top of page

About Me

“When I help you feel good, I feel happy...


If everyone did yoga, Pilates or even chair-based exercises and followed their passion to dance or to move in some other way that gave them joy, there would be much less warfare and strife in the world.”


– Mary Louise King


By Mary Louise King

My story is about how I found JOY for myself and the various ways I teach others how to find it.

Some of this content originally was published by the Charleston Gazette; Author, the late Sandy Wells.

Sandy Wells interviewed me and wrote my story. Here is a portion of what she wrote:

She’s a personal trainer. She teaches yoga and Pilates and leads an exercise class for seniors. And she dances whenever and wherever she can.

She radiates health, verve and confidence. A caring nature reflects inner serenity. She doesn’t look even close to her age.

She wasn’t always like this.

Mary Louise King remembers a withdrawn, awkward little girl mocked for her silver tooth and the disorder that gave her an odd, clumsy gait.

She describes herself as the poetic ugly duckling who blossomed into a graceful swan, a transformation she embraces as the defining theme of her life.

The journey wasn’t easy. Her mother’s encouragement meant everything. Yoga, Pilates and dancing strengthened her legs and released her from the agonizing repercussions of a herniated disc. Later, a diagnosis of psychosomatic hip pain led to counseling and introspection and a healing way of thinking.

Now the vibrant survivor shares her hard-got knowledge as she helps others stay mentally and physically fit.

Dancing fuels her soul.

Sandy Wells was a delightful interviewer. I had fun sharing my story with her, recalling my past and being appreciative of each event in my life as a gift, even though some came in disguise.

The Early Years

I grew up in Irwin, Pennsylvania. I was very blessed to have a mom who was happy and full of energy – always ready and excited to do something.

My mom was very supportive and always knew what to do or say to encourage me. I was born somewhat handicapped with my toes and knees turned in. That made me very clumsy. I was clumsy about everything. I spilled my milk every single mealtime.

Consequently, being so awkward, I was very withdrawn as a girl. I was reluctant to speak for fear I would say something wrong. It didn’t help that, in second grade, I received a blow to my face that chipped my front tooth. It was crowned with a silver cap to preserve it until I was older and the tooth was fully grown. Back then, no one had braces or silver in their mouth, and I had a silver tooth on one of the big upper teeth that emerge around age seven. Other kids made fun of me, and I didn’t want to smile.


In the 1950s, it was common for parents to beat their kids as a way of disciplining them. My dad once chased me around the neighborhood with a broom because I had gotten scared and ran out of the house. He finally got too tired and said, “You’ll have to come home sometime, and you’ll be sorry you did this.” Life seemed so confusing to me, but as you read further, you’ll see how all events in my life became a gift to me. I certainly did not discipline my children in an out-of-control manner. I developed kindness and empathy for those who made mistakes.

I had an accident in sixth grade that was another blow to my self-confidence. I was taking a very important test for ranking in junior high. The teacher would not allow me to be excused to go to the restroom. We girls all wore dresses back then, and pee ran down my legs and onto the floor. When I returned to school, the other kids sang songs using my name in, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the pee.” Even my friends were embarrassed.

In seventh grade, a bunch of guys bullied me. One day, after school, one of them grabbed me and pushed me into a bush while the others laughed.


I thought my peers made fun of me because I looked different and had odd accidents. That’s why I felt like the ugly duckling. Was there any place that I fit in? The answer is, “Yes!” As you read on, you’ll see how I matured into a lovely human being.

My Mom's Encouragement

Mary Louise King as a child

I give my mom much credit for my development. She was my encourager. Mom taught me to “think something nice about Mary Louise.” She put me into dance classes, so I would use my legs and strengthen them (although I was the clumsiest kid in the class). 

Mom would often say, “Pretty is as pretty does.” Gratitude and grace were the character qualities emphasized as “pretty.” In addition, Mom explained that resentment would grow if I didn’t look for the good in every situation. Her ideas included a big plan for me and my life as designed by God. She would say, “Let’s try to find something to be thankful for.” Mom taught me to accept life events, so that my life would blossom and not become a stinky mess. She promised me, if I could forgive, resentment would be rooted out, and peace and joy would be conceived. “Bloom where I am planted” became a healthy way of thinking for me. When I was under her care, all of life seemed like a gift and an adventure, no matter how difficult.  

