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On the Spotlight on eWomenNetwork Podcast, Wendy Darling takes you on a journey from a freak accident that cost her everything, including custody of her then 4 1/2 year old son, to living her ultimate fulfilling life now. Her own use of the 3 "L" formula is the backbone of her own work to self-discovery and the cornerstone of her how she helps others follow her path.
Watch the video, read the slightly transcript below or click here to listen to the Spotlight on eWomenNetwork Podcast interview at eWNPodcastNetwork.com.
PHYLLIS SMITH: Your story of your troubles initially began back in 1990 when you were travelling from Dallas to LA and you were consulting with a fortune 100 company. At the time you were sick, and then something terrible happened. Tell us exactly what happened and what were the circumstances?
WENDY DARLING: I was consulting back then. I started my own business in 1981, and was doing corporate consulting primarily focusing on leadership and team development - in some ways what I do now. I was a Type A behavior kind of girl, so the show must go on regardless, and I was really, really sick. So, I went outside the Dallas airport to get some fresh air. I had been sick to my stomach and unfortunately, I passed out and fell over a ledge. I fell over 25 feet, and the good news in some ways is I landed on my right leg. My right leg was shattered. I had multiple surgeries and didn’t know for about 11 months if I would walk again. My back was broken, and then I was later diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury that took a very long time to recover from.
It was while I was in the hospital, it was around the 4-week mark, my former husband chose that time to say he no longer wanted to be married. Now in all fairness, we had issues. I certainly contributed to that, but the timing of it kind of sucked. It was a long recovery, like I said - eleven months to know if I would walk again. Then we went to court, and my former husband was awarded full custody of our son who was only 4 ½ at the time. That’s really when I broke into a whole lot of pieces, because there were a lot of things I enjoyed and was proud of, but nothing like being Adam’s mom. I will say that all worked out eventually.
It wasn’t until later that I discovered that I had traumatic brain injury, because there was so much other trauma in my physical state, and brain injuries weren’t as prominent than as they are today.
Interestingly enough though, it was my mom who suggested that I learn how to meditate. At that point my life was a blank slate, and anything that I could use to say this was my identity was no longer in existence - Anywhere from my body, to my business, to my marriage, to my being a mom. I was probably aware enough, just barely, but I can remember that first week when I was at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. That first week, I thought to myself, what decisions and choices have I been making that got me to where I am right now? This is even before all the other stuff happened, and what choices am I going to have to make from this point forward to dig me out of this hole? I didn’t realize that the hole was still deeper.
What choices am I going to have to make from this point forward to dig me out of this hole? I didn’t realize that the hole was still deeper.
My Body and My Life in Pieces
PHYLLIS SMITH: Let me stop you there for a moment. Let me go back, when your child is yanked from your life - I can’t even imagine anything more traumatic than that -and you said your life was in pieces and your mom came to your aide and said to meditate. Tell us when you were in pieces. Paint that picture for us. What did that look like for you?
WENDY DARLING: It kind of represented what my body was like. Honestly, when the judge ordered custody to my former husband something snapped inside of me. I literally could feel it Phyllis. I could feel this activity in my brain spinning. It’s as if, especially now that I know how the mind works, it was looking for a file a category to put this in and there wasn’t one. I was a puddle. I had been successful, I had been fairly confident, and I couldn’t function. It was the first time that I really reached out for help saying something is wrong, and I don’t know what to do about it.
I was a puddle. I had been successful, I had been fairly confident, and I couldn’t function.
PHYLLIS SMITH: What was it that made the judge decide that you were not a fit enough mother to take care of your son? It’s so rare that the mother doesn’t have custody or at least joint custody.
WENDY DARLING: I was in East Texas, and it was at a time when men were starting to be given custody. It was a trend back then. I didn’t know it. You know, Phyllis, it was a question that I can’t even tell you how many hours, the why questions, how could this happen to somebody like me? It happened. There were a couple of things that they tried to use that I was starting to wake up to my spirituality, so I was journaling, and first they tried to make it look like my accident was a suicide attempt which it was not. They tried to make it look like I was crazy, because I was journaling.
Finding My Inner Rubiks Cube
WENDY DARLING: It happened, and it took a long time before I said I’m not going to figure this one out and I had to learn acceptance. The journey with my son, there’s so much more to it obviously with this situation, but the journey with my son, as a mom, there’s nothing like a child’s love and the unconditional love that I got to experience was extraordinary, and Adam taught me about love in so many ways.
