Dr. Bella McCloud, 59: Upward Life Trajectory

After surviving cancer, she now has her doctorate in clinical psychology. She's bringing her 20 years of yoga to her clinical practice and living life, as she sees it, in an “upward trajectory.”

When, two years ago, we last spoke with Bella, she was deep in the long process of getting her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Then on top of that, she was also wondering if, post-surgery, she would remain cancer-free and if her goal of living in Hawaii could be sustained.

We caught up with the long-time yogi and newly minted Doctor of Psychology in Monterey, CA where she is finishing up her requisite post-doc hours in order to be fully licensed to practice in both Hawaii and California. Her process has been long and arduous. “I am almost done, but it has been unbelievably long and difficult. People have been congratulating me at different passages along the way, but there is always another mountain that is even taller.” The end is near. Within the next 6 months, it will all be done and her quest to become a licensed clinical psychologist will be fulfilled. 

“You have to be really stubborn and tenacious, like me”

“It has been a 7-year-and-counting journey for her. “This process is so arduous. I was not slow in my doing it, I was the 3rd one in my cohort to graduate. Out of the 17 that started, 8 dropped out. They don’t want you to become a doctor. They want very few doctors in this world so they don’t make it easy, they try to make it seem impossible. You have to be really stubborn and tenacious, like me.”

As she told us in our first interview “I don’t see an ‘over the hill,’ and maybe I’m naïve,” she says. “I don’t see an up and a down; I see this linear upward trajectory to life.”

Telehealth and the Freedom of Traveling Light

An interesting digital development is allowing her to widen her vision of where she could locate once she has her license. “In the last year, telehealth has really boomed. I am using a platform that looks like Skype. You can become location independent, so I can basically be anywhere in the world with my business. What I am thinking is that I will live in Hawaii, use that as a home base, and spend some time traveling.”

“This is the first time in my life I have been animal-less, childless and husbandless; I have a very light load and I’m going to keep it that way so that I have the ease of mobility, and then when I decide to plant myself more, I’ll probably adopt an animal or two.”

“I love coming to work”

She chose her path to become a clinical psychologist after years of careful consideration.  “I love what I am doing. I make my hours, my own time off, I love coming to work. My intention is authenticity and growth. Everything I learn with and grow with helps me with the patients I am working with. I am especially interested in alcohol, and people’s relation to it. The idea that you can’t have fun without it is powered by so much big business and money. I am understanding that anyone can become addicted to it if they drink enough of it. It doesn’t matter what your constitution is, it is a very powerful drug.”

Dr Bella McCloud

“The root of my psychology practice is yoga psychology”

“Right now I work with a wide range of people. I know I am supposed to have a niche once I get out into the world and if I did it would probably be working with women like myself, who are on the verge of a transition. There is a lot of loss for mid-age women — the kids move out, sometimes the marriage goes, losing your purpose and identity. My gut tells me that my niche is not going to be who I work with but the way I work. My work is very spiritually focused, mostly because of my yoga practice. I’m looking at the big mind that we are all tapped into. I’m not thinking I have anyone’s answers, but that my job is to help them tap into that place in themselves to have the answers.”

This is the sort of wisdom that comes from someone who has been practicing yoga for 28 years and teaching for 20. “The root of my psychology practice is yoga psychology. Everything I learned in school was a reiteration of what I had been learning in yoga for 20 years. It was different words and not quite as depth-oriented, but it was the same thing.”

“I had the confidence to listen to myself”

“I was super scared to do this doctorate thing and take out student loans. Everyone I talked to thought I was crazy because most people would not do this. We get people’s reflections of what they would do, not what we should do. It took me three years of contemplation, but I just couldn’t figure out a better solution and this just felt right. I am so so glad that I had the confidence to listen to myself because it is turning out even better than I could have imagined.”

2 Years and 9 Months Without Cancer

“The best news of all…I’m alive! After the surgery, I declined the chemo-radiation-chemo (I.e., Sandwich Package). It didn’t feel right for me. I did a lot of other healing treatments, and also really worked with the power of my mind. The oncologist was surprisingly supportive, and said if I lived for two years without treatment that was better than living 5 years with allopathic (Sandwich), treatment! 5 years is when they declare you cancer-free. It has now been 2 years and 9 months! I’m so grateful every day. I’m not afraid to die, but I’m not ready! I’ve worked way too hard on my doctorate!”

If you have any questions about Dr. Bella’s journey she can be reached at Bella@BellaYogaTherapy.com, (831) 238-6326



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David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.


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