Porch Light People: Individuals who are fully themselves. They’re not influenced by “shoulds” from the culture or other people. They instead live by their inner light.
“You are here to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. You’re here to dance, to spread love, to write symphonies, to give birth to the very best that is inside you.” – Pam Grout
*I chose #1 New York Times best selling author, Pam Grout to focus on for my fifth Porch Light Profile. She is the author of 17 books, has a travel website, and is a reporter for People magazine. Her life and writing embodies the concept of “getting paid for being you.” She is an adventurer and traverses the globe (the perfect set up to be a travel writer) and a lover of the Divine Buzz (as she’s been known to call what most refer to as God). Pam’s proudest accomplishment is being a mother to her beautiful browned-eyed daughter, Taz.
As far back as she can remember, Pam had a strong calling to write. “It’s what I’ve loved to do from the time I was little. I was a reader. When I was in second grade, I got an award for reading 267 books. Often times people who read a lot think, ‘wow maybe I can do this.’ So I started writing at a pretty young age.”
Although Pam clearly loved to write, her parents didn’t encourage her to make a career of it. Being an author didn’t equate financial security to them. Pam’s mom pointed her in the direction of becoming a computer programmer. “When I was in college, that was the new field to go into. To become a writer seemed a little risky to my family.”
Pam got around her mom’s directive by going into journalism. With the degree she earned she’d be able to get a “real” job. After college she worked at a newspaper for awhile before she took the plunge to become a full-time freelance writer. Pam’s happy to say that since that time she’s been able to support herself as an author.
I first became aware of Pam’s writing when I stumbled across her book, E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality. An international bestseller, her book was a light in the wilderness of limited thinking to me. I was so brainwashed by the cultural paradigm of how life is supposed to work it seemed unrealistic to believe that my inner longings could come true. The fun experiments in her book helped open my mind to the possibility that God had my back. I learned the way to be certain you’re aligned with that benevolent being is when you feel joy. According to Pam, following your bliss is the quickest way for your gifts to find their place on the planet.
“If we all did what brings us joy, rather then what we think will keep us safe we would live in a different world. That feeling of joy is what tells you that you are in sync with God. It’s your GPS system.” What a beautiful concept, a loving God who uses good feelings to signal you are on the right track.
Pam didn’t always have such an enlightened outlook. She grew up being her own worst enemy because of an offhand remark her dad made after she was born, “She is the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.” The metal forceps that aided Pam’s delivery temporarily flattened her nose. She took her dad’s declaration to heart and spent a good portion of her youth trying to fix her looks. She’d feel like she got one area in that department under control, and then something else would surface that needed an overhaul.
By the time Pam hit college it occurred to her that her obsession to “fix” her looks, not how she looked, is what needed to be changed. In search of answers, She began pouring over every self-help book she could get her hands on. Reading those books eventually changed her thinking. Instead of looking for what needed fixing, she began appreciating what was right about herself. Pam began feeling so good about her assets that she swears her appearance began improving. Her skin cleared up. Even her eyesight went back to normal so she could lose those coke bottle glasses she needed to see.
Pam’s decision to let go of her limiting thought process went full throttle when she discovered A Course in Miracles, a self-study program in spiritual psychology. She credits the book with opening up her mind and allowing her to let go of the stifling worldview she had absorbed from the culture. Pam laughed when I asked her if she ever veers from her upgraded way of thinking. “Of course I do. When I look at the news media I think, ‘Oh my gosh, things are horrible.’ Then I have to remind myself to ask God to help me to see things differently. Retraining your mind is a little bit like house breaking a puppy. You just have to keep taking it outside and showing it a different reality.”
Pam’s spin on life is certainly a departure from the belief systems she was raised with. In E Squared she writes, “Look through the Bible and nowhere does Jesus say, ‘Worship me.’ His call to us was ‘follow me.’ There’s a big difference. By making Jesus out to be a hero, we miss the whole point. Jesus wasn’t saying, ‘I’m cool. Make statues of me; turn my birthday into a huge commercial holiday.’ He was saying, ‘Here, look what is possible. Look what we humans are capable of.’ Jesus is our brother, our legacy, the guy we’re supposed to emulate.”
Pam admits that her parents being traditional Christians are sometimes worried for her soul. On the other hand she knows, “They’re really proud of me and my books and that I’ve been able to make a living following my heart.”
“The universe is limitless, abundant, and strangely accommodating.” – Pam Grout
It looks like all of those self-help books Pam devoured weren’t just happenstance. Not only did they open up her mind but all the information she gleaned from them has become the foundation for her life’s work. Reading E Squared gave me the same kind of “wa wa” moment Helen Keller must have had when she realized the cool liquid pouring between her fingers was water. It flipped the switch that opened my eyes to a better way of thinking. Talking to Pam and reading her books makes her positive spin on life seem so doable. She lives her number one motto: “Have fun. No matter what.” Bringing that mindset to our life and work assures us that we will land where we are supposed to. How will we be certain that we are going in the right direction? We will feel good.
*Coming up next: Profile of Writer/Illustrator/Filmmaker/Genius , William Joyce
Text and images Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com