Season 1: Episode #5
What makes a hero?
According to Philosopher and Scholar Joseph Campbell, a hero is an archetypal figure who takes a journey from his or her ordinary world, goes out on an adventure, through a decisive crisis wins a victory, then returns home transformed with gained wisdom to offer others. This podcast explores real people, real stories and the pivotal moments that changed the course of their lives forever.
Every living thing goes through the process of transformation. In nature, after winter comes spring. I love the imagery of the butterfly. The caterpillar has no idea it's going to be a butterfly. There's nothing in the caterpillar that goes, yeah, I'm going to go through all of this, then I'm going to eat and then I'm going to build a cocoon and then I'm going to die and then I'm going to come back as a butterfly. The human developmental process is much more complicated and complex and yet it's the same.
Naomi Collins-Beltzhas certainly been through her own metamorphosis. What you will hear is only a fraction of her many cycles of evolution. The longing in her soul to follow her destiny has led her across the world and back. Listen to this heroic journey of courage, disappointment, despair and rebirth. I’m Belinda Lams and this is The Moment When…
Naomi Collins-Beltz is a professional Relationship Therapist, a Master Life Coach, and Transformational Trainer of character development. Dr. Naomi champions individual, relational and spiritual authenticity skillfully integrating her therapeutic wisdom and winning life-coaching strategies. She shares her own personal stories of recovery and transformation in her uniquely insightful and hilarious one woman show called, "Madame Imago's Master Class: a butterfly's guide to spiritual evolution.” Dr. Naomi has spent more than 30 years helping people internationally, including five and a half years living full time in Israel. She and her husband Paul now live in Southern California where they enjoy the closeness and joy of their children and grandchildren.
So, how do we know each other Naomi?
Oh, my gosh. Well, we met in college. Was it 1980 or 1981? 80, must've been 80.
I started in 80, so I don't know.
Yeah, must have been 1980 because I was pregnant right? With my first son, so he's now 36. And you were living in the dorms with your sister and I was living in the married student housing and we met. And you actually Belinda made me, I'll never forget this, you made me my first maternity dress from a pattern, which I thought was the most amazing thing ever cuz I didn't have a clue how to sew.
Oh, my gosh I remember the fabric, I remember you doing that for me and we just became fast friends.
We've stayed friends all of these years. So that's—
Which is amazing.
We get points for that.
Yes, we do. We get mega points. I would say, you're one of my closest and dearest friends and we've known each other and been with each other through so many epic life transitions that it was like what story do I pick.
Right. Okay, so let's get into your story. So, what was your ordinary world before you got called out into whatever you're going to tell us?
Oh, okay. I was married to my husband Paul which I still am and raising two sons and living in Long Beach California and I was running my own business which was a nonprofit counseling center called Breakthrough Counseling Center which is still in Los Alamitos California today. We had a very idyllic life. We had a beautiful home that we had recently remodeled and our kids were doing great in school and my husband had a great job. We had our two nice cars. It was really the Southern California life we were living.
In addition to my counseling center I was also in ministry which meant that I would teach and speak mostly about healing, about how our spiritual life is integrated with our psychological life and how psychology and healing was not of the devil because many in the church at that time thought that all we needed was supernatural healing which I believed in but I also believed in the process.
Naomi got her call to adventure through a series of messages. The first installment came at a church meeting in Nashville, Tennessee where she was playing the piano for the guest speaker—her long-time friend—Jill Austin.
All of a sudden, Jill decided that she heard from God and called me away from the piano onto the stage to be with her. And she began prophesying, which means she's speaking as if God is speaking through her. And she told me that I was being called to Israel. And this came as quite a shock to me.
Now, I'm Jewish by birth, I'm Jewish by heritage and I did become a born-again Christian when I was 18 years old but related to my life now as an adult, as a Christian but in my background, Jewish. So I thought, “Maybe she's making this up, you know, like she knows I'm Jewish. You know, maybe that was her connection it didn't really resonate for me.” It actually mostly created fear for me like, what are you talking about? I am not called to Israel. I like my life I like where it is.
