#59 Coming Back Home to Me

Today's Guest: Peleg Top

Today, I interview Peleg Top who was bullied as a child growing up in Israel. He knew who he was, and he had things to say, but he felt that no one wanted to hear them. As a gay young child he was teased and felt that he never fit in. Eventually he began to believe those lies and would later require some inner work to rediscover his love for himself.

Throughout his teenage years, the bullying continued. And he hid more and more of his true self, eventually feeling as though life was a mindless act and he was just going through the motions.

Peleg points out that as innocent children, we exist as pure love and joy. When he was finally able to do the inner work required to heal, the result was coming full circle back to himself– back to that place of existing as love and joy. He’s realized that it’s okay to say what he wants, to say and share what’s in his heart with people, and that it’s also okay if people didn’t agree with what he has to say. And that is so empowering!

Peleg naturally protects his creativity and uses his knowledge and spirituality to protect his true self– the true self he fought so hard to reclaim. Today, he’s a creative coach and spiritual director who studies and teaches about transformation, change, and building healthy habits. __________________

Peleg Top comes to us from Santa Fe, in the land of enchantment in New Mexico. He is the founder of the “Creative High Growth Method” a soul awakening process that helps people at a crossroads find their purpose and authentic voice. Peleg wears many creative hats. He is a trained spiritual director, an entrepreneur, an artist, a trained chef, a graphic designer, and a recovering overachiever

Find Peleg here:

Watch the episode:

Connect with Peleg Top

Transcript of Interview

Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast 

Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing

Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com

Episode #59 Peleg Top


“Coming Back Home to Me”

(0:36) Dr. Doreen Downing

Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing and this is the podcast, “Find your voice, Change your life.” I get to speak to people who are curious and want to explore what it means to have a voice, not only for themselves, but many times, it seems people are in professions in the health care or the realm of supporting others in finding their voice. And today, that’s who I get to meet as somebody who is not only curious for himself but how to use our voice in a way that we wake up other people to what is possible for them. Hello, Peleg.

(1:18) Peleg Top

Hello, Doreen. So good to be here.

(1:21) Dr. Doreen Downing

Wonderful. Let me tell the audience a little bit about you. You come from Santa Fe and that’s in New Mexico. You call it the Land of Enchantment. That makes me take a breath right now just imagining “enchantment”. I love that word.

(1:42) Peleg Top

Yes, it’s pretty magical.

(1:45) Dr. Doreen Downing

Well, you’re the founder of Creative High Growth Method. It’s a soul awakening process that helps people at a crossroad find their purpose and authentic voice. You’re speaking my language here. Peleg wears many creative hats. He is a trained spiritual director, an entrepreneur, an artist, a trained chef, a graphic designer, and a recovering overachiever. That’s a lot under your belt, a lot of life you’ve lived in. It sounds like a lot of learning that you bring to what you do with folks. We want to at least start with your own personal journey. It’s not what our podcast sounds like today that you want to really go into. That’s not what the story is. But let’s do talk first. Because you’ve shared some things with me about you finding your voice and what might have been the struggle for you. So please if we could start there. Thank you.

(2:54) Peleg Top

Thanks, Doreen. I’ve been thinking a lot about that term “finding your voice.” And what I’m becoming more and more convinced of is that it’s not really about finding. The voice wasn’t really lost. It’s more about remembering who we really are. I find this to be a very common human experience. At some point, we tend to let our authentic voice fall asleep. We tend to forget who we really are. I mean, think about it, as kids, we know who we are, we have a voice, we’re not afraid to use it, especially in creative ways. As we mature, as we age, thanks to culture, society, parents, religion, you name it, we begin to hide ourselves, hide our true self. We have a voice and we express ourselves in the world but it’s not the voice that comes from our soul. Ultimately, the soul lives in the voice. So, unless we are really connected to that part of ourselves and our soul, we’ll move through the world feeling incomplete, feeling that there’s something missing here. I went through a very similar experience as well. My voice was really kind of shut down growing up. I grew up in Tel Aviv in Israel and I was bullied quite often as a kid. Speaking in front of people and sharing my voice was really never an issue. But the message that I received from the outside world was, “Shut up. We don’t want to hear what you have to say.” That created a belief system in me that I don’t matter, that I don’t have anything to say. And even though I want to say something, I really didn’t know how. Because of that I had a belief that nobody really wants to hear what I have to say

(5:18) Dr. Doreen Downing

I just want to dive in here. Because what you said about where you started with, we have this already, what our gift is, our voice, our soul. That’s what we arrived here with. And we have this opportunity to speak up and speak out. You said you were bullied before you had that belief? What would you say was that magnificent you that had that expression naturally? What was that before you had to go hide?

