Growing better as you grow older
by Rebekah Hickman
The Silva techniques certainly have kept me on my feet and feeling good and feeling happy all these years.
A psychic friend of mine introduced me to Silva. She came to town to visit me one day and told me about the course. We didn’t have a Silva instructor in Charleston, West Virginia, at the time, but an instructor who was traveling around teaching Silva courses came to Charleston. My friend said, “This is a real good course. I took it twenty years ago and it changed my life.”
I had been to a lot of workshops, and I thought, “This is one that will be exciting for a couple of weeks, then I’ll forget all about it and will have spent my money for nothing.”
I asked my friend how much it costs and how long it took to do it. When she told me I said, “No, I don’t have the money or the time to do that.” Those are the standard excuses for folks who don’t want to take the course. She said, “You’ve got the time, and I’ve got the money.” She literally dragged me to that course, sat me down, and handed out the money to pay for it.
I thought, “This must be really something, that she would do this,” because she didn’t have much money. I was sort of in awe that she did this. She had taken it twenty years before and it changed her life. In November of 1987 it did the same for me, and I will always thank her for it.
I had just gone through a heart operation, just two or three months earlier. I’d had a devastating experience with that. I started looking at my life and wondering what I had done. I knew enough to know that I was behind it somehow, but I didn’t know how to do anything about it.
I was a sort of a Type A personality, and I knew I had to make some changes because I wasn’t going to live with the fear that I might have another heart attack.
Most of my life was anything but boring. I have always been very, very active and into everything. I had a very happy childhood, very good and loving parents. My mother was a school teacher from the age of sixteen. I was born sort of “late in life” so I kind of had it easy and had a lot of fun.
My father was a butcher and he had a kind of Silva attitude too. It was during the depression, times were getting pretty bad, but my father always said that he wasn’t poor. He wasn’t worried about it. I never grew up with any great worries or fears.
So when that heart attack hit me, it hit with a bang because I’d never been afraid of anything at any time in my life.
I went to college, even though we were in the depression, and was an average student. At that time, in the 1930s, they really needed students in the colleges, so they encouraged me and helped me along. Now you have to fight to get into college.
I didn’t care too much for teaching, which is what I majored in, so I ended up getting married, I settled down to being a housewife, and raised three children. I waited about fifteen years before I went back to work.
I found out that I was more of a social worker than a teacher. I wanted to help the underdog, to work on something that had meaning, where I could solve problems. I went to work at child welfare and worked with children who were in trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Next I moved to juvenile court and worked with delinquents and foster care and adoption and all those things. I also loved that job.
After working at a job for a while, I would take time off to be with my children and help them. Then I’d go back to work. I was offered a job with mental health. That was a fun job; they were all fun, because I was helping people.
The next job was at a private psychiatric hospital. That was really fun because I got to work with all the patients, doing craft work, explaining things to them, taking them on field trips. I ended up working there twenty years.
The hospital administrator said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I think you are doing good because it is making the patients happy and that is all that matters.”
Does life end at 65?
I almost hated to leave there, but I ended up being 65 years old and most people retire at 65. I was just following the pattern the way so many people think: When you get to be 65 you have to retire.
But I didn’t retire. I took a job where I was executive director for Parents Anonymous. They work with people who are abusing their children, and try to break the cycle of abuse that is handed down from generation to generation. People don’t realize that they were abused and that’s why they abuse their children.
I also worked with a group in a housing development in the Charleston area, where there were a lot of drugs and other problems. I still get calls from some of the parents wanting to know what is going to happen when their kid is taken to court, and what they can do. I try to work with them. I would love to give them all Silva, but haven’t found a way to do it yet. As somebody once said, nothing is free…everything is paid for by somebody. I haven’t found the “somebody” to pay the expenses that would be involved in these people taking the course.
I must have thought I was getting old at that time. I was sort of beginning to feel old. When you look at the calendar and you are 65 – and I was more than 65 then – it can begin to drag you down.
For the first few years after I “retired,” I was traveling around, having a good time working and establishing other Parents Anonymous groups. In the meantime, on the side, I would dabble in art – sculpture and painting pictures. I always did yoga exercises three times a week, and still do. I kept myself active.
But eventually I gave it up. I thought, Well, I am getting old. I will turn it over to this young man who has a degree in social work. My degree was in teaching.
When I turned it over to him, I must have made a bad mistake, because it fell apart. They don’t even have a group now.
It was then that I began to go downhill. I was going in all directions, and felt the need to do some life changing things I guess.
“This is not going to be the end of me”
When I had my heart attack, I thought, This is not going to be the end of me. When they took me to the hospital in the ambulance, I knew I wasn’t going to die. I knew I had to live for something, that there was something else in life for me to live for.
I remember thinking, “I won’t close my eyes; if I don’t close my eyes I won’t die.”