In essence, Mom gave me a vision that my difficulties would give birth to my greatest gifts if I let go of attitudes that were unhealthy for my growth. The gift I received somewhat later in my life was JOY, and it has been the greatest gift I’ve given to all of humanity.  

Mom taught me that beauty comes from inside me and is reflected outward. I believed her and accepted this graceful truth into my heart. As I expressed the grace of God I believed I had living in me outwards to others, grace outshined my silver tooth! I noticed that people saw the silver tooth first, but soon they could look past it to the true person who lived inside of me. Accepting my embarrassing moments gracefully, helped me to know how to help someone else who was experiencing similar moments. Developing a caring nature was another result of letting go of the belief that I didn’t have to be perfect to be a loving and kind person.

I learned not to be so afraid of what people said, or the songs they sang about me. I got through humiliation by laughing at myself and by laughing with the people laughing at me. Inward grace taught me to love myself “just as I am,” and eventually inner JOY sprung forth and blossomed in my life from rightly responding to these experiences. The grace of God has much to do with being grateful and seeing the lovely parts of life.

Mary Louise King as a teenager

High School Years

Eventually, my body caught up with these inner transformations. I became more poised and athletic. In

tenth grade, I became a gymnast, a diver on the swim team, and a girls’ basketball player. But those activities
led to more teeth injuries. A girl charged into me during a basketball game and knocked out the front tooth
that we had preserved all those years with a silver crown. I guess what I was supposed to learn about being different by having a silver cap on my tooth was accomplished. My mom saved her money, and my teeth were finally fixed to look normal, which included a permanent bridge in my mouth, maybe to remind me to smile and to remember God has a plan to use difficulties to create beauty when I respond with grace.


Feeling pretty, I developed poise and strength. I became a cheerleader during my junior and senior years of high school. I also was involved in many other activities, including choir. I was one of the dancers who performed in front of the choir. I had many costumes and enjoyed being on stage.

I ran for homecoming queen and Diamond Jubilee queen for my community, but I was not chosen. I was my town's Easter bunny and dressed up for promotions for the Irwin businesses. My parents opened their store, Interiors by Woleslagle, when I was in tenth grade, March 11, 1970, and I became very involved in town activities to help the businesses of Irwin to grow.

Mary Louise King as a young adult
Mary Louise King as a young woman
Mary Louise King in adult years


After high school, I went to West Virginia University to be a physical therapist and to help other handicapped children. I changed my major to interior design because my mother needed help in her store. My dad was drinking, and my mom was crying. But, as time went on, they seemed to work it out.

I enjoyed my experience at WVU. I was into everything. I was very kind. I treated people the way I wanted to be treated. As a result, I was honored to be a runner-up for Ms. Mountaineer. I was on the football field at the 50-yard-line during halftime in 1975 when WVU played against Pitt. Even though Pitt had the famous Tony Dorsett, we won!


My life made another circle 34 years later. My son also became a runner-up for Mr. Mountaineer. I was out on the WVU football field once again at halftime, walking alongside him on the 50-yard-line. My son was not chosen as Mr. Mountaineer, but I had fun repeating the memorable moment of my past from a more mature perspective. We were two small hearts in a big university doing what we could do and being who we could be to help others succeed. We were both honored publicly for our efforts.

Marriage and My Adult Years (24-49)

Mary Louise King with family

After I graduated from college, I married and moved to Charleston, West Virginia, to work at Boll Furniture until my first son was born. Shortly after his birth, I became a stay-at-home mom and did freelance interior design work.


I asked my clients to “pay it forward,” meaning I would help a client with my talent, and they were to do something nice for someone else with their talent. They didn’t pay me money.


I raised and successfully launched two sons with the help of my husband. This photo shows my dad and mom, my maternal grandma and my two young sons.


During those years as a stay-at-home mom, I was a mentor to many young women. I taught young mothers’ groups what I had learned about “blooming where you are planted.” We all have something to do, right where we are. Finding my place in the community introduced me to many interesting people.  

By being available, I was able to help a mom homeschool her daughter. I brought her daughter to my house every day to study. Another mom was birthing her fourth child when her appendix broke! When her baby was five days old, he came to my house to live. I was his surrogate mom for the first month of his life until his mom felt well enough to come to my home for a while to get stronger.  