(5:55) Peleg Top

I would call it love, pure joy, or pure Love. We all arrive with that. What I’ve discovered after doing a lot of many years of my own inner work, all the work that I ultimately have done has led me to the place that I started from. It led me back home to me. And that’s a very sacred space for me right now. I’ve learned to protect it. I’ve learned to nourish it. I’ve learned to grow it and to walk through the world with this belief that I do matter. What I have to say may not be for everyone, but I’m not going to be afraid to say it, to express myself, who I really am, what I believe in, and what I do when I want to teach others. So that bullying was really a way of life for me. Throughout my early teenage years, the more I was bullied, the more I hid, the more I went inside. I also am very much of an extrovert so it’s not like I became this wallflower and didn’t speak at all. Now, I managed to create a life and to build a career and all of that. There was this part of me that was almost an act. In order to survive in the world, I have to put this act on so I can be liked, so I can feel like I’m valued in the world. But there comes a point where that act just becomes exhausting. And we know that there’s something more authentic, something deeper in us that we may not have access to at the moment, but we know it’s there. And I find that people knock on my door and say, “Hey, I’m looking to find my voice.” I always remember that it has not been lost.

(8:09) Dr. Doreen Downing

Oh, I love it. I love that you were standing up for that point of view today and resonating out to the audience this message that’s always been with you. How do we now tap into it? But before I go there, I want to ask if you could just get a little more personal. Why did they bully you?

(8:35) Peleg Top

I’m a gay man. I was, as a kid, very effeminate. And being a very effeminate boy in a very masculine and aggressive culture as Israel was and then in the early 70s, that was a lethal combination. The problem that I had was that at some point, I began to believe the bullies. I began to make it my truth. And it took me years and years of therapy and coaching to ultimately let that go, change that belief system, and get in touch with my true essence but also learn to love. Love myself enough to be able to speak from that voice.

(9:34) Dr. Doreen Downing

Yes. What you just said that it’s not just a wake up one day and you’ve finally expressed yourself more fully. It’s a journey, a process. And what I love about what you’re saying is there must have been some sense of calling because now you’re in the world, speaking up and telling people. Well, you’re teaching, not only telling, teaching people, leading groups, and guiding people who are on a journey, a personal journey to find their voice.

(10:15) Peleg Top

It’s a personal journey to come back home, to come back home to who they really are. And when we begin to have access to that part of ourselves, when we begin to remember that part of ourselves and nourish that part of ourselves, that’s the beginning of the transformation. It’s quite a sacred process that not everybody’s willing to go on because it takes a lot of work. We have to face a lot of dragons along the way, and learn how to tame our inner critic. We learn how to recognize which part is my ego, and which part is my essence. Begin to learn to discern that. That, to me, is the essence of being a spiritual person in the world. I think that is the one thing that all of us are seeking, who call ourselves spiritual people, ultimately seeking to know ourselves better, to have a connection to our heart, and to divine energy that is always there. We have a vessel to access it. So, it takes work. It takes hard work.

(11:38) Dr. Doreen Downing

Yes, I so understand.

(11:42) Peleg Top

I’m sure you facilitate similar processes for people as well.

(11:46) Dr. Doreen Downing

You’re right but I’m thinking about the beginning of my own journey. One of the beginnings was meeting somebody when I was at San Francisco State. She had a program called, Getting Clear. It was called a stress reduction program, but it was actually so much deeper, and I heard her. That day, I felt like I’m giving people an opportunity to hear you, that you will wake up people. They will say yes to you, and find you, and follow you. What I did with her, obviously she was doing much more than a stress reduction program. We went to lunch and I said, “I want to know what you know.” And she said, “I’ll teach you everything I know.” And so, finding a teacher or finding somebody that you go, ‘oh, I want more of what she’s having.’ Who was that for you?

(12:51) Peleg Top

I can think of a few teachers that showed up along the way that really helped wake me up and teach me a new set of tools that I didn’t have before to support myself. And I’m a firm believer that when the student is ready, the teacher will show up. That’s kind of the process that my life has gone through. The teachers just showed up at the right time when I was actually ready and ripe enough to do the work. I’ve learned to pay attention when I meet someone who has something that I want, just like you said. I want what she’s got. I want what they have. I don’t know why but I’m listening to that voice. And I’m going to say yes. I’m going to begin to study and apprentice and learn and integrate all of the learning and the tools that I’ve received from each one of these teachers into something that is new and different and more in line with who I am as a teacher, rather than repeating other people’s work. It’s really about integrating the wisdom, the knowledge, and the tools, and putting it in through my own creativity, my own creative process to create something that hasn’t been offered before that can support other people in this very similar journey that I’ve been through. It only took me 20 years and the process that I’ve developed takes 100 days. So that’s really the difference in the intensity of the work.

