As an actress, dancer and model from an early age, Terry Segal maintained a healthy lifestyle and strong morals that served her well when her career took a dramatic shift in her 30s.
Since then, she’s been helping clients through her private therapy practice break free from their “dragons” and find joy and wonder in their world.
It’s an exceptional gift Segal believes everyone possesses, to “have an earpiece with Hashem and the angels. I always listen for guidance, whether in adversity or for direction. I’m not exempt from challenges, but listening to divine whisperings helps me stay exquisitely alert to all the signs and messages constantly being sent,” said Segal, a licensed psychotherapist, author and artist.
“My mission is to be an inspiration to other people, to empower them to work with G-d and angels and create the lives they want to live, rather than to think the cards have already been dealt them or that they have no say in it.”
Segal, 63, may have thought early on that her path was set in stone. She reached professional status as a model at age 4, was a commercial actress at 5, and a ballet and jazz dancer, as well as a member of the Israeli dance troupe, Hashachar.
While her mother started her on that course, her father urged her not to pursue acting as a full-time career because of the difficult lifestyle associated with it. So she attended the University of Miami, Fla., where she’s from, to obtain a master’s degree in theater, with the intention of teaching at the college level.
Meanwhile, she continued to act and model. She worked as an actress in commercials, film and soap operas, such as a stint as nurse Peggy Dillman on “As the World Turns,” and Blondie, “the other woman,” in “Another World.” She also modeled in “I dreamed” Maidenform bra ads and was signed by the Wilhelmina agency to model in New York and California.
After getting married 35 years ago, she realized she needed a back-up plan if the couple was going to have children.
That plan was psychology. It was a running joke with her husband and friends that if she went into the drug store for an item, she’d come out knowing the clerk’s sister was lactose-intolerant.
To make it formal, she attended California State University to obtain a second master’s degree, in educational psychology. She continued to model until she was pregnant with their second child and was asked to duct tape her body to hide the pregnancy “to get through until the next catalog.” Not willing to do that, she stepped away from modeling and became a full-time therapist, in private practice for 30 years now with specialties in past-life regression psychology and energy medicine.
In more recent years, Segal has led the Rosh Chodesh group at Temple Beth Tikvah, which focuses on the shekinah or divine feminine. She also writes about the mystical and magical in her “New Moon Meditations” column for the AJT, in its seventh year.
If we align with the energies of the moon, the ebb and flow of the moon’s phases, we can reduce stress and anxiety, she explained. The new moon is a time to create and set intentions for the month, she said. There is an outward energy as the moon waxes. When it wanes, it would serve us well to pull back, restore, and be more introspective.
Art is another of Segal’s avenues of expression. “My mother loved art. She taught me to paint and create. We used to go to parks and paint out in nature. She made life enchanting and I do that for my family. I believe it’s the key to finding beauty in a chaotic world.”
This is the same sensation she tries to evoke from her artwork. From landscapes, Segal studied how to draw whimsical women’s faces. “I used to say I can’t draw faces. My mother would have been horrified to hear me say ‘I can’t.’ She would say, ‘you just don’t know how to do it yet.’”
The women in her mixed-media paintings represent the divine feminine, healing and the celebration of the divine in Judaism, she explained. One piece shows three generations of women in front of a house with pearls on the ground as snow and around the grandmother’s neck. The painting represents the continuity of women, she said.
Her newest goal is to add motivational sayings to her paintings, such as “you’ve got this,” “keep your head up,” “this too shall pass,” or “don’t let the dragons win today.” The dragon message comes from her self-help book, “The Enchanted Journey: Finding the Key That Unlocks You.” In it, she offers “10 enchanted keys to unlock a sense of joy and wonder no matter how many dragons breath fire down your neck.”
Segal definitely has a lot to celebrate these days. Already a grandmother with another on the way, the eldest of her three children married this past weekend. Segal got to officiate as an ordained clergy member as she did for her youngest daughter’s wedding in November. She makes the ceremony personal using a “Once Upon a Time” fairytale theme with the utopian “happily ever after” ending.
It’s that magical, mystical ideal to which Segal aspires in her own life and in the lives she inspires along the way.