I was best friends with an older gentleman, retired Gen. Charles R. Fox, for eight years. He was the state adjutant general for two governors. He lived right up the road, and my sons cut his grass. After his wife died, I took him everywhere with me, so he wouldn’t feel depressed by being alone. As he entered his 90s, he started to fall down a lot. Trying to take care of him, I herniated a disc in my back and had extreme pain in my left leg. I needed the grace and strength that I had developed from childhood difficulties as an adult. I had to drag my leg and lift it to move it forward. The calf muscle atrophied. My foot was numb.

Overcoming a Herniated Disc- Ages 49-52


Instead of opting for surgery, I used yoga and Pilates to strengthen my legs. I even became the youngest member of SilverSneakers® classes, in which the older adults helped me to get healthier through exercise. Over three years, I regained the use of my left leg. The kindness of these people inspired me to learn to teach yoga, Pilates and other fitness courses, including SilverSneakers®, a Medicare Advantage benefit, as a way to “pay forward” what was so helpful to me in my time of need.  

Career Change - Age 52

Mary Louise King in the dance studio

In January 2007, I certified as a personal trainer. Since I had originally gone to WVU to be a physical therapist and to help other handicapped children, by becoming a fitness instructor and personal trainer later in life, I had made another circle back to what I dreamed of doing for others when I was a young lady. 


I am grateful that, having worked through the troubles in my life, I understand better how to be healthier mentally, physically and emotionally. With all these experiences, I am better prepared to help others engage in “Lovely, Light Living, finding joy in movement,” which is the motto of my business. 


I told Sandy Wells, ​“That’s what I do in my classes. I try to help people come out of themselves and look at themselves and smile at themselves. We need to be kinder to ourselves and show self-compassion.”


My group classes are open to anyone in our area and to out-of-town visitors. We have a sense of connection. Everyone is invited, near and far, and we all help each other.


My Divorce


I first filed for divorce in April of 2014. We were 60 years old and decided to try to reconcile by doing more interesting activities together.

In my interview with Sandy Wells, I said, “I got into ballroom dancing to try to reconnect with my husband. It didn’t work. He wouldn’t go to the lessons. I took private lessons for five months. When I danced, I forgot all about my problems. My legs got stronger, and I became lighter on my feet.”

I filed again for divorce on our 37th anniversary. We were married for 37 years after being engaged for three years. He was from Dunbar, West Virginia. We finally divorced when I was 61 years old, and he then moved away.  


Dancing and Post-Divorce Pain


​After my divorce, as I told Sandy Wells, “I was dancing three to four nights a week before Bollywood, a fundraiser put on by the Indian community. Jim Wallace is my dance partner. We won first place in a swing dance contest at Summerfest in South Charleston.”

About the time they asked Jim and me to dance for Bollywood, I went through another difficult time. I was having many worries about my relationship with my sons and financial concerns that single women sometimes have. Apparently, I had repressed a lot of emotions, such as anxiety, fear and anger, that should have been allowed to come out and be noticed for what they are. I must have been dreaming about things I couldn’t change, and they were bothering me subconsciously. The famous quotation in the movie, "Moonstruck," describes by life: "Love doesn't make things nice. It ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess."

For more of my story on these events, check out my YouTube video: "My First, My Favorite, My Future," my Three Things speech for FestivALL, Charleston, West Virginia, on April 20, 2022. The video was published on April 7, 2024. Here is the link:

How I Became Depressed


My life cycled back again to the earlier times in my life when I experienced heartache. In my past, people I loved said cruel words to me. These words were all spewed out of their mouth when they were angry or frustrated. It would have been better if they had just written me a letter and then tore it up until they were calmer. I have had much grief over loss of love, and my heart has felt heavy. But I've always remained quiet during these episodes and have sent loving kindness to the ones who were angry with me. 


The type of words that triggered depression were about how much my life cost them in time and money and that I was not worth it. I was told that I ruined their lives, they would never support me, and they had made a mistake by letting me into their lives just to wreck their lives. They did not want me and liked “not one thing” about me. I was not a good fit for them, not suitable, even "crazy" because of my beliefs about gratitude and grace. I was “over the top,” which was meant to be a derogatory description of me. They were disrespectful to me as a person and did not accept me as an equal. I was expected to be submissive, and if I spoke up, that was rebellious and bad. It never seemed that I could do enough to be accepted and loved. I fell short of their expectations, so they were critical of me and gossiped among the family about me.

