Gratitude – My Journey By, Kala Tharp

Kala Headshot. NewI have so many wonderful memories with Van. Little did I know what I was getting myself into when our journey began in 1992. Van opened up to me a whole new vocabulary and a very different world. Let’s put it this way, life was never boring around Van.

I had never met anyone who worked on himself every day like Van did. Self-work was so important to him and he always encouraged me to work on myself too. I admit that I was a very difficult student. I resisted a lot because the work was very uncomfortable and so foreign to me.

Van would say things like “You create your reality.” That idea was totally confusing to someone who had blamed all that had gone wrong in her life on everything and everyone else. Then suddenly, he wants me to take responsibility for everything? Trust me, the first time I heard this idea, I could not believe my ears. What did he mean I created all of this? How could I have done that? After a while, I started to see more and more possibilities for my responsibility but he never gave up challenging me to see how I was totally responsible for my life.

Van also made me feel very uncomfortable whenever he asked me to feel my feelings. When I was really hurting, upset or in pain and he would tell me that, I was like, “Why would you want me to feel this terrible painful feeling?” I thought he was nuts when he told me that. After a long time though, I finally did get it. His gentle nature helped encourage me to keep feeling my feelings.

Van was a kind, patient, generous, encouraging, passionate, understanding and forgiving human being. He was also funny. I know that one may be hard to believe based on what you see in his videos, but he truly loved life and I lived a full life with him. I went to places I never would have gone and did things I never would have done. I drew the line, however, at bungee jumping and sky diving! And he was OK with that—he accepted my limits for those things.

Then, in the fall of 2021, a very long year of loss started for me. I lost my good friend and neighbor Cindy Gilbert in October of 2021. In January of 2022 I lost my very dear friend of 30 years, Meena Aggarawal. On February 24th, 2022, I lost my other half, Van. Not long after that, I lost two of my beloved fur babies, Ari and Tigger.

That was so much loss to take in one year. Friends would look at me in disbelief and tell me I was a strong woman. To be frank, I didn’t know I had the strength in me. Being able to live through all of that was actually because of something else though, something Van told me.

I remember lying beside him during his last days. I laid my head on his shoulder and said, “Van please don’t die.” He placed his hands on my arms and said, “I don’t want to die either but it is not up to me.” I said, “What will I do without you? How do I go on?” Van said, “Live every day in gratitude.”

That is easier said than done, right? But now, whenever I feel alone, lost, or empty, I consciously look for the goodness that I can be grateful for, especially in the painful situations.

I miss Van every day. At the same time, every day I am so grateful for our 29 years together. Little did I know when I married him, my life was never going to be the same. Today I am a confident and strong woman because of Van. He saved me.

Van was also my biggest fan. Every time I painted a new piece of work, he would tell me it was the best I had ever done. Every new piece always became the best that I have ever done. To him I was the best cook, the best everything. I could be 20 pounds overweight and if I asked him if I was fat, he would say, “You are perfect.”

I am so grateful for my 29 years with Van. I am also grateful for two groups of people: the wonderful VTI team and all of you. Cathy, Revathi, and RJ were with Van for many years and have continued standing by me in a difficult time. Thank you all very much. I’d like to thank Kimm Hershberger as well. She has been helping VTI as a valued guide for years and has made an awesome contribution in the last two years.

Finally, thank you to all of our wonderful clients. Thank you for your continuous support and your belief in Van. You gave Van’s work a voice and your faith helped create a wonderful legacy. You were the reason Van continued to create and develop all the courses and programs at VTI. His life was full of purpose and passion. Even in his last days, weak from medical procedures, he would still sit at his desk and write – new courses, his life history, coaching emails for Super Traders. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for trusting and believing in him.

I believe in Van’s work too which made my input for closing the business a very hard decision. I believed we just could not continue the business without him. Van is the life and soul of VTI and as his journey is now complete, so is VTI’s journey.

Your journey, though, is still going. Knowing that Van’s work will live on through all of you gives me great peace. 

If you would like to stay in touch, this is my email – kalaktharp “at”

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