Darlene’s Story

My brothers Joe & Gary and me with our parents

My brothers Joe & Gary and me with our parents

I grew up in a tight-knit, New York Italian family. When I think about my childhood, I remember lots of warm summers at the beach, silly pranks with my brothers and my mom’s famous raviolis and meatballs on Sunday.

I also think about my dad, who struggled since I was a little girl with chronic illnesses too numerous to name. Watching him and my mom bravely endure his many threatening conditions left me with a profound appreciation for the preciousness of life and a strong desire to find happiness no matter the circumstances.


PhD graduation and 7 months pregnant

When it came time for college, I decided to study psychology so I could learn what it takes to create true well-being in life. Happily, that path led me to grad school in sunny Los Angeles.

The day I got my PhD in clinical psychology, I was officially considered an expert in human behavior. Sure, I knew a lot about Freud, the superego and why people eat cupcakes when they’re stressed, but believe me, none of that helped when I myself was confused or worried or caring for my crying toddler in the backseat of my car.

Despite my education, I could still over-think things or dwell on issues I couldn’t control. Clearly, theories and science can only take you so far. What I needed was inner guidance, something my years of academic training couldn’t give me.


UCLA LifeSkills Course

By now I was a UCLA educator, designing wellness programs for the campus. As I pondered how to help my students live their happiest lives in a real-world way, I thought…

What if I could cherry-pick the best of the great psychology thinkers, neuroscientists and the ancient traditions to create a roadmap for inner wisdom? Make it all super practical. Really simple. Like having your own inner guide to offer advice when you felt stuck or confused. Your left-brain talking to your right-brain. And, of course, I could use it for myself, too.

I developed LifeSkills, a course to show undergrads how to thrive no matter what. Through the class, I watched my students make profound shifts. They talked about how their lives were calmer, happier and easier than before. They shared their moving stories of stronger relationships, health improvements and unexpected success. Within 18 months, the number of applicants to the class jumped from 30 to 700. To be honest, I was stunned. And deeply thankful. But what happened next truly surprised me.

Many of my students’ mothers—noticing the changes in their daughters—called them weekly to find out what they were learning. They wanted to know these lessons too. Interest in the course led to a book, a weekly radio show and a personal mentoring program for women. But, little did I realize, how much the lessons of this emotional toolkit would ultimately help me, too.

My Dad, daughter Sophia and me

With my Dad and my daughter Sophia

When my father died of heart failure and other unexpected challenges came my way, I was profoundly grateful to have the nourishing strategies of my emotional toolkit. They guided me and showed me how to ride the waves of change. I felt stronger and more grounded because of them.

The personal circumstances of my life inspired me to dig deeper to create new philosophies and techniques to transcend life’s biggest challenges in ways both positive and growth-promoting.

My Mom and me. Such an amazing role model

My Mom and me

I believe every experience in life brings something new to understand. No matter where life takes us, the question comes down to this: How can I thrive? That’s the question I always ask myself.

In a sense, I feel like we’re on this journey together—you and me. As my own story unfolds, I continue to learn and teach those things that matter most to me—how to create life from a strong, centered place and use that inner knowledge to benefit myself and those around me.

If that’s your goal too, then I invite you to join me as I explore the cutting-edge and the ancient, on the path to your own well-being. It’s through my life’s adventures and my work that I’ve come to believe in this simple philosophy:

Inner Wisdom. Awesome Life.