Mind you this was Nashville which is like the belt buckle of the Bible Belt and I thought well, I thought they didn't like Jews in the south and all of a sudden, people are crying and they're praying for me. And it just turned into this big dramatic scene and honestly, I just filed it away like okay, note to self “this is very interesting” but at that particular moment nothing really supernatural happened for me.
Naomi returned to California. She continued on with her normal life, not thinking about Jill’s prophetic pronouncement to her at all. And then…another message appeared.
So this woman named Robin called me from Nashville and the call went something like this, “Hey, Naomi my name is Robin and you don't know me but I was there at the meeting at Belmont and heard you play the piano and heard Jill prophesy to you about Israel. And I've got these people named the Kleins coming to Nashville from Israel and I was praying about it and I think that you should come to Nashville and meet the Kleins. And I was like, “Oh my gosh who is this person?” But anyway I ran it by my best friend and business partner at the time and of course, ran it by my husband and they felt like I should go. What's the harm in going and I'll go to Nashville and I'll meet these people and that's what I did.
During that trip, Naomi learned that the Kleins were planning to build a Counseling and Healing Center in Israel and invited her to be a part of it. Was this truly her destiny as Jill had prophesied? She had traveled to Israel many times and though she loved it, the thought of living there seemed like a huge sacrifice. How could she leave her kids, her friends and family, her comfortable life? And yet, the call to Israel was growing stronger. Fast forward seven years later…
So I started a ministry called Obed ministries. And Obed comes from the story of the book of Ruth and the book of Ruth is about Naomi. The Bible was the final word for me at that time. I'd become one of those people who believes I'm like literally being called like a Bible character. I would always put out fleeces before God and say, okay if this is really what you want, then this needs to happen. If this is really what you want, then this needs to happen and one of the things I said was, if you want us to live in Jerusalem you'll have to have some random person come up to us and say, are you looking for an apartment on Obed Street and because that was the name of our ministry and sure enough that is exactly what happened. And we found our first apartment on number 7 Obed Street in Jerusalem. I didn't think this through on any practical level to be quite honest with you. I was in a frenzy and a high and a supernatural place where I just thought anything is possible, this is what God wants me to do so we're doing it and then these little detail things would happen and I would be okay. It would quell my fear for that moment.
Over time, they collected an entire book-full of clear messages and open doors so that it became undeniable; Naomi and Paul must say yes to Israel. Their eldest son decided to move with them and their younger son and his wife stayed back in California. They quickly sold their house at the top of the market, packed up, and said goodbye.
We burned the ship. We left everything and we moved to Israel with the very powerful calling and thought of this is our destiny, this is what God is calling us to, we're never coming back.
I’m Belinda Lams and this is The Moment When…Today we’re talking with Naomi Collins-Beltz about the uncanny signs that compelled her to uproot from her comfortable home and move across the world to a new home and a new life … Her story continues.
There had been a steady stream of signs and wonders that ushered Paul and Naomi to Israel, but when they arrived, the supernatural guidance was abruptly cut off.
So now, we're establishing our life there. We don't speak Hebrew and I'm not used to the culture. So it was culture shock for sure and then it was this reality of I'm starting over literally at 47 years old and starting over in a foreign country and the culture was so opposite than the Southern California culture where were we're relaxed and we're easygoing and we love our personal space and we're polite and we say no after you and please and we stand in line and we say thank you and excuse me. And now I'm living in a culture where none of that exists and I just found it completely overwhelming.
There was an amazing aspect to it of wow, we are living in the Holy Land, we made Aliyah, meaning we got our citizenship. My relatives who perished in the Holocaust, this would have been their dream to move to Israel. So I had a deep sense of awe and wonder. So there was that and there was my internal fade to black like I just went into a very dark night of the soul that didn't let up. You guys came and visited us, a lot of people came and visited we did many tours, we got involved in different things there but it was this deep, deep sense of everything that I thought I understood about God no longer made sense to me. It wasn't working. What worked in Southern California didn't work in Israel. My mindset didn't work, my point of view didn't work, how I knew how to do life didn't work, my cultural skills didn't work. I was like a baby.
