Call of the Valley: Laura Staley finds inspiration in life, Black Mountain
On the publication of her latest guidebook "Abundant Heart," Laura Staley took time out to trace the inner conflicts she experienced due mainly to her willful, disparaging mother and her subsequent journey toward healing, loving and living free.
“Harkening back to those early memories in Ohio,” she said, “any time I was in the presence of my Grandma Hope I felt absolutely cherished. I would run into her arms and get the warmest hug. She was a lifeline through my entire childhood. My dad also loved me and was kind.”
On the other hand, there was always this gnawing gap. For instance, when Staley came home “utterly jubilant,” her mother would chide her saying “no one can be that happy.” No matter what she did, no matter how much she accomplished even later on by earning a Ph.D. at Ohio State and teaching at Ohio Wesleyan, she could never earn her mother’s approval.
Gradually however, through her encounters with her grandmother and the encouragement she received from her dad, plus the benefit she derived from dancing during her grade school years and free-flowing modern dance in college, Staley found a degree of self-expression and self-acceptance.
At the same time, she also received inspiration from novels featuring characters who overcame difficulties and exuded “unrelenting optimism.” As an offshoot, she considered the eventual creation of books about overcoming obstacles. After all, she was always writing and journaling trying to come to terms. Why not put it to good use?
At one point, Staley came across feng shui, based on the ancient Chinese philosophy that centered on chi, the life-force energy. By extension, she began to see how it could lead to decluttering and ridding all hand-me-downs. In practical terms, it meant knowing where good and bad chi is present in your life and learning how to manage one’s energy and environment accordingly. After training at the Western School of Feng Shui, Staley established her own company called Cherish Your World (inner and outer) and has been working with a variety of clients for over two decades now teaching them how to balance elements, energies and environmental factors in a positive way.
She puts this effort like this: “You are here to live unburdened from the past, free to love and care about who and what you deeply value. To stop accumulating physical belongings and emotional wounds and live without the clutter.”
The inspirational books came about when Staley's marriage ended and she felt the pressing need to “share and pour out all I had learned because it was so alive inside of me. To help a greater number of people because I wasn’t the only one to have lived a difficult childhood and found my way in this wacky, wonky world.”
As for her move to Black Mountain, 36 years prior she was deeply moved discovering the wonders of the Blue Ridge Parkway during an idyllic winter in contrast to the harsh winters she experienced living in Ohio. In 2018, going through yet another harsh Ohio winter, in love with her new significant partner and given the choice of any place they could forge a new life together, Staley promptly replied, “Close to the Blue Ridge near Asheville where the mountains are soft and flowing. Where they beckon to you and embody feminine beauty.”
After they moved to Black Mountain she said, “I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I have found my soul home.”
During the pandemic, Staley asked herself how she could be of service to others at this challenging time and chose the Caring for Children world wide fundraiser. She subsequently created 365 videoed dance theater pieces to pop songs, added inspirational placards and posted the results every day of the week for a year on Facebook. The list of the rest of her offerings of personal insights, peace, compassion and love through guest appearances on podcasts, reaching out on Zoom, composing articles and newsletters are too numerous to note on this brief profile. Suffice it to say there is so much yet to come.