Welcome to Grief 2 Growth
April 4, 2023

A Reason to Carry On: Reflections on Life's Challenges and Opportunities with Author Vony Eichel

A Reason to Carry On: Reflections on Life's Challenges and Opportunities with Author Vony Eichel
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In this interview, I sit down with Vony Eichel, an American author, Exercise Therapist, and former Blue Badge tour guide, who has lived in London, England, for most of her adult life. 

Vony's diverse background includes studying for the Stock Exchange and Finance Industry and Behavioral Psychology and Systems Analysis before finding her calling as an Exercise Therapist for the elderly, disabled, those with special needs, and psychiatric ex-offenders.

In her book, "A Reason to Carry On," Vony shares her reflections on life's challenges and opportunities, and in this interview, we discuss her book and a range of topics, including:

The Reason Behind "A Reason to Carry On"
When Two Policemen Arrive at Your Door
Seeing Ignorant, Love-Deprived Victims in Violent Criminals
Coping with the Death of a Spouse and Learning to Depend on Oneself
Finding Wisdom in Our Most Formidable Challenges
The Meaning and Purpose of Life
The Importance of Exercise in Everyone's Life

We also learn more about Vony's passion for ballet and gain insights into her unique perspective on life. Join me as we explore Vony's fascinating life journey and gain a new perspective on life's challenges and opportunities.

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Brian Smith  0:00  
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we've been buried. But what if, like a seed we've been planted and having been planted would grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes. Open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith. Hi, everybody. This is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth today I got with me Vani, ichael and Vani was born and bred in New York, where she attended CW post college of Liu Long Island University. But she lived all of her adult life in London. Vinings explored many careers. She's worked as a blue Blanche tour guide, she studied for the stock exchange and finance industry, behavioral psychology systems analysis, but she finally found her calling as an exercise therapist for the elderly, disabled and those with special needs and psychiatrics ex offenders. Her passions are belay and wild swimming. She lives on a beach in West Sussex, UK. And today we're here to talk about her book, which is called a reason to carry on. And it's a fascinating book about what she's learned through her life. And through her time as an exercise therapist with the people we talked about earlier. So they want to welcome degree for growth finding, Michael,

Vony Eichel  1:39  
thank you so much,

Brian Smith  1:41  
Bonnie, it's good to have you here. Today, you've had quite an interesting life, you've been through several different careers, and ended up I guess, as an exercise therapist will tell me about how things kind of progressed for you.

Vony Eichel  1:53  
Well, unfortunately, I was one of those people who didn't know my phone, find my call for a long time. And it actually had, the only thing I didn't know is I developed a passion for ballet. And then what happened was, I broke my leg rather badly, not not doing ballet. And it was a compound spyler fracture, and I was laid up for a year. And it was terrible pain and just you know, debilitating. And you can't understand what it's like to be handicapped unless you're sitting in someone's shoes. And I did. I started a wheelchair, I was on crutches. And it was a very bad break. And I suffered tremendously, because I was someone with

ADHD. And I always have to be running as you can see from my past careers, always doing

something. And there I was forced to stay at home and stuck. And what turned into the most productive year of my life. Because I found out what my true calling was. I loved ballet, I was interested in spirituality. And you and I thought putting the two things together, it worked so well. And I thought that was it. That's what it was meant to do in life. And I didn't know it all the time.

Brian Smith  3:15  
Yeah, it's interesting how life sometimes seems like, put us on track that we don't know that we need to be on.

Vony Eichel  3:22  
Yeah, I would have never thought that I would do what I was doing. You know, it would have been so much easier to jump so many years later and find out who I really was the real me.

Brian Smith  3:35  
Yeah. So do you think do you think our lives are sort of planned? Or how do you what's your feeling about that?

Vony Eichel  3:42  
Very much. So because I did behavioral psychology. And one thing I learned that 50% of, of our personality is formed at the time of conception. So but if you think even more than that, it's who your parents are, your your social background, your education. It's all mapped out from when you're born. So I don't know how much freewill we really do have I'm sure we do. But within what degree we have it I don't know.

Brian Smith  4:21  
Yeah, that's that's an interesting paradox. I guess the difference freewill and planning. And it's something that that I kind of wrestled with, I think there's there's a certain amount of freewill but there's also there's just too much going on in our lives that seems to be guided from somewhere else.

Vony Eichel  4:40  
Oh, yes, definitely. And, you know, people they can't really like for myself, for example, I didn't know who I was. It took me so long to find out who I was. And people sometimes go through life and they really don't know themselves or they put a mask they have their masks on and they've never taken them off. Hmm.

Brian Smith  5:01  
But you know, it's interesting because even though you say you didn't know who you are, you've integrated all these various aspects of your earlier life into who you are today. So none of it was lost.

Vony Eichel  5:12  
No, I think nothing's ever lost whatever you learn in life, and you use it for something else. Nothing you learn, no experience that you have, I believe, is ever lost or wasted.

Brian Smith  5:27  
Yeah, I could tell that as I was reading your book, and you know, your exercise therapist, and but your your behavioral psychology, your understanding of the human condition comes through very clearly in the book. And you can tell you using it in your work, even as you're working as an exercise therapist,

Vony Eichel  5:43  
well, I think everyone needs to have empathy. And, you know, you went to these homes, and sometimes, you know, was shocking, it was like hitting you in the face. It was so smell and the whole the sadness of it. And yet, it proved to be the most rewarding time of my life, the more needy the people, the more pleasure I got from being able to give to them. Because ultimately, the receiving is in the giving.

