In 2010, John and I were in Santa Fe, a place that is a Mecca of joy for me. We were window shopping. I was sharing with him some of my years living in Santa Fe in the early 70’s and the wonderful characters I had surrounded myself with back then: artists of all sorts, healers, hippies, cowboys, mystics, Native American Medicine Men, carpenters, writers, some ex-convicts, ranchers, and so on. I was having the blessing of being able to show John the sites of actual events in my life.
I love wolves. We passed a store of Native American art and I noted several pictures focusing on the wolf. I had to go in and so we did. The man in the store was the artist himself, Daniel Valdes. I loved his native art, especially of the animals, and most especially the wolf. Daniel was taken with my energy and enthusiasm for his work, along with my curiosity and interest in him. John was looking around the store and of course was holding the energy field as Traveler. Daniel and I continued to share and it became clear that what was really going on between us was the sharing of Soul energy and re-union.
Daniel told me he himself held a role as a Native American mystic, and he spoke to me specifically of the Raven and his profound relationship with this energy. I then shared my own life long appreciation for the Raven. He asked me, “Do you know your ‘animal’ or ‘spirit animals’?” He commented that I had a gifted sensitivity to natural life and the animal spirit. I said I did not know my animals, or my spirit animals. I bought several paintings of wolves and we all hugged and said we would see each other again.
I did not go to Santa Fe the following year. John called me on his last morning there, and I asked him to please go by and give my love to Daniel. As I was speaking to John, I was looking at the picture of the wolf that Daniel had painted. Shortly John called me back, and told me that the store was closed due to Daniel’s passing away a few days before. He had passed away while John had been in Santa Fe. I was deeply affected, shocked and unable to speak. I had been feeling so happily connected to him, and so eager to hear how he was.
John spoke a blessing of the Light for Daniel. I then sat down to do my spiritual exercises and to pray for him, allowing myself to feel the tenderness in my heart, and the loss… and suddenly Daniel came utterly present. It was temporarily unnerving as I had no expectation of such an experience. His presence was as a palpable cloud of his spirit all around me, and it was soothing and honoring of me as his friend and sister. I let myself take it in and relax and shortly I was out of my body. I had a remarkable and potent lucid dream. I was aware that Daniel was somehow orchestrating this dream. He was unseen but present within it.
I came into union with various totems that have a deep bond with me on some level of awareness…all appearing to me as living animals. I had the experience of walking in a forested and spacious landscape. A magnificent grey and white wolf appeared to my right and moved into natural step beside me. Proud, wild and protective, he was assured and committed that he walked beside me always. We understood this with no question. My right arm comfortably dropped to him and I lightly cupped his neck with my hand. The mantle of his coat felt thick and rough. We were in an effortless communion and both of us knew we were the stronger for each other.
To my left side appeared a female deer. Her fur and markings emitted a golden warmth that I could feel enter into me as she moved beside me. The warmth bathed me and comforted me. She was indefinably lovely and graceful, yet her muscles were supple and very strong. With awareness she tripped lightly on her feet in perfect rhythm with my step. Her eyes were the gift. They were rich and soft eyes that fixed on me with a penetrating tenderness. She was inviting me into the knowingness of the love we shared.
Next, a bald eagle landed on my head, his talons fixed comfortably like a secure solid band on the top of my head. His wings were fully spread and his fierce eyes, black and piercing, were in sharp and acute perception of all that was around us. He was poised to take care of any intruder approaching with anything less than love. Focused allegiance with my heart was all he knew and nothing else. My aegis, my shield and my sword.
Walking close behind me was a fully grown male lion. He carefully measured his distance to me with an eye to my safety. His head would shake with his sound, and a visceral, tensile and shameless power moved through him with every step. His motions expressed a tough nobility in the midst of his male grace. My back still feels the heat of his breath that blew forth with his unlimited and undying loving for me. This lionine presence thrived in unquestioned loyalty.
At some distance before me in awkward stance on two legs, walked a very large bear mantled in brilliant, luxurious black and brown fur. He walked intently, proudly going ahead before us all, doing his job and making sure it was heralded and safe.
Daniel’s energy and presence then lifted from the experience.
Still dreaming, there was now an addendum to these earth animals and their powerful alignment with me. A baby lamb was placed into my arms by Spirit. This transcendental innocence and sweetness and delectable softness snuggled to my heart and rested within me in total trust. My heart was enveloped with Spirit’s loving.
Daniel bestowed his gift to me. It is a gift of safety and protection that is real for me to this day. I easily feel the infusion of these beautiful creatures and their qualities. We are all deeply in love with each other. Each animal being is my beloved and an aspect of my own loving. I am beloved to them. We move harmoniously as Family, all One. Thank you dear friend, my Raven friend Daniel. Thank you.
I seem to have a unique relationship with fire.
I burn water.
I burn toast.
I burn food.
I have exploded an oven in my face the night before my opening as the lead in an Off Broadway play.