In her struggle to acclimate to the culture and make sense of her disintegrating spiritual paradigm, Naomi began to feel like a fish out of water. She didn’t fit with the Christians anymore. She didn’t fit with the Orthodox Jews. Where did she belong? Her disillusionment with the religious world increased dramatically when she offered her counseling services to the Messianic Community.
I was very disturbed by the kind of cases that were coming to me. I was one of three messianic or believer counselors in the entire country. And there was a very suspicious attitude amongst believers about counseling or psychology. Again, it had to be Bible based, it had to be spiritual, they didn't value psychological help, they thought everything was spiritual and of course, I had experience with dealing with that in the states. It was kind of what I made my career on. Because I wasn't in the system, they were coming to me and telling me what was really going on in their life. I was hearing everything from domestic violence, pedophilia, you name it. These women, mostly women were coming to me and confessing to me and telling me about their husbands in ministry. I have a very strong sense of justice and I hate abuse and oppression and I just became enraged with what I was hearing and felt very helpless because it was just me.
I didn't want to be in the system, because the system was too corrupt. Similar to the Catholic Church but on a very small scale, the men in ministry would cover up for each other because they wanted to protect the reputation of the church. So that combined with my own personal crisis. It became crushing to me and I helped many, marriages stay together and separate. I would blow up the lies and the truth would come out and then the consequences would fall where they would and a lot of times I was blamed. I was even at one point accused of witchcraft. One person actually accused me of being a feminist, which I thought, is that a bad thing? [Laughter] And some would insult me because-- I believe that women have equal rights, okay so sue me.
Although Naomi was able to skillfully help many in their dark night of the soul, she was at a loss when it came to her own.
I was not able to connect with God anymore in the way that I used to. I theologically believed God wouldn't abandon me but psychologically, I certainly felt abandoned. Experientially, I felt abandoned. You know, I started really getting into Judaism and Kabbalah and I was just trying to find some way to connect, like oh maybe, I'm not supposed to relate to God or Jesus in a Christian way anymore, I need to relate to God or Yeshua as he's called in Hebrew in a Jewish context and a Jewish way. I would get a lot out of it but I couldn't ever find anything where I felt relief from my turmoil. I didn't think my marriage would survive, I didn't think I would survive. If we hadn't of sold our house, I would have come back to California and divorced my husband and lived in my pretty house. We were put on Survivor Island and it just required a whole new skill set. Now, here I am a marriage counselor and I'm helping all these other people and I am disintegrating and my marriage is disintegrating and I'm like you know that place, I was like please just maybe a truck could come and run me over and that would be a relief.
And then I'm doing ministry stuff. You know, I would have people who would come to Israel and say, “oh, you're so blessed Naomi, you're so blessed to get to live in Jerusalem” and I'm thinking oh, my God, I don't feel blessed. I literally did not feel blessed. Now, I can look back on it and see the blessings, but at that time, no. I didn't feel blessed. I felt tortured, I felt cruel and unusual punishment and I felt alone.
Piece by piece, it was all coming apart; her connection to G-d, her religious paradigm, her dreams of destiny, her relationship with Paul, and her understanding about how life works.
I had this belief that God called us to Israel and therefore that meant blah blah blah. Right, that we would be successful that we would build this big thing, that was my destiny, that I would become well known, that I would suddenly be an a-lister in the ministry world, that I wouldn't be hidden like I felt completely hidden. So, there were all these things that I thought, okay well surely we didn't sell our house and move to Israel to then pack it up and move back. That was not in my mind at all.
The biggest resistance inside of me was failure. This meant I was a failure. So I just honestly became so desperate, and I just thought, “I can't do this anymore.
As Naomi spiraled deeper and deeper into depression, Paul began rising up in a transformative awakening.
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Today we’re exploring how a shift in perspective can unlock the door to freedom and the hope that comes when fear is removed with my guest Naomi Collins-Beltz.
Once they made the decision to take the road back to their ordinary world, the stream of guidance that had helped them leave California started flowing again.