Brian Smith  6:16  
You know, as you're going into these homes, as I'm reading the book, I'm thinking, these are things that most of us avoid. We, you know, we avoid being in places like that, that make us sad, they make us afraid, you know, you're dealing with some people, some very serious psychological issues, criminals, people like that people that we would rather turn away from. So why do you think you found it so rewarding, you know, going into these places that we most of us would like to avoid?

Vony Eichel  6:42  
Okay, when you talk about psychiatric ex offenders, I was in a room

alone, nobody was supervising us in there was a pedophile, rapist, robbers and awesomeness, you name

it. And I was never ever afraid. Because they knew that I cared. And they be showed their vulnerable side, the minute they stepped out of the room, you could hear them screaming at the staff or whatever. But I guess I came out over as genuine. And I believed I saw the genuine thing, because these people they will have their masks on when you come from a deprived society. Your brain is affected. As our brains are all plastic, and it moles to protect oneself. You don't trust anyone. So you are in protection mode. So the biggest thing for these people are, how someone looked at them, or someone bumped into them to have respect. Well, they didn't need that with me. All they needed to be with themselves. And I was it was very difficult to get them to do exercises because they wanted to talk and you know, I said, I'm an Exercise therapist. I'm not even a proper, you know, behavioral psychology or anything. I'm just an ordinary exercise therapist, but they wanted to talk. And it's like, perhaps you talk to your hairdresser? I don't know. Yeah, it was, from that point of view, I feel, I felt I can't tell you what it was. It just was so wonderful. And once when I left, I found this feeling of light all over me. And I thought, oh, my god is this light. And I started crying and crying and crying. And it was just wonderful. But to come back to your program is about grief. Now I developed a relationship with one of the students that I had, because the staff I always reported to them. And I said one of them tried to get me into Oh, that's dangerous, and they gave me notice. So I told one of them that because he would always stay after and I would help him because he was illiterate and you know, just listening to him. And he said, Oh, I'm going to start breaking tables and chairs again, you can't you know, and all he was very angry. And I said, Okay, I'll see you privately we'll go meet in the park. And so I developed a relationship with him trying to help him. And it was very successful in the beginning. And then I had to go away on vacation and then I came back and then he was totally changed. So psychopaths and he was a diagnosed violent psychopath. He was an arsonist Anna and a rapist. And I didn't know then afterwards, the person that I knew was a totally different person. I know psychopaths are supposed to be manipulative, etc. But I don't believe that he was being manipulative. I don't think he was being real. Or maybe I'm just naive, still naive. That's what I call Alton, Henry Higgins and me Elijah do little, naive students. But I don't know, quite honestly. Because once he got into that, a real psychopath persona, there was nothing I could do with him nothing at all. But then I discovered myself that my brother had died 25 years earlier. And why would I talk about my brother? I mean, one, I remember, it was August the night, that was the day my brother died. And I said to him, Oh, that's my brother's dead. Oh, this is a special day for us or something, and one or two other things. And in the long run, I realized that what I thought was this altruism was in fact transference. And I was trying putting my feelings onto this chap, Henry, you can try to get my relationship with my brother, or be with my brother, which I only found out afterwards. And it's so strange, because what did psychopath violent psychopath have an in with my brother, they were so different. My brother was a lawyer or an accountant. He was a volunteer policeman, volunteer, fireman, you name it. There's no honor that he wouldn't do and even went to Harvard for a year. But what the only thing they had in common, they were both 34 years old. But I transferred my feelings. Because before I, since my brother's death, I cried for four months, and then it just stopped. But if you mentioned my brother, if we ever talked about him, I might eat my eyes would always be full of tears. But since I, this relationship I had with Henry, it never happened again. Mm hmm. So I guess I was carrying all that pain and the grief. And I didn't, I wasn't even aware of it. And my feelings off. And I can't explain completely what happened. But clearly, I worked something through because I could talk about him again, without crying or without tears welling in my eyes. So I think people who believe they can grieve, relief to grow, or they can cut their feelings off and they don't grow. Yeah,

Brian Smith  12:36  
I agree. 100%. It's, it is a choice. It's a choice that we have when we go through grief. And we do often because of our society says Get over it move on. Are you know, people ask, are you still grieving, you know, and so we do sometimes cut cut that off. But the grief will find a way to come back and be addressed. And that's what happened in your case.

Vony Eichel  12:59  
Well, I have more than one situation. When I was woke up this morning, and I was thinking about our chat today. I was thinking of something else that I didn't really talk about another grief. In between, I could also say to give a comparison to what I had is I lost my husband. And he was killed in a car accident. So I kissed him goodbye in the morning. And then all of a sudden two policemen turn up on my doorstep. And I thought, Oh, good. We can talk about or law robbery or something, please come in, sit down. And they kept their feet on their eyes on the ground. They didn't look up. Then I was sitting there. And it was really strange. All of a sudden, the wheels started turning. And I thought, oh my god, this is like a movie. And I wanted to stop or I can remember so distinctly what was going on in my head. I wanted to stop the movie. I didn't know who it was or why I got up. And I screamed at them. I said get out, get out. And I ran away. And they ran after me. And I understand afterwards from psychiatrists. That's an aggressive response that I had, and I'm not an aggressive person. And I couldn't cry. I was in a state of shock. Really, if I just said that I meant I had to call make phone calls with the police. Then I said, Richard Stan Richards dead. And that was it. I couldn't cry. But then afterwards, I started getting depressed depression started hitting me. And when I went skiing with my family for Christmas, that was really saved me and it's very strange. So I'm just talking about to show you about the difference of what we were just saying about people, their feelings, but we're F I went every shop I went to, I told everyone, my husband died, my husband was killed. I went bubble lifts, my husband was killed. I didn't start I couldn't, you know, dump it.

