Tell us about a deep soul connection that you’ve experienced. This happened very recently. It was a conversation—actually an ending (or so I thought). It was a very hard conversation. It was open, unguarded and honest and just so raw. It was as if we were not having the conversation, it was having us. It was a most soulful experience and, rather than being an ending, it became the foundation for an exceptionally strong, extraordinary friendship.

Describe one of the most soul-opening moments of your life. Towards the end of 2010, I found myself in what my friend described as a black hole. “A black whole,” says Os Hillman in TGIF: Daily Workplace Inspiration, “is a time in our life when God removes the resources and supports that we normally rely on—our careers, finances, friends, family, health and so fourth.” I had lost my job, my savings, my home, my love. Much of it due to forces beyond my control; some due to my own poor choices (that was the part that was hardest to take).

Anyway, I am at my sister’s house, I am just an open wound; everything makes me cry. My sister listens to me talk and cry and then she says, very quietly, “Well, are you ready to try something different?” Yes… yes I am. That simple quiet question, those few words said “you are not helpless, you can take charge of your life, you have a choice. It will take work, but you can get your life back.”

And I am back. I am nowhere near where I was financially, but I am working and self-supporting and through this I have seen that I have 6 people in my life that don’t care what I have or don’t have; that loved me through one of the worst extended periods of my life… and did so without censure or judgement or pity. Can you imagine? What a blessing, to have 6 people love you and care for you that much? That alone is an amazing soul-opening experience, but through this I also learned to be alert to new truths and perspectives. My “black hole” experience is proving to be one of the most eye-opening, soul-opening times of my life.

Tell us about when you feel your most soulful? I love exploring: just driving, or walking around… exploring… and taking pictures. My camera is my sanity. It’s not just about taking pretty pictures; it’s seeing a story, or a scene that inspires a story, that inspires you to imagine. Pretty, peaceful, gritty, grimy, dirty… It’s about capturing a moment. I’m all about appreciating the moments (just ask my poor kids, who’ve endured listening to that mantra all of their lives… but you know what? I think they get it.) That’s when I feel most soulful I think—when I am open to seeing beyond the apparent. I have also discovered that what gives me the most pleasure of all my senses is my mouth: laughing, singing, talking, eating, drinking, kissing… all of these are amazingly sensual, soulful experiences… yeah?

Where have you felt the most in touch with your own soul? The Marin Headlands and Mammoth Lakes both in California, both stunningly beautiful and peaceful. Oh, and a little mountain stream (don’t even know the name of it or if it has a name) where on a drive a friend and I stopped and had a sandwich and a beer and a beautifully quiet and serene hour.

Describe one of the most soulful people you’ve ever known. My son. He is quiet and loving and thoughtful and kind with a sense of honor and decency that constantly impresses me. I have been complimented on the man that my son is… and I can’t even take credit for it. He is a far more fair and kind person than I. And my daughter as well. She shares the same sense of honor and decency, but she is a natural born warrior. She is the youngest, she is tiny, and she is fierce. She is so protective of me and her brother. They are 23 and 26 and when we are out—walking, shopping, whatever—they hold my hand. They always have. I love that. When I think of them I am reminded of a quote: “If I have taught them half as much as I have learned from them… all Praise is due to God, and only the errors weere mine!”

What qualities do you feel a soulful relationship has? Trust, respect, compassionate honesty, communication, passion, compassion, vulnerability, humor and playfulness… individuality but with at least some mutual interests. And of course—LOVE!

What do you feel your soul’s purpose is? Maybe just to live as authentically as possible? I have learned to appreciate what is in front of me. I actually stop to smell the flowers, the coffee (yum). Maybe it’s to learn and appreciate and just enjoy as much as possible. To be as positive as possible, to be of service. To acknowledge others. To listen. To be kind! And hopefully, to help others as much as I have been helped.