I graduated from Pathwork Helpership training midyear in 2007. Around then, in my mid-40’s, hot flashes started coming on strong. They’re not nearly as funny as over-40 birthday cards would have you believe. For the next three years, I tried a bunch of different home remedies, like stinging nettle tea, black co-hosh, milk thistle, you name it. Most worked for a time, but nothing lasted long.

Eventually I talked with my gynecologist about getting a hormone patch. Since my kids were born, I have been very content with using an IUD for birth control, and the latest version even released a low dose of progesterone. The upshot of this was I didn’t have a period. You betcha! The next year, after finding complete relief from hot flashes, my female doctor confided that she’d recently been at a get-together of all women OB/GYNs. In talking about this topic, they had unanimously agreed that my solution—the Mirena IUD together with an estrogen patch—was a hands-down winning solution for women my age.

Later, in 2016, when my last IUD had reached its five-year end-of-life, I went to see a new gynecologist in DC expecting to just keep the old one in and renew my estrogen patch prescription.

“It doesn’t work that way,” he said. Turns out, I couldn’t just keep taking the estrogen patch without also having the progesterone from the IUD for it to push back on. He wanted to remove the old IUD so he could give me a new prescription for a combination patch.

“But then I could get pregnant!” I said.

“You’re 52,” he gently reminded me.

“No really, I can’t get pregnant,” I countered. (All those birthday parties!)

“Can’t I just get another IUD?” I tried again.

“Well, at your age, I don’t think insurance would even approve it.” Ouch. I made peace with the reality that I was no longer 20-something, which was largely an overwhelmingly joyous thought, and moved on with a revised program.

That fall of 2007, the boys and I were visiting my friend Suzan’s mountain home in North Carolina and I was struck by her fabulous taste in decorating. I wanted my place to look that good. The dream house I had bought had really good bones, but needed help in the area of cosmetics.

Having just completed an enormous amount of personal work—in our four years of training, our teacher would often work with us on some deep piece, and then walk us through how she had done it—my outer life couldn’t help but get a makeover. So all the faucets, doorknobs and ceiling fans in my house got an upgrade, the yard was revamped, and a screened porch added. In short, if I looked at something in my house and I didn’t love it, it got replaced.

A year or so later, my brother Pete was wrapping up a year of living at Sevenoaks in a work-for-room arrangement. He had been looking for a change-of-life—not just a change-of-pace—after his daughter died and he and Mary had divorced, and one day, when I was at Sevenoaks for part of my training, I was reading about their PEP Student program on the bulletin board.

I knew Pete was searching for what was next and I had a knowing that this might be just the ticket. When I told him about it, he got excited. As he said later, “I guess not everyone thinks ‘you mean I can quit my job, put all my stuff in storage, and move halfway across the county to live and work at a place I’ve never visited’ and hopes they get accepted into the program.”

When his year at Sevenoaks was up, he got accepted into the Atlanta School of Massage and came to live with the boys and me. Around that time, I had barred owls living in the trees outside my windows. I read that their distinctive call sounds like “Who cooks for youuuuu?” and for the next year, my answer was: my brother Pete.

That was the year I started the Kabbalah training course. It was also the year I went to a retreat center in North Carolina for four extended weekends to apprentice in a Pathwork group. That’s part of what it takes to become a Helper. You don’t just graduate from class and get your certification. I learned a lot by assisting in a very large group, working with people who were triggered by the primary work being done in the room at any given time. The following year, in 2011, in agreement with my Pathwork teacher, I claimed my Helpership.

In the fall of 2011, the Pathwork coordinator at Sevenoaks, Karen, who orchestrated the selection of teachers for their Five-Year Pathwork Transformation Progam, invited me to come teach at the center. The following year, in August of 2012, Karen passed away a few days after the International Pathwork Conference was held at Sevenoaks.

I attended that conference—in fact, had volunteered to help organize the event—in part because I wanted to recover my good name in the global Pathwork community. It had gotten badly tainted, I’m sorry to say, a year prior when the channeling bubbled up. I had been guided, at that time, to make people aware that this was unfolding, but my doing so caused some serious blowback.

I had been passionate about the Pathwork Guide’s teachings since 1997 when I first encountered them, and now it seemed my relationship to the greater organization had been sullied. I felt gutted. At one point, immediately after sending out a communication to the Pathwork Leadership community, I felt compelled to log into my computer to see what the latest comments were. Some were supportive, but to be frank, many weren’t pleasant. I was hearing my guidance telling me their negative reactions weren’t for me to take on. Still, I felt I should see what people were saying. As I sat there reading, my computer unexpectedly turned off. It had never done that before and it never did that after. Eventually, the furor died down and things went back to the way they had been: quiet.

To be honest, at this point in time, seven-plus years later (as I write this), I no longer know if I believe it’s only the Guide on the other side inspiring and supporting me in my spiritual work. Sometimes I have the sense there are quite a few others. But it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if there’s no one there and all of my work is just coming from some part of me. As the Guide said many times, no one should believe anything they read or hear, no matter who they think said it, unless it makes sense to them. This is the same message Buddha gave.

By the time the 2012 international conference rolled around, I had already created the website, The Guide Speaks—it later came in handy as a place to post all those Q&As—but I didn’t yet have any content to post there. Because about six months in, the Guide stopped talking to me. The idea, I later sorted out, was to help me heal my various wounds and splits. And his not speaking to me brought up some deep gunk. In the end, the more clean I become, the more clear I can be as a channel. The housecleaning has been thorough, and continues still.

At the same time, I had a new name in my hip pocket: Phoenesse. I liked the not-so-subtle tie to Phoenicia, the original Pathwork center in upstate New York. I also liked the link to the word “phoenix” and the allusion to how this work allows us to re-emerge from our own ashes once we burn away our negativity. And I liked the imagery of how the work I was doing was akin to a rebirth of the Pathwork.

Best of all, I liked that I could trademark the name and get the URL. The branding landscape is a crowded minefield, as I had learned through several rounds with naming plastics and families of plastics at Solvay. I created my limited liability company Phoenesse LLC as the entity that would publish all my books, and have gone on to receive official copyright certification for the books I created by rewriting Pathwork Lectures.

I love marcom and could do this kind of work all day long. Actually, I do. Aside from the year immediately following my departure from Solvay, when I needed a sabbatical to rest and recover, I haven’t stopped working fulltime. Although admittedly I now have a more liberal vacation policy. The hardest part about going out on my own has been becoming my own IT manager. Thankfully, the sage advice to “turn it off and turn it back on” usually works.

After Karen passed, I was then asked to take over marketing activities for the center, and a short while later, invited to serve on the board for the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork, a non-profit organization. This would last until the end of 2013 when my desire to remain closely affiliated with the Pathwork organization finally fizzled.

Walker: A Spiritual Memoir by Jill Loree

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