On the Sunny Side of the Street...

1/5/17... I woke with this song in my head again after all these years...

How well I remember the morning of March 10, 2000...
I had gotten up at my usual 4 am, settled myself at the computer ready to plan
my trading for the day.
I was a day-trader in the stock market...had been hard at work at it for 2 1/2yrs...
or was it 3 1/2?
A lifetime ago...

I had made it all the way to the exact top of the 'dotcom bubble'.
It had been an arduous, not to mention treacherous, climb to the top of that mountain...one that was well-suited to this tough, hard-working, careful-footed Capricorn goat.
When you're climbing a mountain, peak by peak, it is sometimes hard to know where the exact summit is...
You're exhausted, breathing hard, concentrating only on your next step.

And that is when I lost my footing...

The summit had been reached. The next step was into empty space...

The hardest part of the fall was the 'knowing'.
When I sat down to my computer that morning, I was unaccountably tired...
bone-weary really.
I was at my absolute end.
As I tried to force myself to function, a fleeting thought crossed my mind:
'Go to cash, take the rest of the year off and go out and get a massage.'
A thought like a quiet flash of lightning in the distance on a sunny day...
Unexpected. Seemingly out of place.
I chided myself, saying "Debbie...I KNOW you're tired. You've only got 3 more weeks to go. Stay on plan. You'll make it!"

In 3 weeks, I would be flying around the world on the final leg of a fact-finding mission to see where that money could best be spent.
I had long felt the desire to do philanthropic work.

In recent years, I had been led through a series of 'hunches' into a unique opportunity to make a lot of money...far more than I would need.
I understood that it was to be used to help others.
Along the way, I had done what I could to support charities.
As time and experience were to demonstrate, there was so much waste, fraud and outright selfish misappropriation of money, that most charitable organizations could not be trusted.
Over time, I had researched the field and culled the best working charities I could find, but I also knew from earlier hard experience, that no money could be given without seeing the work in the field first-hand.
Oftentimes I had found that projects existed via slick brochures only.
My trip around the world was to meet the principals and see first-hand the charitable organizations I had found to be the best. I had corresponded with them for 2-3 years. This one last step remained.

Having come from poor circumstances, I was sensitive to the needs, nimble enough
to have started several businesses with less than $300, and practical in my approach
to getting things done.
I knew that I could get more done with less money and more integrity than most.
So, in addition to giving grants, I would set up a foundation and administer some of the monies myself on my return.
This was the exciting culmination of that plan.
My ticket and passport were ready. I was leaving in 3 weeks.
I had made just shy of a million dollars.
This was the last big push to the goal...and then I would go to cash.
So, with that in mind, I forced myself to work that morning.
With my working-class mentality, it did not compute to take the rest of the year off
in March and get a nice relaxing massage.

Twenty minutes after the market opened that fateful morning, it began to crash...
without warning, seemingly without reason.
Many of us were like deer caught in the headlights...stunned...paralyzed.

Had I cashed out as the market opened, I would have saved all of the money
I had worked so hard to make.
Fortunes were made and lost that day...and in the days, months and years
to follow.
It would be 16 long years before the tech market would recover its high,
but many of its components never recovered their earlier levels.
In the final tally, the statistical loss was greater than the market crash of '29,
a period that sent shockwaves through America, triggering the Great Depression.
It would be a long time before the media reported those facts, but for those of us
who ran the numbers, it was a frightful, bruising blow.
Judgments can be made in hindsight, but my personal experience of the events comprise this story.

I was the unlikeliest of day-traders. No one in my family or circle of friends
had ever owned stocks. It never entered my mind.
But as I was turning 40, I began to have a sense of bringing my manufacturing business to a close and to preserve what I had.
My business had been thriving and the momentum alone had fixed my path for some years to come, but something inside urged me to stop the presses and step out of the rat race. It was time for me to regain some balance.
It made no sense to me initially, but circumstances began to press me in that direction. The urging continued. It became a steady refrain in my growing awareness, but I didn't know exactly how to respond.

