Gwen’s Story

Hi I’m Gwen Lepard, Founder and Chief Joy Officer of Joy Centered Life and this is my story.

On a cold blustery December night, I came into the world feet first.  My mother and father were out celebrating their first anniversary together and her water broke.  When she reached down she felt…feet!  Oh my, the fear that shot through her.  Was her baby alright?

Me, I was fine!  And other than coming in the “wrong” way, I was totally ready for the world…

What I love about the experience of my birth was that my first touch was of my mother’s hand on my tiny feet rather than the slap on the buttocks by a doctor.  I’m certain in some way it contributed to my love of dance.

The first music I danced to was the wind in the trees outside my Montana home.  My love of dance grew to the dancing to 45’s of the 60’s pop hits like “Locomotion”and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.  We had a great-room with a wall of windows looking out at the Missoula Valley and the Mission Mountains off in the distance.  At night these windows became a mirror and I would dance song after song watching to see what new moves the music would inspire.

In grade school when we had our first dances, I was a wild one on the floor and the popular girls made up a dance they called the “Gwen Dance”.  It consisted of flinging their hair up and down and that was about it.  I was mortified.  Much later, I learned that imitation is the highest compliment.  Part of me wished I’d known that then.

I was very alone and an outcast in grade school.  Packs of girls would follow me around and taunt me with slurs on my lack of attractiveness and my clothing, much of which my mother had made.  “You’re such a dog,” was a comment I heard often.  I didn’t understand why they picked on me.  In 8th grade I was devastated when a hand delivered note that said if you hate Gwen put a check by your name, which included the entire 7th grade class with checks by their names.  At that point, finally, one of my former tormentors took pity on me and said, “You know, if you wouldn’t react to them they’d leave you alone.  You feed them by reacting to what they do.”  She was a very insightful young girl.  However, learning how to not react was going to take some time.

Even though school life held it’s challenges, I still loved the work and easily got B’s and some A’s when I would apply myself.  My favorite classroom, though came from growing up in the mountains of Montana.  In this mystical place of natural surroundings and wonder, I gained many life lessons from simply enjoying my environment.  I watched the river below my mountain home rise and fall each spring.  The river became a metaphor for me as it showed change through dramatic flooding and then back to the default of joy as the river found it’s bed again year after year.

I came into this world, as we all do, pure love, light, energy and joy!  My path has lead me through many experiences, some joyful and empowering and others that some would allow to scar them for life or to put them into a mode of paralyzing victimization.  However, I’ve continually found my way back to joy!  It’s my default, the setting I came in with, that we all come in with.

In the 80’s, I trained as a professional massage therapist and worked backstage and in the studio with well known musicians.  Some of my favorites were Carl Anderson and Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons, who I met at the Catalina JazzTrax Festival and then was occasionally in the studio with them during the production of “Tourist in Paradise”.  I blew a chance to go to New Zealand with Blonde.  Debra Harry’s tour manager wanted me to join the tour as their massage therapist after experiencing one of my “10 Minute Tune Up’s” backstage at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.   I didn’t have my passport. Then Ginger Baker, the former drummer of Cream gave me one of my favorite stories when he asked if I was an enthusiast or a “professional”.  My response was, “I’m a professional massage therapist who’s very enthusiastic about her work!”  He hired me on the spot. This was a phenomenal time of creating change and bringing wellness to the world one person at a time.  I loved being able to see the difference in the faces of everyone that I touched.

The 90’s found me on the airwaves as an on-air radio personality primarily because I knew that the healing energy that was in my hands was also in my voice.  I was moving music, timely information and occasional inspiration from first Spokane, WA to Portland, OR, finally landing back in my home state of Montana to wrap up my broadcasting career, with a few stops in between.

I felt I was ready to put down roots and bought a little home on a Montana hillside.  Shortly after that I met the man who I believed was the man of my dreams.  A musician and radio producer, who was into self growth.  Listening to his music really touched my heart.  When we got married, I could see myself with him for the rest of my life.

In the early 2000’s, we co-founded a small record label and I was personally responsible for getting one of his albums placed on the Grammy ballot.

During the time we were together, we created many things and there were some amazing times. However he really felt safest as an “island”.  He was in constant fear that someone would steal his intellectual property.  And with that belief he created an island of two with me.  Yes, I allowed it not knowing any better at the time.  And then there was this rage in him that, as things began to “not work out”, came to the surface more and more repeatedly.  The words that he used and how he used them was very hurtful.  In fact, I felt whipped constantly, because I wasn’t good enough, I was to blame or was the log jam in our completing a project.

Remember back when I was talking about how the kids in grade school called me names?  Back then we’d say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me.”  Little did we know the depth of the damage that can be inflicted by words.  Words that are especially said in anger with a lot of energy by someone who we love and respect.  It’s called verbal abuse and we’re just now coming into public awareness of it’s power and dangers.  And that was what I allowed him to do to me.

Out of that experience grew one of my deepest passions.  After healing from what I’d discovered was verbal abuse during my marriage.  When I was cringing from yet another verbal whipping, I never imagined that he would actually physically whip me and then he did.  That day I fled my Montana home and began a journey back to joyful empowerment.

I share with my audiences, “If you feel like you’re being abused.  You are being abused!”  I was told that I needed to “toughen up and this is how it is in the real world”.  Not in my world!  AND I was right…I made the choice to recreate my life from my default of joy.

Through excellent mentors and inner healing work, I realized that I’d created this situation to show me how I had verbally abused myself.  That realization had me looking around at the world and at my client’s patterns of anxiety, fear and shame, and…I “got it”!

With this insight came the passion and purpose for a movement.  A movement of joy that brings to public awareness that verbal abuse to another or to yourself is damaging…  AND there is something that can be done about it.  Every individual has the ability to choose.  We can each choose to change this pattern!

“There is healing to be done!  So much more joy can be brought into this world and it starts with the words you say to yourself and to others.  It also matters how you say those words and how your body responds to them…  Choose to see joy, speak joy, hear and feel JOY!”

I created a Signature 360 System for Health and Joy using my skills as a Master Healer trained in NLP, Hypnosis, Time Dynamics, Quantum Jumping and a multitude of Body, Mind, Emotion and Spirit healing tools to help heal the healer in each of us.  After all…we are all, everyone of us, healers.  “Cut yourself, you bleed, you clot, you heal.”

I found myself in a position to be a spokesperson and messenger for the new paradigm of health and wellness.  Collaborating with media and other healers around the world to bring the message of taking our power back and allowing our healing to begin first with ourselves and then reaching out.  I’ve taken the responsibly of healing myself into my own hands and have the message that we all have the ability to heal ourselves, especially the emotional wounds.  Yes, there are times that help is appropriate and necessary and if we start with our own innate power, we allow miracles to happen.

A major shift took place in 2014 – 2015 when my attending a ‘mystery school’ opened my heart and I began dancing again on a regular basis. This lead to reshaping my body and then looking for even more vibrant health. I took a 100 day journey stimulant free and so many transformations occurred that I was asked to write a book about that journey.

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