Saturday, January 11, 2014

207: The Self-Empowered Woman: Martha Beck

Dear Followers,


I truly hope that 2014 has started out on a great note for each of you--optimism certainly seems to be in the air where I live.

Today I'd like to talk about author/columnist/life coach Martha Beck. If you're like me, you first learned about her while reading her column in the pages of O, The Oprah Magazine--I've always been amazed that--regardless of the topic--I feel more centered and upbeat when I finish her column than when I start. Or, if you're not a magazine person you may have seen her during one of her guest appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."  Ms. Beck is the author of ten books, and also runs a thriving business training life coaches. She's in demand for corporate training sessions and coaching weekends for both personal and professional growth at her ranch near San Luis Obispo, California. Her coaching business has trained over 1,300 people in the "Martha Beck method," and has become so successful that in 2012 it grossed $1.9 Million.

Beck was born on November 29th, 1962 in Provo, Utah, and was the seventh of eight children. Her father, Hugh Nibley was a professor at Brigham Young University, and was considered by many to be one the leading authorities on Mormon teaching (3: Belief In The Unbelievable). Beck created a firestorm of controversy when she publicly accused her father of sexual abuse during her early childhood. Her seven siblings and the Mormon community at large have condemned her accusations (5: Life Is Not A Popularity Contest).

When she was about nine years old, Beck was also sexually assaulted by a teenaged neighbor who had barricaded her in his room. She called the event "extremely traumatizing," and--combined with her father's abuse--it created a challenging childhood. As a youngster she suffered from anorexia, depression and despair, which she says was the result of being ritualistically raped by her father (12: Hard Times). 

Beck earned a Bachelor's degree in East Asian studies as well as a master's and a Ph. D. in sociology from Harvard (10: The Critic Within). While there, she married John Beck whom she'd known since high school and who was also a Mormon. The couple had three children, but their second child was diagnosed with Down Syndrome before his birth. The Beck's returned to Utah to be closer to their family support system, and  in 1999 she wrote Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic (which became a best-seller) about her decision to give birth to and raise their physically-challenged son (16: Intensive Motherhood).

After the birth of her third child, Beck was a part-time faculty member at Brigham Young University, when several faculty members were excommunicated from the LDS Church because their writings were considered too critical. In 1993, upset by the controversy, Beck and her husband decided to leave the Church (14: Selective Disassociation). Afterwards, she and her husband both came out publicly as gay individuals, but stayed together for the sake of their three children.

In 2003, the couple separated, and they divorced the following year (15: Forget About Prince Charming). These days, Beck lives on her ranch in California with her son Adam, who is now 25, her domestic partner, Karen Gerdes, and two other coaches. There is no shortage of people who want to attend her seminars, buy her books or sign up for her life coach training, but some experts are either confused by or skeptical of her "positive energy talk." If Beck has a common theme, according to The New York Times, it is "You will have all the happiness and money you need if you can just find what you're just supposed to be doing and just do it."

Looking forward to your comments...

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