by Gloria R. Nash
My family survived the Nazi Holocaust by fleeing their homeland of Vienna, Austria and starting a new life in La Paz, Bolivia. I was born in La Paz, which is the Spanish word for "peace," but my life seemed more like an endurance test of meeting one adversity after another. At first I reacted to traumatic events like a victim, but later in life I caught on and started to realize that at the center of each challenge was a special gift that gave me a greater sense of completeness and inner wealth. I slowly learned to understand how the paradoxical Chinese term "wei ji" could simultaneously mean both challenge and opportunity.
I was born in 1954, the same year that the Salk polio vaccine began to eradicate the dreaded childhood disease. But the vaccine was not avaliable in La Paz in time for me. I contracted polio when I was 8 months old.
Fear of contagiousness caused my parents to desert me. Luckily, however, my grandparents brought me to New York City to receive quality medical care. I first lived in a special children’s hospital and then in a foster home. When I was six I was reunited with my mother who had remarried and I moved into her home in Rego Park, New York.
Growing up in New York City in the 1960’s, I spent alternate weekends with my paternal grandparents in their Central Park West apartment and my maternal grandparents who lived near Shea Stadium in Queens. Growing up an only child as well as the sole child among my relatives left me feeling terribly isolated. Being abandoned by my parents during the critical early years began to show up in psychological disturbances that persisted into adulthood. My family responded to my attempts to voice my feelings and needs with still more neglect. I continued to grow more socially and emotionally impoverished. I spent most of my time alone in my room seeking comfort through my imagination, beloved books, music, art, and photography. Fantasies, food and street drugs helped to medicate the intense pain and emptiness I felt.
With no one to guide my life, after high school I chose to work and travel and was married a short time. All the while I sought answers to my empty depressed feelings by reading books about psychology, motivation, and success. Books by authors like Emerson, Thoreau, and Frank Lloyd Wright became the inspiration and guidance I craved.
In 1972, I was given the gift of a tiny gray Persian kitten who I named Layla. The cat brought out my psychosomatic symptoms of asthma and bronchitis but I was not about to give up the only friend and source of love I had known. Frustrated by ineffective treatments offered by the medical community, I learned about natural healing methods and adapted this new lifestyle. Gradually these physical symptoms disappeared.
Instinctively, I then educated myself about the many addictive behaviors I had, including two decades of eating disorders. By the time I reached my early 30’s I had conquered all of these self-defeating behaviors from the inside out by addressing their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components.
I was still unable to heal from the invisible psychic wounds I had, and the pain only increased. I struggled with patterns of self-sabotage and deprivation in my finances, career, and relationships. But I refused to give up my dreams however unclear they were and persevered in listening to my heart’s yearnings to fulfill my unmet needs and life’s potential. In my favor was my unyielding willingness to take risks and trust my intuition.
By the time I was in my mid thirties, I was working as the manager of a General Nutrition Center (GNC). This confirmed my lifelong passion to belong in the health field in service to others. At age 38 I enrolled in Queens College to formally study psychology.
Graduating with a B.A. and high honors in the class of 1997, including being invited to membership in Phi Beta Kappa, inspired me to continue my education. In 2000, I received an M.A. in psychology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School. And a year later, I sought to balance my life with pure entertaining fun by becoming a Masters Division track and field athlete specializing in the high jump, long jump, and now learning to pole vault.
For almost my whole life I learned to withhold and stuff my true feelings, not only from others but from myself as well. I was afraid of being human and afraid of my weaknesses. My shame caused me to hide all of who I was, both the strong parts and the weak. I didn’t so much choose to act this way for any other reason but that I didn’t know better. My ignorance cost me my integrity. If I would have had the early guidance I needed perhaps it wouldn’t have taken so long to change.
Having to resort to my own inner resources, however, I had to make the choice of going deep into the core of my pain. The only other choice would have been to not survive. To paraphrase Ella Fitzgerald, it is by facing our difficulties that we become greater. Learning to respond to adversity with love and courage has empowered me to live a balanced, fulfilling life and to finally be graced with the inner gift of peace. That I was able to survive for so long is even amazing to me. One of the leaders I have admired greatly is Sir Ernest Shackleton, who once stated, "By endurance we conquer."
Today, I am living my dream of having my own business, "N R G: Natural Resources for Growth." Energy is what we all are, and what everything is. My passion is assisting people from all walks of life in achieving maximum performance success through developing their potential and managing their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical fitness. I am living my philosophy that facilitating real change requires more than managing outer symptoms. Feeling great occurs naturally from the inside out when we access, balance, and release our blocked energy.
You may contact Gloria Nash via phone or email:
Gloria R. Nash, MA
Enjoy the Present…It’s Only Energy!!!
Natural Resources for Growth
© Copyright 2002, Gloria R. Nash. Copying permission required by author.
The Resiliency Center was founded by the late Al Siebert, PhD who studied highly resilient survivors for over fifty years. He authored the award-winning book The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure and Bounce Back From Setbacks (2006 Independent Publisher’s Best Self-Help book), and best seller The Survivor Personality: Why Some People Are Stronger, Smarter, and More Skillful at Handling Life’s Difficulties…and How You Can Be, Too.