(14:44) Dr. Doreen Downing

I want to hear about this process. But first, I just want to tell people who are listening, who aren’t able to watch you, that your gestures are about you. You brought your hands down into your belly, and your heart, and then you brought the hands up as if there’s reaching down and bringing up into the world more of what’s inside of yourself. So, I just wanted to note that I saw physically, the embodiment of what you’re talking about. I’m thinking that you are on my program because I am drawn to what you’re talking about today. Yes, there’s techniques, there’s Toastmasters, there’s how do people get through anxiety and be freer to speak. But you are somebody that I am drawn to because it is a deeper dive into who we truly are in our deepest level and why we’re even here in this world at this moment. In a way, you’re somebody that I’m drawn to. I just want to say that although everybody hears that Doreen knows a lot, but it still is a lot to be able to stand up and say, “It is work folks. It’s not just the technique. Look at somebody in the eye.” It’s way more than vocal variety, let’s say. If you really want to truly find your voice, and some of that’s our conversation today, the true voice inside, it’s work. If you want to go on that inner journey, we’ve got teachers. So, tell us the Creative High Growth Method. You said it was 100 days so talk about that, if you want to start talking more about what you offer.

(16:48) Peleg Top

Sure. It’s quite a new process that was created three years ago. And the big idea was, I believe in intensity. Transformation and change through intensity. An intense process that doesn’t give us enough time to recover but keeps breaking down walls. And that’s really what this process is about. I’ve done my own experiments on myself. Making a decision, or changing a habit, or paying attention to something in my life for 100 days in a row. I’ve seen the power that that has. I’ve seen the change that can happen from that. So, something about the idea of creating a journey that takes 100 days was the initial idea. And honestly, creating the course was a very intuitive process. The big idea is that we have 100 sessions in 100 days, and during those one hundreds and in a row, there’s no days off, we are working. Now I teach this course in a cohort. It’s a cohort-based course. We’ve just completed the class of 2022. There’s incredible power and magic in a group of people doing this work together. But the intensity of the work is a big key to the success of the process. The method is really based on two things: deep inquiry and creative self-expression. So, every day inside of this process, we do exactly just that. Along the way, I teach tools, tools that will stay with you for the rest of your life, tools that you can use to help yourself get back in alignment with your authentic self. Because as much work as we can do on ourselves, and I know you can relate to this, both of us have done a lot of work on ourselves. We keep falling asleep. This is just human nature. We keep falling back into old habits. The transformation process is not just a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process. It has its peaks and its valleys but it’s a continuous process. So that the tools that I teach in this program are really the treasure chest of what each student gets to walk away with. Now, along the way, they’re producing an unbelievable body of work and art. Making art is a big part of the healing process, because making art will bring up our inner critic in the most severe way. Many of my students are creative professionals, accomplished creatives, people who have had creative careers as designers and illustrators and photographers. Oftentimes, you give them a piece of chalk in a blank canvas and there’s terror because the inner critic just kicks right in, perfectionist immediately kicks in. And guess what, we can’t actually access our true voice if those voices are still running the show.

(20:32) Dr. Doreen Downing

So that person I talked to you about before was an artist actually. She had a program called growing from a dot. The whole idea was making life a work of art. Growing from a dot, we had a piece of paper and we had all those little sticky dots. What colors and what sizes, just the whole idea of choosing where to put the dots on the paper, brings up what are other people doing. What should I do? I understand what you’re saying about making choices, and where those choices are coming from, and what blocks making those authentic choices.

(21:14) Peleg Top

So, in a way, to find our authentic voice as we call it, to wake up that voice, to remember that voice, oftentimes, we have to go back to our early selves, to our childlike selves. That’s a big part of what my program does. Through art, I take you back to the beginning, to being six years old, to creating art as a six-year-old. Together, during that process in 100 days, there’s a creative maturity that begins to happen. Because we are working on learning to tame that inner critic, we’re learning to be the masters of that, not have the inner critic win over us. By the end of that process, every person gets exactly what they need to get. Every person comes home to who they are. They have created a remarkable body of work. They filled up pages and pages and pages and pages in writing and self-inquiry that they know themselves better now. So, to be able to use my authentic voice, I need to know who I am first. They go hand in hand. You can’t not get to know who you really, really are and learn to love that part of yourself before you can actually express yourself authentically because otherwise, anything else will not be authentic. You may think it’s authentic. But that’s trickier.

