Humorist, inspirational speaker, and "spiritual sleuth" Pat Arnold authored the whimsical metaphysical memoir, EARTH Is the MOTHER of All Drama Queens: Unmasking the Truth Behind Our Life Stories (Jan. 2005). Pat is a four-time Emmy nominee, veteran television news reporter, and producer with ABC-TV and NBC-TV stations in St. Paul, Chicago, and Dallas.
She is a principal of PhoeniX Productions, a Chicago-based marketing communications firm founded in 1981. The company delivers a full range of services to global corporations, small businesses and non-profit organizations.
Pat has been honored by Today's Chicago Woman magazine as one of "100 Women Making a Difference". She is a past vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists-Chicago Chapter, founding president of the Twin Cities Association of Black Journalists, a sustaining member of the Junior League of Chicago, and a Golden Life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She has taught English, journalism, and public relations at Roosevelt University, the City Colleges of Chicago, and the Chicago Public Schools.
Pat Arnold is fun to talk to. She is not only successful professionally, but she is a successful mother having raised an incredible daughter. What strikes me most about Pat, however, is her generosity. She is someone who grants greatness to people and she clearly gets that in return.
DR: Tell me about your work; tell me about your life.
PA: Oh! My work is my life, at least this work! I am really, really excited.
I think all of us, if asked, would say our life has some purpose, but I think we would be pressed to figure out or to articulate what that purpose is. But I'm real clear, real clear at this stage in my life what my purpose for jumping in this body really is, and that is -
to teach others about themselves through my own experiences.
When I look back at all of the jobs that I have held and my education and that kind of thing, it's real clear to me that all of those things were preparing me for now.
I started out as a teacher and then I had the great fortune of being assigned as the faculty advisor for the school newspaper. I didn't know a thing about journalism so I went back to school to learn some journalism and I really fell in love with it and I switched careers after that. After having that career for awhile I just went off on my own to do independent production. At this point, what I learned through teaching, what I learned through how to tell a story in journalism - and stick with the truth and search for the truth in journalism - paved the way for me to do what I am doing now.
It is just so exciting. I love the response I get when people read my book. It seems to be life transforming for a lot of people. The workshops - I mean folks hug me and they cry. It's like I have freed them from jail. That is my life. It's the joyful work that I prayed for, for so long. I get so much joy from it. Just over the top - over the top.
DR: What would you say is the most important thing to you at this point in your life?
PA: The most important thing to me right now is to continue to learn what I am teaching and to be able to be a messenger and deliver the message lovingly and to give people a loving allowance to be at whatever level of consciousness they choose at this time. That's the most important thing. I think I have a message. The important thing is that it is a palatable message that people can relate to; that it's not preachy and that it embraces them and unconditionally loves them.
That's really important.
DR: Is there anything that excites you more than anything else?
PA: Excites me? There are only two things right now that really do excite me. One is this work and the other thing is my daughter; my child. She is my joy and my best friend. Spending time with her and just talking to her and sharing her life is very exciting for me.
And, I am always excited when someone embraces what I am teaching. That's very exciting. I call my book Your Life On My Stage and people will come up to me and say "Oh my God! This very same thing happened to me!" And that's very exciting when my message resonates with other people and then they can use the way I resolved something to help them resolve their particular drama.
DR: If you were to look at your life, Pat, is there anything that you would do differently?
PA: (Laughing) Absolutely not!!
DR: I didn't think so.
PA: And the reason I say that is because after looking at twenty years of it, which I did in the book, it's very clear that even the adversity - the tears, the heartache, the whatever - it was all good. And choices that I make...I wondered "Oh should I have quit my job", you know, all of these things would have taken me down a different path, but I believe frankly that, my script was written. I believe I wrote it and I believe that it was important for me to have all of those experiences so that I could evolve spiritually.
I think forgiveness, for example, is a huge thing and a very, very important thing. What I know about forgiveness - I know that we all need to learn forgiveness. We need to just learn how to just instantly forgive people. The only way we'll learn forgiveness is if we invite somebody onto our stage who will hurt us, otherwise we don't have the motivation. We will not search for God unless we have some kind of adversity that we can't, by ourselves, resolve.
So, everything has value. I would not trade a minute of it because it was a lesson. It was a blessing and it was in my script and I chose to read it and act it out.
DR: What you are saying is reminding me of my eleven year old daughter and this new "mean girl" phase. She's just kind of getting that everyone is not nice, that kind of thing. I know intellectually that these things are necessary in terms of building character but as a Mom, I just want to make it all nice. So it's kind of affirming to hear you talk about this. Because I know it but whether we are going through it ourselves, you just kind of don't want it...
PA: And its true and I am very guilty of that myself, particularly - well my daughter is much older but when she was younger...I wish I knew then what I know now because I would approach those situations so differently. I would use those as opportunities to teach her non-judgment; opportunities to teach her why "those particular actor s came onto her stage". At this point I try but she'll say "Mom, I really don't want to hear it. I just need you to hear me right now. I just need to get this out of my system".
