Penny Hodgson Interview Published on: 16, Oct 2018

What helped you to fight with the challenges that life threw at you at a tender age of 13? What or who provided you the biggest moral support?

At 13, I was raped while babysitting. I didn't even recall that memory until I was in my 40's. It was buried way in the back of my FEAR cabinet. I was watching My House in Umbria on HBO. It's a movie about an eccentric woman (who is also an author) with a traumatic past who runs a pension ( a guest house) in Umbria, Italy. There's a scene in the movie where she's describing being sexually assaulted by her adoptive father and it triggered the memory. In that instant in my mind, I could see the man on top of me, and I could smell booze and cigarette smoke on him. He had a beard and I remembered the roughness of it on my face. His wife caught him in the act and was instantly hysterical. I remember her screaming - get off her! What are you doing? She's just a child! Later that morning when she was driving me home, she begged me not to tell anyone and I never did. Because I didn't tell anyone, there was no need for moral support at the time but I carried the shame - disguised as anger, resentment and bitterness toward men - with me for thirty years. In psychology you learn about repressed memories, but intellectually understanding a concept and living it are not the same thing. When you live it - even though you understand the concept intellectually, the added feelings that come with the memory erase all rational thought. You are, in effect, transported back in time. For me, at this point in my life, I had the tools to work through the trauma of that night so I was able to resolve the memory rather quickly and forgive my attacker. I believe my mind waited until I could deal with it before it retrieved and opened that file from my FEAR cabinet. When I work with women who have been sexually assaulted, they know my empathy is genuine.

Looking back to a dozen orthopedic surgeries performed in three different provinces by four different orthopedic surgeons over the course of thirty years, how do you feel about it? How did you deal with frustration and resentment during all these years?

Today, I am grateful that I am still walking. When my body could no longer hold itself upright, I was blessed to receive help from incredibly gifted surgeons.

I was frustrated and angry for a lot of years and I didn't deal with it! I buried it - stuffed it - denied it. None of the early surgeries worked, and I felt that some of the surgeons I had as a young child lied to me and to my parents. I became incredibly distrustful of doctors. By the time I was in my late teens I was researching everything I possibly could about my condition but there wasn't a lot of information available. I studied anatomy and physiology to try to figure out what I could do to help myself, but I didn't know how to apply that knowledge to my body at that time.

When I finally worked through my own mind files, I was able to resolve all of that anger and frustration and forgive all those doctors I thought had lied to me.

After all these years of hardships, you have grown into a beautiful woman and a much stronger person and, we all are proud of that. What advice would you like to give someone who is dealing with problems in their lives?

Thank you! Everyone has problems. Problems come with living life! If you get stuck and you can't figure out how to get yourself unstuck - reach out and ask for help. There's no shame in asking for help and it doesn't make you weak. Sometimes we need a completely objective perspective about what we think our problems are to give us that extra little bit of ooomph to propel us forward again.

Girls will often talk with their friends about their problems, but friends can't be objective. Today, with the internet, there are unlimited resources. Books, videos, and online counselors with a variety of backgrounds. Ultimately, you just have to find your way to the thing that feels right for you. Keep trying! If you're seeing a counselor and not moving forward, try someone else. Don't be afraid to offend someone. You have to look after you. Usually though,as the saying goes, when you're ready - you will find your way to the right teacher.

How did you achieve true forgiveness, peace, and happiness? How helpful it was to form a relationship with God?

Without my relationship with God, I would never have ever achieved true forgiveness, and without true forgiveness, peace and happiness would have remained mostly elusive with temporary moments of joy.

Forgiveness isn't an intellectual exercise - it's a Spiritual one that requires Grace and Divine intervention. First off, you have to want to let go of your anger, frustration, bitterness and all the other negative emotions you're carrying around with you. Then, you must accept that you don't know everything and that there is a power much greater than you are that does. Once you become willing to reassess your beliefs, the journey begins.

Being born with severe bilateral hip dysplasia and winning over it like a champion, do you think physical limitations are really the limitations to anyone's dreams?

Thank you! I believe we come into this life with tools that help us get through the challenges we are going to face. I came with tenacity and grit and that definitely helped me.

Yes! Everyone struggles with limitations. Limitations don't have to be physical to hold you back from living life. Limitations are just beliefs , and beliefs need to be challenged every once in a while.

What made you decide to leave behind a successful operational accounting career of over 20 years and go back to school? What are some best experiences you have had while teaching others how to leave behind the emotional baggage from their own life's challenges?

I wasn't fulfilled in my job. I like solving puzzles, and operational accounting certainly allows you to do that, but I knew deep inside I didn't belong there. I've always been a person that others looked to for guidance and I knew that was my true purpose, but I didn't know exactly how to go about it. I studied psychology, philosophy and mythology my entire life but I didn't hold any certification. I thought I needed the certification to prove that I know what I know - because ultimately - that's what certification and degrees are. Someone - a professor from a school, college or university verifies that you've read particular books and that you understand what is in those books, so I went back to school to obtain certification. The funny thing is, God had a different plan for me. I wasn't meant to become a psychologist - I was meant to teach people how to blend traditional psychological concepts with Spiritual ones and lead a balanced life. I did become a certified therapeutic counselor, but from a holistic college. Later on, when my health deteriorated again, I studied holistic nutrition so that I had the tools to help my body heal. I now use that certification in my holistic practice as an indicator of how balanced a person's health is.

