Photo of Ilene Dillon provided by Ilene
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Ilene Dillon continued the interview.
In her words, “I taught for churches, hospitals, associations, businesses, schools, community continuing education, and on cruise ships. Eventually, I also began to write, doing columns for two local papers and submitting occasional pieces to larger publications, such as SF Chronicle, John Gray’s Newsletter, Personal Excellence, Kidz Edge (online Magazine), Family Therapy, and YourTango.com. My work was also featured in Care Notes, Women’s Day Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and the Dallas Morning News.”
She shared, “Like many people drawn to help others, my early life was very difficult. It included loss of my birth mother at age 3, constant moving with my military family (17 homes and 14 schools by the time I graduated from high school at the age of 17), and sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. It led to an early marriage (age 19). I worked my way through college, eventually earning a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare at the University of CA, Berkeley.
There were many things I did not know, understand, or have the capacity to be in charge of—especially things inside of myself, such as emotions like anger. I had the good fortune to be directed by my mentor to get into psychotherapy, which helped me release the anger, low self-esteem, timidity, fear, non-assertiveness, anger and pain, as well as a fear of being criticized and/or rejected, that I was carrying. This took many years, but was well worth the investment of time & money.
My first marriage dissolved immediately after the birth of my first child, when I was 29 years old. A second marriage lasted only 6 years; my husband turned out to have bipolar disorder. At the end of that marriage, I lived for 20 years as a single parent, raising my two children, who are now 43 and 36. I am very proud of the incredibly fine people they are.
My work was a godsend to me, because I could not do it well until I resolved the many emotional issues inside of myself! Between the children and the clients, I was constantly pushed to look at issues, make changes, and grow. Along the way, I started spiritual studies, which led me to understand our earth as a “giant school” to which we have all come to grow and learn. Once I embraced that idea, I began to see every difficulty as an “opportunity” for growth, speeding things up and making my life progressively easier.
It has both helped and pushed me to grow. It has provided me an arena in which to share my talents. I have actually been able to help people heal, grow and evolve. This is a precious gift! Everything I learned in my personal life has helped me to be a better therapist—I’ve experienced so much, I can really empathize with others who go through similar issues. It also has led me to study, learn and become proficient in dealing with such problems/issues, allowing me to share tools and help my clients shift their perspective. I am honored to be able to help others in their journey. I know I’m really good at doing so. I also see myself as the “minister of the message,” and not the message itself. It has provided me with an opportunity to love other human beings into being their true selves!”
She is a student of life who gives back.
Ilene explained, “The IMPACT of all of this has been to help me complete my own learning, share with the world what I have been fortunate to learn, and realize the power of what I have learned. I have been able to stop “doing” guilt, shame, worry and fear. They are no longer a part of my life. Furthermore, I’ve been able to help countless others to do likewise. At age 71, I feel like I’m just getting started!
It is my learning (and what I teach) that, due to the circumstances of our early life, each of us is given “homework assignments” on which we work throughout life. These assignments are designed such that we can complete them and move on. Until we do finish our “homework” in a particular area, however, we go over and over and over it, with each repetition presented in a harsher way. The minute we learn the lesson, we “graduate” and are immediately free to move on to other things. That particular lesson does not present itself to us again!
This has been demonstrated by my own life. So while the going has been tough many, many times, I have learned a MOUNTAIN of lessons, and am a much better person for it.
I’ve learned to master anger, to forgive, to be grateful for even the harshest lessons, to have compassion, to understand what it is to go through and get past deep pain, to love, to be vulnerable, to communicate from my heart, to release fear, to understand why and how people manipulate—and give that up. I’ve learned how capable I am, how much help there is for us in this universe, how to receive love from others, how to learn from my mistakes, how to take care of myself (regardless of circumstances or situation), how to take risks, how freeing it is to be the same person every place I go, and how much fun taking responsibility is!
My early life experiences also led me to adopt my husband’s youngest child when she was 13. Her mother died a year earlier. It was a mutual decision and brought great joy and completeness to both of us. She is now 26 years old and working with indigenous people in the jungles of Ecuador. Her adoption was healing for me! My step-mother had never adopted me, leaving me feeling rudderless. Adopting my daughter seemed to heal that wound in me, as well as help her out.
I evidenced a talent in public speaking in the 4th grade, as well, which I rediscovered as an adult. I resurrected a high school writing talent when I began to write. This has blossomed and enriches my life daily. As a young teen, I took typing at school. Then, I worked as a secretary at both the College of William and Mary and at The University of Washington. I developed an ability to type 120 words per minute, which allows me to write almost as fast as I can think. As I do not experience writer’s block, I am prolific when I sit down to write. These “lessons”, rediscovered as an adult, have been fantastic!
Finally, my own childhood experiences shaped my interest in working with parenting, with children, and with parents and children together. I have now lived as a married, single, step, adoptive and grand mother. I’m a child of divorce. For many years, I was the sole financial support of my family. I have experienced the challenges of relationships from almost all angles!”
Ilene’s spirit is evolving and this is evident in her work.
