My Sexual Permission Slip

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Mar 132012
 

Today I’ll be talking about Permission and Possibilities on The Ecstasy Hour on Hay House Radio at 5 pm Eastern/2 pm Pacific. Here’s a handy way to give yourself more sexual permission. Repeat each point until you feel you really believe you have that permission.

My Sexual Permission Slip

  • I give myself permission to talk about sex.
  • I give myself permission to talk about sex with the intention of learning something new, both about the person I’m talking to and about sex in general.
  • I give myself permission to talk about sex as a safe, sane, and consensual act that brings health and pleasure to the world.
  • I give myself permission to talk about sex as though it’s really important—as important as politics and elections and human rights and stopping global warming and ending poverty and curing cancer. Sex is that important.
  • I give myself permission to ask questions, dig deep, and find the meaning of sex—for me.
  • I give myself permission to laugh. Sex is funny and sexual energy running through my body will often produce giggles—for no reason—for no reason other than that it feels good.
  • I give myself permission to separate sex—temporarily—from all the things it’s been glued to, like love, romance, and relationships. When I figure out what sex is—for me—then I can put it back together with things like love, romance, and relationships in combinations that are right for me.
  • I give myself permission to do sex differently than my friends do, and to want different things from sex than my friends want.
  • I give myself permission to keep sex just for myself.
  • I give myself permission to not have sex at all.
  • I give myself permission to figure out what my needs are before I have sex, when I am having sex and after I have had sex—and to get those needs met.
  • I give myself permission to take a risk—not a health risk, but an emotional risk and even sometimes a physical risk. I give myself permission to let my soul get naked before my body does.
  • I give myself permission to trust my instincts—even when (and perhaps especially when) other people don’t like it.
  • I give myself permission to say no and not explain why. I give myself permission to say yes and not explain why.
  • I give myself permission to talk about sex. (Yes, that’s right. Repeat it once more.)
Jan 052011
 

Anne Francis passed away on Sunday, 2 January 2011. I had known this was coming for some time, but that did not lessen the impact when I finally heard the news. As an actress, Anne was known for her beauty, her talent and for creating inspiring female characters with style, wit, and independent spirits. Many years ago I got to know another side of Anne—the generous, wise, compassionate, spiritual being she showed to me at a most critical time in my life.

What follows are a few excerpts from a letter of gratitude I sent to Anne sixteen years ago. I am posting these excepts as a tribute to the woman whose love, generosity and compassion shapes my life to this day.

5 September 1994

Dear Anne,

Hello and Happy Birthday. It has been twenty-one years since I last wrote to you. For many of these past years I have intended to write to you again to say thank you for the profound effect your letters to me of so many years ago had on my life. I suppose I always hoped that since we both worked in show business and were both very involved with metaphysics that we would simply bump into each other one day, either backstage somewhere or at a workshop. At the same time I knew that writing this letter was something I would do one day. In order to be able to express my gratitude to you I had to look at a period of my life that was very difficult and very painful. And it has taken me a while to be be able to do that. The letters I wrote to you many years ago came from helplessness and pain; this one comes from healing.

•••••

I began writing to you sometime in 1966, I believe. I was 12 years old and had fallen in love with Honey West and with you. I had no idea if any of those early letters found their way to you, but I kept writing and in October of 1969 you answered. I’m enclosing a copy of that first letter; Maggie was 11 days old! In order to explain the impact this letter and the subsequent ones had on my life, I’ll give you a little background.

•••••

[Miserable childhood spent being punished for wanting to be an actress explained]

•••••

So I watched a lot of TV to escape. One Friday night in September 1965 I turned on the new series about a female private eye (“Pretty cool and about time!” I thought) and my world changed. It was one of those profound moments when the universe sends you a major gift. You’re not quite sure what it means or what you’re supposed to do with it, but you know that something way down deep inside has changed and things are never going to be the same. And things never were. Honey was glamorous and gorgeous but she was also tough and smart. Nobody pushed her around. And she didn’t work for some man—a really neat guy worked for her. I wanted to be Honey West? Not exactly. I wanted to be the actress who got to play Honey West. No more hiding in the closet for me – I was going to be an actress and be damned what anyone thought.

