In the ’80’s Empowerment was bigger than big hair, and our Joanie as Alexis Carrington led the way. Big hair, big power shoulders and big drama on Dynasty had us hooked and at the same time our m8s were going down like flies to AIDS so the buzz word was EMPOWERMENT. At this time I was undergoing my own drama’s – recovering from active addiction, personal bankruptcy, cirrhosis of the liver plus living and dying with chronic active Hepatitis B Virus that had no cure. This is how I came to empower myself.

Every AIDS movie had to have 2 props, one was a token screaming queen and the other a copy of Louise L. Hay’s YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE on the bedside cabinet. If you don’t believe me watch Philadelphia, the 1993 Tom Hanks movie.

When the book was published in 1984 she began creating and leading support groups for people living with HIV/ AIDS – she called these ” Hay Rides ” – for around 300 gay men who were told they were about to die. I got sent the book in 1984 from a friend in San Diego along with an AIDS tape with a guided meditation which I used every night for 3 years. By 1990 I hit the big 50 mark of people I knew who had died of AIDS, many gay recovering addicts and alcoholics with immune systems too weak to withstand longevity, then I stopped counting cases and going to funerals. Between 1994 -96 I worked with people who had a CD4 count under 10 and many in single figures. I assisted those dying in completing this lifetime but many are still alive today with combos, but combos are not empowering unless you HEAL YOUR LIFE alongside it – habits will return unless observed with intent for change.

During the 80’s you only had therapy if you had AIDS or experienced breakdown. Now we talk more about harm reduction rather than waiting to crash and burn. Therapy is now the stuff of glossy mags and pub talk but many still see therapy as fashionable nonsense rather than EMPOWERMENT. Look at Alexis – she powered herself on the outside – Big Shoulders, Big Eyes, Big Ambitions. Well it may get you noticed but it won’t get you sane. The birth of Muscle Marys came out of AIDS when young men became skin and bone before our eyes so we began to bulk up & beef up, but Empowerment comes from having the courage to look inside and not being concerned with the wrapping. Aussiebums never healed ANY life to my knowledge, but therapy has saved millions to balanced thinking & living.

Although parts of the book may feel too New Age and dated now, you cant deny that it has sold 35 million copies in over 30 languages and is still on the New York Times Best Seller List 25 years later. Louise wrote about Empowerment as a natural act and rather surprised that people hadn’t cottoned on to this simplicity – that thoughts are creative. If your mind or lifestyle is crammed and speedy look upon therapy of any kind, including bodywork, as a speed-bump that slows you down to a code of observation. Only by observation can you empower yourself or to put it another way – you can’t get well until you realise how sick you are.

You may ask yourself whether you are a grab-it-all like Alexis powering through with rancidity, swinging those big shoulders to the left and right barging through. Perhaps you have chosen to sound like this but the power is all show because when it comes to saying NO to someone, you always say YES to keep the peace. Maybe you think you are empowered being in a VIP area or on a guest list. You may also may want to check the fuel you use to power the engine.

This weeks REHAB exercise is to ask friends how they see you. Quentin Crisp always said that the most interesting thing about a person starts with ” the trouble with you is . . . So don’t ask your friends how good you are, cut to the chase and ask ” so what’s the trouble with me . . .?  Learning not to take criticism personally and taking it on the chin as constructive feedback is real empowerment. So take a breath, listen & learn.