I made a lot of mistakes in going to Russia last month. Because I didn’t pay attention to the yellow flags before I got on the plane to Moscow, I paid a penalty. The punishment was almost ten thousand dollars, psychological and physical abuse, and a harrowing escape to freedom that I’ll never forget.
Truth is, it’s been difficult to talk about the trip. It was traumatic. I told a handful of friends about it and they saw my pain. I’ve been tapping, clearing, and emotionally releasing ever since my return.
Because there’s a lesson here for you, too, let me share the story with you. Pull up a chair, pour some coffee, and let me tell you about it…
It all began when my vice-president of marketing got excited about a speaking engagement for me in Moscow. He was far more enthusiastic than me about a trip to Russia. He saw it as the trip of a lifetime. I saw it as a dangerous trek to the former enemy of the USA. After all, I grew up fearing Russia would drop a bomb on me. That early programing was still in my mind. I didn’t want to go.
But I allowed myself to get swayed by the excitement of my staff. That was my first mistake. I was receiving yellow flags and ignoring them.
I allowed the negotiations to continue and before I knew it I was agreeing to two two-day speaking events, many interviews, news conferences, TV shows, and book store autograph parties. That’s a cruel pace. My assistant assured me I would have time off. But that never appeared in the schedule, despite my repeated objections.
Yet another yellow flag.
As we got closer to the time I was to fly to Russia, we still didn’t have plane tickets, or a Visa, or complete payment of my fee.
More yellow flags.
At this point I should have stopped the trip. But by now the system was in gear. It had a life of its own. Plus I had signed a contract. I was legally obligated to go. As I packed for the trip, the tickets, Visa, and payment appeared, all at the last minute. There was no time to review any of it. But one thing was clear:
My friend Mark Ryan was my traveling companion. A lot of people wanted to be the one to go with me. But Mark agreed to help me in a pinch, be my support, and get an all-expense paid trip to Russia in exchange. He got the deal of a lifetime.
He wanted to film as much of our travels and my media appearances as possible, and create a documentary on DVD we would later sell.
It was a win-win arrangement. We had a plan. We were excited. We managed to survive the eleven hour flight to Moscow by talking, eating, drinking, and laughing. Little did we know what we were in for.
We landed in Moscow, waited on the plane as a medical doctor took the temperature of every passenger (in case we had Swine Flu), were escorted through Russian VIP customs (a wonderful way to enter a country), and were met by fans who had flowers, cards, and a huge sign welcoming me to Russia. It felt loving.
But then things quickly turned for the worse.
The people picking us up (my translator and promoter) led us to a limo, got our luggage for us, and then announced they were taking me to a live television show.
I still can’t believe it, even as I write this.
After an eleven hour flight, worn out and disoriented from the trip, I was told I was going right to a TV interview.
I was stunned.
Since I had signed a contract to agree to do media there, I had little choice. Plus I was now in Russia, far from home, and dependent on my translator and their transportation.
The insane pace never let up after that. I went to numerous interviews, press conferences, book signings and more. Moscow became a blur as they shuffled me from one media event to another.
And of course, there was the two-day seminar to do. Mark delivered part of the event, which saved my voice and my energy. If it weren’t for him, I’d be buried in Russia today. I owe him my life.
While I got a brief tour of the Kremlin and Red Square, I was followed by a news crew. I was never “off” and could never relax. It wasn’t fun.
From Russia we were taken to Siberia. The people there were warm and loving, but the pace was just as intense. There were more interviews, a two-hour filming for a movie, and of course another two-day event.
At one point I felt so sick I thought I was going to pass out on stage. Again, Mark — who wasn’t resting much better than me but didn’t have as much to do as me — saved the day by delivering almost a third of the seminar.
After all of this insanity, we went to St. Petersburg. This is where I was to finally have off time. Going there was more a gift to Mark than to me, as he had requested it before we ever left the US. He had always wanted to see the city. We did a little sight seeing there, slept in a little, and in general got to relax some.
But the worst was yet to hit.
The day before we were to leave St. Petersburg and begin the trek home, a kind woman at the hotel front desk phoned Mark to say she noticed our Visa was expiring that night.
She explained that with an expired Visa, we would be in trouble. There would be fines, and more. She said we would be in danger from the authorities. We could be detained, a nice code word for house arrest.
Mark called the US Embassy and the American Consulate. We were told in no uncertain times that we had to get out of Russia by midnight or else.
They said, “Whatever it takes, do not be here after midnight. You can be detained for a week or more, pay heavy fines, questioned, forbidden to ever return to Russia again, and more.”
We were told, “You will hate what they do to you.”
We were clearly in danger.
Mark blew a gasket and went into action. We scrambled to find a way to the border. The people who brought us to Russia didn’t seem very concerned. They ordered dessert and coffee. We knew getting out by midnight was our problem.