I might as well have declared war in the house. It was the beginning of years of fighting and being disowned (three times), screamed at, punished, called a tramp, and told that if theatre is what I wanted I could just bicycle my way to rehearsals in a February snowstorm.

By the time I had received your first letter I was fifteen and had completed my first professional summer stock season. The summer had been bliss. But now it was fall and I was stuck back in the house with my parents. I guess Mom and Dad figured I had had my little taste of theatre and should now settle down into real life. Every day was a battle. What little freedom I had was only gained by complicated pyramids of lies built on other lies. I was becoming emotionally worn out. I felt powerless and dead inside and no one cared. I contemplated running away. Even though I was smart enough to know how difficult and dangerous that would be I thought it might actually be better than what I was going through at home.

And then I got your first letter. It was a thank you for whatever little present I had sent you for your birthday. But it was more than just a thank you. You told me what was going on in your life. You let me into your life just enough to make me feel that someone knew I existed. The real me. I do not know when you first received any of my letters, but I do know that I used those letters to you to scream out who I was. Nobody ever wanted to hear that. And no one ever responded, except perhaps with punishment or verbal abuse. Except you. You never got caught up in my drama or tried to fix the situation, you just sent love. Love and acknowledgment. I will never forget reading that first letter about Maggie and Smokey and your new film. Or the ones that followed. You’d tell me if you were doing a new play or film, maybe a few lines about the children. Friendly loving cards or notes that kept me going. You gave me just enough of yourself to sustain me and sustain me they did.

I learned so much from those letters. I learned that my mother was wrong about successful people in show business—they could be loving, generous people who had lives that were very much like everyone else’s. When I first became a theatrical company manager in New York—I was only about 23—people were always amazed at my ability to “handle” difficult stars. I think that talent has something to do with learning from you that we’re all just people trying to do the best job we can in a difficult profession we adore. I learned that it could be safe to love someone and be who I was with them and be loved in return. I had never been able to trust anyone before this. I had only learned manipulation at home. I began to open up to friends, especially in the theatre. My acting got better! I allowed new people in whom I loved and who loved me. I began to live my life from a center of personal power and some sense of self love rather then from the defensive position in a never ending battle.

•••••

Thank you, Anne, for sending love to a mixed up kid you didn’t know and didn’t have to take the time to care about. Thank you for being there for me when I didn’t believe in people or God. Thank you for my first lessons in the the power of unconditional love. Thank you for the secondary level of that course in the form of your book [Voices From Home: An Inner Journey]. Thank you for occupying a special private corner of my heart which is a place I can always go when I need to remember what gratitude feels like. It is true that you often can’t repay someone for something wonderful they did for you; your only obligation is to pass it on. However, I can say thank you and send you love. And that’s why I wrote this letter.

With love always,

Barbara

On Monday morning when I heard Anne had passed away, I did what I always do when someone I love deeply has crossed over. I ask them, “Please send me a sign to let me know you are okay.” Within an hour a familiar voice in my head said, “Go look in the bottom drawer of your brown wooden file cabinet.” I had not opened that drawer in years. I had no idea what was in there. Under a few pieces of paper I found the letter Anne had sent me in response to the letter you’ve just read excerpts from. Here’s some of what she said:

Dear Barbara,

I read your remarkable letter yesterday. You chose the perfect time to send it, dear one. I am coming out of the most painful time of my life (on all levels). What a joy to be told I have been of some assistance to a precious soul who was trying to make sense of Life’s confounding maze. “Something” does guide us, Barbara, even during the times we feel most disconnected. I am most grateful you decided to communicate at this time…

…It sounds like you are doing wonderful things with your life. I am so happy for you.

Hugs,

Anne

Once again, Anne has sent me exactly the right words at exactly the right time. Although it’s painful working my way through the enormous grief I feel right now, it’s comforting to know that I’m still guided by Anne’s “voice from home”.