We have lost the art of patience. Americans have about a five minute limit to wait for anything without losing our cool. This habit of ‘wanting it all now’ steals the most profound experiences in life. Fretting over traffic clouds our sight to lush sounds of leaves rustling in the wind. Wanting to keep up with the Jones and those restless feelings diminish the importance of just sitting with a baby and reading a book for the hundredth time. Sending leftovers to a neighbor living alone is pushed aside dinner our with the boss. The art of immediate gratification has cost Americans enjoyment of the now incapable of sipping in the quiet power of the universe where bliss abides.
April holds masters degrees in both school and community mental health counseling. After twenty-five years working as an educator, she is now a certified Licensed Professional Counselor Counselor working with those who have experienced emotional abuse, divorce, molestation, and addiction.. She is also certified in elementary school guidance counseling, as well as middle and high school-level English. April is now the author of, Working My Way Back To me, sharing her story of her #Me Too focusing on the transformation from #MeToo into #NowME. She shares the a process of Life with Love; Let it Happen which helps patients heal and rebuild their lives after pain and sore. Telling her story is another way for April to help others with their own stories and challenges. It is her pleasure and honor to be part of Post Modern Bomb Shells.You can hear her on I Tunes, Google Music, and Youtube. She is available for book readings, keynote speaking, and coaching. Please visit: aprilkirkwood.com for more information. De Vivre: Living With A “Ravenous Thirst For Life” Joie De Vivre: Living With A “Ravenous Thirst For Life” With Dr. Marina Kostina.
I had the pleasure of interviewing April Kirkwood who has worked as a therapist, social worker, and educator in public and private sectors of mental health and education. She is the author of a riveting story, Working My Way Back To Me, which vividly shares the complexity of four generations of strong, independent women and their struggles with mental breakdowns, addiction, adultery, affairs and their tug of war with societal expectations and religious dogma. April’s experiences inspire others spirit to find their story encouraging both healing and openness to love again as she did with her family.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As a woman with two masters at the age of fifty, I thought I had life pretty much figured out. Oh I had some bumps and bruises along the way but I thought it was under control. One day, I looked out the window my heart broke open spilling out all of the sadness I had been hiding from myself and others my entire life. I didn’t realize it started when I was just a tiny girl.
Yes, I was a counselor, but I had, until that point, always worked with children. In retrospect, I see now that I did that because it was safe. The last five years I have dedicated to discovering the story of my life from an adult perspective. Through tears and nights of quiet contemplation, I finally arrived at a place where I could drop all that no longer served me and rewrite what and who I wanted to identify with. I found through the process that I could use my mind, body, and soul in connection with my present to heal the hurt, keep the love, and grow in awareness of all the wonder of my adventure without guilt or bitterness towards others. Today, I am an author, therapist, and speaker helping others. It is my desire that my presence will give others the freedom to do their personal work.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
To live ‘on purpose’ means to me that one is cognitively aware of the power they possess to be co-creator of their life. We each can determine tomorrow by what we feel, think, and do right in this moment. This moment will affect the next and the next. We may not be able to control what happens but we can control how it affects our being. That is the power of free will. Most of us are afraid of true freedom because it infers that we are responsible for all that happens in our lives. It is true, however. Our essence is fluid like a river able to affect and move in many directions. I have chosen to flow with love as my compass.
I follow three simple practices:
Each day I affirm that my life’s goal is to be love in human form.
I choose to use my mind and body to be the watcher of the NOW.
As a watcher I will let my positive energy flow like a river to all who come near me.
My life’s passion is to do my part to heal others on their journey.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
As others read my book, Working My Way Back to Me, they always ask me how I could love these people who did such awful things. At first I was taken aback. I never considered that I shouldn’t love them. Over and over, others ask me why I’m so kind. I found that some of those difficult times taught me some wonderful character traits. Forgiveness is the key to peace. Also, I feel as I forgive others, those who I have hurt will forgive me. It’s a universal principle that I seemed to have understood as a little girl. If my troubled youth helped me master that lesson, I consider it all worth the cost.
