Marilyn EmergingI was born into a military family on the East Coast.
Moving at least every three years,
I was exposed to much change at an early age.
Summer camp was where I let my hair down.
It was also where I first glimpsed spirituality in nature,
and where I was initiated into leadership as a camp counselor.
After college in Massachusetts,
I married and moved to Rochester, NY,
where I began my career
as a computer programmer at Eastman Kodak.
There, mentored by wonderful bosses,
I rapidly advanced into management
and discovered the joy of helping others
grow and develop into themselves.
Five years later, I transferred from Information Systems
to the Real Estate Investment department,
where I was asked to manage two divisions
and reorganize them according to recommendations
I'd made in an earlier consulting study.
Problems in my marriage led to couples counseling,
which quickly evolved into a journey of self-discovery.
Moving through anger, fear and often painful lessons,
we both grew significantly.
By the time we divorced, we were able to
lovingly release each other to our separate lives.
Through therapy, reading, and workshops,
I embarked on an arduous, yet fulfilling, journey
of personal growth and spiritual awakening.
Inner work became more central
and clashed with corporate life.
The parallel tracks I'd been on were diverging.
Knowing that another path was calling me,
and wanting to feel more integrated and aligned,
I sought help—this time, career counseling.
A new vision began to emerge.
In 1987, no longer able to live a split life,
I left the corporate world
to become an independent consultant,
experiencing "whitewater" rapids of excitement and fear,
much as I had during my divorce.
I was boldly initiated into my new life
on a Shaman's Journey in Peru.
There I discovered my power animal—the eagle,
and, to the surprise of the leader and myself,
volunteered to lead others into
and out of the Cave of the Dark
—not knowing that it was Persephone
calling me until some years later.
Drawing on my own experience,
I worked with clients in transition,
helping them create what they wanted
personally, professionally and organizationally.
Then, after four years of being fully on my own,
came a huge transition—a major "death"—in my life:
my business declined as my motivation slipped away;
I sold my beloved condo and moved out of Boston;
a significant relationship failed;
I felt confused, depressed, and betrayed.
A call from Persephone to be a guide
to the underworld and back
led me to pursue graduate programs
for professional development and
a deepening of my own journey.
Encountering more walls in my search
for graduate schools in the Boston area,
and feeling like an alien everywhere I turned,
I finally got that I didn't belong there anymore.
Traveling to the Northwest, including the Bay area,
I discovered ITP—the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
—and felt immediately "at home."
Suddenly, all of the dead-ends I'd experienced
in the previous year made sense.
They were clearing the space for a significant move!
Everything flowed naturally in this new direction.
Thus began seven years of intensive self-discovery;
soaring to new heights
and diving deeply into the dark;
major transformation—both inner and outer—
and new levels of relationship with self and others.
I came to ITP as a seed
—released to the air,
blowing in the wind for awhile
before settling and rooting in new soil.
What was I to become?
My first year was one of descent and awakening.
Death and dying were major themes,
as were confronting authority issues,
grieving and healing childhood pain,
swimming in the unconscious,
dialogues with my soul.
This narrative poem form emerged spontaneously.
Only years later did I discover it in
Paula Spencer Underwood's Walking People.
Reconnecting with my purpose and vision
of guiding others to connect with and live their essence,
of helping business leaders transform,
I began to braid old corporate experience
with a new emerging self
and a third strand of mystery
yet to be revealed.
Toward the end of my first California summer,
I went on a vision quest, with many prayers
focused on finding my life partner.
Ten days later, I met Bill Veltrop.
He was the one.
I began my second year at ITP with excitement and anticipation,
but soon I encountered new walls—inner and outer.
A new descent had begun.
Deep in the well,
I found mirrors everywhere I turned;
Death was all around me.
After holding the tension of opposites,
and intense inner battles between ego and Self,
I began to experience dynamic balance,
a new integration of masculine and feminine,
power and vulnerability,
dark and light.
My third year at ITP was a lesson in organic living.
After a period of struggle around the focus of my internship,
and my decision not to pursue clinical licensing,
I once again surrendered.
What emerged from that process
was an incredible experience of flow.
I accomplished my internship goals
easily, joyfully, naturally,
—and in a balanced way.
Bill and I were married in 1995
in a sacred ceremony we created,
weaving Eastern, Western and Native traditions,
to celebrate and honor Swan, the entity of our relationship.
My doctoral dissertation on the transformational journeys of business leaders
was a transformative experience for me and many involved.
I used a new research methodology called organic inquiry,
wrote the journey stories in narrative poem form,
evolved a new relationship with my inner masculine,
and emerged with a Figure 8 Model
of the transformational journey.
In a full-day gathering of co-researchers,
we shared and reflected on our stories,
laughed, cried and found ourselves
deeply moved and inspired by the experience.
That gathering would later inspire and help shape
our soon-to-emerge Pathfinder Circles.
Through my years at ITP,
the seed I'd been when I entered
grew into a tender green shoot—
sprouting above ground,
seeking the light of day,
and longing to be of service.
By the time I graduated in 1999,
it had become a strong sapling—
swaying in the breeze,
deeply rooted in fertile soil,
... ready to serve.
Bill and I co-founded PathFinders,
offering guidance to individuals and organizations
in evolving "from where they are... to who they are."
We offered our first Pathfinder Circle in 2000
to leaders and change agents committed to
personal, organizational and global transformation.
After five wonderful seasons with Bill,
I started co-leading Pathfinder Circles for Women in 2004.
Meanwhile, I've been growing my own practice
—serving as a guide to individuals and groups
on journeys of awakening and transformation.
I've also been blessed to serve as a hospice volunteer
working with those who are dying.
Spiritual practices are central to my life and work.
Guided by my teacher, Ellen Grace O'Brian,
and initiated into the Kriya Yoga tradition,
I've committed to awaken into Self-realization in this lifetime
and to live my life in service and surrender to God.
Through meditation, silence, and retreats,
I'm learning to honor my contemplative side
along with my "call" to emerge more in the world.
Shamanic practices and creative expression
—dance, photography, gardening and collage—
support my inner and outer journey.
A pilgrimage to Nepal in 2005 was the perfect
complement to my shaman's journey to Peru in 1987.
After many descents and significant "underground" work,
as well as peak experiences and spiritual awakening,
I'm learning to navigate the heights and depths
of this wondrous transformational journey.
With gratitude, humility, awe and curiosity,
I step forward on the path.