About 15 years ago I met Debbie Ford at a party given by her sister Arielle Ford. Arielle was a mentor for me in many ways, so meeting her sister was a trip. I could see similarities between the two, but there were also stark differences.
Debbie was a bit more outspoken than Arielle and literally put me on the spot. I can’t remember the exchange that well, but I do remember that she made me think in the moment about where I was in my life and what the hell was next. It startled me.
She shared that she was writing a book about going deep enough into ones “stuff” to flesh out obstacles to living fully, without being so self-negating. Embracing one’s “dark side” so to speak with all the gunk attached to it, without spiraling into the abyss of pain to the point of being paralyzed. There was a point, she said, to looking at the good the bad and the ugly of oneself. To come out the other side without shame and move forward was the goal.
Being a spiritual seeker who was exploring my purpose on the planet at the time and trying to find my true vocation after many years in television news, I knew there was something to what she was talking about. The dark night of the soul was all too familiar to me, except perhaps I lingered there a bit too long, and that is exactly what Debbie Ford had been through. She shared her background with me full of life challenges which are well documented in her books and teachings. Her passion was worn on her sleeve and it was clear that she wanted to help as many people as she could reach.
Fast forward a few years and Debbie fulfilled her wish of helping others with the publication of her best selling book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. Her work went further with more books, workshops, her legendary appearance on Oprah and becoming well known in the personal development movement.
She was a visionary who touched many lives and instilled a clear sense of vocation in her son Beau who used his bar mitzvah money to go toward building a school in Uganda. I remember her telling me the story in California a few years ago, over lunch. Proud of her son, the idea also excited her. She was literally gity about it. From that inspiration, Debbie started The Collective Heart.org toward “Uniting humanity by inspiring global and collective transformation by supporting and promoting charitable projects that provide spiritual, emotional and physical well being for those in need.”
Debbie’s vocation as a steward of transformation had been concretized not only through her work as a therapist and personal development coach, but in efforts to change the status quo for children in Africa, particularly young girls in her Girl Power Project. She is also the founder of the Ford Institute for Transformational Training.
A few years ago I spent some time with Debbie on a weekend retreat designed to create projects to raise consciousness around the challenges we face globally. Everything from climate change to the discordance in the middle east. She even took a torch toward challenging those in the political arena. She was a pistol aimed at raising awareness.
Debbie remained undaunted by those who may have disagreed with her opinions or her tactics. She stuck her heels into the ground, not from a place of ego, but from a place of authenticity and fierce love for the bigger picture of transformation that desperately needs to take place on this planet.
Debbie was a lover, a fighter for the disenfranchised, and most importantly a very very real person who I truly believed fought the good fight even if it meant getting her hands dirty or aggravating a few people.
A disruptor of the status quo, Debbie pushed to elevate human consciousness, even in facing her illness. It was that same fierceness of wielding the sword that I saw in her many years ago, that she carried through to the end of her life and has solidified in her legacy. Her life is an inspiration of the great power of vocation in our journey through our lives and career. The fruits of vocation I’ve learned, are limitless even though precious lives are sometimes cut short.
My heart goes out to her family and son Beau, and especially her sister Arielle and her husband Brian who I have come to know over the years, and have been guiding lights, even from a distance.
Peace, blessings and deep gratitude for the introduction to Debbie, a fierce soul who is probably already raising a fuss toward transformation in her new home. Godspeed.
This video drives home Debbie’s moving vocation. What inspires you toward vocation? Debbie Ford is on my list.