The answers came in a series of life events that began with an intimation of a car accident which actually occurred 3 weeks later. The timing of the accident bounced me out of business for good (the story is told in 'Supply').
The circumstances afforded me a rest and a reorientation...albeit a somewhat bumpy one as I recovered from surgery and closed my businesses.
Quite surprisingly, day trading was indicated to me as my next endeavor...
I balked at the idea for several reasons, but the leading was sure.
I educated myself, traded on paper for a year and a half until I could prove myself
and then put my toe in the shark-infested waters.
It was a little rough and tumble at first, but I got my bearings.
Before long, I had a kind of knack for it.
The long hours, the constant education and focus made it one of the hardest things
I had ever done, but it was bracing, challenging and a worthy education in terms
of self-growth.
I started to make serious money, but paradoxically, at the same time, I was losing what little personal interest I had in spending and acquiring the trappings that came with money.
More than once, I wondered why I was working so hard at this when it meant so little to me.
The answer came in an unexpected recollection of a long-forgotten childhood prayer...to help others financially.
This was the vehicle for that! With that in mind, the effort now made sense.
My energy was renewed and every day became a test of impeccability..doing the best I could.
My goals began to take shape.
Now, curiously, I had a knack for the work that went beyond my ordinary working knowledge. Each morning, I would wake with a mental review of the news, trends
and plans for the day's trading.
Myriad thoughts filled my mind. I was trading a lot of stocks in ever-growing quantities.
Some ideas were successful. Some were not. I began to notice that a certain stream
of thought tended to produce reliable trades.
It was one of many in my mind, but through a kind of trial and error, I began to single it out and give more weight to it.
That was the beginning of real success. Trading was becoming an intellectual
and intuitive exercise of significant proportions.
I began to merge with that thought stream more consciously.
As time went on, my thoughts began to merge with 'those' thoughts.
I had a sense of gratitude for this 'lucky' sense from 'above', for that was how
I experienced it...
The intelligence and ability that flowed was beyond my own.
The mental 'voices' became, at times, indistinguishable from my own.

And so it was that fateful morning...
I didn't recognize that subtle difference. I barely registered the understated flash of leading as I pushed myself to keep to my planned schedule.
I failed to recognize and honor the subtle shift in direction. I had mistaken it for my internal voice and overrode it.

No one knew at that moment that we were at the peak of the Nasdaq mountain.
We would not see a moment like this again in our lifetimes.
I rode things down as best I could, relying on the market to bounce back and eventually rebound to new heights as it had historically done. But that history
did not repeat itself. I had a strangely vacant sense as I tried to hone in on
the 'voice' that had guided me thus far.
In retrospect, I had the tiniest sense that someone or something had simply picked up and walked out of my life forever that morning.
I had missed my leading and there was to be no recovering of that 'grace'.
Try as I might, I could not recover the connection...it never happened.

Traders with the shark mentality were out for major blood. They rode the market
down and made bigger profits than they made on the way up. I did not have that gene.
I did what I could to minimize the losses and protect myself as I prepared to leave the country. I would be overseas for much of the next 9 months. I tried to steady myself and stay on course.
The charities that I would be meeting with were centered in India, Bangladesh
and Thailand. I also looked into micro-banking in Bali, Morocco and Turkey to create self-supporting craft cooperatives.
I was about to get a crash course in world economics and the world of philanthropy...