I wrote about how I was able to understand why people may have a stony heart in my blog, Roll Away The Stone:


My problem was that I believed they were talking from their hearts and that they really felt like this about me all the time. I could not let the words go. I kept stirring these words in my mind, making it worse for myself.  I kept hearing my husband saying he wanted a divorce. I felt so afraid of what life was going to be like for me, and those fears became fulfilled like a prophecy.


I didn't know how I could support myself. I became a part of the "working poor." I had only low-paying jobs. Overwhelmed, I didn’t know how to let go of the pain and move along in life. Negative thoughts kept running like loops in my brain. I felt I had invested my life in my family and lost it all because I did not fit in. The ugly duckling's search for personal identity I had when I was little came back into my life. The themes of belonging, isolation, togetherness, acceptance and kindness were all wanting my attention once again. Rather than conforming to what is thought to be normal, one little duckling stood out. I asked myself the question: "What would a swan do?" I started to search for my kind, knowing I would eventually attract those like me. I felt alone, and that sense of loneliness caused me to suffer for months. Five months after my divorce, I woke up one morning with a pain in my right hip that wouldn’t go away. It got worse. My doctor put me on pain pills for a day. Instead of dancing and teaching and doing what I love to do, I rested, which was the worst thing I could have done because it gave me time to compulsively think about how lonely I felt.

The next morning, the pain was so great that I passed out. My face turned red, and I had convulsions. A friend called an ambulance, which took me to the hospital. Brain-wave tests, a cardiac test and x-rays found nothing physically wrong with me. 


Could It Be Psychosomatic Pain?

“How could something like this show up for no reason? My neurologists at the hospital suggested that it could be emotional pain that I had repressed.


I decided to be open to this new idea by asking myself the simple question, “Could it be psychosomatic pain?” I went to my pastor and Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center for counseling to explore the answer to this question. I turned to a book that I had read earlier in my life by the late Dr. John Sarno: Healing Back Pain, The Mind-Body Connection.  I also found another book helped: Back in Control: A Surgeon's Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain by Dr. David Hanscom, M.D.

Like many women, I did not honor my own personal identity. I liked to play and be social, but I had put my needs and emotions behind the needs of my family. I had covered up my life to be totally involved in the lives of my husband and children. I was cringing, contracting, and my heart was getting smaller. I tried to fit into everyone else's plans for my life, but everywhere I looked for those feelings of acceptance and belonging was blocked. Old feelings of not fitting in or not being enough to please another person resurfaced in my life. These feelings became like a heavy stone blocking the light and were a great burden to me.

Mary Louise King offers resource on back pain

One specific example of a mindset that was a cause of psychosomatic pain was a thought pattern loop from my childhood. My dad would upset me when he would say that I was a bad girl who made bad decisions and that I had to live with these decisions without his support.  “You made your bed, now you have to lie in it,” was one of his beliefs about his relationship with me. As a child, I couldn’t even look my dad in the eye. And, of course, shrinking back contributed to my feelings of being alone and being afraid. I eventually did find peace with my dad, and I always loved him, but the words he spoke to me left permanent pain pathways in my brain. So, at this time of emotional pain after my divorce, it was easy to run this old neurological pathway of thought that I used to run as a child.  My husband also said that, if we got a divorce, our friendship of 40 years would be over, and he would abandon me. He would make it difficult for me to visit our sons, and I never could visit when he was visiting them. I felt like an outcast. I found comfort in knowing that even Jesus was not accepted by his family. They didn't like him, and he was an embarrassment to them. He went on with his life and made new friends. He was persecuted for living his life and was crucified, suffering much pain, but as we know, that was not the end of the story.


I searched for comfort from God that the end of the book of my life was not written yet. I trusted God that the deep hurt in my soul, the feelings of abandonment and loneliness would somehow lead me to something good for me as well as others. .


