Within those stories are pivotal moments that help to shape and define our lives and who we are.
The circumstances, experiences, and lessons are unique to each individual, yet we are all bound together by a silent knowledge that we are in this together. Having gone through life’s challenges and blessings will actually draw us closer, if we let them, and love more deeply if we learn to use them.
My own experiences took me from being in the entertainment industry for nearly 20 years, to opening one of the top yoga studios in the nation, to now being a life, wellness, and personal development expert.
I was 27 and starring in the role of Emily Stewart on one of the oldest and most popular daytime dramas when the news came: My mother was dying of a rare and terminal cancer.
She was my best friend and no one in my family saw it coming. “As The World Turns” was my mother’s favorite show. We watched it together religiously during my childhood and now I was taking a leave of absence from that very same show to usher her out of our world.
My mother used to tease me and say, “You may be a big shot on daytime kiddo, but I won’t believe you have made it until I see your birthday in STAR Magazine!” How we howled from her hospital bed when STAR Magazine featured my birthday on December 16th, that year. With a loving smile on her face, she said softly, “Finally, you made it… You made it!”
My mother died 4 days later with her family beside her. I knew right then and there my life and purpose was about to change.
In learning to deal with the loss of my mother, I delved into studying ways to cope, and unbeknownst to me at the time, so began my first steps into becoming a grief recovery specialist. The pull was so strong and the light so bright, it was as if I was in training to master something for the journey ahead.
After long days of filming for shows like Seinfeld and Melrose Place, I would immediately return to my studies in grief recovery, along with health and wellness, spiritual sciences, psychology, yoga, nutrition, and personal growth practices. Going back to school, studying in ashrams, traveling for certifications and mentoring with some of the greatest teachers in the world…I was on a mission.
As I became a greater expert in the areas of loss, grief, holistic wellness, meditation, yoga and positive psychology, I began to find myself in the position of confidant, advisor, teacher, and coach to many of the people in my life – and some were among the most highly respected and high profile people in the country. I was finding out that helping people draft their life blueprint came naturally to me. It elevated my life and my feeling of true purpose to a whole different level. I was gifted and deeply passionate about it.
“Melanie, call me. It’s important.” I was leaving a meeting at Paramount Studios when I heard the message on my cell phone. I had never heard my father’s voice sound like that.
I stopped at a nearby friend’s house to call him back, having the feeling it was probably not a call I should be making from my car. When he got on the phone his words were simple and soft. “Hi honey, there’s been an accident. It’s Roseanne. She’s dead.”
I woke up on the floor. I don’t know how much time had passed. My friend, whose house I was at, was yelling, “What happened?” But all I could think of was how I had just left my sister; I could still see her hands, and I wished I had called her back the night before. I just kept thinking, “Why didn’t I call her back?”
Within a short period of time I had lost my mother and my sister. The loss of both made me realize the critical importance and preciousness of family. I learned that the finite time we have with the people we profoundly love is limited and irretrievable. The love we have for one another is truly the reason we are here in this lifetime.
These events began to cause an internal crisis as my career took off. The more I became successful as an actress, the less successful I felt inside.
I longed to be in contact with people in a deeper way. I loved helping other people more than I loved pretending to be other people. I wanted to interact… not act.
As these feelings grew, I one day found myself sitting in my dressing room on the set of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, looking at myself dressed as Tora Ziyal. I thought to myself, “Look at this beautiful character, an ambassador of peace, and a loving, tender, and innocent young woman.”
I wanted so badly to be that type of person in my own real life, and not just play one on TV, yet I kept moving further and further away from it. So despite four hours worth of makeup and prosthetics on my face, I let myself cry. I knew the time was coming that I would soon have to make a choice.
In 1999 I gave birth to my son, Gideon, after a tough delivery (that was totally worth it!) The offers were still coming in. Every yes I gave and contract I signed took me away from my son more and more.
It broke my heart every time I told that sweet face I would be home for dinner, but the night ended with only a phone call.
I knew that choice I felt coming was finally here. I was about to come face to face with one of the most significant and pivotal moments of my life.
I remember thinking to myself “You will never get this back. This is a bell that can’t be unrung. If you don’t raise Gideon, you will never forgive yourself.” I knew from what I learned during the time of my mother’s and sister’s deaths that we have a limited time with our loved ones. My son has one childhood and I wasn’t going to miss it.
The moment of foreshadowing that occurred in my dressing room years before had come full circle. It was time to say goodbye to acting. With that, I declined the role and walked away from the industry, and into my new life.
Please do not misunderstand me. I have plenty of friends who remained in the business and raised their children beautifully. This was a very personal choice based on my experiences and inner desires. This is why I say all lives are custom built and lit specifically for each individual!
In the years that followed, I went through a divorce, lost my house and survived tremendous financial restructuring. I bounced back and found the strength to get through the loss of my beautiful father. I went on to study behavioral finance and entrepreneurship, which has since been added to my coaching practice and changed others and my life exponentially. Everything I had gone through prepared me to lean in to what is happening in the moment, and I have never been happier.
Though I have closed the four walls of Yogaphoria, we still continue to produce events, programs and documentaries all with the intention of helping people live their best and most meaningful lives. My passion for yoga has never and will never cease, but the structure of my business has changed in order for me to align with my deepest purpose.
I’ve devoted most of my life to studying how to not only survive difficult experiences, but how to thrive because of them. It is in breaking through the turbulence and the clouds of our life that allows us to soar and shine on the other side.
With nearly 20 years of research and over a decade of life coaching practice, I can help you no matter the issue. Whether it is relationships, money, getting over a lost loved one, or if you simply aren’t living your brightest life, one filled with meaning and purpose.
-Gestalt Trained Life Coach: Gestalt Therapy Institute of Philadelphia
-Holistic Health and Nutrition Councilor: Purchase University
-Coaching in Leadership and Healthcare: Theory, Practice, and Result: Continued Education, Harvard Medical School
-Certification in Therapeutic Lifestyle; Genetic Potential Through Nutrition
-Certified FLT Lifestyle Educator
-Certification in Techniques of Mind Body Integration: Dr. Anodea Judith
-Certification in the Chakras and Body Energy: Dr. Anodea Judith
-Certified Grief Recovery Specialist
-Certification in Positive Psychology: Dr. Tal Ben Shahar
-Certification of Achievement, Entrepreneurship 101: Continued Education: MIT Sloan School of Management
-Behavioral Economics in Action: Continued Education; Rotman School of Management
-Certified ERYT 500: Yoga Alliance
-Owned and operated one of the country’s most respected yoga and wellness facilities, recognized by Vogue, Yoga Journal, and Philadelphia Magazine among others
-Directed Programs and Produced Wellness Events that graduated hundreds of teachers and inspired thousands globally
-Face and Ambassador for International Wellness Brands
-Award Winning Actress
-Hit Song Writer
-Jingle/Copy Writer for Major Brands
-Raised an amazing son!
My story has had sad times ranging from deaths, divorce, and walking away from not one, but two major careers in my life among many other events big and small.
Yet my life has been rich with wonderful experiences, playing wonderful roles, meeting and loving amazing and brilliant people, sharing my love of yoga and wellness, and of course, the birth of my son Gideon, my greatest teacher.
This is the story we all have… good and bad, highs and lows, peaks and valleys, wins and losses. But, sometimes we get caught up on a particular part of the story and find it difficult to move on or get past it. That is where I come in!