India, with all its riot of activity, life and sense-assaulting stimuli was my first stop.
In fact, I had flown from New York to Delhi on Air India as one of only 2 Anglos, eager to immerse myself in the culture. Quite fortunately, I was seated next to an woman doctor who was returning to India to care for her aging parents after a successful career in the US. We shared many hours of substantive discussion regarding the state of affairs in the philanthropy sector. Once on the ground, I found a sensitive and aware driver who was enormously helpful in helping me sort out all that I was encountering. We toured areas of rural poverty, inner city and slum areas, factories and more. My first impression of India was far from what I'd imagined or been lead to believe. India was fabulously wealthy. Family dynasties had created wealth generation after generation. There was a semblance of poverty, as well, but much of it was just that...fake poverty. There were hands outstretched nearly everywhere you went, but on closer inspection, very few of them were the right ones.
It was difficult to find genuine needs to be met. The ones that really merited help were not the ones with outstretched hands, in fact. The charities that I was so eager to meet were far from what I'd hoped. For the most part, the managers lived in posh high-walled compounds in the diplomatic quarter. They lived quite luxurious lives, completely cut-off from the reality of the country and those they claimed to be helping. I was deeply appalled. Elegant lunches in palatial restaurants where waitstaff were treated deplorably by these overweight, arrogant heads of charities were an embarassment. Living like kings...I wondered what their donors would have thought.
There was more to come...
In fact, every charity I had scouted was a bold and insensitive mockery of their mission statement. How could we have been so misled?! It was a series of shocks that left me sick and dismayed.
There was, however, one bright and unexpected project that was out there among the people doing good. I had noticed a number of tidy white vans zipping around various parts of the city and countryside. They were mobile dental and medical clnics bearing the 'Amway' logo. They, like the Mennonites, were the largely unsung heroes, small on publicity, large on results.
The situation in India was typical of what I found as I toured the other countries.
The principals of these charities were jet-setting around the globe, living like royalty, defrauding their donors as well as those they were mandated to help. Special mention goes to "Unreached People's Mission" in Thailand. I met the husband and wife that headed the charity at their sumptuous home...again, behind tall compound walls. As I interviewed them about their accomplishments, they said that "in the 11 years of working in Thailand, not a single soul had been won for Christ."
So what did they do with their time and funds? They wrote books. As I was to discover (having read their books long before meeting them in the flesh) their books had been copied and pasted from other sources and passed off as their own research. They travelled by private jet to meetings all over Asia. They were eager for lunch at a favorite mountaintop restaurant...the highlight of their day. These two terribly obese people commandeered the best table, abused the waitstaff, ordered an incredible amount of food, gorged themselves and left much to waste. It was sickening in the extreme! Their sense of entitlement was obscene. Their future plan was to bring their best friends over from Texas to join them in 'ministry'ie: living the high life.
At the trip's end, I was pretty thoroughly disillusioned. First of all, the world was awash in money. Poorly allocated, to be sure, greed having the upper hand.
Philanthropy was merely big business, built on the ignorance of the sympathetic and the outright lies that were perpetrated. We had been sold a bill of goods by the churches and organizations intent on filling their coffers.
People all over the world have been feeding themselves for centuries without our help. Their cities are teeming with wealth and opportunity...leaving us to look more 3rd world as time goes by. Sorting fact from fiction was painful. Unforgettable lessons that were deeply etched. Illusions were falling by the wayside at nearly every turn.

The dream was dying...
Returning to the states, the market continued its fall. Where I had been able to navigate successfully in the past, I now found I could do nothing right.
I was like a child playing in heavy traffic. I could not get my bearings.
I was still reeling from all I was learning from the trip, as well. I decided to take the summer off and mull things over, capture the experiences on paper and see what I could do to hone my intuitive skills before trying again. I was painfully aware of missing my leading and the opportunity to serve. So, with that in mind, I headed to Camp Chesterfield in Indiana...one of America's last remaining Spiritualist communities.
My plan was to spend 3 weeks-3 months, learning all I could.
The past several years had been filled with upheavals and growth in unexpected directions. I was in uncharted waters... I hoped to find others who were familiar with the experiences I was having.
More disillusionment was to follow...
Much like the philanthropy sector, while there was some actual good, the arena was crowded with frauds. Though the intuitive gifts and abilities are genuine and remarkable, many of the mediums were, at worst, frauds and, at best, well-meaning, but self-deluded. The followers were being fleeced. Moreover, they knew that I knew. Another tough left-handed lesson...