I often leave candles burning.
I manage to set off fire alarms.
I often forget to turn off the oven and the stove.
There have been more than a few steaks burning in flaming infernos.
I love candles and looking into the flame for the little man.
I don’t know why but none of this disturbs me. Perhaps Zarathustra is blessing me with the Fires of Purification.
When I was 9 I blew up an oven in my face looking for the match while the gas was on. It was a Saturday morning in East Rochester, New York. My parents slept in on Saturday morning, trusting that I was happily listening to my special children’s programs on weekend radio, attended always by my beloved parakeet “Keepie,” with my delicious can of cold spinach for breakfast. I adored my parents and on this morning I thought it would be romantic to cook something for them as a surprise breakfast in bed. I cannot remember what it was I wanted to make for them, but it required an oven. I remember seeing my mother turn on the oven, but couldn’t remember if the gas went on first and then the match, or light the match and turn on the gas. It seemed more sensible to turn on the gas and light the match. Less awkward. So I did. I turned it on and looked for the matches. I found them, lit one, and BOOM. A searing sharp warmth engulfed my face. Then it was over and I was frozen for a moment while taking quick account that this was serious, and considering whether or not my parents had heard the boom. They had not. I was not in pain. I went to the bathroom mirror and saw that I was in some trouble. My front hair was grey and singed, my eyebrows were grey and singed to the root. My eyelashes were but a fluff of grey, otherwise I was remarkably unharmed, just very pink and warm. I considered my options, and went for the scissors. I cut my front hair carefully, removing the evidence. I cut my eyebrows as close to my skin as I could, and cut my eyelashes to my lid. For some reason obscure to me now, I thought I looked just fine and I had escaped detection. I looked like a plucked chicken.
It is odd and perhaps revealing that until my parents were sitting next to me in the car later that morning, that my mother noticed, heartily screamed and asked, “What have you done to yourself!”
I was sitting and reading in the lounge lobby of my hotel in Madrid, Spain. It was 1969. I was 23. The corner I had found gave me an open view of the lobby, and the comings and goings of people as I sat enveloped in a red velvet chair. I was reading Jung: MEMORIES, DREAMS AND REFLECTIONS. I was in heaven as I usually was when I was reading, and I was feeling content from a busy day of fittings for my next film, THE HORSEMEN, including a fitting for my new gold nose ring. It was English tea time. I felt I had created a field around me that said No Visitors, as I adored immersing myself in reading, drinking a lovely tea, and observing life around me without any intrusions of human interaction. A woman approached my haven. Before I could react, she was instantly compelling to my artist’s eye. She had glistening thick silver snow hair, flawless translucent skin with natural rose pink cheeks and clear turquoise eyes. She was short, slightly rounded and utterly radiated warmth and electric vitality. She was wearing black, simple and elegant, highlighted by the most magnificent American Indian turquoise necklace. Of course it matched her eyes. I could not even determine her age as she was so remarkably alive. I took all of this in within an instant, as I was equally negotiating that I wanted privacy please.
With an enchanting smile and no concern for her having intruded upon my precious space, she said, “What are you reading?” “Jung” I said, not knowing why I offered her up my book. “May I sit down?”. Oh dear I thought. “Yes, of course,” I said.
Within seconds, or so it seemed, I was in love. We began a pithy and effortless communion. Scarcely moving, highly alert, we were excited in our sharing of books, philosophers and Spirit. Our conversation was as if we were one person divided into two women making a new whole. It was seamless joy. I was starved for this sort of engagement and I felt I was with my best friend and that we had been so forever. It was a warmth of being increased somehow, as she was filling my cup to overflowing.
Sanora Babb was her artist’s name. She was Sanora Wong Howe as wife and partner. Sanora was a writer, a poet, and well published. Apart from being the wife of one of the film industry’s greatest cinematographers, James Wong Howe, she had spent her life amongst the aristocracy of the world’s finest writers, philosophers, artists, and scientists. She was a Muse as well. Hemingway, Saroyan, Maxwell Perkins, Steinbeck, Diego Rivera, Frida Kieho, Einstein and more, had been her friends and compatriots, and lovers.
I was a 23 year old actress starring in a film with her husband as my Director of Photography, and she was 60, an artist intellectual with a spirit like fresh breezes. She was my inner life made manifest in a friend. I was instantly less lonely. The promise of our future friendship was secured this day. If we had cut our fingers and mixed our blood speaking some childish poem of eternal loyalty it would not have been strange.
We both lived in Los Angeles. As the years progressed she deeply understood who I was in so many dimensions unknown by others, and I understood her. We had no age difference. We were just free, unfettered, and utterly outspoken and vulnerable. I gave her the key to my heart with abandon, and she gave me her heart with no frills.
She remained a golden thread shining in the fabric of this life of mine. True Wealth.
She passed at 99.