My body tried to hide this deep psychological pain from me by giving me physical pain in my hip to deal with. Through counseling, I was made aware that this could happen. My subconscious gave me physical pain as a way to be kind to me. I could not deal with the psychological pain and live, but keeping me busy with the physical pain was a distraction. At this time in my life, my psychological pain was stuffed down and covered up, emerging a physical pain.

I had suffered physical pain from psychological pain earlier in my life. I can remember having stomach aches and missing school because I tried to please my teachers too much. At a young age, I had psychosomatic pain.


In addition to the pain that accompanied divorce, I also received more troubling thoughts. A person I admired said that I needed to be punished with church discipline for getting a divorce when there was no infidelity, reinforcing my dad’s words of what a bad girl I was. Guilt and shame are very difficult to live with. My counselor said they could be resolved little by little during my dream time and that sleeping would be the way to let them transform into something beautiful. He asked me to let grace work once again to transform my difficulties into wisdom and understanding, which are lovely characteristics. He said this process would happen over time, just as an oyster coats an irritant or difficulty with nacre, making a pearl. I was to give myself self compassion. He suggested that, at the end of each day, I should evaluate it as "good." Just by waking up, getting dressed, going to work, and eating healthful meals, I was walking in grace. He wanted me to move my body every day and to drink enough water.


At that time, I can remember that I felt as if I was stuck in quicksand, and every movement I made to try to get out just made me sink deeper. How could I gently help myself? The pain was stuck in my right hip. I came to the conclusion that it was not time to move forward. I needed time to observe and let go of the hurtful, negative psychological loops of thinking that I was replaying compulsively in my mind.  The way these thought processes were working reminded me of a stuck record on the record player I used to have as a child. I was terribly annoying to myself. I was telling myself that I was guilty and should be ashamed and punished - two things that I never did to my children when they were little and made mistakes. I really liked knowing them as very sweet, imperfect beings that I loved. I was in a situation in which I needed love, not punishment, in all my self talk.  

Giving Myself Self-Compassion

Becoming aware of what I was doing to hurt myself was a big part of the healing process for me. When I could see that I felt guilt and shame and that I was punishing myself with physical pain instead of showing myself loving kindness, this shed light on the source of my psychosomatic pain. I was able to see that I was producing my own anxiety from a viewpoint that I should be punished. Self compassion healed me of generalized anxiety over life events, and as a result, I could rest and find grace again.

My Life Cycles Back to Grace


This situation became another time for my life to circle back around so that I could learn how to be grateful. Gratitude enlarges hearts. I admitted to myself and to my counselors that I was the reason I was stuck. And even though I was so exhausted by my own negative thoughts, I was willing to change. I admitted that I had trained myself to run these negative loops in my mind. I also acknowledged that these painful ways of thinking, called neurological circuits, will always be there in my brain, and at any time in my life, I could get tired and go back to them by default. But I loved myself enough to make another pathway of thinking in my brain. I learned to divert my thoughts down a pathway called gratitude. I chose this road of grace to travel, as I had chosen it as a young girl. I added play and song to help me begin to see that pathway better and to make good memories there. I trained myself to look for it when I found myself in adverse conditions. Sometimes just clapping my hands together helped the more joyous pathway of thinking to appear. All my beliefs that I had set up about how people viewed me began to drop, and I started to believe in myself and the partnership I have with Grace that lives within me. 

Consequently, because I've learned to open my heart rather than shutting down, when people I love do not want to spend time with me, I have learned to be grateful that their lives are so full and they are not acting like victims that could suck the life out of me. I've learned to see my life from a larger viewpoint. So many people love me. I can focus on what I have that brings me joy, rather than what I falsely imagine that I don't have. Counseling helped me to let go of hurtful thinking by thanking God for what I had in the present moment. I opened my heart to the “Gift of Grace,” similar to how I did at age seven, when I learned Grace could outshine my silver tooth. Once I had experienced grace for myself, I could easily give grace out to others. Once I gave myself loving kindness, I would give loving kindness to others. I removed the stone of fear that was hiding the lovely, light life that was mine to live. Because this happened to me, I now that others are also struggling and that everyone does the best they know how to do at the time. I have compassion for all, including myself. Hurt people hurt others. I decided I wasn't going to consider myself "hurt" anymore. I stretched myself to reach beyond the stories of my past. I met a whole new group of friends. My life became repurposed through the pain. I let go. I surrendered my stories of what seemed important in my past to what I can do with each present moment in the now. I let my light shine and became more connected to those around me.