It’s vital for each of us to look at even the scariest moments of our lives but with the safety of the watcher, not the victim or the villain. By looking at our stories from adult perspectives, peering in from many angles, we can see clearly the pain and sorrows of all with wisdom not judgment.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
The United States is the land of freedom to choose. However, what we have chosen seems to be flawed in terms of the results of the World Happiness Report findings. The reasons for our lack of peace are numerous. Here are what I would call as the tip of the iceberg of our country’s self-loathing and despair.
- We lack understanding of what life is about. We would rather cheat then lose. We want the blue ribbon without the work necessary to earn it. We look for the easy route and the free ride. Character building is less important then learning to google. Team work is second only to first place. Sharing is a lost art, as well as forgiveness, and respect. Discrimination, bigotry, abuse, suicide, elderly depression, and addiction are results of this misunderstanding of lack of core values.
- We judge ourselves and others by what we have accumulated in monetary terms. Ever changing trends, luxuries, and glamour are how we measure our personal worth. No matter how much we get, there is always someone younger, richer, and more beautiful. It is a contest we can never win. The end result is never being able to measure up to these extravagant, impossible goals. We are raising a generation of shallow, superficial, selfish narcissists. Self-esteem is disappearing and so is our ability to stand tall proud to work hard, genuine service to others, and to live within our means.
- We have lost the art of patience. Americans have about a five minute limit to wait for anything without losing our cool. This habit of ‘wanting it all now’ steals the most profound experiences in life. Fretting over traffic clouds our sight to lush sounds of leaves rustling in the wind. Wanting to keep up with the Jones and those restless feelings diminish the importance of just sitting with a baby and reading a book for the hundredth time. Sending leftovers to a neighbor living alone is pushed aside dinner our with the boss. The art of immediate gratification has cost Americans enjoyment of the now incapable of sipping in the quiet power of the universe where bliss abides.
- We are consumers in a disposable world. Collecting things and people are temporary fixes that will never satisfy for repair the broken spirit. The road is endless and leads no where. Lusting for money, sex, and power robs you and leaves your soul empty. It’s exhausting and disappointing. Depression is only one of the effects of Americans leading to crimes of passion, financial disasters, divorces, and mental health issues.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am now sharing my story to others both on social media, Youtube, and as a speaker. I am available to work one on one and offer webinars. Most importantly, I strive to walk the walk and be an example to each person that I am grateful enough to meet. If my life helps just one person find their life, their song, their enthusiasm to be their best self, I will be honored.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
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Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I love the study of The Kabbalah. I am a life long student red string and all. My favorite author is Marianne Williamson. Her first huge success, A Woman’s Worth, changed my life in terms of my life and the way I understood the lives of the women in my family. I owe her a lot. When I long for heaven, I study books by Michael Newton, Ph.D. I love Journey of Souls, also his first book. It resonates a truth my soul seems to instinctively gravitate to. Reading it excites me. I have marked up and studied both Williamson’s and Newton’s work until their books are almost unreadable. My favorite house of worship is Unity but you can invite me anywhere and I’m thrilled to learn of your teachings. God goes to many temples and so I do I.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Love is within us. It cannot be destroyed. It cannot be ignored. To the extent that we abandon love we will feel it has abandoned us.
Denying love is our only problem, and embracing it is the only answer.
Through the power of love, we can let go of past history and begin again.
Love heals, forgives, and makes whole.”
— Ernest Holmes
As a child of a mentally ill parent, I have clung to the phrase, “Love is the only healer.” Although she never fully recovered from the demons swirling in her mind, my love for her healed our relationship and on her death bed, I was proud to sit with this woman who did the best she could with the skills she had. I am proud to be her daughter. I am proud of the lessons her life taught.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
My humble hope is that my presence will give others freedom to bravely visit their story. Take it off the shelf of your memory no matter how long it’s been. Touch the pages of memories. Cry, wonder, dream, sit, and share with others if you are lead. Then with grace from above, invite healing to live again, love again, and smile. You are the author and you can rewrite the ending utilizing the Trinity of your soul, body, and mind. So it is.