I was close with her in her dying process as she slowly let go of this world. In great spiritual intimacy, I ministered her into her next adventure, and she blessed me into the remaining chapters of my life. She is with me now, and I know she heartily approves of my choices and is glad. Fiercely however, she would be wanting more of me to be expressing creatively. We are both Artists still, passionate, loving and free .
Some of her amazing books:
An Owl on Every Post
The Lost Traveler
Whose Names are Unknown
I remember being 25. I remember Ryan sitting cross legged on the left side of the bed in his old brown plaid robe rolling a joint. It was early morning at our home on Anita Drive and I was dressed for my jazz dance class. My body was eager and alive with an electricity in every cell anticipating moving to joyful dance and music. Even the long drive on this bright Saturday morning to the class seemed thrilling in my new fast Radford Mini. I felt joy. But first I laid out the architectural plans of the new house I was designing for us at the beach. I was excited with the surprise I had for Ryan. With the architect, I had designed a racquet ball court for him. I got on my knees at the foot of the bed and spread the drawings out. I was immersed, happily pointing out the details in this new design, and Ryan suddenly said, “You aren’t going to want to live with me there.” I remember I looked up smiling. I could only register there must be something not quite right in the drawings and this was just an odd way of saying it. I digested his face. My whole body seemed to have a sudden intelligent awareness, and my energy began to drain into a slowing dullness. I was confused. I asked simply, “Why not?” I remember vaguely feeling that I was at the edge of an internal cliff and that I might suddenly and unexpectedly be pushed off. Time seemed slower. The light at the edges of the room were dimming. At the very same time, there was a narrowing focus and heightened awareness. All in a micro-instant.
“Because,” he said, “I have a mistress.”
My system froze. My heart rate took on a life of its own. Without any effort I was processing a worst terror come true. It was the oddest thing for even as my body went into a strange adaptation, I was taking in the one who I loved so deeply, who was part of the fabric of my heart and so familiar. Everything was so familiar but I knew that a surgery without anesthetic had just been performed, and now all was going to change. A stillness came upon me. It was a river of calm and it was warm and strong. Unexpected.
I said, “Would you tell me who it is?”
He paused, hesitant, “I don’t think so. It will blow your mind.”
“Well, I think my mind is already blown. I would be grateful to know.” I was aware my voice was not compromising my love for him. It was sweet and calm and open, with no judgement or reaction. You must keep your wits about you in a Tsunami.
“It’s Barbra Streisand.”
“Barbra Streisand?!!!!!!! WOW.” I said.
I adored her. She was the one and only Icon I allowed myself to adore. The conversation took on a new dimension. In this moment my Heart Self was stepping on a thin wire, high above vastly tall buildings in my ballet shoes, no net, delicately balancing myself so as not to fall. I focused my eyes on him to steady myself, the “him” that was the anchor of my affection, my loyalty, my “security’’. I saw now only a lost boy. Beyond my pain and my fear, my love and compassion for him rose up instinctively inside of me. I moved up onto the bed and came close into him. I reached out, cupped his cheek, looked into his eyes saying softly, “What are you doing, baby?”
He began to cry and said, “I don’t know.”
IN 2000, and 2001 I had very difficult years, actually they were devastating and in retrospect, utterly transformational to the good. At another time, I will fill in the events of this time that led to my being without money, no stable home base, ill, with limited strength and no seeming light at the end of any tunnel.
Five days after 9/11, I had a counseling with John Morton who is the spiritual director of my church, a wondrous man, counselor and my friend. I shared some of the conditions of my life and my confusion at how to handle my everyday responsibilities in order to survive with no job or health. I shared with him that I had been evicted from my home and through the grace of a good friend had been able to rent a small house that I loved and hoped to keep as a place to stabilize myself for more healing. The rent was due in a few days and I had no resources and was deeply confused and felt paralyzed as to what to do. John was thoughtful and suggested that I needed to ask for help. This idea was foreign to me. In fact, it was terrifying. He went on to say that “asking” was not my strong suit and needed to be developed. He said that there were people in my life who needed to give to me to balance their own imbalance with me, and if I did not ask them to help me, they could not fulfill their debt. I would be giving them an opportunity to come into greater balance with themselves. Wow, this was such a smart illumination in my awareness of another possible dynamic in “asking.” I listened to my beloved friend John and took the information he shared to heart.
As I was driving home thinking of the session, I was very aware of the rent being due in two days. Who could I possibly ask? I did not like this. There were no ideas in my conscious mind. I then heard in my right ear, “Ask Ryan O’Neal.” In shock, I reactively turned to the right and said loudly, “Absolutely not!” The “voice” was relentless, and patiently repetitive. “Ask Ryan O’Neal.” I did my best over the next two days to ignore the message. And the more I ignored it, the more disturbed I was becoming. It did not go away.