And then I just started working afterwards, when I came back to London, that's to deal with that grief, you know, I just numb myself with work. But it was a to the contrasts.

Brian Smith  15:27  
That's a really good point, grief is different for every person is different in every situation, you know, with your brother and your husband. And there's no two group processes that are like that, and I understand that feeling of because my daughter, we found her in her bed, you know, 15 years old, and she died overnight. And you do you just like your mind just rejects it, right? You just your mind's like, this cannot be true. And you just want to find that off switch the stop button on life?

Vony Eichel  16:04  
Yeah, it's amazing what your brain does. It's just amazing. And then about six weeks after, I really believe that. I said, Okay, come back, Richard. Now stop it. It's nonsense. Now, just come back. You know, so there's so many people who've suffered so much with grief, and they have all these crazy failed things happening to them. You know, you can't even believe that I could have really believed that.

Brian Smith  16:34  
Yes, yes, there. Again, it's just too much for our brains to handle that our brains trying to protect us. So we it's it can that overwhelm that overwhelm in our in our, in our mind trying to process and it's just too much, so just pushes it away. And then as you were saying it can come out. Years later, decades later, you meet someone like Henry and you're like, you're not even understanding what's going on. But You're reliving that thing with with your brother in a different way. Which can actually lead to healing.

Vony Eichel  17:05  
Yes, it did. In my case, yeah. But also, you have to remember that I was working with people at their end of their life and the last Furlong of their lives. And when you say about, oh, they're in it, you know, it was the same for them. They were, you know, they some of them weren't accepting who they are what they are, or they lost it. Because their life was too painful. Or many. One, I gave one exercise session. And one woman started screaming at me Stop it, it's my husband's funeral. Stop it, you have no respect.

And she went to the head of the home. And she put a complaint about me, but I'm

interrupting her husband's funeral. And she really believed it. And she seemed normal, not normally. No. And so our minds play havoc with a lot of us. And I, you know, people who I met, they seem sometimes very off, or they would be very aggressive, or they want wouldn't want to mix with anyone, or I don't know, if you read all the book. But for instance, there was quite a few of them. Who would be the insulting to people and say, Oh, you're disgusting. You're this, you're that. So I always try to come around them. Eventually, it worked out very often, that people just put on these masks, the same as saying about grief that you don't want to suffer grief. You don't want to get involved in life. You don't want to be hurt anymore. Will you need to protect yourself. And that happens in these nursing homes all the time you see it? Yeah. As they get older, particularly if they're alone.

Brian Smith  18:55  
I just think the book is really interesting, because you do talk about these two, almost opposite ends of humanity. But humanity did a lot of times we reject, we don't want to be around the old people they get it can be scary. As you said, sometimes they become they become aggressive. And then the people that we call psychologically damaged and what I what I got out of reading the book is like, you connected there to their humanity, no matter how society looked at them, and I was scared for you reading the book. In some situations, you're out like, I can't believe that she's you know, you know, doing this, but you were you were seeing their humanity and they respected that and they react, they reacted to that.

Vony Eichel  19:37  
Well, if you if you go through with your heart, I think that's the whole thing. And I did I mean, I wasn't earning a fortune. You know, I and I went there because I love what I do. I believe in exercise. And I think exercise is so important for everyone. You know, particular I was too late in the day to become a ballerina and I'm sure I wouldn't have ever been a good one. But I just believe that, you know, ballet is a metaphor for a perfect life. Because or any very any professional sport anyone have at the top of their profession, because what is it mentally, physically? Spiritually, you have, it's like psychological, it's physiological. It's everything you have totally focused. And everything has to it all works together. When everything goes together, it's because you've got the technique. And it's like with physics, it's physics as well. Because how do they spin the way they are, because they have to be on a certain x axis, you have to know the you know, center of your body or of the ball of your foot, etc, your head up your shoulders, you have to know that that's all technical. And so it's a metaphor for a perfect life. And a lot of people who are troubled, have a disconnect with their bodies. By doing exercise, it brings them back into their bodies. And then also with community because they also have a disconnect to community. They're working with other people. But I think it's so important for everyone, because even I just had a book launch. And there was a psychiatrist there. And he was retired now, and he said, he never realized the body connection. And I think now people are understanding the mind body connection much more. Yeah, Plato said it, Freud said it, they knew it. And,

Brian Smith  21:44  
yeah, that that's really actually there was you got a couple of really great points in there. I think one is I and I completely agree with you, I think a lot of times we can become so much in our head. And forget about spiritually because we that's another thing that we've we've lost, but we're so in our heads, we forget about our bodies, and that mind body connection, and how important it is. But also we were as you were talking about ballet being a metaphor for life, I thought, you know, living this life is hard. It's a it's a skill for us to carry on the way that we do. And I don't think we give ourselves enough credit, that it's hard to to be an adult, you know, we call it adulting is a term we use here, you know, in the US now anyway, it's like I'm tired of adulting. Because it's hard all the things we have to do, and some people just don't manage that very well.