She described, “Starting in 1994, my 7 handbooks for parents, helping them to help their children deal masterfully with emotions, were published by Enchante’ Press. They are on the emotions of anger, fear, hurt, jealousy, grief, guilt, and loneliness. Three more are written, but have not yet been published: The ABCs of Love, The ABCs of Remorse and Shame, and The ABCs of Intimacy.
I am co-author of Happiness is a Decision of the Heart, for which I wrote about allowing Love to guide you in times of crisis and challenge.
Stop Anger Now
Co-dependence: The Bottom Line
4 Main Building Blocks of Self-Esteem
Awaken to Your Emotions.
Self-Help Series includes 7 Titles:
Bouncing Back After Anger and Argument
Bouncing Back from Energy Sapping: Protecting Yourself from Undesirable Energy Loss
Up From Slavery: Bouncing Back from Low Self-Esteem
Why Me? Bouncing Back from Being a Victim
Bouncing Back After Making a Fool of Yourself
Jealousy: Bouncing Back from Self-Made Madness
99 Tips for Mastering Fear
Kindle Book: Fledglings Return: How to Stay Sane & Loving When Adult Kids Come Back Home to Stay
Currently in process: A book, The Exchange Student Model for Parenting
Video Course: Turning Anger Into Enthusiasm
This year, I’ve taken my work a step further through studying with Accessing Universal Intelligence, a group focused on teaching the world that we humans all now have the ability to connect with our own Higher Self, which is the portal to Universal Intelligence, allowing us to be “All Knowing.” My focus is on Profound Parenting, teaching parents to raise their children in communication with their own higher self and that of their child.”
Ilene talked about her inspiration, “I grew up involved with both the Methodist and the “protestant” church (when on military assignment). I was, in fact, the youngest person ever to join the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., which I joined at age 8, having learned all the creeds and lessons for membership.
As an adult, I turned against the church because of bad feelings I had that people who were “pillars” of the church could abuse and still be seen as “good” and “holy,” without recrimination from God.
In my late 20’s I realized I was terrified to even meditate. 43 years ago, I went to a psychic astrologer named Walden Welch, who told me I have talent for psychometry. As I went looking for classes to help me develop that talent, I discovered the Spiritualist church, which met in the log cabin in San Anselmo (amidst deer and elk heads hanging on the walls). There I started learning Spiritual Principles, and developed an understanding of how things worked. I was exposed to channeling. I was able to ask the questions for which I was longing for answers. As my own understanding grew, I began to share those things with my clients. I saw what a profoundly powerful difference adding spirituality to therapy could make. This is what awoke my passion.
Because “therapy” and “spirituality” were not supposed to be uttered in the same sentence in those days, I had a “coming out” event at my office to break through my own fear about admitting my involvement with the Transpersonal. Past-life regression psychologist Helen Wambach came and conducted a two-day Past Life Workshop in my office. From then on, I told the world of my spiritual leanings, eventually coming to identify myself as a Transpersonal Therapist.
It’s who I am; I am a profoundly spiritual person. Simply put, utilizing spiritual principle in everyday life works! Spirituality has helped me make sense of many of the puzzles of my life. Spirituality has been an avenue for my work that has been difficult for people to block—people have not known how to resist spiritual and energy work, whereas they can easily get stubborn and block more mundane efforts. I feel good when I base my life on spirituality. I have learned to love as a result of the spiritual work I’ve done—love myself and love others. I’m a different person than I was as a young adult. I’ve been able to “come home” to myself.”
Her advice for others, “Self-love is the basis for all else! When you love yourself, deeply and in all ways (including self-care), you’re like a coffee cup that is filled with coffee. When any more coffee is added to the cup, it spills over. The same occurs with love. You become a fountain of love!
I had been taught that I needed to care for my children before myself. As a single parent this categorically did not work. If I got tired or ill, I could not be an effective and loving parent. Only when I made sure to take care of myself could I actually be a good parent for my children. I had more patience, more accessibility to love, better health, and more enjoyment in what I was doing.
Self-care does not have to take a lot of time! I finally learned to care for myself when I discovered (from within myself) a system for making sure I cared for myself well. First, I listed all the things I usually did in a week. As a single parent who was self employed, my list looked like this:
Take care of children or clients (energy going out)
Sit a number of hours in my work (limited physical exercise)
Spend most of my remaining time alone, taking care of the household, administration for my work, gardening and attending to my children’s busy schedules.
I realized from this list that most of my energy was going out to others, I took no time for myself, I took very little energy in, I was constantly taking care of others (not myself), was physically inactive, and spent a majority of my time alone.
I had learned that to balance things in your life, you need to introduce opposites; and you only have to practice those opposites for 3 hours in a week. Accordingly, I set up a schedule that added:
Time to read (especially spiritual books, which brought energy in to me)
An exercise class, in which I gave myself permission to make friends
A couple of regular hikes each week
Time to rest and do nothing
By adding these ingredients, I balanced and found that I was much happier. I was a better parent. I had interests and good feelings, too. Amazingly, I also taught my children (by example) how important it is to take care of one’s self; so now they do it too!”
Ilene’s closing words, “I’d love to hear from you! I’d especially love to know what parts of what I’m sharing touch you.”
If you would like to contact Ilene Dillon, write: firstname.lastname@example.org