In the late afternoon of the day before my rent was due, I finally picked up the phone, my heart beating miserably loud, and I called Ryan. The relief I felt when I realized it was a machine, was quickly matched with panic about leaving a message at the sound of the tone. I sort of mumbled and barely alluded to what I would ask of him, then I hung up. Done. Relief. I was sure that was enough. It was embarrassing and it was done and I was letting go. Melting into my inevitable coming crisis, I felt like Scarlet O’Hara…tomorrow was another day. I went to bed early, immersing myself in pillows and comfort and my cats to be with God. I was more at ease asking something of God.
At 3am the phone rang. I answered and a voice said, “It’s Ryan.” Half asleep, I spilled the beans. I told him everything that had happened and what I needed and if… perhaps, would he possibly consider … assisting me? In answer to his few questions, I awkwardly shared my monthly nut and financial obligations, and told him that I had no money to pay them. There was a slight pause, and he said, “Go to my office tomorrow morning at 9am and there will be a check for you for all of your expenses.” I was shocked because it was a graceful experience with no sharp edges, no demand for when he wanted it back … in fact he told me to forget about that, and if I needed it again the next month, to call him. And then some Ryan humor I don’t remember, and a kind goodbye.
For almost one year, until my health was strong, Ryan helped me. At one point he said to me, “Thank you, Leigh, for asking me to help you…I owed you and did not know what to do about it.”
The healing of broken circles back to wholeness is what my inner life guides me to do. My experience with Ryan was just that, the healing of a life circle. My courage in asking for help, which in turn invited Ryan’s generosity, changed that moment of my life to greater good. What came from this greater good is a clean slate that is bright today in my friendship with Ryan. And he continues to extend his generosity to our two beautiful granddaughters.
I share this very personal story because I live my life aspiring to be grateful, to forgive, to love, to accept and to understand others even when situations or circumstances have sometimes hurt me. Back in 1970 when my heart felt as if it was broken, I was a young woman who really needed to move on in order to grow. Ryan’s choices became just the catalyst, and the blessing I needed to move on, leading me ever more profoundly into my Spiritual journey. I was already learning that loving is an inside job, and not based on whether someone else loves you, or not, the way you would like. These lessons are not always easy and I am still learning.
Oh, by the way, remember John Morton, that wondrous man, counselor, and friend I mentioned? I married him in 2013!
the seemingly empty cup of now.
John-Roger a love story, comes to mind. Also known as JR. How one remarkable being can define a person’s whole life. For some it has been family, or a career or a child, or an event. For me, my life has been the most truly defined by Love and this man, John-Roger. I first met him when I was 27. In retrospect I was lost. The kind of lost where you are sort of doing fine, here and there, but arriving nowhere that really fulfills. Still, I was vitally searching for something that kept pulling me towards the unseen, towards mystery. I had always had a feeling for the unseen since I was a very small child. It was in my hard wiring. Angels were not strange to me, or soft hidden sounds, whispers of Presence. I reveled in silence as it was full of company. I could not see anyone but it was a feeling of such satisfaction and joy and safety. I still feel most comfortable in silence.
I want to rage my wings wide and set myself free. I AM!
On New Year’s Day Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens was set up, decorated in finery (as if it couldn’t get more beautiful here) and ready for several hundred people – ready to participate in a “Resolution Spiritual Spa Workshop” followed by the Wedding Celebration of PALG’s Beloved friends, John Morton and Leigh Taylor-Young. The theme of this workshop, coincidentally or not was: Commitment, Devotion, Dedication, Consecration and Celebration. I kid you not, this was the theme before the Wedding Celebration was scheduled! Participants explored ways to deepen their dedication to themselves, their Higher Self and God.
Here is the video of the entire Spiritual Spa Workshop – enjoy!
The Wedding Celebration and Consecration followed. As John and Leigh betrothed and exchanged their vows, they spoke intimately and movingly about their commitment, their journey, their dedication to one another. It became an affirmation, an inspiration and a beloved vision to all.
Here is the video of the ceremony.
One guest wrote, “I marvel at Leigh’s ability to create what is in her heart. I receive her blessing as my own, for what we behold we can become. I am grateful to witness the ways in which I am one with God.”
Open Letter from PALG
Dear Leigh and John,
Thank you for leading, inspiring, showing us the way as you walk through your challenges and joys sharing your love and heart with God, yourselves and us all. Your demonstration of strength, persistence, courage, unabashed loving and joyful living is a gift.
God bless you both.
Your friends at Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
And their first dance was a “first dance-walk” on the labyrinth.