Vony Eichel  22:32  
I think it's a question of having your values, right. I think that's what it is. I think if you deal with your heart, and you really, you know, they say this, I think I read in the book, there was love and fear. Those are the two basic emotions fear of being a very big word, and the avarice, greed or whatever you like, or work with love, you might not succeed all the time, you're not we might be wrong, because we're human, we all make mistakes. But if you are acting out of love, then you can't go wrong. Yes, you can make mistakes. Yes, you can, it might not be successful. But you know, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what anyone else says. It's what you feel about yourself. And if you know you've done your best, you might not have succeeded. But as long as you did your best, and you tried your hardest, and you did it with a good heart. That's all that matters. And I think if people do it from that point of view, the people who are successful, you know, in the nursing home that I wrote about, and the reason to carry on, in a different nursing homes, you had people who really were in a dreadful state, totally paralyzed, debilitated nothing in life. And yet they were grateful. They said, Oh, they're grateful to be so well looked after. And they weren't so fantastically looked after. But they were grateful for everything. And then you have people who have a sense of entitlement, or this isn't good. This isn't good about what's not good. So it's really your attitude to life. It's not the life you have, but it's how you live it.

Brian Smith  24:14  
Oh, yeah, extremely. But I want to get back to something you said earlier. And it's there's always been this nature versus nurture debate, right. So who are we and having had a couple of children and seeing how they they come out, they have personalities, and nobody has had more than one child knows that, you know, they they come with personalities. But we also are formed as you said, by all these influences around us and almost universally when you see people that are in the institutions that the criminally insane or whatever, you can trace that back to something that happened to them earlier in life.

Vony Eichel  24:48  
We're not always sometimes people are born like that. You know?

Brian Smith  24:54  
So you, go ahead.

Vony Eichel  24:56  
So the message is people can change. That's the positive things, okay. Okay. Some people can change, it doesn't apply to everyone, right? Most people can change if you have, even if you have a brain problem with your brain, if the brain is damaged, there are ways for, you know, that we can get around the brain, there's a ways to get around. And you know, people are written off by dogs, and they can go on and on. Because we're human, we don't know all the answers, right. But there is a way if people really strive, but if they have to have the right attitude, do it with the right heart. You know, if you're looking for happiness, you're not going to find it. If you're, you know, you, you, it will always elude you. But if you're just looking to be the best person you can be and do the best you can be. And, like, succeed.

Brian Smith  25:56  
So you, you mentioned, and you worked with a bunch of people. And you mentioned Henry, that you felt like you were getting to at some point, but then he kind of slipped back, do you think so there are some people that just are not going to be able to change as long as they're in the body?

Vony Eichel  26:12  
Well, he was so happy and he was helping other people. He was taking someone else from the hospital and showing him what I showed him. You know, it was a big divide between the east and west of lung of England or London. He'd never been down some places I take him I took him to the theater to see My Fair Lady, you know, and, and he really enjoyed and he said, we went into the Savoy Hotel into the lobby, and he said off sauce. It's somewhat like me, I mean, it close, or I can't do a Cockney accent very well. But would you know, be put my foot in a place like this? ppreciate it he was grateful. When you got the other person that, you know, something just went?

Brian Smith  26:58  
Yeah. But somehow it feels like you reach some level of humanity with him. It's like that I think that spark is, is always in people, there might be something physically that's so damaged, that they can't bring it through. Or maybe not consistently. But what I what I loved about, you know, reading your book is like you, you try it and with some of these people, it might have been the first person I've ever treated them with, with that type of respect.

Vony Eichel  27:24  
Well, apparently, I found out afterwards that there was someone before me. Soccer didn't know. And so he did. He knew how to what he wanted. For some reason, I don't know what it is. But he asked me to be in touch with his cartridges. And the psychiatrist said, he's very dangerous. Don't go near him. I'm giving him a number of unique. I mean, I would never have thought at about the same person. So, you know, how do I know? I don't know. But it's my hope and belief that he did have that window open. Even some of you say, oh, you know, the lights on but nobody's at home? Maybe someone was at home for that minute or so for that short time?

Brian Smith  28:10  
So with the so the, with the older people that you worked with somebody with that experience, what was like What's, what's some of them, and how you how you brought them out? Because you mentioned some of them could be withdrawn. Some of them were aggressive. So how did that work with with with you?

Vony Eichel  28:28  
Well, I think it was a very funny story in a way I told the when I went into this very poor nursing home, and there was one woman and she kept taking off her clothes. And I was only there for an hour a week. But I knew her from top anatomy from top to bottom, really. And this other woman, she would always say, Oh, you're disgusting, you're horrible, and all that. And then I come in one day, and they're sitting together holding hands. And this became a real love story. The woman who was so difficult, you know, she was starting to treat her like a pet. And she stopped us roping it happened occasionally, but not often. So sore love, for that might have been the first time in her life. And this person who had is so hard hearted, who knows what happened to her in a life that that she was so aggressive to anyone, so you hear you had that happen more than once. So, who can say? Who can say what happens? And then the woman who was disrobing all the time she died. And the other woman, she was obviously obsessive compulsive and then she was putting her anguish into other things like in emptying her handbag all the time or you know, and she had to be more time so who knows? But you know, nothing can surprise you when you when you're mixing with people.

Brian Smith  29:57  
So, um, what do you believe in terms Have like spiritual growth from from the challenges or go through in life, do they? Is there a reason for the challenges we go through?

