Take a moment and think back 20 years. The calendar read 1995. The world was in turmoil with news about wars and famine capturing headlines. On the flip side, there was also an epic blending of culture when the Russian space station Mir (Russian for peace) docked with the US shuttle. The perfect juxtaposition and timing for events that would bring people together for the purpose of making the planet a more peace-filled and loving place.

Simultaneously, in Arizona, seeds were planted by the mother-daughter team of Ariel Wolfe and Liz Dawn Donahue, two women possessing entrepreneurial spirit, a whole lot of gumption and with the same goal in mind. They had the brilliant idea to bring together spiritual teachers and seekers to enrich each other’s lives. Like most grass roots organizations, the two began fairly small scale; their desk was Ariel’s dining room table and one phone line connected them with the world. At the time, they had no clue how what they were cultivating would blossom into a conference that features sought after speakers such as Neale Donald Walsch, don Miguel Ruiz, don Jose Ruiz, Marianne Williamson, Iyanla Vanzant, Arielle Ford, Gregg Braden, Barry Goldstein, Michael Beckwith, Rickie Byars Beckwith, Dan Millman and Joan Borysenko.

Their company, called Mishka Productions was named for their beloved dog who had recently died. The name symbolized the effervescent spirit that Mishka embodied. What developed from years of smaller gatherings is now both a noun and a verb: Celebrate Your Life.

When I look at the line-up, for the upcoming Celebrate Your Life conference in Phoenix, Arizona on November 6 – 9, I shake my head in amazement, since my own connection with these movers and shakers goes back even farther than that. As a career journalist, I have had the pleasure of interviewing most of them. I discovered the nourishment that they share meets the hunger that people have to immerse themselves in what I think of as practical spirituality. It stands the test of time. It exists outside the edifices in which people traditionally go to commune with the Divine. It walks beside us when we face the inevitable dark nights of the soul. What they offer to the world is truly a gift.

People travel from all over the world to meet their favorite author in person, to discover new ways of navigating life’s challenges, to explore new possibilities of bringing joy into their lives, and to discover their soul’s purpose and passion. I found that there was something for everyone at Celebrate Your Life and I’m truly excited to attend the upcoming conference in November. Since it is pre-Thanksgiving, I will use it to be even more aware of what I have to be grateful for.

I had the joy of attending in 2011. I had just lost my mother nearly a year earlier and was in need of soaking up some nurturing. This was the perfect place to do that. I met kindred spirits and  felt like a kid in a candy store as I attempted to decide which workshops to attend. Each one brought with it a treasure of immeasurable worth. Each one opened doors that I had not been willing to walk through out of fear that I wasn’t enough and needed to prove my value. Several divinely orchestrated interactions occurred which made it abundantly clear that I was concocting stories in my head and then believing them as if they were fact rather than fiction.

A compelling reason to be there again is to honor a man whose life and work is a beautiful gift that many have unwrapped over the past several decades. Wayne Dyer passed on August 30, 2015, which stunned his many friends and fans world round. He was slated to speak at Celebrate Your Life, but instead, will be lauded at the conference.

Although Liz Dawn’s mother Ariel has passed into Spirit, as well, on June 1, 2009, I know that she is still a guiding force for the conference and is ‘kvelling’ (Yiddish for bursting with pride) from heaven at what her daughter has continued to create.

I would love to see my readers there in Phoenix for the 20th anniversary, so we can celebrate life together!

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