Here’s the wedding photo album…
A New Year and A New Marriage: Resolution Spa Day with the Marriage of John Morton and Leigh Taylor Young
A great article about the wedding written by Sherie Wylie, photos by David Sand
Recorded early 2000 in Santa Monica California
By John Morton – December 9, 2009
Originally posted on Intentblog.com
Leigh Taylor-Young and I participated recently in the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. We gathered with over 10,000 fellow peacemakers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Although this was Leigh’s first visit to the Parliament, I attended in 1999 when the Parliament was held in Capetown, South Africa. At that time, I spoke during the Peace Pole dedication ceremony on Robben Island, the site of the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela attended that Parliament as well and spoke of his “debt” to religion throughout his life.A prime theme of the Parliament this year focused on “Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World”. The Parliament brought together the religious/spiritual world with the scientific/secular world as a means to address our environmental crises, including the global warming so powerfully affecting our planet.Early on Saturday morning this year, Leigh and I presented an “observance” — a category of presentations at the Parliament where a religion or group offers a form of worship, practice, meditation, or invocation. We chose to present an Invocation of the Light along with chanting Ani Hu, a form of worship and chanting that we teach in the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness(MSIA). We called in the Light, and then the group chanted together Ani, an ancient term that brings forward the quality of empathy, and Hu, an ancient name for God.Following a moment for the group’s quiet inner contemplation, I presented an annotated version of the Gathering of the Peacemakers meditationthat I had recorded in 1989. During the guided meditation, I described our crossing through a river that cleanses and purifies, serving as a baptism of the Spirit in All. This meditative baptism gives us the opportunity to let go of the past and move forward refreshed and renewed. In addition, I spoke of the opportunity we all have to join other peacemakers in this inner journey, which I see as a calling for all peacemakers.Leigh introduced her long-time ministry which supports planetary healing and restoration of the natural world. She spoke of her many years of devoted service as a representative to the United Nations as well as the Institute for Individual and World Peace. Leigh then presented a new version of the Spirit of Peace meditation that she had recorded in 1989. This new guided meditation invoked a beautiful presence of peace and healing for ourselves and our planet as Leigh noted repeatedly “and it is good”.
A quintessential moment at the Parliament occurred as part of a presentation on the “Green Patriarch”, a reference to Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church which reportedly has over 250 million followers at this time. The presentation was sponsored by the Forum on Religion and Ecology established by professors at Yale University. Patriarch Bartholomew traces the oldest uninterrupted lineage of Christian Church leadership, long before the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church, all the way back to the first of the Patriarchs, none other than the Apostle Andrew. Since 1997, Patriarch Bartholomew has led an international effort through joint symposiums with leaders from Christian, Catholic (including the last two Popes), Muslim, Hebrew, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and several indigenous traditions along with prominent ecologists and scientists.
During this presentation, we viewed a film in which a group of over 200 leaders and major news media personnel traveled by ship to an arctic location in Greenland where the largest ice cap in the world has been melting at an alarming rate. On the bow of the ship which was anchored at the foot of an immense glacier, the religious leaders joined hands with Patriarch Bartholomew while he led the group in a prayer. The group continued holding in silence and then turned to face the glacier with their prayerful offerings. At the same time, the local Inuit and Saami tribes gathered in kayaks upon the waters below.As the environmental crisis appears to be worsening, many people fear that the combined measures taken so far are insufficient to correct and restore our natural world. Many fear we are not able to provide what is needed to avert increasing cataclysmic occurrences from affecting the entire planet and everyone of us on Earth. A significant portion of the ecological and scientific world is acknowledging that what is called for now is a leadership of the masses of humanity. What is needed is inspiration on the order of the miraculous — actions positively affecting millions upon millions across every land and into the seas and the skies.
Religious leadership is seen as a far greater influence upon the masses than any other form of leadership, including political or ethnic groups. More of the religious leadership, involving hundreds of millions and billions of people around the world, need to call upon their followers locally and globally to take corrective measures that would turn the tide. Suggestions include churches, temples, and shrines around the world demonstrating energy and pollution-reducing measures, such as the use of solar panels and more greening of their many land holdings..
We are certainly being called upon to send our prayers and Light for the highest good of all. Our individual and collective actions are vitally important to help make our individual world and the world at large a better place. What do I see? With God all things are possible. With the highest God, we are not called into fear and worry nor the callings of those in the line of Cassandra or Chicken Little. We are called upon to move into the presence that loves and cares for all, including all the natural forms of the creation.
Those leading this call to action at the Parliament, including Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim of Yale University and Martin Frick of the Global Humanitarian Forum along with many other presenters, encouraged us to move to the awe and wonder of our world. With that inspiration and hope, we can then become full participants in change for the better. Such change begins with you and me.
At a follow-up discussion for Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Benedictine, and other prominent leaders of the world’s religions, Leigh initiated a petition for that leadership to make an appearance at the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference. Can you envision the leadership of the world’s religions calling upon the entire world to make a radical change to heal and restore the planet to its harmonic balance with flourishing becoming the result?
John-Roger said, “What You Can Behold, You Can Become.” What we can behold for the world, can become. Our imagination is not limited unless we allow it to be so. It begins with each one of us individually.
Perhaps right now you can pause for a moment to call upon God and the Christ within you to bless our planet, envisioning all who are in leadership and those who are called upon to help to make a change for the best. Let us also invoke the Spirit of Peace in All and see ourselves enjoining in the Gathering of Peacemakers. Let us become the blessings that already are for ourselves, for the world, and for all of God’s creation. Let us let go and let God.