There were no flights going out before midnight that night. We had to find a ride out. It took an hour to find a taxi that was willing (and legal) to take us to the Russian border. Once we did, we spent the next three hours holding our breath as the driver raced through the dark and the rain, on the scary back roads of Russia, darting in and out of traffic and scaring us to death, in an attempt to make it to the border by midnight.
Talk about a hair raising experience. At one point Mark screamed at the driver, “Stop it! I can’t take this anymore! Slow down!”
We had to go through three military check points. We went over rough roads with so many deep holes it seemed the roads had been bombed. We were nearly hit by semi-trucks burrowing down the one-lane country roads. The whole experience was surreal.
We made it to the border — with fifteen minutes to spare.
But we weren’t allowed across.
The Russia border patrol guards didn’t speak English. Our papers were not in order, either. We were supposed to have stamped documents for every hotel we stayed at. We didn’t. And we looked highly suspicious, standing in the dark and rain near midnight, trying to cross into Finland before our Visa expired in only minutes.
You can imagine the fear. I felt like I was in a war movie, escaping from enemy lines. The border inspector didn’t just ask us questions, he went through our luggage, piece by piece, with a little flashlight in hand.
Another military guard explained, in broken English, that our papers were not “proper.” We explained we had no clue about the law, policy or customs of Russia. He finally let us across.
But then the driver said that was as far as he was taking us.
You can’t imagine the danger or the disbelief.
We had already been warned of cab drivers who take you to the middle of nowhere, rob you, and leave you for dead.
We were standing across the Russian border, now on Finland soil, with the cold, rain and dark around us, with no transportation.
Fearing for our lives.
I remember silently asking myself, “Where’s God in this situation? Where’s the Divine?”
I also remember hearing the answer, “Trust.”
Mark negotiated with the driver to take us a little further into Finland, where we could connect with another ride. We did.
The next ride was a van of young Russians trying to get to the Helsinki airport. I wondered if they were escaped criminals. The van was hot and humid, the Russian radio music loud, and no one spoke English. I did a lot of cleaning on that ride. We sat in that van for three hours, arriving at the Helsinki airport at 3 AM — and they were closed.
Obviously we made it out of Russia — after I spent almost ten thousand dollars (!) on new flight tickets for Mark and myself.
But what a terrible, traumatic adventure to live through.
I didn’t mention the car accident in Siberia where I hurt my back, the Russian hecklers at the events who embarrassed me in front of the crowds, or the never-ending media pace that caused me to understand why some rock stars become drug addicts or die young.
When I told a friend who has lived in Russia about this adventure, she said, “You were thrown to the Russian wolves! No American should ever go there without a professional Russian escort set up in the US in advance.” She added, “Not having a valid Visa in Russia is a death-defying danger.”
When I met with Michael Abedin, publisher of Austin All Natural magazine, at the grand opening of the Vitale Cigar Bar in Wimberley, Texas, he said, “You have the look of a great warrior about you.”
What does that mean?
“You look tired and exhausted, but you returned from battle wiser, stronger, and transformed.”
The lesson: There were yellow flags on the field before I ever left the US for Russia. But I didn’t heed them. You must hone your feelings to know when the Universe is warning you that something is off.
The more you listen and obey, the easier your life becomes.
You can’t listen to other people: you have to listen to your own inner guidance system.
You have to watch the flags.
And you have to act on what you see.
May this lesson make your life easier.
Finally, how did I attract this ordeal?
Was the Law of Attraction involved at all?
As I’ve said many times before, the Law of Attraction is a Law. It’s always working.
If that’s the case, how did I attract the Russia drama?
Think back to what I wrote at the beginning of this post. I mentioned I had grown up believing Russia was the enemy. That fear was still alive in me. It was alive in Mark, too. We had had several conversations about our fears before we ever left the US.
Together we attracted the experience based on our potent belief in what we were taught in our youth to fear. Had we done a better job of clearing before we ever left the States, we might not have attracted this experience.
Keep this in mind: you will always attract what you love, hate or fear.
Emotions are powerful attractors.
Since you have a choice, choose love.
And watch the flags.
PS – Please don’t think Russia was a horrible place. It’s a fascinating country and culture, so big it’s impossible to comprehend. As I wrote in my book The Attractor Factor, you can turn anything into something good. I ate well in Russia (and learned vodka does indeed solve all problems), met some wonderful people (the beautiful translator in Siberia, pictured above with me with the Hollywood smile, was an enchanting princess I fell in love with), visited some interesting places (such as Catherine the Great’s Summer Palace, above, and Peter the Great’s headquarters, where I posed with the sexy lass immediately above), was given gifts (such as a 7-string Russian guitar), and became the first Law of Attraction Secret movie rock star in Russia (who just needed a bulldog rock star manager). While we experienced danger, we also survived it. While we experienced fear, faith got us through. I may visit Russia again one day, as I found it and its people fascinating, but under different circumstances. Next time, I’ll pay more attention to the flags.