I remembered back to my days at home with Mom. We would smile at the reason how we got so much done. We’d say, “It’s by the Grace of God,” and everyone would ask where this Grace girl was, as if she was a human who served us.  

As a More Mature Person, I Have Become Wiser


The practice of gratitude has always been a very healthy option.  


On the way towards becoming wiser, I recognized that I have a little chatterbox in my mind that talks to me excessively about my fears. Having a more mature faith in the Grace of God gave me more freedom to be honest with myself and to decide which thoughts to ponder and which ones to let go.  This was a huge leap towards wisdom and becoming a matriarch.

This journey involved learning that I needed to notice my feelings, not suppress them. The idea that I had was not to "get over it," which is suppression, but to let my thoughts and feelings come out and be noticed and then let them go. I didn't grab onto them and examine them. I had learned the hard way that this kind of judgment took me on a dark path. Instead, I saw myself with open hands and an open heart. I showed myself self compassion as I let them go and became free. I no longer had a need to hold onto what hurts. I felt so much better.


I pictured myself sitting quietly, letting my thoughts and feelings come down into my lap where I could observe them. Being grateful that I could visualize such a process gave my mind some rest and helped me to feel safe. This was part of the process I used to grieve my loss. I loved my husband very much, but we couldn’t live together anymore. I was loving toward these upsetting thoughts, just as my mother was kind to me when I was out of sorts. I allowed myself to feel angry at the whole story of my life. I felt frustrated, but strangely also comforted. I remembered how kind my mom was to me when I had temper tantrums. I learned to be with myself in a compassionate way until the emotion passed.  


I held this part of me, which was like a scared little child, tenderly. I helped myself settle down and be calm. I’d say to myself, “We need to forgive these thoughts and let them go, so we don’t keep holding this negative energy. Let’s leave them all in the past where they happened, and let’s be grateful that many life events in the past that seemed difficult eventually led to a path of blessings. Let’s move on.” I’m not sure why I used “we” and “us” when I talked to my thoughts. I think I pictured it all as if it was me and the “Grace of God” working together.  

Morning Pages


Acknowledging the pain in the morning as psychological would take the pain away, so I did this by writing morning pages. As soon as I woke up, I started scribbling on a piece of paper any thought that came to me to allow my subconscious to talk.


When I started this expressive type of writing, I knew that I was repressing some emotions and I didn’t know what the emotions actually were. Writing first thing every morning, while I was still sleepy, helped me find my emotions in a safe way. By letting my thoughts flow onto paper and getting a little space from what was coming up in the writing, I was able to release the pain. There was some mystery to the whole process, but honesty and truth set me free. I attribute this freedom to be a result of writing morning pages and destroying them each day after I wrote them. That place of safety, knowing no one would read them later, was very helpful. 


Sarno’s theory (in the book that I mentioned earlier) was that my subconscious was trying to hide the source of my pain because it thought my emotional pain was too much for me to bear. Was my subconscious distracting me with physical pain by depleting my muscles of oxygen, so that I did not have to deal with the emotional pain? 


I do believe that I was blind to the love surrounding me. Instead, I swallowed hurt and it wasI coming out as physical pain. Personally, I think I was afraid to let the hurt out because I was trying to be a “good girl.” I believed good girls don’t express what they feel. By writing on the paper and immediately tearing the paper up, I gave myself permission to express myself and unblock my sense of gratitude. All I could say at first was, “I am willing to be grateful.”


After struggling for a while, I decided I needed to open my heart and let love start to flow again. My subconscious was the first part of me that I opened up to love. Even though Sarno was saying that my subconscious was causing my pain, I started to talk to it. In my own sacred kind of way, I expressed love to my subconscious, and I told it that I believed in it. I started to see my subconscious as being my friend who was trying to help me. It seemed that God's spirit lived somewhere within my subconscious.


I also started to gently talk to my pain. My cure for pain was to just say, “Hello, psychological pain. I see you are there today. C’mon. We will go on and do what we are going to do today.” That’s how I became pain free. I calmed myself down and dealt with my body as a mother would deal with a child who was hurting. I loved myself unconditionally, even knowing I had held onto thoughts that caused darkness for me. Instead of protecting myself, I set my heart free. I thank God that I figured this out as an important resource that I have. I can say “no” to overwhelming thoughts that are not serving me and let them go.  