Vony Eichel  30:08  
Well, I believe in reincarnation, because I don't believe that, you know, people a lot of people don't believe in. Well, I when I say said that God, I mean the light anything, but to have faith you all everyone needs to have faith, because I don't see what the alternative is. We've all had our hard times. And what I consider hard is ill when you don't have your health, that's the only thing to me, that's really matters, because anything else you can overcome, but ill health you can't, unless you get cured. So I think you can overcome most things in life, and the only thing is your health. And so with spirituality. To me, I believe there is something greater and I've seen it. You know, I think I also I wrote about when I was in Costa Rica, and I was taken away by a riptide and I started swimming, I couldn't I was out of breath. And then I decided, okay, I'll float. And I prayed and floated. And I kept being taken under, I was kept being taken under all the time, oh, my God. And then I saw a vision of my daughter running along the beach, with people behind her and she was wearing black and they were going towards my body. And there I was in the water. And that's what I saw. And then I hit a sand bank. And I got out and I was you know, I was vomiting the whole time. And the next day along the beach, I saw their crosses erected for all the people who lost their lives on the beach. When I talk about there was you know, I wasn't hallucinating. There is another reality there. Also, when I saw the light, I tell you the time I just started crying because I was on the right path. There are moments that come where you see light or you get anything Oh, yes. And it's not it's not always or it's not always there. But there is something greater. And that's what I tried to teach Henry. And the other piece that the people that really I spoke to most and I wasn't qualified psychiatric ex offenders. But I try to give them the idea. There's something greater than ourselves, you're not alone. Why would you talk to your, your, whoever it is a little angel, just think of it as an angel. And you're not alone in life. Who's that someone there for your, for your good, who wants to be there for you? And you know, whatever people believe in. That's so important to have faith. Just because you believe and you pray doesn't mean you get what you want. Because we don't know what we're meant to do. We're here for a reason we're here to learn and to better ourselves. But I always say that if you don't learn your lesson, you're gonna come to me, no, it's gonna happen to you again. So you might as well get it this time. Because you'll only have to face it again. Listen, nobody has proof. Nobody knows. You know, with faith, even people who are really, really religious leaders or whatever, they'd have their doubts at times. Because we don't know it. We're not supposed to know wouldn't it be boring if we knew what was going to happen to us? I've had my time in the past going to psychics and astrologers, etc. I don't anymore because I made a promise to someone who was working with me who was very religious. And she told me No, you mustn't do that please promise me and all that. She had visions she said it was the Holy Spirit. It was okay for her to tell me who it was. But no one else

Brian Smith  33:58  
that many times yes. Yeah.

Vony Eichel  34:00  
And so I don't and I just trust myself and I you know, believe in doing what's the best that I can be you know?

Brian Smith  34:11  
So, um, yeah, that's really interesting that you know, you're talking about being able to know the future and stuff and I think there is a there's a certain amount of we're not supposed to know too much. But that can go too far. And then we we forget who we are. So we can look at people like the people that you worked with as throw away people you know, these are people who are so damaged they serve no purpose in life. Let's just put them away and forget about them because they're they're not they don't have the same value as they other people do. So I think that that belief really changes the way we view other people even though they may be damaged at some level there's I think there's a part of them that still Hall.

Vony Eichel  34:55  
Oh, most definitely. Everyone has a purpose in life. You know, Even Henry took what he did for me, and look what he's done that I have my book to write, because, and how it helped me with my religion, my brother and my problems when grieving. So every no one even people who were, if you remember, in the book, there was also about people who have the brain capacity at a baby once. And I tried and I thought I was successful, maybe I got something and I thought I had a smile. And it was weird. And it wasn't the you know, it couldn't get through to them, it was a waste of time. But the parents and the people who look after those people, if you look at them, a religious figure said that those people, you have to believe in reincarnation, if you believe those people have nothing to learn here, we have to learn, but their souls are so elevated, they have no reason to be here anymore. And we're honored to be able to be with them. And if parents of handicapped children cheaped, you know, look at their children, how they're blessed man, their child is giving you an opportunity to grow in a way that you would never have done. Otherwise. I'm not saying it's easy. We're not here for pizza, and parties, etc. You know, we're here to grow and learn and some people have hard lessons than others. But the rewards that you get, or you can compare it,

Brian Smith  36:39  
I have to say, I have to tell you this, my mother in law is in a facility for dimension. And she's getting to the point where she doesn't remember, you know, who we are and stuff like that. And so my wife has gone through this before, because we went through it with her father also. But I have a friend who's a medium and she just wrote a book, and she's talking about it when when these people that we think we're not getting through to when they actually do crossover there. They know, they know what's going on, they on a soul level they know. So we feel like they're not hearing me. They're just drilling their whatever, their soul is still still aware. And

Vony Eichel  37:21  
that's the point that goals are so elevated. You know, they don't need to talk to us, but they have to communicate with us.

Brian Smith  37:30  
Yeah. And they start, they actually start going over to the other side a lot more than we realize when we think they're out of it. They're they're visiting the other side, they're visiting where they're going to go. But there is still something for us to learn from, from their existence and the caregivers that care for those people, people like you, though, what you what you get out of doing that. And I have friends that have had severely handicapped children that have never spoken, that have lived for 11 1214 years. And they say it's the best thing that ever happened to them. Yeah.

Vony Eichel  38:07  
Yes, I know someone else like that. She adores his boy. You know, so everyone has a purpose. There's a reason for everyone to carry on.

Brian Smith  38:18  
Yeah, so. So speaking of a reason to carry on, that's what you titled your book. So I guess the lesson from this is that every life has value would you say that's that's a good way to summarize it?

Vony Eichel  38:32  
Absolutely. Every life, you know, every life has. Every life has a purpose. And every life has a meaning. And every every you know, even though that's what made me look when Henry in the book, he's the one this illiterate person with no education. Want me to start thinking that he, he told me the story about laying on the road, and in front of a pub, put their hand to help him up. And he said, what's the point? You get up like a yo, yo, up and down like, yo, yo, I might as well just start, you know, keep fixing drugs. That's all he would you know, he was a drug addict. And so that's what got me thinking and looking at all the other disadvantaged people I worked with. And that's that's was how the book started.