We moved to a new city where I knew nobody and nothing except my kids and ironically, I didn't find it funny at the time. But where we live is seriously called little Israel. Like we live in the valley where I would say maybe other than New York, it's the highest population of Israelis in the country. So I'm hearing people speak Hebrew and there's Israeli markets and there's Israeli food and there's Israeli culture and that part even felt like oh we are continuing on this journey, right? We're not just stepping back into our life as we knew it because that life didn't exist anymore.
So what was different in you from when you had left and then when you came back?
Well, there were a lot of questions in me like I was still in that deep deep dark night of the soul. I jokingly say living in Israel prepared me for living in the Valley because culturally, it's similar to Israel. Culturally it's not like Long Beach or Orange County. It is a different world up here, so I felt very prepared in that way. It's congested. people are more aggressive. So part of it felt familiar to me and that presented its own set of challenges because I was like I still was unsettled deep, deep in my soul about what Israel was for me and now I'm now surrounded by Israelis. Let's just say the disturbance came with me. It didn't end. A lot of my sadness left me. Now, I could be near my family and be with my grandchildren, that's all I wanted. So, that sadness left me. Getting to see my friends, getting to go get a pedicure and things that felt normal. But the Israel question, the deep, deep angst of that had not left me and it didn't leave me externally. So I couldn't just check out of that confrontation.
I would go into Trader Joe's and I'd hear some women speaking Hebrew to each other and I'd start crying. I would go to a clothing store in a dressing room to try something on and I'd hear women speaking Hebrew in another dressing room. Or we'd go visit the synagogue and I'd hear the service in Hebrew and I’d start crying. So I knew there was still a lot of work to be done. I had not yet broken out of my cocoon. I was still in the metamorphosis of reanimation. The black primordial goo of, I'm not a caterpillar, I'm not a butterfly, I'm in a cocoon and I'm still in that process.
At the time, did you understand you were in a cocoon or did that awareness come later?
I think at the time I knew I was, I knew I was in some kind of process that had to do with grief and loss.
I thought if anyone could understand and help me right now it would be you. And even though we had been friends lifelong, I thought I don't know who else to talk to. I felt completely safe talking to you and I knew you wouldn't judge me. I'm going to cry. Um. I knew you wouldn't judge me for my questions and I knew you would understand and I think because you had been there. We’d been there for each other through everything. I um reached out to you and said I need help and it was really scary for me because I couldn't talk to anybody about my spiritual crisis because I would always feel judged. And I would more often than not get a pat answer like I knew all the anecdotal things that people say when you're grieving or when you're in a crisis. They just want to make it go away and I thought okay, I can talk to Belinda. We began working together, specifically to help me deal with, grappling with this whole Israel question and my spiritual crisis and just a place that I did feel dead inside where I still felt depressed and unfinished. It was surprising to me like “Here I am, I'm in California, I'm near my kids I'm having grandchildren and I'm still deep in my soul in darkness.”
So the next pivotal moment was opening up and you really helped me. I mean you helped me process the grief that I couldn't process on my own. I'm a therapist, I'm a counselor I help people process, that's what I do and I was just lost and you were an anchor for me. You were. You knew exactly what to do. You knew how to help me.
During our sessions, Naomi began to explore what would breathe life back into her soul. She had lived in the black and white of winter for so long. It became evident that it was time for the vibrant colors of spring. So, she began to paint and garden and create beautiful projects in her home and with her grandchildren.
I started to heal and I started to just be okay with the unknowing. Like you helped me be okay with questions and not having answers, just being able to say, I don't know, let's just not judge it. What else is there present for you than judging or needing to find an answer? It sounds like such a little thing but it was that quantum shift, right? That one degree where your brain opens up and says, oh well, what if I could not have to have an answer? It's huge!So, I'm very grateful, very grateful for how you helped me.