Circumstances conspired to keep me there far longer than I'd planned.
Fortunately, the real thing was at work in my life...
"Girl in a Hurry...the Diary of a Healer"

Inspiration was not lost after all, but it had changed and enlarged, fitting
itself to a larger lesson.
I struggled with the changing facts of my existence.
The market continued its fall, I was reduced to working for someone else in what
I considered a menial occupation and I was not able to see my way.
I lost everything and lived on credit cards for awhile, unable to pay even the interest. It was a time of desperation. I was not up to the challenges as when young. I was now 50. A dark night of the soul by anyone's measure.
I considered bankruptcy, but that was not my way. I felt trapped and unable to find
a solution. I drifted downward to the point where suicide started to cross my mind.
That was a disturbing milestone. I tried to stay positive After all, I'd helped
a lot of suicidal people down through the years, but I was losing ground over the next few months. I monitored myself carefully. I knew the stages and the warning signs. As I battled the feelings, I began to deeply understand and appreciate what those suicidal people had suffered in a way I couldn't have otherwise known.
Understanding all these things was not enough to solve the problem.
The critical line was crossed on the day that I began to think about HOW I might take my life. I had promised myself that if it went that far, I would reach out for help.
In fact, when those thoughts intruded, I reached for the phone book to find a counselor. In the act of reaching for the book, I suddenly 'heard' a voice in my mind, saying"Is this you? Or is it not you>!" I was so startled by the question and the urgent tone of it, that I blurted out loud "Is this me...or is this NOT me?"
Crazy! But when I uttered the words, the oppressive energy broke! Vanished!

It had never occurred to me that this might not be me, but something outside of me..
I had quite naturally assumed it was me. I had woven a plausible story around my feelings. I was losing a fortune in the stock market, my life had taken a difficult turn, etc., etc.
Learning followed hard on the heels of that event.
I was immediately confronted with a series of hard-hitting questions.
"Look at where you're living!" Not exactly the place love and light that it purported to be.
"Consider the vibration of this place!" Low in many ways.
"What kind of person and situation is attracted to this low place and these low people?!" Very low...
"And here you are trying to be wide open to everything and everyone! What did you expect to come from that?!"
I was out of there shortly thereafter. Three months later, on Christmas Day, a lone woman checked into the hotel a few doors down and committed suicide.

In the healing phase that followed, I began to wake with a melody in my mind.
It happened often enough to annoy me, actually. I couldn't place it. It was decades old. It continued to show up in my mind on a daily basis. It was so intrusive!
Finally I confronted it and tried to recover the melody. I would not have been familiar with that era. It haunted me with no let up. I tried to hum the refrain.
I asked older people if they recognized it. After many months, I got it!
"On the Sunny Side of the Street". Mystery solved. But still no peace...
I was compelled to search out the lyrics. I did that, as well.
But still, that song continued to over shadow me.
"Look for more!" I was urged on. Lyric search after lyric search yielded nothing new until one site told the story behind the song! And WHAT a story!
The song writer had been an eyewitness to the tragedy and suffering of the Great Crash of 1929. It was such a crushing experience that people were committing suicide by throwing themselves from multi-story buildings. This song was written in an impassioned effort to stem the tide of suicides after the stock market crash...

On the Sunny Side of the Street

Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worry on the doorstep
Just direct your feet
To the sunny side of the street
Can't you hear a pitter pat
And that happy tune is your step
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street
I used to walk in the shade
With those blues on parade
But no I'm not afraid
This Rover crossed over
If I never have a cent
I'd be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street
Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worry on the doorstep
Just direct your feet
To the sunny side of the street
Can't you hear a pitter pat
And that happy tune is your step
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street
I used to walk in the shade
With those blues on parade
But no I'm not afraid
This Rover crossed over
If I never have a cent
I'd be rich as Rockefeller
With gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street

Songwriters: Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh
On the Sunny Side of the Street lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Shapiro Bernstein & Co. Inc. 1930

All of this describes the inspiration that was being given as I moved through these difficult and painful experiences. This taught me to listen to the seemingly meaningless bits of music or phrase or flash of insight and understanding. I learned to capture them and seek out their meaning. This experience taught me that I was loved and cared for in the midst of the pain and loss. Who and what brought this to me? Helped me to get the connection? Kept it before me until I got it?!