(22:51) Dr. Doreen Downing

Well, you had two parts. The first one was inquiry and creative expression. You’re saying, getting to know who you are is all about inquiry. And how do you keep that curiosity without the judge coming in and in doubting and questioning you. The quality of inquiry is what leads you to the deeper creative expression is what I’m getting from you.

(23:20) Peleg Top

Yes, well said. It’s been quite a ride. It’s been quite a blessing to say, to witness adults, people who are accomplished and successful, and have so much potential, and so much to offer the world and yet, there’s a disconnection. There’s a disconnection from the soul. And I think we know when we’re disconnected from that part of ourselves, because there is this longing that exists. A longing that nothing else will quench. And that longing is the language that I’ve learned to speak, and learn to address, and learn to develop the tools to help people satisfy their own longing.

(24:25) Dr. Doreen Downing

I just want to say that again because it’s so delicious to say. Satisfy their own longing. That I think resonates out to people who are yearning and longing.

(4:41) Peleg Top

Oftentimes, we believe that the longing will be satisfied with something outside of ourselves, the career, the job, the relationship, the money, you name it. It doesn’t. I think that the point where I meet people is after they’ve really tried all the conventional ways to get to that place in themselves, and they just haven’t been able to. They are beginning to realize that this is what matters most to me right now, for me to feel like I’m having a satisfying life. I want to know that I want to know who I am. Because I keep saying yes and no to things that don’t really align with who I really am. But they don’t, because at some point, I’ve forgotten who I really am. And the work is waking up and remembering. When we begin to remember who we are, when we begin to really remember, it’s very empowering. It’s an incredibly powerful space to be. It’s like anything’s possible from that place. Anything.

(25:59) Dr. Doreen Downing

I love how you just expressed that. And it was just so certain. Definitely, the certainty of knowing what you know, and teaching what you know. Because we’re almost out of time, I want to make sure that people know how to contact you. Sounds like maybe we have another cohort starting.

(26:25) Peleg Top

I teach this process once a year, in January of every year. The next one will begin in January 2023. The date is not quite set yet, but sometime mid-January. The enrollment and registration generally open up in September. I invite people. If anybody’s interested in learning more about this process, the Creative High Growth Method, they can check out my website, which is pelegtop.com. Surely, we have a link somewhere because you always do. And I really do believe that this process and this work speaks to the right people, people know immediately if it’s right for them or not. There’s an enrollment process for this. There is an application process because there is quite a commitment that I’m asking people to bring to this work. It’s 100 days of meeting yourself every day, for an hour and a half to two hours, doing this deep inner work, making art every day, meeting with a cohort once a week to have group meetings, having creative adventures on your own. It’s an immersive experience. And it’s not for everyone. But for those who do come into this work, I’ve yet to see one person miss one day out of the 100-day process. And I’ve yet to see anybody complete this work and not go on to amazing greater things as a result. So, I welcome anyone who’s feeling like they are ready to do the work.

(28:13) Dr. Doreen Downing

Wonderful. I’m glad that we’ll get this out and that people will be able to find you and listen to you. I think just even listening to you today, it’s a new ‘where is the voice?’ It’s not beaten out of you. For some reason, you had to hide and that’s okay. But now, we get to remember and we get people like you who say, “Hello in there.” That’s what we’re doing. That’s what this whole podcast is about, ‘Hello in there. Welcome. We are celebrating you.’ And that’s what I feel like I celebrated with you felt and thank you so much for it. Well, maybe one last thought that seems to pop up in this moment for you before we end.

(29:12) Peleg Top

Well, I generally end with something in my email signature where I always say, “All is full of love.” And it’s becoming my go-to statement. Oftentimes, I do believe that all is full of love. It’s just up to us to be able to see it, to be able to connect to it. It’s like what lenses are we looking through so that we can actually see that all is full of love? Are we looking at the world through the lenses of fear and insecurity and self-judgment and overthinking? Well, it’s going to be hard for us to see love, it’s going to be hard for us to connect to love. So, I want to remind people that all is full of love. It’s just a matter of where you’re looking from, where you’re coming from. Thank you for this time and this opportunity to be in this conversation. I love the work that you’re doing in the world and keep it up. Soldier of Love is what I call you.

(30:17) Dr. Doreen Downing

Soldier of love. Thank you, Peleg.

Also listen on…

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.