We’ve walked each other through such difficulty, oh my gosh and joy. What has come out of this Naomi? What do you bring from this healing process and what’s emerged and when did you get your wings and…
I knew I didn't want to go back to ministry as I knew it. I didn't want to just build a counseling practice. I wanted to do something new and my background before becoming a therapist was in theatre. I love theatre, I love performing, I love speaking and I’m just people give me energy, I love to be in front of people, I love comedy, I love making people laugh. And I thought I want to integrate my world, I want to take all that I know from having been in the healing world for so long and somehow find a vehicle in which I could be more entertaining but still bring the depth of wisdom that I have developed over all these decades. And I had always wanted to do a one-woman show. In fact other people had said to me “Oh, Naomi, you should do a one-woman show, write the stories” you know, like the hero's journey you and I have talked about it and I thought yeah that's what I want to do but I have no clue, like how do you write a one-woman show, I had no idea.
Through a friend, Naomi was introduced to a woman named Jessica who taught a theater class focused on writing a one-person show. And…it was free. How could she pass up this timely opportunity?
And I'm now in this new world of actors and people coming out of the closets of their own stories. Right? People who are finding their voice and I'm like, “What is this?” It was just the tribe I had been looking for to fit into. They're not religious. They're not judgmental. It's all about finding your voice and being creative and telling your story in a creative way. So every week I would go and I began to get up in front of the class and I would share different things that I’d written. And after about four weeks of class, my teacher came up to me and she said, “hey Naomi, the Hollywood Fringe festival is coming up, what do you think about doing in a show?” I was like what? So I'm in a new place in my life where I'm saying yes because I thought, what do I have to lose? I know what it's like to say no to everything and shut down and want to die so I thought, I'm going to say yes so I said yes to Jessica.
So Naomi set off to write her one-woman show. However, she still felt raw and incomplete from her round trip journey to Israel and had the need to reconcile some inner angst and open up creative ideas for her show. She decided to do work with an energy healer.
We just had a session and she just said just open up and see what your spirit guides want to give you. And I thought, spirit guide, it's out of my paradigm but I was like okay.
Because you say yes to everything.
Because I say yes okay, I'll open up and I'll say yes. And all of a sudden, I saw myself the narrator of my story as this giant butterfly and I felt all this joy go through my body, literally felt it like somebody was pouring liquid joy back into my body. I can't even…it felt like when I used to feel God's presence, when I would feel that anointing of the Holy Spirit. I felt resurrected, I felt this golden oil being poured through my body and I went, I know what to do.
This was out of my paradigm because an energy healer and spirit guides and. In my old self, I would have said No! Not kosher, not acceptable, not biblical and I was like yes, somebody bring me healing.
She was so beautiful she just never judged me. In fact in one of our sessions she said Naomi, I feel like Jesus is one of your spirit guides and I'm like what? Jesus could be my spirit guide? That's not what they taught me in Bible School. She goes I really think you need to ask Jesus, invite him into your heart. She’s as far from an evangelical, she is not anti-christian but she's coming from an Eastern world, Eastern mystical worldview and a new-age perspective but she's reading me and she says, you need to ask Jesus into your heart. He's your spirit guide.
I had such a powerful experience meeting Jesus when I was 18 years old. One of the things I could not ever come to terms with was why did that happen to me, if it was all for nothing, right? if it all was not true. I could not reconcile that. So when she said that to me, the rest of the grief broke and, and I literally asked Jesus back into my heart and cried and cried and I realize I don't have to be in a box, I don't have to be in any kind of box about what that means anymore. It could just be that, right? It could just be that.
The Hero’s Journey isn’t complete until the Hero brings home the elixir to offer others.
So I wrote a one-woman show and I wrote it about this very story that I'm telling you, became my show.
And let me say that I've seen it several times now and read drafts of it and watched you refine this and it's so amazing.
So I performed at the Hollywood Fringe Festival two years ago. Did five shows of a 20-minute version of my show which was an amazing experience and then I've written my full-length show, which my narrator is called Madame imago and imago is the term for the mature state of the butterfly. So meaning after the process of metamorphosis, through the cocoon, coming out of the cocoon, unfurling the wings. So my fairy godmother so to speak is this giant galactic butterfly who tells my story of spiritual evolution.
Through the writing and performance of her life story, Naomi was able to extract some profound life lessons.