We went from living in 1 home to 2, to 2 cities and eventually 2 states and what surprised me more than anything was we were good. We stayed connected. It probably surprised me more than anything. I’m so grateful. My son and I have a lovely relationship today, and he ended up moving back to Texas his senior year which you can imagine is tough and there’s a whole lot more to that story.
It was a huge journey in terms of learning, truly learning, the expansion of what unconditional love really means and to experience it. It was a journey of me finding me, because I had to look at what was off in me - what I call the inner Rubik’s cube of who I was that created this misalignment that created this experience. I don’t really believe in accidents, and yet I had a whopper of one. My prayer back then was simply, “Okay God, what is it that I need to do. Who do I need to become to begin digging out of this hole?” And I can remember saying, “By the way if you could just help me find an easier and faster way to do that I promise you I will pay it forward.” The good news is, it didn’t happen overnight. My wish got granted, which I’m very grateful for.
It was a journey of me finding me because I had to look at what was off in me, what I call "The inner Rubik’s Cube" of who I was that created this misalignment, that created this experience.
PHYLLIS SMITH: You started journaling and you were meditating. Was it the self-awareness through the journaling, through the meditation that you got to where you are to then to be able to move forward? Is that the key?
WENDY DARLING: Yeah, it really was. Something I didn’t mention yet - I grew up in an environment where my mom was very highly critical and abusive, and so my sense of self and self-worth was quite low. Now on the outside you would not have known that. I was doing all the things I was supposed to do. I went to college, I got a couple of degrees, I ended up getting great positions, and then starting my business at a pretty young age. So, on the outside you would’ve thought, “Wow this girl has a sweet life.” In many ways I did, but I didn’t really know me.
I kind of think of the Run-Away Bride line, if you have seen the movie or remember she really didn’t know who she was and there was a line in there that Richard Gere confronted and said, “You don’t even know what kind of eggs you like.” She went on this journey and for however long it was she came back to him and said, “I like Eggs Benedict,” or whatever she said. It was kind of that, Phyllis. I really had to peel back the layers. I had to go back to the things that I thought I loved. The things that mattered to me. What was important, because I was living life based on what the outer world was telling me as opposed to my inner world, my heart. It turned out to be quite a laboratory of experiences.
PHYLLIS SMITH: What tools did you use? Here’s what I’m getting at, is that for people who are listening or watching right now, you might be in a situation like Wendy in despair where you think life really sucks, and I wish it could better and I don’t know what to do or where to go. I believe that we must sometimes have tools. It’s not magic. We must work at this. What overarching tools did you use to help you get to this point to where you said I’m peeling back the layers? What help did you get to help you peel back those layers?
WENDY DARLING: Yeah. As I mentioned I first started meditating, I started journaling and I really reached out for help. It’s when I got involved in personal growth work. I did so some counseling and part of my journey, Phyllis, is that I speak of more openly now I started receiving my healing gifts and transformational processes that I use today. I was my first guinea pig.
You need to know when this first started happening, it happened because of meditating because at that time quieting my mind was an oxymoron. I remember telling the person who was teaching me how to meditate that every time I almost felt like my mind was going to relax I felt like I wanted to sing. He looked at me and said, “Well, sing.” I started laughing, "You don’t understand. I have people in my life that ask me not to do that!" He looked at me again and said, “Just sing.”
So, I got into that space, and I allowed myself to “sing” and it’s melodic. Phyllis, for the first time my mind started to relax, my body started to relax. I was living in Dallas, as you know we have big things in Dallas, and I had this huge walk-in closet that I would go into and meditate as well as do the sound work because I loved the acoustics in there. By the way I was really in the closet with all of this.
PHYLLIS SMITH: Literally.
WENDY DARLING: I was a very traditional consultant, and now I’m starting to feel things and starting to see energy, and I started to recognize way more than just to help me calm down. I was very self-conscious about it at first, because I was not that girl before. Then I realized that God had given me such gifts. I started experimenting with whoever would let me, and I finally realized first I was given such a gift. I worked with women that had been abused, I worked with children with learning disabilities, and I worked in so many ways creating freedom for people to finally live the life of their dreams and make their unique contribution.
Now I tell people I see energy. I can see where you're stuck. I have a system that identifies the root cause of anything interfering and holding you back. I tell people I do it differently in certain situations. In corporate work I don’t do all of that, but because like me there are so many other people that don’t realize they have special gifts. I didn’t know. Now those clearly were gifts.
