I burst into unexpected tears this week after learning one of my favorite teachers had died. She was a beautiful soul, a much loved teacher who taught me important lessons. I’m not talking about lessons such as how to diagram a sentence or solve an abstract geometrical problem, I’m talking about life lessons. The kind I wish were taught in school (and in place of geometry).
I didn’t know this exquisite soul, this inspirational leader, but I knew her work.Debbie Ford, 57, was a #1 New York Times bestselling author and self-help teacher who dedicated her life to helping people break free from self-loathing and pain. She wrote numerous books, her most famous, “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” which sparked her ongoing investigation and work into the shadow side of our personalities.
Her books forced readers to look at the “shadow” as the wounded or hidden part of ourselves that keeps us from self-acceptance. Her teachings helped to demonstrate how when we examine and embrace our darkest tendencies, we can fully embrace ourselves. In “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” she says, “you must go into the dark in order to bring forth the light. When we suppress any feeling or impulse we are also suppressing its polar opposite. If we deny our ugliness, we lessen our beauty.” Here, here.
I learned of Debbie’s work when I was rebuilding my life after the end of my 20-year marriage at midlife. She and inspirational authors Wayne Dyer and Marianne Williamson and Deepek Chopra were some of my best friends and guides during this period. They taught me to look at life from all angles, and their work later led me more diverse teachers, which led me to others still, and eventually, back to myself where I discovered I housed some wisdom of my own.
But Debbie Ford’s work really mattered to me. And I didn’t realize how much it mattered until I found myself crying when I read the notification of her death and comments from fans. And today I was reminded again, as I watched a re-run of an Oprah interview with Debbie on Super Soul Sunday and found bits of mascara running across my face.
Maybe I’m sad because she was so brave and lost her battle with cancer. Maybe I’m sad because we’ve lost a brilliant teacher. All I know is that I relate to her work. In my book “Tao Flashes,” I talk a great deal about the importance of authenticity and self-acceptance. And I write about this reality: we are not perfect; we are perfectly imperfect. How else can yin and yang, light and dark, exist?
It’s what we do with this information that matters. Thank you Debbie Ford for teaching us to accept our light and our dark natures. Thank you for helping us to birth a whole person in this process, even if it is a long journey to self-acceptance.
Now excuse me, I’ve got to go and find some kleenex.