Brian Smith  39:23  
Right? Right. And it does come back to what you said, it's a matter of how we go about life and how we look at it. But unfortunately, there could become this learned helplessness, like, you know, I've tried so many times, and it just never works.

Vony Eichel  39:41  
Absolutely. You know, in one of the homes there was this very nice man and he he'd had a stroke. And he didn't want to do anything. He had people like that and he let his wife come in and bring people to play bridge with him or whatever, and he wouldn't do anything. And there was another woman She worked, she had a stroke. But she was staying in bed the whole time, they brought her down. And I got her to exercise. And she really seemed happy doing it. And then the head of her arm told me that her family contacted them that I mustn't go near her or touch her, ever again. She wants to be left. And for me, it was that I took her out of her comfort zone, because she absolutely could do, you don't have to do much, you know, your fingers in thing to get a little bit of movement or just to move your body a sway or whatever to get, but you see, got her out of her comfort zone is afraid. And that's why I was encroaching on her space.

Brian Smith  40:47  
That's another great metaphor for life because we can become comfortable with the limitations that we impose on ourselves. And when we find ourselves going beyond that, we will self sabotage, right? Well, we'll pull back.

Vony Eichel  41:02  
Well, you don't want to grow. You know, I told you, I woke up early this morning. And I was thinking about what we what I'm going to say with you what we're going to talk about. And there's something I was thinking, shall I admit to something that I've kept, kept secret or don't talk about? someone in my family had committed suicide many years ago, and it's just a subject we don't discuss. And I thought, Well, should I bring it up here? And it started, because I covered it up. And you know, and that pain that you get, it's always there, because you don't want to think about it. Know, when when she died, she she jumped out of a six, four window, can you imagine, for her family to know such a thing, but she was diabetic and the sugar had gone to her brain. Still, we wouldn't talk about it. They shipped off her but she was she died in Europe and she was sent off to South America to be buried next to another family member. And it was just something not discussed. But I mentioned that I married very young. And my parents were encouraging me because I had met my first husband, and they were encouraging me to I wasn't in I was in school I was you know, I was 18 I wasn't interested really. And they really push this thing. I understand now because they were in grief. The grief they want to get out of the grief and have something new. Yeah, forget about it. I was the Patsy was a thought I was better for me to save me from you know, life's troubles, get married, you know, comfortably and then you'll be fine. And all that you like Europe, you know. And that's what happened to me to avoid the grief or to break out of that grief. Right? When we came to those, you know, understood that today when I was talking about it, because it was such a cut that's never healed. I put a bandaid on it.

Brian Smith  43:13  
Yeah. Wow, that's, that's big. Yeah, that's a big, that's a big revelation. And, and again, it goes to show that nothing is lost, you know, all these things that that we think are terrible tragedies, they're all They're all lessons that we can learn. And I really appreciate you bringing it up and being so vulnerable because I suicide is one of the ways that we put shame on. We put shame on the person that took their own life, we put shame on the family a lot of times with the shame czars we should have known I should have known I should have been able to stop it. And there's so much shame around it, which compounds the grief and it doesn't allow you to grieve properly. And it's one of the things that we do tend to cover up and bury

Vony Eichel  43:59  
how many people are taught how to grieve. Look, I was carrying around so much grief with myself for years. And you know, I've also miscarried in my life and in another you open me coming to you, you know speaking to my children etc. and me talking about grief and such. And they said Mommy, you know you had miscarriages and you always denied that you had any that was anything but a lot of people who have miscarried, they have a grief that they deny. I don't I didn't see her as a grief because I you know, because I just tried to, you know, forget about it. But I think somewhere in some level, there must be grief, but who knows how to grieve? Who teaches you?

Brian Smith  44:47  
Yeah, and there is miscarriages is another one that sometimes when people will look at someone and say, Well, you shouldn't agree because you didn't you didn't have the baby. You didn't know the baby. There's really nothing there to grieve and we'll kind of just missed it. So people will cover that up. But there is that there's the anticipation there's there's that soul connection I was expected specially as a mother, which obviously never been, but you know that that child is physically connected to you. So there is something there to grieve for sure. And event impacts, you know, an impact is anything any loss that we have is grief, you know what, and we shouldn't dismiss any of it.

Vony Eichel  45:29  
And they should really start teaching grief in schools, I think, because it's such an important part. It's not just dying, it's part of life. You know, where it's because I remember someone saying that they had a child and the child very died at a short life. And so we said, No, it wasn't a short life. It was that person's life. Yes. What was it say? That was a short life. That was that person's life?

Brian Smith  45:58  
Yes, yeah. Well, speaking that we we met with some parents yesterday, who we've all one thing we have in common is we all had children that have been have died. And one child was the age of two, you know, our daughter was 15, someone else's 17. And, you know, my wife and I, we've been going for as long enough, someone's been eight years now we're like, none as any better or worse than the other. Right? We, I felt so bad for these people that lost her child at the age at the age of two, that's for you, that you said, that is her life. That is That is her life, it's not a short life or a long life. That's, that's her life. And that's, that's an experience that those those parents will have to, to carry. But what I've come to learn over the years is that, again, like we've said, a couple of times, you're nothing is ever lost, that these people even very short lives have impact. Even people like Henry, who some might might say, as a terrible, terrible person, and maybe someone might say never should have been born. You know, he has, he has an impact, he has a role to play, we all have roles to play. And we we tend to judge other people's roles. But everybody can be our teacher and you because you were open and was able to be your teacher.

