An Interview with Temple Hayes
Author of When Did You Die?
By Donna Strong
Temple Hayes is a catalyst of creative enlivening. Her third book, When Did
You Die?, published by HCI Books, is actually a wake-up call to live.
Having triumphed in turning her own deep wounds into sources of strength, she is now a much
sought-after spiritual leader who is active in assisting others.
Too many of us live in a semi-trance state of constantly
attending to the dailies while our real self keeps slipping away from
neglect. Temple is articulate in addressing how we can notice what we are really doing and stop
dying little-by-little as our default strategy in life. Inevitably we lose
sight of what is important; being alive and living to the fullest.
Her accounts of childhood filled with tension and
heartbreaking. As an adult, her own emotional wounds were close to taking a toll on her
ability to live. At this critical juncture, she finally found her way to safe
sources of sage counsel and care. Temple’s work as a trailblazer is so relevant for our times, as we
all face increasing pressure to find higher ground with our own unresolved
Temple’s own journey provides both a feast of inspiration
and fuel for right action. This revered Unity Campus minister in St.
Petersburg, Florida, is a woman with a global vision and mission; in
her view it’s now our time to step up and take our lives into our own hands.
Joy and love and vibrancy are our
divine heritage and Temple is full of fervor to touch our lives and make a big
difference. When Did
You Die? is meant to stop
us in our unconscious tracks and offer a much-needed course correction to a
path that merges the mind with the heart. Having rightfully claimed many gems of wisdom,
her words provide a resounding ring of truth.
Donna Strong: My very first question for you
is, what about the widespread pattern of living in a way that we lose our basic
Temple Hayes: Well, I think that in our world
today we’ve lost some of our ability to really listen within. We have so many
trends that are promoted all the time to listen to what I call an influencer,
such as the doctor telling us what we need to do with a condition we’re
experiencing and we do it without questioning.
So from early on in our lives we often listen to
what other people tell us.
We have this internal way of listening to what is ours to do, but when we stop
using that muscle, if you will, we diminish this capacity. A lot of times people and influencers
mean well but when we lose our ability to listen inwardly to ourselves, then we
We have become disconnected and
drained because we’re not being true to what we need to do for our bodies, for our emotions and for
our own well-being.
Donna: That is
beautifully said. What about your waking up? You talk about it in
beautiful ways. I mean, people can feel
very much what it was like and that you did something with what you call
your ‘earthly story.’
Temple: I had a good
bit of pain and
discomfort in the early stages of my life. I was born in a very small town with
one active religion, Southern Baptist.
From the moment I was born, I was very
different. At five years old I
started having mystical awareness and insights, and I would sense that people were really unhappy. I could also
sense that something was physically wrong with them. The one awareness that really stood
out for me the most was that
people were saying things that didn’t match up with who they really
were. It wasn’t that
people were necessarily not telling the truth, they weren’t aware of it within themselves.
Yet I started rejecting some of those natural skills and
gifts I had early in my life, because kids would laugh at me, that kind of thing. So
I began to close the door to these parts
of myself and this knowing until I was in my
thirties because it had been kind of a painful road. Even though I’d accomplished things, I was
an athlete and was in the band, there was such an unfulfilled longing and pain
that I carried within my being.
When I came into my thirties, all this closing off of
these parts of myself, not really being who I am, was the reason my
get-up-and-go got-up-and-went. I was being hired by corporations as a motivational
speaker but there were times I was just going through the motions because I had lost my own
So that was a real wake-up call for me because I realized
that I was starting to die. I don’t mean a physical death, but an energy death. I
had too many subtle deaths
along the way — not being who I was, not being true to myself, being afraid of
what people thought of me, all of that kind of stuff.
I always like to highlight, I was a kid in the
‘60s. You couldn’t go to
match.com or eHarmony or Google to check out the larger world and say, “I feel
different, what’s up?” It was a different time and I couldn’t relate to other
people around me that well. So my immense waking up was that I had somewhat gone to
sleep to who I really am. I
began to wake up to the grief about what I was missing in my life. Well, that
was a true feeling because the thing that I was missing in my life was being me
— the person that I really am.
Donna: That’s great, I think a lot
of us have subconscious grief because we are
really missing the connection with our authentic self.