The best experiences I've had are the times when I'm working with someone who thought life had defeated them, and after working with them - sometimes after only an hour - I can see the light of hope in their eyes. When a person hears something that triggers an 'aha!' moment - I have just witnessed a miracle and I am reminded of how incredibly blessed I am.

What fears/doubts you had while publishing your debut book "Mind Files"? How did you manage to balance theory and practical application in the book?

Honestly, I didn't have any fears or doubts about publishing Mind Files - I knew this was what I was supposed to do, and I knew I had the skills to complete it because I had gathered the skills to accomplish it over the course of my business career.

I started working as a piano teacher for a prominent music school when I was in high school so I learned how to present concepts in a variety of different ways. The students I taught ranged in age from 5 to 75 and everyone learns at different rates and in different ways. When I became head of the piano division I was asked to write a curriculum. This was really the first 'book' I wrote! Once I moved into administration and management, part of my job was to train new staff so I continued to be a teacher and a mentor of a sort. I was also responsible for compiling and analyzing various financial and accounting reports, and presenting that information to other managers in a way that made sense. All of these things gave me the opportunity to learn skills and develop abilities.

This is how life gives you exactly what you need to fulfill your purpose in life - to become who you were meant to be. I learned how to combine and present theory and practical concepts to people of all ages from the time I started working, and I had thirty years of practice! We assume that we are supposed to become who we were meant to be once we are done school - in our 20's or at the latest in our 30's! We are always in a hurry to become who we are supposed to be rather than grow into the person we were meant to become.

What exactly is File Cabinet Model? How difficult it was to represent how our brain receives, process, and stores information in a book?

I use the analogy of a filing cabinet system to demonstrate the mind's process. Imagine three filing cabinets - a NEUTRAL cabinet, a LOVE cabinet and a FEAR cabinet. Initially, unless an experience is especially traumatic, our mind's process assesses experiences objectively. Memories from initial experiences are stored in the NEUTRAL cabinet until it appears that we are about to enter a similar experience. The next time our mind thinks it is about to experience something similar to a past experience, it retrieves the file/memory from the NEUTRAL cabinet and places it in the forefront of our mind. This reminder ensures our mind will arrive at a similar conclusion, but this time, it will choose a feeling to go along with the assessment and attach that feeling to the memory. Depending on the feeling it chooses, the mind's process will either file that memory in our LOVE cabinet, or our FEAR cabinet. The feelings create filters and the more filters we accumulate, the thicker and stronger the belief becomes. There is a video on my YouTube channel that people can watch to get a visual of the process. The video is also on my consulting website at

It took me a little while to figure out the most concise way to present the mind's process. In my holistic consulting practice and when I'm teaching workshops to groups of people, I have wooden bins that represent each of the filing cabinets, and folders representing feelings. The more I worked with these bins and folders, the better I became at articulating the process.

What impact can faulty perceptions have on one's life? How by having false impressions an individual ends up having wrong perspectives?

Well, there really aren't 'faulty' perceptions per se - just unchallenged ones. We begin collecting data when we are very young - long before we have sufficient knowledge to properly assess what we have experienced, but our early assessments are what the mind's process uses as a reference for what we are currently experiencing. Each time our mind validates a previous assessment, it strengthens it creating a rigid perspective. If we don't challenge these perspectives, we no longer experience life objectively, and this creates problems in our lives.

How did you design all the questions in the book? How do you think these questions are going to help an individual with unsolved problems?

The questions are intended to get people thinking about how they think, what they feel, and to get them wondering why they believe what they do. If we don't challenge our beliefs, we are choosing to stay stuck where we are in life by default.

How has your experience of being a certified holistic therapeutic counselor and natural nutritionist helped you to shape into a writer?

Gee, I'm not sure! I think my desire to encourage and inspire others by sharing what I've learned is what motivated me to become an author. There are so many people imprisoned by false beliefs - I just wanted to provide a beacon of hope.

What are some beautiful places to visit in Calgary? How often do you visit there?

I love living in Calgary! Thank you for asking! The city itself is beautiful! I live in the southeast, and can be in our provincial park - Kananaskis - in less than an hour, and in Banff National park in just over an hour! The city of Banff, Lake Louise, and the entire area is surrounding it is amazing! Jasper National Park is a few more hours to the northwest, but it is one of my favorite places to go! There are so many beautiful canyons to see in Jasper - Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls and Maligne Canyon are all fabulous! In the spring, summer and fall, I head out into the mountains at least once a week and go for a walk in the woods. I like to go canoeing on the mountain lakes as well - so peaceful and so beautiful! In the winter, depending on how cold it is, I try to get out at least once per month. Winter is a little more challenging for me physically, but I do enjoy walking in the forest in the snow!

What is the most genuine review/warm gesture that you have ever received from a fan?

Not too long ago, a young woman went out of her way to let me know how inspired she was after reading my story, and learning about my Mind Files program. Her enthusiasm was really touching!

One thing that has changed after being an author? Do you miss anything?

Mind Files has opened a lot of new doors that I'm only beginning to walk through so this is a time of transition for me. There are so many new things that I don't have time to miss anything yet!

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