I didn’t die. I got well before anybody else in the hospital, and I was on my way again.
That’s when I took the Silva course.
It was really life changing for me. I felt like it was what I had been looking for all my life.
It all made sense immediately. As the instructor said, the right brain doesn’t take a joke. And it doesn’t. I remember that one of my favorite expressions was, “That really hurts my heart.” I don’t know what kind of messages I was sending to my body, but I sure got busy and stopped sending them right quick.
I learned all the techniques and used them all. I went to every class the instructor gave in Charleston, and drove the four hours to her town to attend more lectures.
One day when I was in her class, I told the instructor, “You know, if I was twenty years younger I would love to go to Laredo and take the instructor training.” I really wanted to find out what was behind it, what made it work so good, what made all these good things happen.
She said, “That’s the silliest excuse I’ve ever heard! You know you can go to Laredo and become an instructor if you want to!”
Then I began to think that maybe I could. All my friends told me I was too old. By that time I was 69 years old. What people are going to put you through the training and let you start at 69? Society doesn’t accept that kind of thing. You know, you are supposed to get old and decrepit and end up in a nursing home by the time you are 70!
A sign from a higher power
Going to Laredo for instructor training began to sound like a wonderful idea. All kinds of fabulous things had been happening: I’d changed my life, I had helped my husband, and had done so many good things. People still laughed at me because of some of the things I was doing, but when they found out what the results were, they became believers.
For example, one time we were driving to the beach and our speedometer broke. My husband, who had not taken the course, was really upset about it. He didn’t want to drive without the speedometer. I told him, “Just hold on…” I was using the Three Fingers Technique; I continued, “There’s going to be somebody at the beach who will fix the car. It will be an Exxon station.”
He said, “It will cost a fortune.”
“No,” I said, “it is going to be real cheap.” I don’t know where it came from, but something must have come to tell me. After we got to the beach my husband and our older son went out to get the car fixed. When they came back, my husband had a sheepish look on his face.
“Well, we went out we got the car fixed” He said. “They fixed the speedometer.”
I asked how much it cost. He answered, “Thirty dollars.”
I asked where he went and he said “Exxon.” That is what I had pictured in my mind. I didn’t make it up, it just came to me.
Anyway, I still needed to make a decision about going to instructor training, so I decided to go to level and ask for a sign to let me know whether I should go or not. I knew that I was getting old, and I wanted to do more with my life. I didn’t want to give up my life. I wanted to be involved, and I liked helping people.
I programmed that if I received money from an unknown source, this would be a sign to go. I didn’t really need money to make the trip to Laredo, but it would be a sign.
A couple of weeks later I got a letter from a friend I grew up with, that I hadn’t heard from in thirty-seven years. When I opened the envelope, there was a check in it from the Wells Fargo Bank in California. I thought, “I’ve never been to California.” I didn’t know what Wells Fargo was. It looked to me like it was one of those fake checks that was just made to look like somebody was giving me $400, but was really some kind of promotion.
Then I picked up the letter and read it. It was from my friend Nellie. She said she knew I would be surprised hearing from her, and she used terms like, “I’ve been thinking a lot about you,” and, “I don’t know how much money I really do owe you but this number keeps popping in my mind.”
The way she wrote, it sounded like something or someone was sending her messages to do this, in order to send me a sign.
I wrote her a thank you note. I would have sent the check back because I didn’t feel like she owed me anything, even though she thought she did. But then I thought, Well, I did ask the universe for it, so I decided to accept it. I knew where it really came from.
That gave me my real sign, in the physical world. And it also paid my way to Laredo and back. I was very excited about that.
I went to Laredo and took the training, and felt like I was in heaven. I didn’t know enough about it to ask a lot of questions, but knew that I would learn more as I went along. As I’ve gone along with it during the twelve years since I attended instructor training, I have learned more than I have ever given away. I know that.
When I got up at the beginning of instructor training to introduce myself, they asked why I was here. I confessed what I thought, that maybe I was a little too old to start doing this. A lot of the instructors who were in that class have kidded me about that ever since. Twelve years later I’m still going strong, teaching at least one class a month, and involved in a lot more activities, like writing a chapter for Jose Silva’s new book.
It was like a dream come true. I had mentally pictured going down and getting my certificate and being accepted as an instructor. I looked at Jose Silva…and he was older than I was! And he was still so active. He was demonstrating a memory technique and could do it so well, I thought, If he can do that at that age, I’m sure I am not old either. He was a great inspiration.
I literally began to get younger every year… in my feeling, in my life, and in the way I could do things.
I found that I didn’t have to get old.
In fact, one of our instructors, Marcelino Alcala, used the Spanish term: (stop counting), which means, you just “stop counting.” I think that’s a great idea.
I once heard one of our graduates jokingly say, “I really don’t think I’ll ever die…and so far, so good!”