Baruch Bashan (the blessings already are)
John Morton, D.S.S. is the author of two inspiring books, The Blessings Already Are and You Are the Blessings: Meditations and Reflections on Life, God and Us. To learn more about John’s works, visit www.johnmortonministries.org. Contact John at email@example.com.
LTY featured after Sally Kirkland
What an exhilarating time to be alive! Rapid changes, rapid growth and transformation seemed the order of the day. This kind of acceleration is not always comfortable or easy, but the way I see it, there is nothing more to do than to embrace it and let it move us forward. The Nineties were filled with challenges that tested my strength and all I had learned up until then. I had difficult health challenges, now healed through Grace and alternative medicine and determination. I journeyed through another divorce during which time I lost my home and most of my finances. My father died from lung cancer in 1992 and my mother died in the summer of 1995.
I formed a film production company called Windermere Productions in partnership with an established female producer, and a good friend. Although none of our films were made, I had three years of learning that the “other” side of the camera is no less challenging. I wrote and produced a meditation tape called The Spirit of Peace which I presented “live” in the General Assembly at the United Nations in December of 1990. I am very proud of this particular project. I continued my ongoing work with The United Nations Environment Programme, which took me to Africa, The Arctic, and allowed me to meet and “bond” with such fine environmentalists as Dr. David Suzuki and his wife, Tara. My global family of concerned and dedicated humanists expanded significantly in the Nineties.
I recorded a series of Meditation tapes for A Course In Miracles called the Search for Serenity. This is another project that gives me great satisfaction. I spent a happy season on Picket Fences as the Mayor of Rome, Wisconsin. I won an Emmy for this role in 1995.
I had a re-entry into the wonderful and chaotic world of Rock and Roll in a three year relationship with Dave Mason, formerly of Traffic. We are old friends from the Seventies. In these years with him, I spent at least one year travelling in and out of the Fleetwood Mac tours. David had joined them in 1995.
In November 1997, my son Patrick O’Neal and Rebecca De Mornay had their first child, a little girl. I have welcomed this soul with all my heart. She gives me the opportunity to step into another role of loving. I’m very happy with my life. I’m used to challenge. I’m getting to experience much more about joy, happiness, sharing and loving in my personal life. And so the adventure continues.
The decade of the ’80s covered distinct and certainly diverse areas of my life. I married twice, first to a president of a film studio,and the other, a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and a healer. I made two very good movies in the mid-eighties, Secret Admirer and Jagged Edge. I starred for a season on Dallas in a wildly outrageous role that I thoroughly enjoyed. I traveled to Europe with a very fine and prestigious production of the The Beckett Playsand met with Samuel Beckett.
In 1985, I toured Egypt, Israel, Greece and Italy for some months, returning to powerful spiritual roots. This journey activated my desire to be of greater service. I met Ted Turner and became very involved with his Better World Society , and worked for several years in behalf of Ted and his vision for a better world through quality television programming.
I made two more movies in the late-eighties that involved extensive travel. One film was Honeymoon Academy which kept me in Spain for many months. The second film, Accidents, was three months in South Africa. Both of these films were fascinating experiences.
I ended the decade with a strong desire to work to better the environment. I began working for the United Nations Environment Programme under Dr. Noel Brown as a Special Consultant in Arts and Media. Olivia Newton-John and I both enjoyed sharing our passion to help raise environmental consciousness. In the nineties, I would heighten this commitment.
The Seventies were a very different ten years for me. Just as the Sixties had been a time of great change for me, as well as our culture, so were the Seventies. This was another powerful time of personal growth. I made only two movies in the first two years of this decade. These were The Horsemen and Soylent Green. Then began an intense spiritual quest. It took many diverse forms. I traveled to India late in 1972 and stayed some months in the Sivananda Ashram at the base of the high Himalayas in Rishikesh. I studied two years in Scientology and was “audited” intensely most of those two years.
I studied Kriya Yoga under the sweet presence of Yogananda and his lineage of Masters. I met and immersed myself for several years under the grace, love and guidance of the Siddha Master, Swami Muktananda. While with him, I changed my name to Mirabai, a name he gave me. I traveled all over the United States to his “intensives” where I wore saris and danced and chanted in bliss. I met my spiritual mentor and most Beloved friend John-Roger and I continued my learning and growth in these areas.
I had a tender and soulful relationship with Ravi Shankar.
I was married again in 1978 to a powerful and accomplished film agent who became president of Columbia Pictures. Once again I gave up my career as an actress, this time for very different reasons. Unbeknownst to me , I had married someone who only wanted me to be a wife and fulfill his dreams. In time it became clear that he was not there for my dreams. It took me a number of years to find my career again.
