I’m embarking on a new career as host of my own television talk show, called Bridge to Wellness, which will appear on Comcast KCTH Chabot TV Channel 27.
We have already taped a number of episodes of the 50 that are planned for the first season. Each episode will focus on a guest speaker — a leader in the wellness community who will talk in depth about his/her particular specialty. The show will cover all aspects of a healthy mind, body, and spirit — everything from meditation to nutrition.
I am having a great time every Monday when we film one hour-long episode for the series! Each week I have the opportunity of conducting a lengthy interview with a leading specialist from the community. Even after my decades of training and practice in so many aspects of the field, I am pleased and surprised every week at discovering facts, exercises, and procedures that I never suspected. Anyone tuning into the show who is interested in learning about wellness will leave at the end of each hour both enthused and informed.
My father was a media producer and I grew up in his recording studio, so I was familiar with the atmosphere and technology. However, Bridge to Wellness is my first extended experience before a television camera. A sense of fun increases the quality of every human endeavor and all of us on the crew have a blast during videotaping sessions. We use laughter as a means of creating community, healing relationships, and ensuring high levels of patience with each other. Some actions taking place behind the scenes are more entertaining than what is happening in front of the camera, though they are not appropriate to the show’s editorial policies.
It took a few sessions for me to create a genuine persona before the camera. The crew worked patiently to get me comfortable. The producer would sometimes stop rolling and announce in a good-natured way to the crew, “Bridget needs a minute.” I’m an experienced master of self-hypnosis but at the beginning I couldn’t compel myself to adopt a perfectly comfortable presence in front of the camera.
No viewer will ever achieve more change and growth from watching Bridge to Wellness than I am gaining from hosting it. It took a while for awareness that I’m host of my own show to fully sink into my consciousness. The possibility of achieving some level of fame and recognition counts little with me, but I’m excited and even thrilled sometimes by the reality that the experience is finally causing me to grow into the woman I always wanted to be.
The poet Burns wrote about a grace that God might give us to see ourselves as others see us. I have unexpectedly been granted that gift because I have been watching segments of the show — listening to my voice, observing patterns of speech, and watching carefully to see how I gesture with my hands and how I focus with my eyes. I feel that I’m cracking open the shell I’ve been hiding in during all my life so I can finally become the person on the outside that I am inside.
Beginning in childhood my outward façade as a humble, compassionate, shy, and sometimes goofy person concealed an inner nature that was fierce and strong. Just as her Diana Prince alias concealed Wonder Woman’s true identity there was genuine strength in me. I was never confused about my vision and unshakable in my convictions. I was courageous and faced up to my fears. I release self-limiting attachments so I am able to “go with the flow” in whatever direction the Universe leads.
The camera unlocked all of that for me and became my greatest instructor. I suddenly had the tools to expose the person I wanted to be; the woman who was my true self. Coming to that point became, in effect, the most advanced yoga posture I ever experienced. In true yogi fashion, I pushed past the threshold and achieved a new level of being, with the true humility that comes from the realization that everything can be removed from us, while retaining the confident assurance of knowing who I am and what life is about.
I’m filled with confidence that viewers will be able to use episodes of my program as a genuine bridge to wellness, by realizing deeper levels of health in mind, body, and spirit just as I am experiencing these transforming energies while making the episodes.
Bridge to Wellness shoots are first steps in my nascent career in front of a camera. I was invited to represent Comcast 27 and AT&T as their interviewer on the red carpet last month at San Jose’s Cinequest. I met briefly with William H. Macy and other icons in the industry. I could not use note cards, which means I had to get their names right. But it was great!
I spent my first nine years in San Francisco, moved to Union City, and graduated from James Logan High. I come from a large extended family. I have only two siblings, but my Dad was the second oldest of 14 children. If all the uncles, aunts, first- second- and third cousins, and the cousins’ spouses and children would now assemble for a family reunion, we would probably fill a small arena.
The family is close. However, some things were done to me during childhood that seriously affected my psychological wellbeing. I became painfully shy and, in particular, developed a psychosomatic inability ever to speak above a whisper. I was absolutely terrified by the sound of my voice.
