In early 2016 I hit a breaking point. I simply knew that I couldn’t live the way I had been anymore. If that was what my life was to be, I didn’t want to continue.
My body was wracked with signs of chronic stress. My digestive system was a mess and it was hard to find foods I could eat without being in pain. My nervous system was in perpetual panic mode. Worst of all, I had chronic insomnia. I would go for days at a time without even an hour of sleep. Despite implementing what seemed like every possible recommendation for improved sleep and taking every natural sleep supplement available, nothing seemed to work.
On the outside my life seemed great. I had a successful business, wonderful husband, beautiful boys and lived in a peaceful mountain town.
On the inside however, I was imploding. My husband and I owned our business jointly and I served as CEO, responsible for overseeing client relations, online strategies, managing our team and overseeing finances. I had two young boys and struggled to keep up with what seemed like impossible expectations to be a good mother, wife, homemaker, chef all while working 50+ hours a week for the business. I was exhausted, to put it mildly.
Everything started to unravel when my husband suggested I take an MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress relief) class to manage the stress. When the instructor would ask us to tune in to our heart and see how we were, I would burst into tears. The reality was, I was miserable. The class helped me see it and recognize that I desperately needed to shift something in my life.
In essence, it was a crisis of the soul. Old wounds I had brushed aside were festering inside me after being ignored for so many years. My spiritual connection that had been so strong throughout my younger years had all but vanished when my boys were born and life got busy.
I had left behind my chosen career of international public health when I met my husband, who didn’t want to spend his life moving from one post in Africa or Latin America to another every three years. I had stepped away from my Brazilian spiritual practice because I didn’t have the bandwidth to coordinate and lead another group.
So there I was. Lost. Disconnected from source and purpose. Unable to find a sense of calm in the storm. Unable to rest. Unable to sleep, night after night alone with my increasingly negative thoughts. The only thing that kept me in the world was my love for my boys and concern about what would become of them if I was no longer there. I felt utterly trapped.
My desperation got so extreme that one night I almost ended it all. My husband awoke to the gravity of the situation and finally agreed to sell our business and let our lives take another turn. He had been reticent to sell the business that was our livelihood and step into the unknown.
With that opening, I started to see a light at the end of the dark tunnel. I worked with a business broker to get the business on the market and we sold it within five months. We paid down our debts, took a year off, and everything shifted. I vowed to recover my health and find meaning in my life once more.
Returning to Health
Somehow returning to health and learning to sleep again was much harder than I expected. My hormones were severely out of balance and I was told I had stage three adrenal fatigue. No matter how much I meditated I couldn’t calm my mind and nervous system for more than a short time.
I began to return to nature, spending mornings or afternoons in the forest simply observing the forest life. I laid on the ground for hours at a time, looking up at the sky. Nature began to slowly nurture me back to health again. I started to find a sense of the sacred once more, hidden in the wonders of the forest. Along the way I found help from a naturopath/nutritionist, acupuncturist and had a few sessions with a shaman. Slowly I began to find myself again.
Old emotions and experiences that had been dormant for years began to bubble up to the surface, forcing me to examine them. I started delving into my past, seeing what needed to be witnessed and understood…
A year into my recovery sleep and digestion had improved somewhat. My depression had lifted completely and a hunger for life and meaning stirred again in my belly.
Then I stumbled across the Four Winds Society, which offered an intensive hands-on six-month training to become a modern shaman. Here I could learn some of the healing techniques and philosophy that I had witnessed traditional healers do during my travels around the world. I enrolled and my transformation began.
As I learned various techniques for healing emotional imprints and past traumas, removing dense energies and retrieving lost soul parts, I practiced on my classmates and they practiced on me. Layer upon layer began to peel away as I shed the parts of my past that weighed me down. I began to understand the roots of certain patterns and fears.
I saw that I had spent the last 30 years of my life busily overcommitting to my work, community and friends as a coping mechanism – taking on much too much and thereby tying myself to a life of stress – to escape a pit of sadness that opened up when my parents divorced when I was 13. The dark pit only widened as life went on, stretched and expanded by life’s disappointments. I had spent my life trying to outrun the pit of darkness because I didn’t have the courage or the tools to turn and face it. Now I did.
I looked into the pit, little by little, extracting pieces and events that needed to be seen and finally felt. Each uncovered layer became a gift. I realized that every challenge I had lived would now help me help others, having carved out a deep well of compassion along with the pain. I know what children of divorce go through. I understand what it means to be in a relationship with an emotionally abusive partner, who gradually eats away at your self esteem and sense of reality to the point where he can physically abuse you (I thank my ex-husband from a marriage in my late 20’s for that). He also gave me the experience of the deep searing pain of intimate betrayals.
Living those difficult experiences has been a gift for my current marriage – to my true life partner – helping me love and appreciate him for the kind and solid soul he is and not take him for granted.
My transformation came through releasing the emotional imprints, feeling and letting go of the pain, and then finding the medicine in each experience. I see now that each boulder or dark pit we encounter in our lives has a greater purpose, honing and polishing us for what is to come.
I am still on my journey of healing and discovery, but my heart feels full knowing that I can now help others release anxiety, heal old wounds, emerge from depression or find sleep again – as I finally have. I can point the way to a path of deeper purpose and meaning in life, following some of the guideposts that helped me and offering the same shamanic techniques that transformed me.
The clairvoyance and connection with spirit that I had as a child and earlier in life has returned. I dream once again – inspiring, meaningful dreams. I live with a foot in this world and a foot in the world of spirit, which nurtures me and guides me.
Vision for the Future
I want to share and manifest a vision of a community of people united in our connection to nature, the cycles of the moon, the sun and the earth, and our support for one another as we journey through life. I seek to create natural, nourishing spaces where we can come together to deepen and share our reflections and insights. Each of our paths is rich and meaningful – we can uplift one another and learn from each other.