Occasionally, in the late Seventies, I worked as a guest star in Love Boat and Fantasy Island for Aaron Spelling. I wrote my first screenplay with Ron Sossi, the creative director of the Odyssey theatre in Los Angeles. All of these events are by no means in order or complete. These are some of the threads of the tapestry of my life in the Seventies. I look forward to sharing in more detail, soon in a book. To me, my life is to be shared. The intent is simply that there may be some helpfulness or upliftment for someone.
In the Sixties, I began a very transformational ten years. In 1960, I was fifteen years old and an extremely solitary bookworm who was just beginning to flower. In 1969, I was a rising young Hollywood star, a mother and a wife.In between those years, I attended Northwestern University, studied with Sanford Meisner, and debuted on Broadway under Gower Champion’s direction. I extended my name to Leigh Taylor-Young and by 1966 I was starring in the television soap opera, Peyton Place. I then proceeded to make five major motion pictures in a row, and traveled all over the world. I married Ryan O’Neal. My first and only son, Patrick O’Neal was born in 1967. By 1968, I was deeply aware that the culture and social stability I had always known, was suddenly going up in smoke. Swirling around my awareness and experiences, were The Beatles, the love-ins in San Francisco, Vietnam, Kent State, the marijuana revolution, mini skirts, women marching for greater freedoms, psychedelic art & drugs, Timothy Leary, Baba Ram Dass, The Maharishi, Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Carol King, Elton John, and Cat Stevens and so on. By 1969, as a celebrity now, I was somewhat used to reading lies about myself in the press on a weekly basis. Also in 1969, I began to explore the alternative healing world of Homeopathy, herbs and vegetarianism. I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation and began to question my satisfaction in my work, my marriage and myself. In fact, by the end of the decade, questions filled my consciousness. This state of mind, led me to the changes I would choose to make as I entered the Seventies.
As a young girl, I spent a great deal of time with my grandfather. My mother was a single working mother attempting to finish her Masters at American University. When I wasn’t in a private boarding house during mother’s working hours, I was often with my grandfather, Dr. Carl C. Taylor. “Dr. Taylor” was a remarkable man. To this day I miss him and often long for a heart-to-heart chat with someone as wise and loving as he. He is one of my reference points in this life for being truly, unconditionally loved.
As a very small girl, we would “discourse” about the world around us, even the universe. He was a Doctor of Sociology, and a professor who developed the field of Rural Sociology. This is the study of the farmer, of rural America, as well as other rural cultures around the world. He worked in a top position at the Department of Agriculture. My mother worked for him. My grandfather and mother were very close. Although he was not her father, she regarded him as her intellectual mentor and friend. So did I.
Having been a farmer himself, my grandfather probably saw in me fertile soil in which to prepare healthy growth. He recognized my curiosity in everything. He was interested that I appeared to be philosophical and introspective at a very young age. I was not very “at home” in the appearances of things. I wanted to be told the truth. Grandpa helped me strengthen my internal life by giving me books to read that stretched me way beyond my school reading. He made it an attractive pursuit, because I couldn’t wait to sit down with him after I had finished the book. He allowed me time to form new thoughts and ideas, under the gentle guidance of his Socratic questioning. He never told me what to think. He would simply question me, and then listen to me with the greatest of interest. Through him, my early influences were Gandhi, Roosevelt, Dag Hammarskjöld, Einstein, Jesus, Emerson, Thoreau and Adlai Stevenson. These were unusual childhood “idols”. I absorbed Grandpa’s humanitarianism. He made me very aware of the interconnectedness in life. He was my best friend.
When I was eleven, he went to India for a year to help head the Ford Foundation. I missed him terribly. Life in school was dull without him. When he returned, he immediately gave me The Autobiography of a Yogi, and asked me to read it. This book was like a bomb to my young mind. It opened me to things that I somehow sensed to be true of a spiritual and mystical nature. This book, and others , and the many ongoing talks with my grandfather, set the stage for my continued curiosity about life.
From the ages of 17 to 23, my focus was very intensely on my career. When the marriage to Ryan O’Neal ended, it provided me with enough “shock” to begin to examine everything in my life. My circumstances at that moment satisfied what we are told is “important” to achieve in a lifetime. I was famous, beautiful, financially secure and had a beautiful baby son. Opportunities for work and success were abundant. I was 23. I was unfulfilled.
It proved to be a “divine malaise” that only food of a spiritual nature seemed to comfort. By late 1969, I was in the throes of seeking and questioning. It was not a comfortable state. I gave up a lot to follow this inner urge, but to me, there was no choice. I entered the Seventies very open and ready for the wonderful “guides” who soon entered my life in quite extraordinary ways.