Temple: Absolutely. That’s why I feel so comfortable and
confident talking about the book. Because I know the things I’m sharing have been proven
both with my own life and others I’ve worked with over the years.
I’m sharing stories of things I’ve endured over the
course of my life, steps I’ve used, practices that I’ve integrated and still
use, that I know will help. So many people are just going through the motions,
they are on autopilot because they are not using their head with their heart.
My mission is to help people to live a thriving life that we’re all destined to
Donna: I would
that’s true. One of my questions to you is about changing our
hearts and minds — for you, which comes first?
Temple: I think that
many people have bought into the belief that life is hard and it’s complicated, and need
to focus on getting through the day or the week. Again, we’re not using our
instinctive and natural navigation system and going with the grain of how life
is supposed to be. It doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges, that we don’t have
to make decisions or have hardship because we’re human beings.
It does mean that everything we approach or everything we
face, whether planned or unplanned, it is really designed to make us more, not less. We have it backwards
today. We typically think these kinds of thoughts, “I don’t know how I’m
going to get by with this. I’ve been given way too much to handle; I don’t know how I’m going to do
it.” So we live by that belief system and that’s what has become true for us,
where really it’s the opposite.
What I’ve found is that everything we have endured in our
lives, everything we walk through, we are meant to become more of ourselves on the other
side. I have more energy in my fifties than I did in my thirties because I
live by the belief that whatever happens — even as something as profound as my father dying
unexpectedly in a tragic way — even in the midst of that grief I decided to
make my father’s life matter. I’m going to make the experience matter and out of that I am going to become
more, not less. I really believe that, and I live life that way.
Look at Betty White, wow — she could be writing this
book. In the book I talk about how so many have become robotic. They turn on
the TV first thing in the morning. “Tell me what I’m supposed to be afraid of
today. Tell me what might happen. Tell me what disease I might catch. Tell me who might be in
my neighborhood that I need to be fearful of.”
We all like to know what’s going on around us, it’s not that
knowing things are wrong, but you have to take everything at its own face
value and filter it through using
your own mind and heart. Does this feel right to me? Does this resonate with
who I am? “Do I really need a shot for shingles because I’m over 50? It’s on
signs everywhere I go, but
do I really need it? Let me ask my body. No, it doesn’t feel right to me.” Everyone needs to
be filtering the outer world information using their own guidance. There’s not a one-size-fits-all, but
we have become overly-influenced by statistics and a constant barrage
Donna: Hallelujah. I agree with you on that.
Most of us don’t know about dousing our own system at all. You have a great way
of helping people realize that it can work
for them to do that. Would you talk about what you’ve done to allow your
body to become more vital?
Temple: You bet. You know, I’m literally fascinated, I’m in awe
now when I think about the person who I was in the beginning chapters of my life — eating fried foods and
other kinds of things, and I just did it because that is what was on the table.
For me, I kind of set out early on to be fully energized
and alive and truly make all my life experiences matter, knowing they had
really developed me and designed me rather than defined me with limitations. So
what I started doing is putting this decision in motion. I was going to start paying attention to
what knocked on my door three times, and I would just be attentive to that.
So what that means is when I would be in
conversation with a friend or
meet up with someone new and this person would say, well, you know, I’m feeling
better because I’m not eating wheat any more. There are people who would say
that wheat doesn’t really have any nutritional value. So for example, if that kind of message came up two or
three times I’d go, “Wow,
that’s obviously something I should pay attention to — let me check in about
that. Yes, let me do it.”
So I urge people to just be without something for thirty-to-sixty
days and then bring it back in. That was the way things started happening with
me. I start to hear people talk about some food item, and once I realized I was putting a lot of
it into my body and that it didn’t really give me the kind of energy I’m
looking to have, then I’d make a change.
Also, that’s where the one size doesn’t fit all because
it’s something that is very unique to each of us. I’m an O-negative, and this blood type normally
eats a lot of meat and I eat none. That is because of choices that I made along the way, I’ve become a
vegetarian. I still eat eggs; otherwise I’d be considered a vegan.