But I see all of those as opportunities to learn something.
If you have visited my website, you've seen the forgiveness coupon. That forgiveness coupon came out of an incident that happened recently.
There was a guy who asked me out. He had been playing hide and seek for months. I find, and I have been told by people that I scare men half to death. I scare 'em! My position is -- they were scared before I met them. You know what I mean? But anyway, this guy finally asked me out and I'm saying "O.K., so he finally got over it." He's a very accomplished man and I'm just very surprised that I could scare this particular man...and so he asked me out but then never followed up. We were supposed to go out that weekend. He told me to find...he said "I never go anywhere. I never do anything. I don't even know what's going on in town. Why don't you look up something and I'll get back to you." He never got back to me. It was the strangest, strangest thing.
I looked at that piece and I am in the habit now of asking myself "O.K. Why did I create that? Why did I attract somebody like that into my space? What was the value of that encounter?" And it took me almost a week to figure it out.
DR: I am on pins and needles wondering what it was that you figured out.
PA: What I determined was that this was an opportunity for me to heal a couple of things that I thought that I had already healed.
You know when somebody does something like that to you, it takes you to the, not only "abandonment place" but it messes with your self esteem "I'm not worth a telephone call? What's wrong with me?" It takes you to that place and it was something I thought that I had healed.
So the first thing that occurred to me was that this was an opportunity for me to see that somebody could still push that button which meant that I had not healed it yet. That was of value. The second thing that came out of this was an opportunity to forgive somebody who did not know what rudeness was.
Seeing everything through what I call the "God is good all the time" lens, enables me to not judge and it takes practice so I know that I will be attracting more and more of those "opportunities" (laughing) to me so that I can get that practice...
DR: (laughing) Don't you just love that?
PA: You know, kids need to understand that everybody who "comes onto their stage" is there because they called them. They called them in to teach 'em. That's a good ting and we can thank them as opposed to being angry with them or holding resentment or whatever because, we are all in this thing together to help each of us -
Get outta here -- to get off of this cycle of life and death!
We are trying to help each other here. It's a whole different piece, not judging or blaming and I go through that in the book - some of the people that I called onto my stage and the painful experience that I had and the wonderful blessing that came as a result of that.
DR: What are you looking forward to - looking ahead instead of backwards?
PA: I am looking forward to the moment when I can stop recreating certain dramas because I have finally learned the lesson.
I create and recreate certain dramas in my life and as I said before, that's what we do - we are practicing to become accomplished forgivers and lovers, unconditionally loving things and so I am really looking forward to the moment when I can get off that treadmill and create different more joyful dramas...
DR: Different more joyful dramas. I like that.
I read a book not to long ago, The Right Words at the Right Time by Marlo Thomas. In the book she talks with famous people about a moment in their life, like a conversation; something someone said that was a turning point for them. Sydney Poitier talks about being down and out as a dishwasher in New York City and needing to find a job, he was reading the ant ads in The Amsterdam News. He read Actors Wanted and decided -- "why not?" When the "man in charge" kicked him out and told him to Get a job you can handle" when he told him to get a job as a dishwasher without even knowing that that is all he had been doing, well those words stung and set him on the path that changed his life.
Do you have a memory or a recollection of a "turning point" moment in your life; something that made a profound difference for you.
Drama Queen Workshops are a fun place for men and women to look at our roles and the roles of others on our life stage from a broader perspective, explore some possibilities that explain our ensemble casts at home and at work, and give context to and pinpoint the cause of our painful experiences. Many are finally discovering that some of their fear-based dramas can easily be "left behind".
Click here to learn more about Pat Arnold and Drama Queen Workshops.
PA: Yeah. It was something that I read actually, within the last few weeks. It was Gary Renards The Disappearance of the Universe. Huge. Huge. You talk about a turning point. It made my head turn around right on my neck.
PA: Yeah. I had, years ago purchased A Course In Miracles but I had never really sat down with it because right away it was very difficult for me to grasp. It gave me a brain cramp because, I had discovered in Renards book that A Course In Miracles was written in iambic pentameter. Well, even as an English major that Shakespearian stuff, you know...
The turning point for me was something that I am sure most people can not wrap their arms around but it made perfectly good sense to me and that is that...I taught it and I teach it in the workshops but not at the level that he teaches...and that is that --
This is not real.
So I had grasped the "this is not real" part. Anything that we can sense is not real. Only God is real and God is invisible. Well he took it a step further by explaining...that we are not even here and that we are dreaming and that this is our dream. This is all an illusion and so past the "quantum physics everything is energy piece", what they were essentially saying is that we are currently with God in heaven. We never left. God doesn't even miss us. When he passes us in our rooms, we are lying there sleeping and this is what we are dreaming. And that was -- Whoa! I said "Oh my goodness!"
DR: Well that's interesting if you consider the context that your work is - Your Life On My Stage and inviting people onto your stage...
PA: Yeah. When I read his stuff it was a piece of my puzzle and I felt a kinship with him just as when I read your work I felt a kinship.
