Barb RyanPhoto by Paul Neevel

Barb Ryan

Spiraling toward joy

“I started out as an ‘A’ student,” says Barb Ryan, who grew up in Schenectady, New York, and lapsed into depression and began using drugs after her best friend’s suicide at age 14 — eventually graduating in the bottom third of her class. “Later, looking back, I learned a lot about life and myself.” In her 20s, she volunteered for a suicide hotline while working for pay at a headshop warehouse. “I was clean,” she says, “and living in a socially active, anti-war Christian community. The Berrigan brothers were our role models.” She also volunteered in a community theater group where almost everyone was gay. “I went from dating a motorcycle guy,” she says, “to finding the woman I fell in love with.” Ryan took community college courses in Pennsylvania then moved to Eugene in 1980. On her way to a 1986 master’s degree in counseling, she was co-director of the University of Oregon’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance. After graduation, she spent a year as the first director of the UO’s Women’s Center, then embarked on a 25-year career as a counselor in private practice, working with survivors of domestic violence. Since 2010, Ryan has become a life coach, an energy healer and a shamanic practitioner, offering classes and workshops on techniques to find and sustain happiness. Known as the Guidess of Happiness, she incorporated a nonprofit, Spiraling Toward Joy, in 2014. From 4 to 6 pm on Sunday, April 9, Tsunami Books, 2585 Willamette Street, will host a celebration of her newly published book, Love Loves Fear, an exposition of her healing philosophy in the form of a children’s fable, illustrated by Eugene artist Alysse Hennessey.

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