I left Northwestern University in 1964, in the middle of my sophomore year to return home to Michigan and beg my parents to allow me to go to New York City and study acting with a great teacher. I was on fire, and so passionate and intense about this dream. Nothing else mattered. I needed to express myself as an actress. I wanted to act in all the great plays and share, through the roles, my deep feelings about life. I was extremely idealistic, high-minded and also very shy and non-verbal. Acting answered an inner prayer for a life’s purpose where I could give and express. I was focused only on Theatre. Never once did the idea of a film career engage my mind or desires. It was strictly Theatre all the way. My parents were not happy. They let me stay home to “think about it”.
For six months, I cared for my young sister and brother, cleaned house, cooked and dreamed about New York. Finally my father relented, and found me a small apartment. They let me go to begin my studies in New York City with the Sanford Meisner, a truly great teacher. Later in 1965, I moved to the Rehearsal Club for young actors ($100 per month for room and board), and continued working with “Sandy”. I was immersed at last in my dream. I lived and breathed all of it. I truly believed if I worked hard enough, I could achieve my goals. When I wasn’t in class, or rehearsing, dancing, or taking voice-classes, I was reading Kazanzakis or Teilhard de Chardin and daydreaming. I had few friends. I was too shy, serious and introspective. I didn’t date or “have fun” In a sense, I didn’t know how; I simply wanted to keep studying and preparing my dream.
In the fall of 1965, while registering for the acting program at the Neighborhood Playhouse, I connected with a girl I had met casually at Northwestern. She had also dropped out of Northwestern University. Her name was Lucy Saroyan, William Saroyan’s daughter. She was full of energy and talked non-stop. She was so friendly to me I was delighted and relieved of my shyness by her outgoing and bright personality. She invited me to her apartment for coffee. I was thrilled at the prospect of a friend.
At her apartment later that day, she was bustling about and talking in the kitchen, while I sat politely on the couch. At one point I realized she had asked me a direct question and I had not responded. I leapt up and ran to the kitchen to answer her, and on the way I ripped open my left leg on shards of thick broken glass stacked and hidden under a pile of laundry. My immediate thought was “Oh no, I tore my stockings,” and I couldn’t afford to do that. My second thought was that this event was an untimely way to start a new friendship. I quickly saw that my leg was cut to the bone. Blood was beginning to flow. Holding my leg together, I asked Lucy for a towel please. I was so calm and polite she handed me a towel and went on with the coffee. Finally seeing I was still bent over, she asked what was wrong. I said quietly, “I’ve cut my leg” She then saw the now unstoppable blood, forced me to let her look, screamed and called her family doctor for the nearest hospital.
We bound me up in towels, hobbled to a cab that took us to Midtown hospital. It was a tiny hospital, and for some reason, there were no doctors on duty. There was, however, a Greek orderly who spoke no English who managed to sew me up with 32 stitches. I could legally be given only 10 shots of Novocain in my leg because he was not a doctor. This was harrowing experience. Lucy was pacing outside the door calling out nonstop encouragement. This event bonded us into a profound and enduring friendship. I was told by the hospital to do no excessive walking for two weeks. Lucy asked me to stay with her so I did. She began to skip classes to be with me. Somehow she thought I was interesting. She was utterly fascinating to me. She told me about her life. Her mother was married to Walter Matthau. Her father, William Saroyan, was an American literary legend who lived in San Francisco and Fresno, California. Her godfather was Marlon Brando and her childhood friends were the Chaplins, the Vanderbilt’s and the Minnellis. I listened avidly to her stories.
She in turn, was absolutely certain that I was destined to be a great actress. She felt I should be working professionally at once, and no longer study. She said that she would see to it that I got an agent. At the end of my two-week recuperation, she called her close friend Jane Elliot (today she is a long standing star of daytime drama) who was 20 years old at that time and starring on Broadway with Alan King. Lucy asked Jane to do her a favor by giving me a recommendation to audition for Stark Hesseltine, Jane’s agent. Stark was a renowned agent. He had started the careers of many famous and fine actors. He believed in young and talented people, and fought for them often to their great success. His track record for picking “winners” was remarkable.
Jane asked to come over to meet me. She didn’t want any unnecessary competition in the agency. She came over. I never spoke. Once again I sat politely on the sofa and let them talk. I nodded occasionally. Jane left, assured I was no competition as I was clearly a mute with no personality! A week later I auditioned for Stark in a scene from Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. Stark represented the play, as well as it’s stars, a young Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley. Stark was impressed and excited with my audition, and signed me that day. Within a week, I was going out to audition for major plays. Six months later I was cast as the ingenue lead in a Broadway comedy directed by Gower Champion. The play was called Three Bags Full. This was Gower Champions first non-musical. His previous great success was Hello Dolly.
I now had to join Actors Equity, the union for stage actors. This meant I had to choose my professional name. My birth father’s last name was Taylor, my second father’s (or “stepfather”) name was Young. I wanted to honor both these men that I loved. I became Leigh Taylor-Young. However, I did think then that no one would hire me, with such a long hyphenated name. This proved not to be the case. My professional career began as Leigh Taylor-Young in the spring of 1966 with my Broadway debut in Three Bags Full.