Some people appear to be cheerful all the time....
Jani McCarty is one of those whose optimism is prevalent when you meet her, not in a gushy sort of way, but she’s more than just ‘a pleasant person’ to be around. “Choose forward movement” is her motto, and that’s obvious once you’ve engaged in conversation with her.
A product of Arvada High School and the University of Northern Colorado, she took all the courses that centered around developing people skills, thinking initially she might like to be a social worker. But somewhere along the way she thought better of it, preferring to invest her energies where she thought she could effect change. She ended up teaching communications classes to teenagers in Bailey in the 1970s.
“I arrived with a paisley long skirt and Frye boots,
only four years older than some of the students I was teaching,” she said while sipping a latte.
“It was a tumultuous time in Bailey,” she remembered, referencing three principals and three superintendents who’d passed through the school system in the five years she was there. But the revolving door in administration gave her the freedom to implement much of what she chose to teach.
Communications was the subject, and her favorite was Interpersonal Communications/Family Communications, which incorporated the family living concept. With a high pregnancy rate in the school district, she found herself talking about sex education and helping teens to be more responsible for their choices. In those days, teachers didn’t even utter the words “sex ed.”
At the time, “Bailey was a community of ranchers, hicks and latch-key kids, sprinkled with a few talented, forward thinkers,” she explained.
“I had to break through the limitations of a small community. It was the ‘new thought’ age, which dealt with self-fulfilling prophecies – whatever we think we are, we’ll become.” What her students learned in their communications class “empowered them to use good judgment, take action toward reaching their dreams, and set goals,” she reflected.
Her fascination for how people are and how they work has been part of her persona for as long as she can remember. “I love to see the energies in people and animals,” she says with that gentle smile that envelops her eyes as she speaks.
She’s a person who looks you in the eye when you’re speaking, I’d thought when I first met her. She asks thoughtful questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in a person she’s just met, gently inviting a stranger in a group to share a bit about herself/himself. Her voice conveys a smile even over the telephone.
This degree of comfort with self is something she’s worked at over the years. “My ‘sense of gut’ got lost when I looked outside myself for happiness, approval and excitement,” she confessed.
She remembers riding her horse in the ditch bank of Arvada near 80th and Alkire during her formative years. “It was so open there – clean and fresh. I developed an incredible sense of freedom and connection,” she reflected. “It was an opening of my consciousness to be in the present and being aware of my contributions and what I was receiving.”
But somewhere along the way she’d developed a dependence on alcohol and drugs. After a family intervention and with the help of the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, Jani experienced her own recovery in 1988. “I recognized that I’d been using alcohol and drugs to cope with feelings and to make myself feel better. I realized I had to take responsibility for whatever was underneath.”
Keeping up on the teachings of noted psychologists over the years, she was especially attracted to the philosophy of Louise L. Hay, who taught that you can heal your life. “You had a part of creating your life. You can shift your focus to create a different reality,” Jani expounds. “If you can experience/deal with your feelings first, then you can heal the part that was wounded and become more whole.”
“I worked on ‘self’ to get clean and sober ‘for me,’ “ she said.
She’s always been enthusiastic for life and had a love for people; now she’s tapped into what she does best and turned that into a career. As a transformational life coach – a licensed “Heal Your Life” leader trained in Louise L. Hay’s program – she helps clients get in touch with their own answers by starting with what’s going on right now. She works with individuals to uncover and process the blocks that are keeping them stuck in the place they’re in. It’s that forward movement thing….
She injects a little humor in the conversation by providing the definition of ‘insanity.’ “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” she says with a smile. “When we’re in our own insanity, we can’t see that.”
Ultimately she believes that the people and experiences put in one’s path are there to help us learn and take personal responsibility. And practicing an attitude of gratitude is part of the equation.
Love & Light, TLC, is the name of her business, and her office is located in the newly renovated Meadow Drive Village complex, formerly known as the Showbarn Plaza.
As a life coach, she differentiates her approach from that of a psychotherapist saying she focuses on the present rather than the story behind a person’s situation. “And I don’t give advice.” She enjoys providing a safe, non-judgmental place for clients to explore themselves with the goal of seeing them reconnect with themselves and move forward.
And she’s back to working some with teens. Amongst her workshops are some she calls “Teen Self-emPOWERment Playshops,”a teen version of the “Heal Your Life” workshops, helping young people recognize they have the power to make choices that are right, loving and healthy for themselves.
A structured person herself, Jani’s background in teaching enables her to provide a structure for others as she guides her clients on a path to what’s important to them.
For her 50th birthday she was given an Arabian Quarterhorse – a mare she named Peanut Butter. “I get so much from grooming Peanut Butter,” she says. “All the weight of the world is lifted. I get filled up and experience happiness every single time.” She’s back to trail raiding, renewing the spirit she knew as a kid.
She and Bryan, her husband of 29 years, enjoy traveling to foreign and familiar places – Europe, Mexico, Hawaii. They live near Evergreen Lake where Jani enjoys a daily walk, making a habit of picking up cigarette butts. It’s her way of making a difference. “I love nature – I’ve always been an environmentalist.”
She’s also a skier, a competitive swimmer, diver, gymnast.
“But deep in my heart, I’m just a cowgirl,” she confesses.
Photo credit: Katy Moses Photography