I took the best from my parents and created a blueprint for my life. I took the strong parts from my dad — entrepreneur, independent, responsible for my actions. My mom was a certified herbalist who taught me how to heal the body naturally through wellness modalities. I remember one day riding in the back of the car. The windows were open, music was blasting, and mom seemed so happy. “Aren’t we all so beautiful?” she asked. I looked at my reflection in the rearview mirror and for that moment, at least, felt that I was beautiful.
We were raised by Mom who was a German Native American mixture. We lived like nomads. Before entering eighth grade, I had enrolled in 14 different schools. Our periodic location changes, together with my speech impediment and reclusive nature — plus the fact that I was skinny and wore glasses that looked like bottle caps — made it impossible for me to form friendships. No matter where I went, I always became the butt of my classmates’ jokes. After a while, I stopped reacting and accepted my position as an object of continual ridicule, like my inability to speak, as simply unchanging and unchangeable features of my lifestyle.
When I was eight years old, the school administration scheduled some time for me to meet with a speech therapist. On one memorable day she said. “We’re going for a drive to the highest point in the area. You are going to walk to the very top of the hill. I’ll close the car windows, turn my head away, and you are going to scream as loudly as you can.” Her words made me slink down in my chair with apprehension. When we arrived on the scene I slowly opened the door, got out, and stared for a long moment at the therapist awaiting a reprieve that did not come. I reluctantly walked to the hilltop, looked down at the car, saw the therapist turn her head away, gazed at the town stretched out before me, looked left and right for some help, stared for a moment at my feet, then walked back down the hill, got in the car, and closed the door.
The therapist said, “Next time, Bridget.”
I nodded my head in agreement.
During the decades that have passed since that incident, I have always wondered what would have happened if we had ever tried that again. But I’ll never know, because “next time” never came. That evening Mom packed us all into the car, we moved to another house in another town, and I never saw the therapist again. (In the unlikely event she ever reads this article, this will probably be the first time she ever learned what happened to the little girl who remained silent on that hill.)
I attended Chabot College, became a certified nursing assistant and qualified as a License Vocational Nurse. My life changed when I became a massage therapist. Massage turned out to be wonderfully suited to my personality and gifts, and I advanced myself in all massage modalities, which led me to yoga, Reiki, and to hypnotherapy. The best thing of all, through hypnotherapy was that I found my voice by learning to regard it as a gift given to me to give to others. Rather than once again trying to heal my voice, I learned to appreciate it. My yoga teacher helped the healing process along by advising me to take singing lessons, which taught me the mechanical procedure of starting from my diaphragm, opening my jaw, and projecting my voice.
Even though I now love my voice, rather than being terrified by it, I continue to usually speak at a volume level that my music teachers would have rated pianissimo (very soft). When I speak on the phone, people say that I sound like I’m trying not to be overheard. However, that’s just a choice. When, for example, I’m speaking to a large group and attempting to ensure the people in the back row can hear me speak, I know how to raise my volume to fortissimo, and will feel good about the fact that I’m making myself heard by anyone who cares to listen.
I am a single mom of four children. My eldest, Brittni (28), has three children. She lives in Union City. Mikaela (23) works at a lab in Hercules called BioRad. Alex (20) is a sophomore student at Sac State. My youngest Willy (16) is a sophomore at Liberty. We are in a close relationship; the children love and even adore each other. Each of them is a unique personality, distinct from the others, but they take pride in their love for each other.
When they were young, I encouraged my kids to develop a sense of community among themselves. I would say, “You need to protect yourselves from even your mom. Find ways to care for each other.” I wanted them to develop a spirit of “being there” for each other and to remain closer among themselves than with me. I’m not always going to be here and wanted the family to move into the future in a healthy way in my absence.
Now, of course, my videos will remain available into the foreseeable future. My children and anyone else who is interested in who I was and what I believed can continue to learn answers from archived Bridge to Wellness episodes, just as we now continue to laugh at old episodes of I Love Lucy. That will be good.