Once I was able to label my pain and deal with it from a psychological point of view, I got better. Loving myself, loving the source of my pain, loving my subconscious, forgiving and having gratitude for anything and everything that might have caused my pain, opening my heart, not trying so hard with my conscious brain to figure it all out, staying in the present moment, being grateful that I was surviving the pain, quieting myself and connecting with God and all the wisdom of the Universe, settling myself down some more – all these things helped me to move past the pain.  


After this experience, I thought about how so many people are on pain meds. What if they have psychological pain being pressed down and it is not wanting to come out? I had learned that pain could move from the physical part of a human’s brain to the emotional part and then become chronic pain.

In my talk with Sandy Wells, I said, “Maybe that is something I should be talking about. I am not afraid to talk about what I’ve been through, my struggles, to help somebody else. I do talk about it in my classes. My exercise niche is that I help my students let go and have fun. My class helps them overcome the stress and pain that life sometimes bring.”

Healing and Moving Forward

Nine months after my divorce, I danced for Bollywood Night at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. I was perfectly healthy again in body, mind and spirit. I had a wonderful time, dancing as if no one was watching. I felt great joy in being graceful like the swan I always wanted to be.


As I entered the Charleston dance community, I was introduced to all seven of the local ballroom and Latin dance clubs, in addition to other clubs that specialize in shag, West Coast swing and salsa. I am a member of all of these.


I did not know anyone in the dance community, and I was unaware of any of the dance opportunities in Charleston, when I started to take lessons from Craig Giffin, Julia McCormick and Steve Prowse. After their deaths, I got the vision of continuing their work as an honor to them. I am carrying their baton. I opened my LLC on December 13, 2016. It has allowed me to make income by helping others find the joy of dance.

Mary Louise King dancing with partner

Other Dance Opportunities 

Along with being a ballroom and Latin dance instructor, I update the Charleston WV Dance Facebook page, giving the our dance community a place on the internet to find what dances are being held in our area. I also use this page to inform out-of-town guests where they can dance when they visit our town. 

I am so thankful that I found dance. Dancing fuels my soul. When I dance, it’s like a form of heaven on earth. It feels as though nothing is out there, except freedom and lighthearted dancing. It’s as if I am floating across the floor and using brain cells that fire only when I am being creative. It seems as though I am in another world, full of grace and joy. 


In conclusion, I want to emphasize that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. We all just take one step at a time on the path placed in front of us, knowing there is something wonderful, as well as mysterious, beyond. 


A Secret 


And since you’ve read this far in my story, I trust you enough to tell you a secret. My life had another circle. In 1982, I had a small “fender-bender” car accident. Two years later, we were sued. The lawsuit lasted three years, and by the end of the second year of the lawsuit, I was depressed and exhausted. I didn’t feel as though I had the strength to go on in life. My friends helped me, and once again, I connected to God in a deep, interpersonal way. I put into practice what my mom taught me earlier – to see life’s events with gratitude and to wait for the dark night of my soul to pass, forgiving always. I eventually found peace amidst what felt like being spun around and not knowing what direction to take. There is an eye in the center of a hurricane, a silver lining in every storm.  


At the young age of 33, during the lawsuit, I learned how to be the center in the wheel of my family. After suffering for a while because I didn’t want what I had – I didn’t want the threats and fear that accompanied the lawsuit – I rose out of the stinky muck of my own thoughts and became the stable one in our family. In this vision of my life, my family members were like the spokes of the wheel. As long as I kept myself stable and connected to the axle and source of power, everyone else was all right no matter how bumpy the ride.  


The process that I used to save my life from depression and provide a stable environment for my children involved discovering my “whole brain” and what all was built into it as resources that I could use. My left brain could not even think a positive thought, but my right brain could sing songs. I started to “sing a new song unto the Lord.” In other words, I sang my prayers. I had discovered this earlier in my life – that a part of me could experience gratitude and joy amid difficulty. The new revelation was that it was the right side of my brain doing this for me.  


