That one-week jazz festival in Stockholm changed my life. America was behind me now. The 1960s movement in America would become an enigma to me. As we toured, it became obvious that Sven was an alcoholic. After 3 months of touring, we worked for 1 month at The Kron Prinsen (The Crown Prince), a luxury hotel in southern Sweden. Sven was very drunk every night. I spoke Swedish, but not fluently yet. Sven hardly spoke a word of English. I kept talking to him about it, but he didn't understand half of what I said. The others warned me to leave him alone, that he couldn't be helped, an incurable alcoholic. But I took it upon myself to be the one who would do it. For some unknown reason, I knew he would quit drinking. I knew nothing about alcoholism and didn't drink myself. To make a long story short... when we got back to Stockholm, I spent two months helping him get through it. It was a nightmare... After he was sober for 1 month, we agreed that he needed to know he could do it without my help. We were not a couple yet, but I had been staying in his small apartment to help him get through the ordeal. Since we had a month's vacation during the winter, I flew to America with my mother for 22 days to visit family and friends. My first visit was to my father in Inverness (outside of Chicago). On my last day there, I fell down a flight of stairs, hitting my back on every step. That was Easter Sunday, 1970. The pain was excruciating. My father was a doctor, the head of the American Medical Association for years. He should've known that I was seriously injured, but he sent me on my way and assured me that I would be all right. I remember trusting him (because he was usually right), but it was hard to understand how he could let me leave without taking x-rays to make sure. We had our problems, and there were great misunderstandings between us. Ironically, he—unknowingly at the time—turned out to be right. After my return to Stockholm, it was impossible to stand straight. X-rays revealed five minor fractures in my spine. The doctor said the damage was severe and that it could become a life-long problem for me. As a professional singer and someone who loved to dance, this was unacceptable. Then something happened that made all of this change. (Left: My wedding.) When I returned from my trip, Sven and I fell in love and were married in one of Stockholm's oldest structures from the mid-1100's, Bromma Church. About 2 weeks passed when Sven awakened from a dream (he called it a vision) and said “Strange ... I had a dream that there is a bookstore in the city that has a book waiting for you. I don't know where it is, or what the book is, but I know it exists and we must find it.” I laughed, but he was adamant about it. To amuse him, I tagged along as he searched for the bookstore in Stockholm. Not only was I starting to have second thoughts about Sven's sanity, but it was hard for me to envisage a book waiting for me anywhere! I had no expectations and wondered what it all really meant. Then about a week later, there it was. He saw it on a bridge walkway, a tiny bookstore. “There it is!” he called out. We walked into a tiny antikvariat bookstore (it sold used and rare books). Sven was ecstatic. We asked the proprietor if he had any books in English and with a wave of the hand, he said, “Yes, but only about four or five. They're over here.” He guided us to a bookshelf and pointed to the shelf right in front of my eyes, exactly my height. I stood there and didn't know what to do. “Which book is it, Sven?” I asked. “I was told that you should close your eyes and pick a book and then open it in the middle and start reading. You will know when it's the right book for you,” he replied. Goodness! That proprietor thought we were nut cases for sure. First my hand went on the books to know where they were with my eyes closed. It was difficult to stop myself from laughing and feeling quite silly about what we were doing. But, I picked a book, opened it to the middle, opened my eyes and began to read. After one page of reading in silence, the tears flowed down my cheeks. “How is it possible to know what you are reading when you have never known about it before?” I asked, in complete astonishment. “So, that's the book you're supposed to have?” Sven asked. “I guess so! How did you know? It feels like I wrote this, or knew the person who wrote it and worked with it in some way. How could I know all this?” The book was published in 1906. I was at a loss for words at this point. I had never had an experience like this before where I knew everything about a subject I had never read about. “I don't understand what is happening to me. I already know everything that I am reading here. How is that possible? I have never read anything about this before.” Everything seemed different to me at that moment. My mind seemed more alert. The city was more extraordinary. As we walked down the street, I was aware of everyone else. There was eye contact with every person on the street, and smiles. It felt like someone was moving a lot of information into my brain (today I would say downloading). All I wanted to do was go home to discover more. I knew that my life would never be the same again.
The book was Fourteen Lessons in Yoga Philosophy and Oriental Occultism by Yogi Ramacharaka (he had so many names, this American!). Without any prior knowledge about Yoga, India, esoteric or eastern philosophy, the words were all familiar to me. “Yes, this is the way it has felt my entire life,” I heard myself mutter in joy. It was the same as waking up from a powerful dream where you remember all the details, even the emotions. There are some sites online, but not many, that provide content from Ramacharaka's books. One (actually has the same book I have referred to in this story) is: The Hidden Gate on Geocities. It's worth reading, however simple his words are. If you read between the lines, you will benefit even more. The memory of my recognition as I read the book that night is vivid. I kept reading pieces to Sven, and I cried a lot. Something phenomenal was taking place and we both knew it. However, my back still throbbed and nothing was helping that. I wondered if this thing called Yoga could heal my injury. At the time, I knew nothing about any method of Yoga, but in the inside cover was information about other books by the same author, and he had written one on Hatha Yoga. Many of his books are all from lectures that were given around 1906. I thought a lot about this. I opened the Swedish telephone book and searched for yoga teachers. There were many (Yoga had already been very popular throughout Western Europe long before it became trendy in the U.S.), but one name looked exotic to me—Eugenia Basilewsky. Hmmm...Russian, I thought. That would be different. I never knew anyone from behind the Iron Curtain. This is long before the wall came down. I picked up the phone to call her.