I know that the theme of my show and of my life is don't ever, ever, ever give up. Get help if you need to get help but don't ever give up because every living thing goes through the process of transformation. In nature, after winter comes spring. I love the imagery of the butterfly. The caterpillar has no idea it's going to be a butterfly. There's nothing in the caterpillar that goes, yeah, I'm going to go through all of this, then I'm going to eat and then I'm going to build a cocoon and then I'm going to die and then I'm going to come back as a butterfly. The human developmental process is much more complicated and complex and yet it's the same that we’re constantly in a cycle of regeneration, rebirth, reinvention and cannot think that something's final or permanent or done. There's no such thing. So evolution happens whether you participate and believe in it. It's just a part of being alive on planet Earth. So that's my encouragement that we never know, we think our life is going to be a certain way. And there's even a scripture in the Bible that says man makes his plans and God laughs. As human beings, we think we know, oh we figured it out and we're finite and this is what happens and we're told if you believe this way and you do that, then you'll get this result or if you buy this wrinkle cream, you'll get rid of your wrinkles and then you'll have this or blah, blah, blah. Maybe, maybe not. So the point is just be open and say, why am I on this planet? It's to evolve and it's to come to a place where you can be on the journey -- that's all we get. We really are traveling through outer space while we're trying to make a home on planet earth. It's a weird dichotomy.
I know for me personally, it was breaking out of rigid paradigms and I'm not a rigid person, I'm one of the most open-minded people, I think. But I still have my places where I was very fixed on how things are supposed to be and when life shows up not like that, it's really easy to go into despair. So, I know that's why you're doing the show, right? Despair is a part of the metamorphosis. In the despair we come to the end of our rigid way of thinking. We don't know it's our rigid way of thinking that we're coming to the end of but something has to open up in our minds that says, maybe there's something else I haven’t thought of or experienced or know but coming to the end of a certain paradigm, it feels like a death.
I think this is the definition of insanity when I'm living my life but I'm denying what's happening. I'm saying, this can't be happening and it's happening. So then what choice do I have except to go crazy in denying reality.
And that's part of the journey of getting exhausted by living that way and your life breaking apart which yours did.
So, I love what Eckhart Tolle says I'm going to paraphrase but he says,
“how do know your circumstances are exactly what you need because they're your circumstances.” So if everything in your life is happening to get you to wake up, to get you to become present with life, then the circumstances you're in is what you need. So if I stop resisting it and I stop saying, it shouldn't be happening and I say well, what else could be happening in the midst of this, I begin to wake up.
And the little twist on that is that we still fall asleep and wake up again even when we know that stuff. We drift back off, we get comfortable, we forget and then we get reminded but it's different than the big mother…
Maybe I don't fall asleep for five years. Maybe now I fall asleep for a day or a week versus I've checked out and I’m... so I think a spiritual awakening, evolution, is all a process. There's a definitive moment but it's still a journey and a process.
I shared a few thoughts…
What I know to be true of you is you have so much courage. Even in your despair, you're courageously in your despair. You go all into your life and you don't hold back when you're in the light or the darkness and it's such a beautiful part of who you are and I think that's what you radiate when you're doing your show. And I know you don't always feel that way but watching you and being with you, I see so much courage and just longing desire which is you choose life even in in the moments of feeling like you're dead, you're still choosing life. You've helped me countless times and so many other people and I know those that might be listening that know you are nodding their heads, yes she's helped me. So, You really truly make a difference in this world and keep being who you are and live from that place. It does bring color to the rest of us when we're in our dark night.
I am the most miserable when I'm trying to not be who I am. Thank you. I'm just taking it in.
Naomi is available for therapeutic life coaching and speaking engagements. You can get her contact info, the schedule of upcoming tours to Israel, and follow the evolution of her one-woman show at DrNaomi.net. Check the info box for more details.
THE MOMENT WHEN IS PRODUCED BY SOUL ORGANIZER. MUSIC IS COMPOSED BY JEFF LAMS.
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I’m a Life Coach, available for personal coaching. If you’d like to work together, I invite you to email me and set up a free consultation. You can learn more about me and my work at Soulorganizer.com.