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ACADEMY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
Linda Torkelson is a successful businesswoman and blogger, famous for her spicy, candid, and incredibly funny blogs. For your fix of snark and laughter, visit TheDuchessDiaries.com
I first met Mel when I was working for a small nonprofit. I was handling a fundraising event, and she was making a donation. We met at a Starbucks, and I almost didn’t go. Another member of the event committee was going, and I really didn’t want to listen to how great yet another donor was. Little did I know, I would meet a woman who would change my life.
A year and a half before I lost my husband to a heart attack. I was left with his flailing business which I had no skills to run, enormous debt, three children, and a background in corporate wifedom. I had no idea how to take flower arranging and hosting corporate teas and turn it into a career to support myself. Over coffee, this odd woman reached into my soul, and there was an undeniable connection between us. We decided to have coffee the next week.
At our next meeting she told me things about myself including the fact that, in business, nobody cared that my husband died, and bringing that fact to business would never help me get ahead. It was what I needed—someone to help me see clear to the next step to taking care of myself, creating a life that I could enjoy and live again. I had no idea how much my grief, and my lack of dealing with it, held me back. She also told me I was not meant for the corporate world. Huh?
She is a strange and wonderful presence when she enters your life. She can scare the hell out of you, nurture you, and throw you off a cliff all the while knowing you have the ability to grow your wings on the way down.
I had a blog with a large following. She taught me how to expand the blog, use it as a revenue stream and create other revenue streams with my existing skills. But first, she broke me; in order to rebuild me. She made me face my fears of living without a husband who had taken care of everything, cry and grieve, and realize that those who have left this physical world have not left us. We carry them with us in every step we take. She made me see that journey, experience it—painful as it was, and then demanded I put myself back together, kick ass, and start taking names.
I can be intimidating. I liked that she was not intimidated by me; that she was a straight shooter and that she demanded my best. She is peculiar in that she sees things in you that are below the surface. I branded her a witch and started to write about our meetings on my blog. My readers were fascinated. They wanted to meet her, know her and work with her. Many of them did.
I felt, very often, exposed. It was as if she could see into my soul. That can be frightening, frustrating, and off-putting. But underneath she is a softie; her love for her fellow man is unmatched. Her care for suffering in the world is deep and wide. And she doesn’t fuss about it. She just does what she can to help and moves along with her day.
She forced me to expand my worldview, embrace my intelligence, and my search for meaning. She led me to the place where I trust myself again and will run my business, and my life, in the way I want and in her words, “on the scary side of life.” As she teaches, it’s where all the good stuff is.
The witch that came into my life was able to reach down deep and demand a better me. It was scary. It was hard. It was demanding. And at the same time, you’re dealing with someone you can’t bullshit because somehow she knows everything. There is magic in that girl’s brain, and it oozes out of her pores.
Before Mel, I was playing small and broken. My heart was smashed, my confidence nonexistent and the world a difficult place. Now, I take no prisoners in my quest for what I want. I embrace my skills and passions and never try to change myself. I make the world bend to me not me to the world. My work is a reflection of who I am, just as Mel’s work comes from something deep inside her.
She has a gift—that’s plain to see. Where others use that gift for manipulation, flattery or fame, Mel believes hers is to better others and to help. It’s a rare combination of insight married with kindness, and I am better for having her touch my life.
Don’t think for one second it’s not weird. It is. It is indeed startling to invite someone into your life who can clearly see your weaknesses, your strengths, and your secrets But if you can power through the hard stuff, what’s on the other side is a sweet success.
It doesn’t get any better than that.