I think that there are a number of us out here; a number of messengers out here and we have signed on to tell our message or to get it out in any number of ways...but yeah, in the context of drama...in fact I talk about it in one of my blogs. Where they call this "the dream", I call it "the drama" and earth is a stage. And that was given to me just like the title of my book was given to me.
Many days when I went to the computer I felt as if the information was just being channeled through me and I really was not aware of what it was that I was writing. Even though it was a memoir and it was my life, things were coming up that I had long forgotten and then they would weave themselves together. The book reads like a novel. I didn't plan it. I didn't say "I am going to sit down and I am going to write a book about this." I just sat down and let it come through me. It is just woven very tightly and those symbols of drama and of theater and his symbol of illusion and dream, all came from the same place. Without question, they all came from the same place because there is only one truth. And he will resonate with certain people and I will resonate with certain people because each of us is at a certain level of consciousness. Some folks will just not be able to wrap their arms around the fact...some folks can't wrap their arms around the fact that earth is not real. They want to believe that God looks like us rather than we look like God. We are all going to the same place just at different speeds.
Ain't but one place to go.
That was a huge turning point for me. It took me to the next level but I am very clear that I can't...I throw the book out there to people and if they get it, cool and if not...
That book was huge for me and the pivotal part was the forgiveness piece...
He really affirmed a lot for me because sometimes I read those chapters and think "I didn't even know I knew this!" People will tell me that they read the book first because it is fun and funny and then they will show me their book and they have highlighted things and they say "Then I go back and I get the wisdom."
My way of bringing the message is through humor and through warmth. His is through hard core. He is documenting a spiritual encounter that he had... and it's just in your face, take it or leave it. We really don't care which, 'cause
ain't but one place to go y'all.
I call this a bat of an eyelash experience.
DR: Meaning life?
PA: Life. Human life is a bat of an eyelash in universal time because there is no time, really. Time is a man made construct. When someone was challenging me about reincarnation, in fact, I put this in the book:
She said "How can you believe in reincarnation?" She said "I'm going to ask you some questions and I want you to take your time. Don't answer right away. Think about it very carefully before you answer."
She said "Do you believe that we choose our parents?"
I said "Yep. I do believe that."
She said "Do you believe that we choose where we are going to live?"
"Absolutely. I do believe that."
And so she said "Well tell me this. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, why would anybody choose to be a Black person in America?"
And I said, "But it's so simple. "Why not?"
"If from your eternal self, you had had an experience, let's just say you had had an experience as a White person in America; let's just say that you owned slaves and at the end of that experience you looked and you finally realized that you had left a negative imprint on the universe from your inhumane treatment of your brothers and you had the opportunity to balance that out, to see what it feels like to wear those shoes or none, and universal time is a bat of an eyelash experience - to balance out what you had done. If you could take that negative impression that you had placed on the universe and neutralize it simply by jumping into a Black body in America, would you do it?"
And she said "Yes."
You can read more of Pat's thoughts on this and other topics by visiting her blog, Loud Mouth in the Balcony.
Click here to visit Pat's blog.
These are just growth opportunities and people who hate us now will learn what it feels like to be hated later. We are all growing and we are all learning and it is all O.K. It's all O.K.
DR: What is something that you've learned recently that has impacted how you live?
PA: Again I'd have to go back to The Disappearance of the Universe because it has not only impacted the way that I live but how I conduct almost every moment of the day.
What I learned there is that the Holy Spirit, that is with us always, was sent, if you will, to make sure that we find our way back home like the bread crumbs that Hansel and Gretel left. You know, "These clowns are out here dreaming. Make sure that they get back home."
And so the Holy Spirit is with us and I am going through one of my recurring dramas right now. I am very clear that we can not solve problems on the same level at which they were created. So knowing that I have within me all the power of the real world to transform anything in the illusion, I now just pick that crap up, hand it over to the Holy Spirit and
I go shopping!
And I don't worry about it anymore! I don't beat myself up about it anymore for recreating the drama.
One of the other things that was part of that turning point is that "God ain't here". The bigger one "God did not create this particular universe because we are dreaming it and if God had created it, it would be perfect. Our unconscious minds created it and that's why it's such a mess. Like you are experimenting with something "What would it be like...? I don't know. Let's go see."
That has been life altering for me because my vision for where I am...I am very clear that I am in the illusion - more clear than I was before I read the book...Now I am very clear that God is where God always was and in reality I am there too, and literally I am on a stage...that's more real for me now than even before I read the book...how it changes the way I live is that -
I just say literally, "O.K", this problem that I created in the illusion; I am turning it over to you, Holy Spirit to resolve it in the way only you resolve things - for the highest good of all concerned. And then I am not worried about! I can let it go knowing that it's not real and knowing that it is being handled by what is real. Powerful thing! Powerful thing! It's no effort problem solving. And I love it!
DR: Tell me; a hundred years from now, what do you want to be remembered for.
PA: Truth. I want to be remembered for delivering truth, joyfully.
DR: Anything else?
PA: And loving, unconditionally.