In 2007 I earned a PsyD in psychology and began a coaching career. I was on TV and radio and interviewed by top-tier media. I had two books on the market and Psychology Today asked me to be an online contributor. I was happy, but not very healthy. A medication I took as directed, a benzodiazepine, was slowly destroying the GABA receptors in my brain and body. I got off the medication and became deathly ill with what is called “benzo withdrawal” — a syndrome that can last for many years.
I could barely take care of the most basic necessities of life, so you can imagine how strange it was when I felt that God was urging me to go outside and plant a flower garden in my front yard. “You’re kidding me, right?” I said as I crawled out of bed and struggled to stand up. I was so weak and dizzy, I held onto the walls for balance. But, I managed to get outside and plant a few flowers.
Unable to return to my coaching career, I put all of my energy into the garden. It was there amid the flowers and the wildlife that they attracted, that I discovered how amazing God’s love is. One morning I had a desire to write some comforting thoughts on a chalkboard and hang it on the garden fence. Those were the very first Soul Reminders. I wrote them daily and people came by to read them. (Some took pictures of them and shared them on social media.) I also put up a “prayer tree,” a trellis where people walking by could write their prayers, wishes, or intentions on cards and tie them onto it.
About four and a half years after getting off of my benzo, I drove across the USA to give hope to others who were in benzo withdrawal. It was during that trip (January-March 2015) that I decided to write a Soul Reminder every day and publish them on a website. I promised God that I would publish one every day without fail, for one year. I kept that promise. (Sadly, the ealier posts of Soul Reminders have been lost.)
The next year, I continued to write and publish Soul Reminders on my website. At the same time, I collected 101 of the prior year’s Soul Reminders and published them in a book. The next year I took some time off from writing to focus more on coaching people in benzo withdrawal, not knowing that in the summer of 2017, I’d have to heal again, myself. (I had a setback of benzo withdrawal symptoms and was bedridden for a few months.)
In January 2018, I moved away from the San Francisco Bay Area to the foothills of the Sierra’s where my heart truly longed to be. Here, out in the country, I delight in God’s glorious creation. Recently, I felt God trying to get my attention. “What is it, God?” I asked. “Write,” was the answer God placed on my heart. And so, I am. I’m once again writing Soul Reminders for anyone who wants to read them.
I still coach people in benzo withdrawal, and now I also coach people who want to embrace wellness by knowing their purpose, living their truth, and loving themselves.
Because I write so much about God, people often ask me about my religion. After falling in love with God so deeply, I can no longer label my beliefs as any man-made religion. I am simply a follower of Jesus who taught that we are to love God and each other. If pressed, I’d have to say that love is my religion, for God is love.
I hope that my Soul Reminders bring you inspiration and comfort. I hope too, that you find your heart opening to God as you understand God, and that God’s love permeates every cell, every fiber of your being.
I see your light shining,
May 23, 2018
Jennifer Leigh, PsyD
Chalkboard Soul Reminders, Circa 2013
The Prayer Tree