Kelly Sullivan Walden answers the question:
What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?
Phil, I just have to tell you, from the moment you asked me to contemplate this question until now, I’ve gone down such an interesting rabbit hole. I’ve been contemplating this. I’ve been dreaming it. It’s been all around me and it’s really a quandary because what do you mean by nicest? Is it the most supportive thing? Is it the most life-changing thing? Is it the most beautiful thing? Is it the kindest thing? But you specifically say nicest. So I’m curious about why you picked nicest as an adjective.
But aside from that, I’ve been thinking about what a brilliant question it is, in some way doing this for all of the faculty. Because most people become faculty because they are somebody who has gone through something and they’ve developed some level of skill that they are usually in the business of providing for other people. They’re the ones that do the nice thing. So I think it’s a really brilliant question because it causes us, and well, I’ll just speak for myself. It causes me to go back to a vulnerable time and many vulnerable times when... I feel like Scarlett O’Hara when I say this, like kind of I relied on the kindness of strangers or the kindness of people, the niceness of people.
I feel like it’s an equalizer. Anytime you ask this question, I feel like there can be kind and nice things done all the time, but it’s most impactful during a time of vulnerability and a time when that nice thing showed up as an exact puzzle piece to what was missing. So I feel like there’s gradations of niceness, and I’ve had to scan my whole life. I’ve had an entire life review because of this question. And I’m thinking about all the many things that are kind of on the surface, but then the ones that are the deeper ones, that’s kind of what I’ve been wrestling with.
So, this may not be the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me, but this is certainly a nice thing, a kind thing, a supportive thing, a life-changing thing, put it all in that category. And I’m thinking about Nirvana. So Nirvana was like my first spiritual counselor, so to speak. I don’t know what he necessarily called himself. He was a practitioner of religious science through Agape. He was Reverend Michael Beckwith’s co-founder of Agape. And when I was going through practitioner training, he was my kind of spiritual therapist, so to speak.
And it was during a time of tremendous growth that came from a place of tremendous flailing and hitting such a dark place, such a dark bottom. And it was a time of... I remember saying to somebody, I wanted to just wear a sign across my shirt that said, “Pardon the mess. I’m under construction.” Don’t ask me any questions. Don’t expect anything of me. I’m under construction. So I was just super-vulnerable, super-like what am I going to do with my life? And I started having sessions with Nirvana, and every time I would be in his presence, and by the way, I had no money, so he let me pay whatever I could, which sometimes... it was very seldom his going rate, which then wasn’t that much, it was $75, but mostly he let me pay 20, 25 bucks. And that by itself was super-generous, but he would deliberately do what practitioners are trained to do, which is see the God presence in someone. But there was something about the way that he held a space for me, that just being in his presence, I could literally just even in the silence, I could feel myself healing and I could feel kind of the broken places coming together.
But there was one day in particular that I came to see him. It was at the end of a relationship that I had been in with somebody that I thought was going to be my life partner, and it ended. It felt tragic at the time, and it was my decision and I felt horribly about myself. I went to a place of kind of suicidal ideation, like maybe I shouldn’t be on the planet. I really am not doing anybody any good. I am a horrible person. What’s the point of me being here? And at least I had the wherewithal to call Nirvana and he said, “Come over. Get over here.”
So I showed up and I was a mess. I remember feeling like an alley cat that had been just bumped and bruised by life, and he looked at me on his porch and he said, “All right. Enough drama queen. This is it. This is the last day. No more drama queen. Today, you’re going to meet your goddess queen.” And I was in such a state of having no fight, no defense in me. Normally, if somebody said something like that to me, I could ha-ha, I could push that away. But because I was in such a vulnerable state, I received what he said, even though it was harsh. It was kind of a spiritual slap across the face. It was like, you’re going to meet your goddess queen.
And we went into the silence. He held kind of a very subtle meditative space, but it was mostly silent. All I know is in that meditation, I felt connected to, and I’d never heard the words goddess or queen before and much less never would’ve associated them with me, but I saw this part of me that was whole, that was awake, that wasn’t the sum total of her aches and pains and bumps and bruises and it was this awake part of me that emerged that day. And she became in my mind so big that she kind of became as big as the sky, the earth, the ocean. She was so big that there was room in her heart to embrace the drama queen, the part of me that had been attached to my suffering and my victimhood and all of the things that were part of my story.
And by the time I left that session, I knew something had changed. And that I went home and I started writing because I didn’t want this moment of clarity to go away. I’d had other moments of clarity and they left pretty quickly. And I thought, I can’t afford to lose this one. So I started writing and I obsessively wrote for maybe four or five days. And I canceled as many appointments as I could to just access everything I was few healing and sensing and connecting with. And when I was done... I had been acting at the time. I was an actress and I called my agent and said, “I’m done. I’m not going to be a literal drama queen anymore either.” I knew that that wasn’t good for me. And it was at least for... I don’t know how long. I just said “I may come back at some point, but right now I’m taking a leave of absence.” And I left my... I was working in a restaurant. I left that.
I left everything and just went on a road trip by myself to New Mexico, to Roswell, New Mexico. That’s where I ended up. Anyway, that’s a whole other story, but all I know is that once the floodgates were open, it didn’t stop. It was like there was like this pouring in of insight and inspiration. And that became the basis of the first book I ever wrote. Discover Your Inner Goddess Queen: An Inspirational Journey from Drama Queen to Goddess Queen. And then I kept writing and then I started writing about dreams and just the floodgates have never stopped being open.
And Nirvana is now on the other side for the last couple of maybe three or four years. But he used to say in his outgoing message on his phone, Welcome to Gayle force.” That was his last name, was Gayle, but I hear often the phrase gale-force”, like whoosh, and I feel like he was that gale-force, that wind beneath my wings. So, nicest thing? I’d say that’s nice with a capital N and also the capital N for Nirvana.
Kelly Sullivan Walden is on a mission to awaken the world to the power of dreams. Known as one of America’s premiere dream analysts, Kelly has authored more than 10 books, including the recently released Luminous Humanness: 365 Ways to Go, Grow & Glow to Make it Your Best Year Yet. She is the co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and The Unexplainable and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions, and the multi-award-winning author of The Hero’s Journey Dream Oracle cards, journal, meditations, and app.
As a dream expert, Kelly is a regular guest on many national talk shows, including The Dr. Oz Show, The Real, Coast to Coast AM, and Hallmark’s Home & Family. She’s decoded dreams for celebrities such as Topher Grace, Stassi Schroeder, Logan Paul, Rikki Lake, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and Dancing with the Stars’ Maksim Chmerkovskiy, to name just a few.
Kelly is a certified clinical hypnotherapist whose unique approach to dream therapy led her to become a trusted advisor, enriching the lives of thousands of individuals, including Fortune 500 executives, UN ambassadors, celebrities, inner-city kids, and stay-at-home moms. She is an inspirational speaker, workshop facilitator, and the host of the Ask Dr. Dream podcast.