After being able to rest through singing and gentle movement, the left side of my brain, the analytical side, came up with a plan. I wrote out my prayer on an index card, and I put this index card on a shelf in my kitchen that I named, “God’s Shelf.”  Since the left brain is time oriented, I allowed myself only 15 to 30 minutes a day to look at this card and wrestle with all my fears and conscious thoughts about past experiences and other sensory feelings that I had about the lawsuit. Then, I would put the card away on God’s Shelf. I told my left brain that God was handling it, and I didn’t need to keep checking in on His ability to handle the situation. This basic plan worked!  


It wasn’t as if I became apathetic about my situation. I wasn’t like a parked car. I continued to move forward, keeping centered on the axle and source of power available to me. The ideas of what to do daily seemed to come from an area of my brain that is associated with the present moment. Bravery, courage, and enthusiasm seemed to rise up and propel me and my family forward.  


At the time of the lawsuit, I had only one young son. We looked for answers to questions such as: What do we like in our world? What good do we do as individuals and as a family? What can we be positive about? What are we grateful for?  


One of the results of asking these questions was that, instead of thinking that the people who were suing us were “taking” money, we were “giving” them money.  


At the same time in my life, I learned all animals “shake” when they feel threatened. We added movement to our days together. I added large physical movements to the mix of various songs that I was singing, and voila, I was dancing. 

I have posted a video on how I overcame depression. I talked about some things I did to help myself. It was published on October 16, 2022.  Here is the link: How I overcame depression. Some things I did to help myself. This is the link:


Lovely Light Living Concepts

Mary Louise King stretching gracefully

These are the comforting ideas that I share on my Lovely Light Living YouTube channel. I’ve learned how to engage the right side of my brain and stay in the present moment. To me, this is the process involved in “Seeking First the Kingdom of God.” I found it! It is on the right side of my brain! When I stay in the present moment, I can experience the peace that passes understanding, which gives me control over my story. I admire other people who are heroes and who stand in peace. It is a vision as well as goal of my life to find the peace of God and to be the hero of my own story.  

In 2021, I discovered why my method of using both sides of my brain worked. Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, addresses this type of thinking from a scientific perspective in her book, Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life. She suggests a “brain huddle,” using all parts of our brain, which was the same process that I learned by trial and error. 


My brain huddles gave me the chance to ask all parts of my brain – “Is the belief I’m holding onto true?” “How can I let go of this pain?” When I used every part of my brain, I had many more resources available to me. My brain huddles are what moved me forward.   

I am grateful that back when I was a young lady I learned to walk through time, thinking I was on a journey towards the peace of God, finding light on my pathway for each individual step. The terrain might have been difficult, but even as a child with a silver tooth, I learned how to find strength for the journey. 


No matter what’s going on outside as daily troubles, I can dance and make big movements with my body, the same way a child plays, as I move through life. I don’t have to feel “stuck” anymore, which seemed to come every time I looked back. During these times, I was hurting myself by holding on to a hurtful story. When I did some accounting, there was so much to be grateful for – much more grace than any small mistake I made or someone else made. The lessons I learned have made me feel content. I am grateful, and I like “blooming where I’m planted.” These lovely concepts about life all came about by finding the “Grace of God” and using my whole brain to live abundantly.  

It’s been an act of faith to just keep on walking, skipping and dancing. Sometimes, softening my gaze helped me see peace rather than focusing so hard on all the details. As someone said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

My mom is more than 93 years old. She is in the process of selling her store that she has operated for more than 54 years.  I am grateful for her example, and we help each other walk in Grace. I am thankful I’ve had her by my side for all these years that I’ve been in personal growth training. At her retirement party, she encouraged the other businesses to "keep on keeping on" and "ask God for help." It's the story of our lives.

I like the quotation from The Ugly Duckling, a children's story by Hans Christian Andersen: "Never lose hope, for even the smallest of hearts can find their place in this world." My small heart has been adorned with acceptance, kindness and grace, and I can thank all the difficulties I've experience for this wisdom. I've found JOY for myself, and I am helping others to find it. I hope my story has encouraged and inspired you to enjoy lovely light living in your own personal way.

Mary Louise King and her mother
My Purpose

is to help you have a sense of confidence about your body so that you can pursue your desires in life.

– Mary Louise King

bottom of page