Vony Eichel  47:19  
Absolutely. But you know, in the Jewish religion, I admire so much that they have the morning, they know how to do it. Because many other people religion, you know, they just go back off to work or they whatever, but they don't deal with the heat with a grieving. And it's so much to have a week where you just don't do anything. But you grieve, and people come to you and honor you, or than a month you're not if you're a wife, you have to not allow to do anything for you. If you're a child. If you're have if your parent died, you're not supposed to do anything for you. I think it's very important because it gives people structure or allows him to grieve and makes them grieve and and I think it's very, very important.

Brian Smith  48:06  
It is it absolutely is, and you're right and again, conversation we were just having yesterday, you know, someone's like, a sibling, it passed and they had like three days off, you know, and because we say well, it's just a sibling, it's not a spouse, it's not a parent, you know, so you've got three days to get back, get back to it. And

Vony Eichel  48:27  
right arm siblings a part of you? Absolutely. No, my arm has never been the same.

Brian Smith  48:34  
Right? Right. So we you're right, we don't we don't give people the space. We don't give people a time we don't we don't. We again, we kind of prioritize what's grief is we have shame about certain types of losses. And frankly, that's one of the that's one of my missions is to get over that, to get over all the shame to get over. You know, tell people you know, it's okay to grieve, it doesn't matter how long it takes. It's different for everybody. It's you said it's different every situation with your with your brother was different than with your husband. And it's going to be different with the next person that that you lose and same for me. But people

Vony Eichel  49:13  
have to understand that on a physiological basis. It takes the body three years remember we talked about the body, that your body because the body takes two and a half two, I was told by someone who, who dealt with old people or whatever. And he said it takes the body adopted two and a half to three years for the body to get get through the grieving even more.

Brian Smith  49:38  
I hadn't heard that. But it makes perfect sense to me. Because again, dealing most with parents who have lost children, I tell people, two years is early grief when people tell you should be overwritten two years now. Two years, two years. You're just starting to get over it. You know, it was it? Yeah, from my experience, I'd say three years.

Vony Eichel  50:00  
Yeah, you're gonna have to it's physiological your body is telling you. So if your body is telling you three years, you've got to look after yourself. And people don't listen. Wonder why there's so many problems in life. Because people aren't listening. They're trying to patch it up, whatever. But if people understand it's a three, at least, at least a three year process. And it doesn't mean when, when these people in these nursing homes that I met, and if it was even a bad marriage, they still miss that person. They have synchronicity that body clocks and everything was working together. You know, from a bad marriage. You still have it?

Brian Smith  50:49  
Yeah, yeah. That's this talk about the body clock thing, because, again, I think sometimes people don't really understand how synched up we are when we live with someone.

Vony Eichel  51:00  
Yeah, your rhythms are together. You know, it's very sad when people who are owls, Matt, Mary larks, go, because you have different timeframes. But some, if you're on the same timeframe, and everything sort of synchronizes together, I'm sure you synchronize from other ways as well. But, you know, coming back to that, we spoke about ballet and the body and the importance of the body with the mind and the spirit. Right. So why should it be different? Why should it not be there for grieving? And for loss and pain? It's very much there. And I think people have to be aware of it, and listen and hear what is going on in their lives. Like, the best thing that happened to me again, is when I broke my leg, because I was forced, I was forced to stop running.

Brian Smith  51:57  
Yeah, that's, that's a really, really interesting perspective, you know, and so for you to take that and say, Okay, now I'm forced to make a shift, I'm literally forced to slow down and to reap reprioritize. And then you found your passion.

Vony Eichel  52:15  
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I wouldn't have found it perhaps otherwise. Because I wasn't I wasn't this product, oh, you have to do this, you have to do that. Or you expect to do this. I remember when I went to my first ballet class, it was a jazz ballet. And the teacher was talking about art and architecture and science and technology. And what is an ordinary dance teacher talking about these things? Because we have this fixed ideas about people, right? They know, they're just a dancer, you know, but it's, but to be a dancer, you need to be all those things. And people in life, you need to be whole, you've got to be more than just what you're doing and what you are. Right. So we've got the spirit, we've got the emotional, we've got the body, we've got the mind, we've got it all. And you've just got to work it all together.

Brian Smith  53:10  
Yeah, exactly. And then as you said, you know, to take the opportunity to come in life and then to integrate those and move forward and roll forward does, because I think it's really sad. And when people say, Well, I haven't found my purpose in life yet, and I've wasted my whole life. And I'm like, No, nothing's ever wasted. Even though you may not be doing your passion yet. Everything that you have done, is integrated into who you are today, and it's making you ready for whenever that next thing comes along. But as you you said, you believe in reincarnation, reincarnation, I believe we have one continuous life that's broken up by birth and death, we come in and we go out of the physical world, but we do have one continuous life. And we've got forever to get it right. So we can learn things. While we're here. Hopefully we do learn things, why we're here. So we don't have to come back and repeat the same thing because as I said, this place is hard. But nothing's ever lost. Everything, everything that we go through, we can learn something from.

Vony Eichel  54:09  
But I think if you have the tools, and I think I know you don't I don't really think you believe so much in organized religion anymore. But I think to really it because a lot of people don't teach it properly, or they don't know what it's about. But I think there you have, it doesn't have to be religion, it could be any belief. But you gives you a structure to where you belong and where you follow the principles, because they were all you know, set down a long time ago.

