By Derek Rydall, Santa Clarita Contributor I had to almost die twice to begin understanding why I was alive. An ER visit in my 20’s when I nearly killed myself from drinking, and a near-drowning experience after a movie I was starring in fell apart — were the catalysts that cracked my thick ego open and give me a bold new vision to live for. My life was on the verge of spiraling out of control, until this deeper spiritual connection and a family of my own finally gave me the grounding I needed to rebuild and ultimately thrive. Valencia was where we chose to call home and create community — far enough from the siren call of Hollywood and the wild life that almost claimed mine. I’d gone to high school here, had family here, and my wife and I found many couples who shared our values. The Santa Clarita Valley became the village it took to raise our family. With parks, pools, and paseos everywhere, I found a peace and comfort that created a space to start hearing my own thoughts, thinking my own thoughts, and writing them down in a way that could help others. This led to my book, Emergence, where I revealed the lessons I’d learned on my journey to the brink and back. I became a transformational teacher and was blessed to share a message of possibility with people around the world: no matter what we go through, our worth is never diminished; there’s a power within that can fulfill our greatest potential when we align with it. It brought many riches, materially and experientially. But after a few years, it also brought up deeper issues I hadn’t dealt with. My life began to break down again. My marriage of over 20 years ended and for a while it looked like I might lose everything. Growth doesn’t happen in a straight line. Some things have to fall apart to come together stronger. Just as some trees need a forest fire to open their seedpods and bring forth new life, our journey often requires breakdowns before the biggest breakthroughs. As I became a student of my own work, the Dark Night lifted and a richer life emerged beyond my imagination. A happier family, greater purpose, opportunity, and love like never before – with my Creator, my partner, and myself. I finally understood Grace – it wasn’t something I could earn but a gift that was waiting when I truly surrendered to something bigger than myself. The result is my new book, The Abundance Project: 40 Days to More Wealth, Health, Love, and Happiness, where I share a path to living richly no matter what conditions you’ve been through or are facing. Whether it’s a hard relationship, health issues, money problems, or a job from hell, when you understand the Abundance Principle, you’ll begin to live a richer life of ease, grace, and dignity. This community has given me so much. My prayer is that this gift can begin to give something back.