Allyson, I’m sure many readers will remember you as Connor Jamison Walsh Stricklyn, from As The World Turns.
I was on As The World Turns for seven years. I loved the character I played, and the people I worked with were so great. It was an amazing experience. Then, new producers came on the show, along with new writers and new actors, and I was replaced very suddenly with an actress who had been on a competing soap.
I booked a night time series in that first week off the soap, which forced me to move back to L.A. (which I had hated the first time I lived here after college). I said I would never live out in L.A. again, unless a job forced me to move back. Literally 48 hours after we moved out to L.A., my character was written out of the show.
That must have been traumatic.
It was devastating. After spending a week crying and feeling very hopeless, I remember thinking that there was a bigger picture that I couldn’t see yet because I was in the middle of it. So I made the choice to like it out here, and find all the positive things I hadn’t found out here the first time around.
How did you decide to create The Total Human spiritual retreats?
After my character was written out of that show, I continued to act for a while, but I got so tired of auditioning for badly written projects, spending so much time every day doing my hair and makeup… When I was up for a new sci-fi series on cable and it was down to 2 of us, and I was hoping I didn’t get the part, because I was really enjoying not having to be in a studio all day every day I thought, “This is a big sign.” I left the business, and in 1998, I did my first Vision Quest. The Vision Quest is based on Native American teachings. It helps you to reconnect with nature and yourself. It’s 4 days and 4 nights out in nature, with no distractions. It helps you to focus and see what your vision in life is, and what needs to be healed in your life. I met my now-husband, Malcolm, during the Vision Quest. He was running the program.
About that same time, I also began studying kundalini yoga. I had never been into yoga before, but loved it and soon got certified to teach it. I began to develop programs that combined yoga, meditation, various kinds of creative work I had always been involved with throughout my life, and some Native American teachings I also had been learning through several teachers. At first it seemed like a very far stretch from where my life had been going up to that point, but the more I began to teach, the more it pulled all of my life experience in. When you are acting, you have to open yourself up to the character and feel where that character is going. And when you’re teaching, you have to open yourself in a way so you can feel the energy of the person or the class. It’s very intuitive.
What can a person expect to experience in The Total Human retreat?
The point of all the retreats is to help people connect with the path of their heart, and experience themselves and their lives in a larger way, so that they can experience greater levels of joy. Whether it’s a yoga and meditation retreat, a women’s retreat, a creativity retreat, or a Vision Quest, the various activities we do help you dive into a wider, deeper space, and opens up a level of energy and awareness. It helps people to open themselves up to their creative life-force energy, which in turn helps people interact with life in a much larger and more effortless way. Life turns into an adventure, and you’re giving yourself permission to let it be what it’s going to be.
By the end of one The Total Human retreats, you get to a place of deep relaxation, and of being more comfortable in your own skin. My goal is to help people leave with “a new set of eyes” in regard to themselves and their lives. You don’t have to be a certain age or religion, or have a particular belief system. The classes are about you becoming more YOU.
Now, how did you come up with the idea for The Color of Joy, the women’s coloring books?
“The Color of Joy” and “Dancing With Life” coloring books came out of the work that I do in the women’s retreats. The drawings and writings are all about our common experiences being female. And the coloring is the first creative exercise we do because it’s a very easy way for people to open up that energy, even the ones who don’t feel like they’re very creative. It’s just deeply relaxing. Using your hands is like reflexology; there are energy points in the fingers that are associated with the brain. Playing with color is very relaxing. Every color has its own frequency, and coloring is an easy, inexpensive, relaxing way to sink into a more meditative state. You look at the pattern, not thinking too much about it, and very slowly waves of color wash over you and onto the page.
Coloring is also good for people who have tried to meditate but can’t shut their minds off. It engages the mind just enough to satisfy it.
And you do all of the drawings and write the sayings that go with each page.
Yes, I do the drawings, and I write the sayings that go with the drawings. They are usually something inspiring or humorous, but they are all common themes for women. I think the writings take the experience of coloring a little deeper. Coloring is a mini retreat and the effect is immediate.
In addition to the retreats and the coloring books, you are also a jewelry designer.
I began making jewelry for fun, and I incorporated the energy healing work I do, and people loved it and bought it. I have an art studio in my back yard, and all of the jewelry that I make are one-of-a-kind pieces that each come with their own unique name and healing description. It’s called Spiritual Bling®
Let’s talk a bit about your son, Dashiell.
My son is 15 and is really, really smart. He’s two years younger than everyone else in his grade. He plays lots of sports in school, and piano as well. He’s been talking about pursuing law in college. He’s a very happy kid, with a great sense of humor. I couldn’t be more proud of him!
Between your family and three businesses, how do you find your balance?
I do most of my work when my son is in school, so I can go to his games after school, and have family time in the evenings. I also make sure I find time for relaxing activities/hobbies that bring me joy (which lately has been getting back into dancing!) I love what I do, so it keeps me motivated. I think people should get out of their box, their habitual routines, and let life carry them, and stay open to it all. Let the uncertainties we all face from time to time be exciting rather than scary – you never know where things will lead. Life is a grand adventure, and the more you use your creative energy, the happier you will be.