Brian Smith  54:43  
Oh, yeah, I believe there's a great deal of wisdom that mankind has forgotten that we've rejected and that's a that's a big part of our issue. Whether you have spiritual we're gonna call it spiritual spirituality, call it religion. That's knowing who you are as a whole person. And as we keep coming back to body, mind and spirit, whereas modern man says, we're just, you know, we're just our brains, right? And everything else is inconsequential. And we have to address that that whole person. So I completely agree with you, you have to have the tools to integrate this stuff. And that and that perspective, that, you know, everybody, no matter what is of the same value, that we all have that same inherent spark of divinity within us, that sometimes gets covered over, sometimes our brains are so damaged, it really can't pull it through, maybe, but it's still there.

Vony Eichel  55:40  
It's just being open to it and understanding it. Remember, I wrote in the book that when my brother died, I discarded religion. So what is this, let someone suffer like that. And it didn't have the answers for me, because I went looking down the eastern trail and going back, and then I came back again, religion, because it's all there. It wasn't taught properly, or I didn't learn it. And now with the internet, and all that we have to learn, we can learn, there's no excuse anymore. Everyone if they want to grow, and they want to learn, and they want to have a better life, it's all there for us.

Brian Smith  56:18  
Yeah, I agree with you. And religion is really interesting, because I've gone back and forth. You know, I was raised in a very fundamentalist faith, and I, you know, rejected that and never really became an atheist materialist, but kind of went that direction a little bit. And, and then people rail against religion, right? Because they said, well, religion got it wrong. So religions terrible, and it's not there's a nugget of truth, I believe in every major religion, they're mostly the same, they overlap way more than we'd like to admit sometimes. But they get a few things wrong, because because people are human people are men. So we project these things on the God that God's judgmental, and this is going to happen, and that's going to happen. But there is a kernel of truth, I think, in all major religions. And so I agree with you we can, we can take those things, like, for example, that we are spiritual beings, and that we we need to have time to grieve, grieve and setting for that those boundaries and say, you know, for a week, I'm going to just sit, you know, for a week, and a lot of times in our society, we don't allow people that we don't we don't give more than a couple of days,

Vony Eichel  57:26  
or just to be just to be but I you know, I think there's much more to religion than what you're saying, because it's like someone said, you have to look at the minutes of the last meeting. And I think explains it all, because I do believe there's, it's there. And it's all I think it's there. And it's and all the great sages and you know, they just tried to get better and better and better at it. And you know, these great philosophers from 2000 years ago, no truths change, just because the internet now barely had the wheel. Doesn't mean the truth changed. Right? Right. True truth. It's how they present it. The truth is right there. And the answer the bear to not all the answers, because I don't believe witness was no more. But you know, and as I say, you might not agree with me, but I can find I find it that you know, not to have religion, or not to have a belief. It's very difficult. I don't know how people survive thing.

Brian Smith  58:26  
I agree with you. It's really interesting, because I've seen people that become materialistic atheists, and I always have the term materialistic to that, because these are people that just like, it's all physical, that's all that matters. And then they'll try to say, well, I can derive morality, I don't need religion to be more, I don't need religion to be moral. I don't need religion to have hope. I don't need religion to have this or that. But as you said, it's all that you can't reject the 10s of 1000s of years that we've had these teachings, and that's brought us to the point where we are now and if you look at the teachings of Jesus and Muhammad and Buddha and and Gandhi, you know, they're all They're all the same truth. So there's, there's nothing new to discover when it comes to relate to morality. So it doesn't make sense. Just throw it all out and try to start over again.

Vony Eichel  59:17  
Exactly. Exactly. And, no, it's a beautiful, big, beautiful world out there. For us to put meaning, you know, it's like I say that in the book, that the end I said that, how do you explain to someone what art is? How do you explain music? How do you explain love? You can't you have put the meaning in those things. And it's same with the meaning of life you have to put meaning in your life. And how do you do that? You listen to that still in a voice you just be. Don't try to force anything to be and be nothing like me, forcing being forced to break my leg to sit at home and not be able to Move and just you know, be in pain and that's how it came to me. And were just want to say my leg should have healed in three months three to four months something wanted me to learn the lesson that it took a year for my leg to heal

Brian Smith  1:00:22  
Yeah, so that that well, they were it was like this is what it's is what it's going to take for for you to find your path. I

Vony Eichel  1:00:29  
wasn't getting it. Around three months, four months, six months. I still didn't get it.

Brian Smith  1:00:35  
Right, right.

Vony Eichel  1:00:37  
Yeah, yeah. I didn't get it.

Brian Smith  1:00:40  
Yeah. Well, as you said earlier, don't we talked about you know, reincarnation come back and doing the same lessons. And some people believe that even while we're here in this one life that if we don't get it, then the universe will God, whatever you want to call it. We'll just keep nudging you. Till until we do get it.

Vony Eichel  1:00:56  
Yeah, we have a reason and a purpose. And you know, we've got to do it. Again.

Brian Smith  1:01:02  
Yeah. Well, finally, I really enjoy our time together, tell people again, remind people of the title of your book and where they can get it as

Vony Eichel  1:01:11  
a reason to carry on. And it's on Amazon.

Brian Smith  1:01:15  
Vani Great talking today. Thanks for doing this.

Vony Eichel  1:01:18  
Thank you so very much. I enjoyed it tremendously.

Brian Smith  1:01:21  
Enjoy your afternoon.

Vony Eichel  1:01:22  
Thank you. Bye, bye.

Brian Smith  1:01:25  
I'm excited to not I have a great new resource. It's called gems, four steps to move from grief to joy. And what it is it's four things that I found that I do on a daily basis to help me to navigate my grief. And I'm offering it to you free of charge. It's a free download. Just go to my website, www dot grief to growth.com/gems G m s and grab it there for free. I hope you enjoy it.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai