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Elizabeth Enlightens

Massage Magazine, Page 99-102

Profile: Elizabeth Severino
Journey Into Healing

by Larry Hanover

    Her intuition whispered to her over and over again to follow a spiritual path, to let the unseen world guide her toward fulfillment.

    Her intellect and her upbringing told her otherwise. Though religion and spirituality were entrenched in her family, that family was built most of all on one foundation: achievement. Her father made his mark as an entrepreneur in three different businesses. Her mother, a diver, often told her children how she would have competed in the Olympics had World War II not caused the Games' cancellation. There was stifling pressure to learn languages and to study the Roman and Greek classics, to win ribbons and trophies for athletic achievements. If she or her brothers came home with anything but an "A" on a report card, the rest of the family would not speak to that child. So Elizabeth Severino achieved. She became a computer star at IBM, rose to become a vice president for Datapro/McGraw Hill, where she earned more than $200,000 a year, then founded her own consulting firm. She learned nine languages. She danced. She wrote poetry.

    Then, on Labor Day in 1989, while aboard a 33-foot boat on the Pacific ocean, she nearly found death as her sailing companion.

    Reflections of sunlight twinkled in the waters of the Pacific, two hours from where she and four friends had set sail at Alameda, California. A summer breeze blew strong, cooling their bodies. This was sailing in all its serene glory.

    The captain asked if she would play the role of crew mate and help out in a maneuver to change course. She didn't have the experience, and she didn't care. She said "yes" as the captain headed below deck.

    She tried to handle a rope, but instead it handled her. She lost her balance and her hand got caught in the rope and the winch. The machinery crushed it and continued to yank and contort her arm and shoulder. She screamed, helpless against the machine.

    Then came what the captain, a man with 27 years' experience, would later tell her was "a miracle."

    The boat froze in the water. The first mate said it was as if a giant hand had grabbed the boat's bow.

    The churning winch stopped, and the captain raced to the deck and turned its crank, freeing Elizabeth's arm and hand. But her hand was a grisly mess. To her, it looked like "lifeless sticks, with bone exposed." Something told her or spoke to her instructing her to piece the bone and skin back together, put a lost fingernail back in place, place the hand in ice and never look at it again, visualizing it only as it once was.

    And they headed back to port.

    At a San Francisco hospital, the attending physician said the ice had saved her hand but she would be scared for life. The fingernail that had been ripped off would be lost. She would suffer permanent nerve damage.

    "The voice in my head yelled, 'No!' " Elizabeth recalls. "And I'm looking around the room, trying to figure out who's talking and there was nobody there but [the physician] and me." That voice, or intuition, would lend detailed instructions to Elizabeth, telling her how to heal her hand through massage and energy techniques. It told her to listen when, back home in southern New Jersey, her friend Jim Barr advised her to see his mother's doctor, not her own. It was validated when the doctor having witnessed her rapid recovery from that Wednesday to the following Monday asked her how she was healing her own hand so rapidly. Today one can't decipher by looking at her hands, which was injured. If you didn't know, you'd have to ask.

    Elizabeth Severino, 52, is now an energy therapist who uses Reiki, Prana, Feng Shui and other techniques. A six-figure-salaried life as an independent computer consultant is but a memory. Yet her intuition leads her on a life where fulfillment grows daily.

An energetic attitude

    "Whether it's a business opportunity or a hobby or whatever, she goes at it full- bore," says Barr, who had met Elizabeth a couple of years prior to the accident at a ballroom dancing class.

    A look at her today reveals just that. Within a couple of years after her accident, Elizabeth found life in the corporate world incompatible with her gift for healing. She bade farewell to the salary, lived off her savings and immersed herself into a new career as an energy therapist. She bulldogged onward even during the months when she didn't know where the mortgage money would come from. Finally, much like Kevin Costner's character in Field of Dreams, she learned that if you build it, they will come. She began to offer Reiki classes in her home.

    Elizabeth is now a Reiki master, and is also certified in Qi Gong, Pranic Healing, Huna and Neuro-Associative Conditioning. An animal lover throughout her life, she also uses touch therapy on animals.

    "I've found that touching opened the door for me to know what was going on, and I found that bodies talk," she says. "Bodies will tell you anything. And one of the aspects of bodies, in both humans and in animals, is that they only know how to tell the truth."

    Elizabeth had few opportunities to develop her own intuition while growing up in Philadelphia's Main Line, an area glorified for its old money, its many secluded mansions and for having been the childhood home of the late Princess Grace of Monaco. One could call it an ivory tower, a term at which Elizabeth bristles although for many years she had no idea there were families that didn't have servants. Yet her strict, demanding father never, ever gave her an allowance. She was selling seeds in sixth grade, making doll clothes in seventh grade, and the entrepreneurial foundation just grew from there.

    Her father, John Girard-diCarlo, made his fortune in chemical manufacturing, exterminating and remodeling companies. Her mother, too, was an accomplished woman. Elizabeth recalls her grace as a diver and the way she spoke wistfully of that Olympic dream. It was while standing with her mother on a platform diving board, at the age of 3, that a guiding philosophy of Elizabeth's life was established.

    "She knew that I was scared," Elizabeth recalls. "She said, 'Pretend that you're a bird.' She got me completely beyond being afraid of being up there and gave me a way of looking at the situation where . . . I would basically conquer the fear. She spread her arms for me and went into a bird shape, knowing full well that the nature of the body being pulled in the water would keep me safe if I did what she did. It was really a beautiful experience for me. I live my whole life that way now. I just acknowledge that I'm afraid, and then I do it anyway."

Overcoming self-doubt

    As time went on, chances availed themselves for Elizabeth to follow her intuition and develop her mind-body-spirit connection. She always backed away. But looking back, she feels that something otherworldly led her into the computer industry. In her senior year at Vassar College (where she earned a degree in Latin with concentrations in classical languages and clinical psychology), she was planning to pursue a master's in classical literature at Yale University. Elizabeth needed to go through a 28-volume lexicon for those graduate studies, only to have a wildly allergic reaction.

    "I was wandering around the library, just in tears," she recalls. "I was looking for any space in the library that wasn't going to make me sneeze." She found it in the computer section, where the air conditioning and relatively dust-free environment soothed her. There, the head of the math and computer science department noticed her and encouraged her in a new direction, one that led to an IBM-sponsored master's. Not even realizing there was a glass ceiling supposedly holding women back, she went on to become an award-winning competitive analyst and authored a book on the field. In 1979 she became vice president of McGraw Hill's Datapro. She left two years later to start her own computer consulting firm, where she continued to earn $165,00 to $200,000 annually.

    Then in 1989, in the blue waters of the Pacific, her entire life changed.

    Not that she dove into her new work in energy therapy, overcoming the fear in one leap from the platform dive as that 3-year-old child did. She had been groomed on numbers, in a world where square roots and logarithms never lied. But her new-found intuition contradicted everything she's ever known and she knew darned well not to tell anyone she was hearing a voice in her head; she was frightened that the world would write her off as mentally ill.

    "(It wasn't sitting) entirely well with me," she says. "I'm a trained scientist. I've been in computers all my life. I've been a researcher, a competitive analyst. Now I'm working with stuff where [I'm getting] 100 percent results, and I don't understand how and why. Honestly, I'm not entirely comfortable with that because I'm used to having the answers."

    Barr saw the turmoil in which Elizabeth was embroiled. He saw how this new outlook on life or life's outlook on her was spinning a web around her in ways she never imagined. He says he took that voice she spoke about to be a metaphorical one at the time, but he never doubted her truthfulness.

    "Liz has always been very honest and up-front with me," he says. "Like a lot of very successful people, she's very concerned about her reputation. She's not going to say anything that's going to cause her to be viewed skeptically. For her to say what she said, I think she had to really believe it did happen to her."

    And he finds that Elizabeth's life journey might well have been fateful.

    "Because of her background working at IBM and then McGraw-Hill, she's investigated these [bodywork] modalities very passionately and very aggressively," he says. "Now I think her previous experience, particularly as a competitive analyst for IBM, may have been the preparation she needed, or the preparation that was intended for her, to allow her to look at these different healing techniques and to be able to compare and contrast and integrate [them]. The same thing she did with computers she can now do with these techniques."

Her journey continues

    Elizabeth's intuition carried her well beyond the short-term healing of her hand. She began doing Reiki, yet had never been trained in that technique. In 1993 a Reiki master observed her and recognized her doing the touches after she'd injured herself on an obstacle course in Cancun, Mexico.

    "After the [boating] accident, I just had a lot of things that I suddenly knew," says Elizabeth, who in 1995 authored Reiki: The Healer's Touch. "I still know things that I don't have a vocabulary for."

    Elizabeth's journey continues to cascade onward, through an intuition she might well have continued to deny if not for that fateful Labor Day off the California coast.

    "I now realize looking back that the Creator of the universe gave me a lot of opportunities to follow the call of what I'm doing now, and I ignored them all," she says. "They got increasingly more dramatic and I continued to ignore them. Then in 1989, there was no way I could ignore that. It was like a wake-up call [of] the greatest order."

    Larry Hanover has worked as a newspaper reporter for 11 years, the last eight as a staff writer for The Times of Trenton. Reproduced with permission. Original article printed on Sunday, August 24, 1997

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Elizabeth Severino, D.D., D.R.S.

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