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Right Your Life!

Heavenly intervention, Paula Kelley, and how to make your life right.

My sister broke her ankle during a recent visit to Georgia. Not as bad for her as it was for me! Her absence left me stranded here in California to deal with my mother for the past two months. Now before you start clutching your pearls at such a statement, let me clarify. My mother is a narcissist; a term I don’t typically throw around except in the case of my mother because unfortunately that’s what she is, a text-book narcissist. Luckily for both me and my sister my mother snagged her a text-book co-dependent people-pleasing friend who tends to my mother’s every need, desire, and demand. At least up until the past two months. I think the people-pleaser had it with my mother as well. So, the responsibilities of dear old mom have now been placed at my feet with no one else to kick her can down the road… so to speak.

Years ago during one of my countless therapy sessions I was describing my childhood which consisted depression, the loneliness of having no allies, and what it was like having no way to express the feelings of not being loved or touched by my primary caretaker. My therapist asked me where I thought God was in all that. Sadly, I couldn’t give her an answer. As hard as I tried to figure out where, in all honestly, I didn’t think He was there. Today, after receiving a text I got from my daughter informing me that my first dance teacher and ally Paula Kelley had died I see exactly where God was in all of that.


Paula Kelley is a shockingly talented bigger than life stage and film, award winning actress/dancer with an even bigger heart of gold. She taught dance at a performing arts school in Watts that hired many renowned performers to teach inner-city kids after the famed Watts-Riots. I was one of those kids.

… And here’s where the God thing started.

Because I suffered unimaginable menstrual pains which annoyed my mother to no end, the doctor suggested some form of exercise may help. I had no idea where I was going when my mother dragged me to the Watts school of performing arts where it was immediately discovered (particularly by Ms. Kelley) that movement was my gift (God’s gift to a very quiet, and very lost little girl). This revelation made my mother extremely happy. It didn't relieve cramps as she'd hoped, BUT it did make her the bona fide mother of the star dancer of the school, which is a God send for a narcissist mother! As well as for me. I was assured that my mother would never take me out of that school as long as she reaped the benefits that came with being able to say that the star dancer was her daughter.

I don’t know if it was my talent or the presence of my “Gru-like” mother (a reference from the movie “Despicable Me”), but Paula Kelley took me under her wing as a mentor and friend. She invited me to her performances here in Los Angeles which allowed this little girl from South Central the privilege of hanging out backstage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and other incredible theaters watching productions of the highest performance and technical caliber. It was because of her I developed a love for theater, acting, and my dance technique excelled. Unlike my mother, Paula Kelley “saw” me, related to me, and encouraged me. She imparted life into me at a time when (and I’m sure she recognized this) I was a seriously depressed child who only came out of her shell while performing.

Dealing with my mother over the last few months has prompted those old trapped, feelings of fear and sadness to try to resurface. But I know what they are, what causes them, and now I have tools to prevent the hopelessness from taking root as it did when I was a child.

Last year I began writing a book about miracles in my life, my career in Hollywood, and raising my daughters single handedly; one of whom is a world traveled professional dancer (crazy, right!). In it I go into much more detail about all the other influences Paula had on my life. After writing it I felt a strong urge to personally thank her, but I had no idea how to find her. I also had no idea if she’d remember me. But I wanted to tell her what a profound effect she had on my life (and years later, my children’s), by exhibiting one of the few real-life examples I had on what motherhood looks like and feels like. I’d like to blame not reaching out to her on her very private life, but the fact is I didn’t even try. And now she’s gone.

PAULA KELLEY 1944-2020

So, what’s the moral of the story? Right your life. Now. Don’t wait. If there’s anyone who has lifted you up, that’s where God was even if you didn’t feel His presence at the time. If you love someone or someone loved on you don’t think it’s too small to mention, or that they even know what they did. Tell them. And trust that there is heavenly intervention even in the gritty, sad and lonely parts of your life.

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