When I get back to the real navigation system that is
guiding me, I believe part of our life experience is to have a lot of energy and I think we’ve been
influenced in a way that is not a positive direction. We’re told if you are a
certain age then you need this stuff and you can’t be okay unless you have this and that. My core
belief, as I said earlier, is that we are meant to die with more energy than we
started with. Look at Betty White. She’s a perfect example; I use her as a role
model to say, “If she can do it, I can do it.” When a person is willing to put
their whole selves in — then things happen.
Donna: I really do resonate with what you are
saying. I’ve been working with those kinds of
ideas for a while. So you and Betty White are going to be helping me to
up the ante for the positive use of experiences to become more, rather than
I think one of the things that makes
you a great teacher is you have the ability to direct your will to express
something that is more expansive and aligned with the divine!
Temple: Thank you for saying that. I think becoming more aware
of the divine can happen simply. One of my favorite examples comes from putting
together puzzles with members of my family. I still put together puzzles on my
iPad I love it so much. It stimulates the left and right brain and brings a
sense of accomplishment. What I love about it also is that the image of what the
puzzle is supposed to be is given to us immediately.
When we were little and we would see
the image on the box, one of
the little ones would wonder if we had all the pieces in place. “No, grandma, I
don’t see a piece that’s red.” “Well,
it’s got to be there because the manufacturer said it’s in the box; look,
you’ll see it.” We would argue and argue that the manufacturer would have never
make a mistake, because every piece has its right place.
Yet we don’t always go to bat or build a case about our ‘manufacturer,’
our Creator. My manufacturer
created me to achieve an image in my life, a vibrancy that is magical, to have
this heaven-on-earth experience. That image is guaranteed for me and I have all
the pieces as part of my life’s destiny.
I didn’t know that early on though, because I thought
“Oh, my god someone has given me the wrong puzzle box. I got the wrong box; what is up with
that?” You know, the day came when I humbled myself and I finally cleared
enough of the debris from my vision and from my heart and I could go, “Oh my
gosh, all the pieces I’ve ever needed, they’ve been there all along.”
I’ve force-fit a lot of pieces along the way, and because
of that, the real pieces were not in the right place. As simplistic as that is,
it’s the truth and the secret of life is that everybody has been brought to
this planet with an image that they are meant to fulfill, and of dreams being
accomplished, to experience how profound our manufacturer is.
Once they grasp and start allowing the
right pieces to flow naturally
into place, then the other things fall in. That’s how it works. It’s not complicated but we’ve made it that
way because we do not trust our manufacturer.
Donna: I totally agree with you. I would also
say that because we are also so inundated with
our senses, it’s become quite complicated for us to be able
to listen appropriately. You know, listen to the
yes. We are over-stimulated and we aren’t practicing and exercising our
connection with Mother Earth and
Father Sky, the relationship with all living things. So yes, we are
disconnected and drained and more and more we are becoming an intellectualized
In life, your knowing needs to stimulate your
growing to become someone
who comes from the heart. It comes from the ability to accept things that are
the heart of the matter for your own path. It makes all of the difference in
how we’re living.
It’s like when I’ve been a life coach to
people or have had people come
to me, they came to me because they’ve had problems. We’ve all had problems, but
sometimes I find it kind of
comical because when I attempt to show them something they resist. They’ll go,
“Oh, I know that already.”
So I’ll say, if you don’t drink half your body weight in
fluid ounces a day, you will be drained, energetically speaking. “Oh, yeah, I know; I read that somewhere.”
And I go, “Okay, you know; all right, well, do you know that sugar really gives you a high but
in an hour it totally drains you?” A lot of people do sugar now because they
aren’t developing the sweetness within and it’s like a sickness, but when I tell them this they say, “Oh, yeah, I know that
already.” I go, “Okay, I’ve given you two examples and you know them already. So here’s my
question, what are you actually practicing?”
So I ask the person if we can just approach the rest of
our time together and talk about what they are being, not what they know. Because
if knowing transformed the
world, we would not be having a lot of these conversations. It’s not just in knowing. We must go from knowing to
have an understanding
become integrated into our hearts for our lives to become realized.
more information on Temple’s books and events, visit: http://www.templehayes.com
Strong is a health coach/educator. She can be reached through http://www.donnastrong.com