It wasn’t until I was in graduate school I had a professor say, “Wow you are an extraordinary diagnostician.” And I was like, “Really? You mean everybody’s not like this?” Because I did not grow up in an environment where I was told what’s good about me or what I did well. I was only told what I needed to do different and improve upon. I believe with my heart of hearts that everybody, like our thumbprint, has unique gifts and talents. Our job in life is to discover what those are so that we can make our special mark.
I believe with my heart of hearts that everybody, like our thumbprint, has unique gifts and talents. Our job in life is to discover what those are so that we can make our special mark.
The 3 "L" Formula for Living Your Ultimate Fulfilling Life - LIVE
PHYLLIS SMITH: Wendy, you have such an interesting story in the journey that you had. You have a formula for living the ultimate fulfilled life and there are 3 L’s:
To Live: really live and enjoy life
To Love: you alluded earlier how your son taught you truly about unconditional love
To Lead: to step up and step out of your box and make a difference in the world
Let’s start first with To Live, to enjoy life. Well that’s easy to say. What is one thing you can tell people right now - how does one enjoy their life? What is one thing a person can do starting today?
WENDY DARLING: The reason Live comes first in that formula is, especially for women - men too - but we must learn to really put ourselves first and care for ourselves. It was very foolish of me to go on that trip to fulfill an obligation as sick as I was. Self-care is very critical for everybody. I know it’s spoken of a lot, but getting rest and really taking time for you whatever that might be. I have a morning ritual that I almost all the time fulfill where I have a practice of gratitude. I do my own healing work first thing in the morning, and I spend time in quiet and listen to the whispers of my heart and get my marching orders for the day. I really have cultivated that, because I feel that when we really get in touch with our inner guidance system life could not be sweeter. When you feel that you have the whole universe at your back it’s kind of cool.
PHYLLIS SMITH: Yeah. You say you help put people in the driver’s seat. Because so often, especially entrepreneurs. We might have a family we come home to. Someone might be listening to this right now and might be saying, "I have no time." What do you say to them?
WENDY DARLING: I say that’s ridiculous. You make the time. When I was married and had a young child my responsibilities where huge. I literally put me first. So, on my calendar I scheduled time for me, and I also scheduled time to not schedule anything. I know that might sound funny, but I was a planner, so I literally had time that was just for me - especially if you have all those responsibilities. I tell clients you make agreements with your family that this is my time, and unless somebody is dying, the house is on fire, there’s an earthquake, or a natural disaster of some kind, under no circumstances are you to bother me. I think you must create agreements and set those boundaries. As you know, for those of us who are entrepreneurs, the work is never done, ever. That to-do list is a forever generating gift. It keeps on giving.
PHYLLIS SMITH: Right.
WENDY DARLING: So, to really know when you’re going to start and when you stop. I encourage you to make sure that you keep your work separate from the rest of your life. I happen to work out of my home. I have a designated area, and I don’t go into that designated area after a certain time in my day. So that’s the Live part.
Then for some of us, me included, you need to schedule fun. Too often we get way too involved in our work, and we start taking ourselves a little too seriously, and I think to make sure to have fun. Now fun for a lot of people is different. To me, fun is connecting to my friends. The people that matter to me most - and yes maybe do this or that on occasion - but that’s what’s fun for me. So, figure that out, and if you don’t know what that is, if you don’t know what will nourish you and replenish you, start talking to other people to get ideas, because we need to put our oxygen masks on first.
Really live and enjoy life. You need to schedule fun. Too often we get way to involved in our work and we start taking ourselves a little too seriously and I think to make sure to have fun. Keep your work separate from your life.
If you don’t have a relationship there are other ways to love. Find friends, Meet Ups, or volunteer somewhere that nourishes your soul. I think that taking that love into your work will make you so much more attractive and magnetic.
We’ve been given gifts and talents to be able to cultivate and make our mark and make a difference. There has never been a better time and a more important time for women to step up and step out. Oprah Winfrey, and for that matter the whole tone of the Golden Globes that aired recently, was about women empowerment.
The 3 "L" Formula for Living Your Ultimate Fulfilling Life - Love
PHYLLIS SMITH: Okay. Once we are enjoying life, the second part of that formula is “to love” and to love fully, and you say that that is critical. Love is critical to happiness and a fulfilled life and success. What do you say then to people who maybe aren’t or don’t have a partner. Love is bigger than the other person and being in love? Why don’t you explain your definition of love, and what is one thing people can do today to start finding that love?
WENDY DARLING: I think first to find the place within themselves and particularly with women it’s a weaker muscle. To really be able, because it starts with us and when we have love in our hearts and we’re able to spread it, it really is one of the best medicines and quite honestly one the best ingredients for success. In my opinion.
Secondly, I do believe that having an intimate relationship is very important, and I think it’s time for women who have been single for some time to welcome love into their life because there is a nourishment that exists that allows women to spread their wings even more and soar. One of the programs that I have is called, "Track Love Now" to really find what’s the interference to preventing love from coming into your life, and I’m happy to say that we have a pretty good success rate going. But if you don’t have a relationship there are other ways. Find friends, Meet Ups, or volunteer somewhere that nourishes your soul. I think that taking that love into your work will make you so much more attractive and magnetic. It makes work so much more enjoyable. One of the things that I feel that I bring to helping create a healthy corporate environment is just that. I do it in different ways, but again, when we take care of ourselves where we really get nourished and love, where we’re nourishing ourselves. I don’t worry about women giving. I think we, as a whole, are masterful at that. What we really need to work on is learning how to receive.
PHYLLIS SMITH: That is for sure. It’s so easy to give, give, give and we do. Then we are depleted, and we go to bed. We do our thing, we work, we come home and take care of others, and it’s like our only source of joy is putting our head to the pillow. I love what you say also about intimacy, especially if a woman has been single for a long time, there is this tendency to say well I don’t need anybody. I think sometimes, because you want that, you want intimacy - that is a basic human need.
WENDY DARLING: I agree.
PHYLLIS SMITH: Right, and so there’s no shame in that. There’s no shame in asking for that, and even if you’re in a relationship and you’re not getting the intimacy of what you want, and I don’t necessarily mean sex. I mean intimacy, connection - then you have a right to ask for it, because it is part of who you are and the basic human condition.
The 3 "L" Formula for Living Your Ultimate Fulfilling Life - Lead
PHYLLIS SMITH: I want to hit on the 3rd part of your formula, and that is “to lead." To lead you say is to find your gift and share it to make an impact. Why is that part of your formula to fulfillment and success?
WENDY DARLING: First of all, I think that it’s important for anyone. I believe that’s why we’re here on earth. We’ve been given gifts and talents to be able to cultivate and make our mark and make a difference. That’s my philosophy. I think that's what’s important in that is there has never been a better time and a more important time for women to step up and step out. The Golden Globes just aired recently and Oprah Winfrey, and for that matter the whole tone of the Globes, was about women empowerment.
So, the stage is set, and the world is hungry for what we as women naturally provide. The world needs more of what I consider the feminine aspect of contribution and leadership. So, to lead, to build, you know, first you want to be authentic, be yourself. I think when we combine authenticity with love, a little bit of courage and little bit of action I think that’s when life gets – that’s how we find our sweet spot.
For anybody that’s feeling a little hesitant about stepping up, find others who will support you and encourage you, because I promise the world is needing exactly who you are and what you have to offer. We are not all meant to be identical. There are 100’s of 1000’s of teachers, coaches, whatever, but there is more than enough for all of us to contribute. I think when we step up and step out that’s when we have the possibility of literally living life - what I call, “Heaven on Earth”.
PHYLLIS SMITH: Lovely. Alright Wendy, I loved talking with you today, learning about your story and seeing all of that. Oh, there is a spirit that comes through. I love your energy and I think you’ve offered something special today. Thank you so much and I appreciate you.
WENDY DARLING: Thank you! I’m more than happy to be here and contribute. I’ve been an eWomen member for a long time. So, this is quite lovely. Thank you so much!
PHYLLIS SMITH: Thank you!
So, to lead, to build, you know, first you want to be authentic, be yourself. I think when we combine authenticity with love, a little bit of courage and little bit of action I think that’s when life gets – that’s how we find our sweet spot
Wendy Darling is the founder of the Miraculous Living Institute. With over 35 years of experience as a relationship and transformational results expert, speaker, seminar facilitator, management and organizational development consultant, master healer and coach, Wendy has created a unique and innovative system that allows you to get the results you want with greater ease and speed. Wendy works with all facets of relationships: singles who want to finally attract love in their life (Attract Love Now), couples who want to replenish their relationship (Miraculous Loving), the relationship with your body and health (Loving Yourself Lean), business owners, executives and their teams to strengthen the team for greater productivity and profits. Wendy also trains and certifies coaches and practitioners in her programs and methodology. Wendy formerly hosted two of her own radio shows, and has been featured in Forbes, as well as numerous other publications. She is the #1 Amazon best-selling author of The Miracle That Is Your Life. Wendy’s clients repeatedly refer to her as their personal "fairy godmother" for assisting them in turning their dreams into reality.