I recently had the opportunity to interview a wonderful story teller, Jennie Sherwin. Her book Intentional Healing: One Woman’s Path to Higher Consciousness and Freedom from Environmental and Other Chronic Illnesses is a story of transformation and hope. It is a beautifully written account of her battle with Environmental Illness and her path to recovery – a surprising path of turning within to heal her illness and her life.
DT: I am so happy to have this chance to talk with you. I read your book and I was enthralled. I love the way you brought us along on your journey towards healing. Most of my readers are on a journey of their own. They may not be suffering from Environmental Illness but they are on a journey of finding their purpose. They are interested in getting rid of the shoulds of life and stepping into this world of higher consciousness. I’d love for you to take us through your journey of becoming “more than”. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with environmental illness and why you decided to write this particular book?
JS: First of all, let me tell you that one of the things that I have learned is that each of us is on a journey. Those journeys are so individual: some journeys include illness, many of our journeys include heart break and disappointment, but they also include great joy. Each of us is trying to find our place in life, in the world, in the universe. Life is a journey of discovery and I consider myself no different from any other person on the face of the earth, except that my journey took me to a place I could never have imagined. What I once considered a terrible disability has turned into one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
DT: That’s always so amazing to me – that what we consider a hardship turns into one of life’s most precious gifts.
JS: Yes! From tragedy come so many gifts such as finding out how resourceful you are and how much courage you have.
Long before I heard the term environmental illness, long before I knew that there were many things in my environment that could hurt me, I experienced one chronic illness after another. I never thought for a moment that anything in my environment could be causing my illnesses. It was not until the defining event of a pesticide release in our home and the consequences of my physical reactions to those chemicals that we found a link between my physical environment and the bizarre symptoms I was experiencing.
I was married to a physician, living in a research community, with a background in public health, yet everyone, including myself, was puzzled. It wasn’t until we consulted an attorney about what our options might be, that we found a name for what I was experiencing. As we were talking, the attorney said something like, “Well you know, my former law school roommate’s wife was poisoned by pesticides. Let me call her… because she got better!”
JS: Yes! So the law school roommate’s wife called me and she told me about this doctor in New York. I made an appointment with the doctor in New York and he referred me to Dr. William J. Rea, founder and director of the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Texas. I explain in the book about how I went down to Dallas and found excellent care and treatment. I began to understand what I was dealing with. The interesting thing was that as I went through this treatment at Dr. Rea’s clinic, the illnesses that I had been diagnosed with throughout my life began to disappear! Doctors are now linking the level of chemicals in our environment to some of these debilitating and ubiquitous illnesses such as fibromyalgia.
(DT: A very thorough account of Jennie’s bout with environmental illness and her treatment at the Dallas clinic is covered in her book. I found it fascinating, very informative and helpful for those readers who might want to delve further into physically healing from environmental illness. For this particular interview though, I wanted to concentrate on Jennie’s alternative healing treatments and the effect those treatments had in helping her find her higher life’s purpose.)
DT: You were referred to some different energy healing specialists while you were in living in Dallas for treatment. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
JS: After I developed a sensitivity to electromagnetic fields (a common occurrence in patients dealing with Environmental Illness), I was referred to Deborah Singleton and “her healing team” at A Healing Place for further therapies.
DT: (laughs) Can you tell us what you thought when you heard that Deborah’s team dealt in “alternative therapies and energy awareness”.
JS: Had my logical mind taken over, I would never have gone to that first appointment because I was working in and surrounded by researchers. All logically driven, all data driven, from evidence received in randomized clinical trials. When I heard the word “energy”, I immediately thought of the Twilight Zone!
DT: (laughs out loud)
JS: I was desperate! I couldn’t use the telephone because of my electromagnetic sensitivities nor turn on a light switch. I couldn’t be in a room with the TV playing. Think of how that would be. I couldn’t talk with my husband on the phone for over a couple of minutes at a time because I nearly screamed in pain because electricity was coursing through my nervous system and it hurt!!
And so the lucky thing for me was to have a clearly supportive husband. He wanted me to try whatever therapy I thought would help. We went to our first appointment with this energy healer and as they say, first impressions are important. When I first met Deborah she was dressed professionally, in a jacket, dress and heels, and I talk about this in my book, because it made a difference in how I received the information she had for me.
DT: I understand that totally. She was normal looking, she wasn’t a woo-woo looking person.
JS: Yes, and that was important because if she had looked like she had just stepped out of the movie Hair, I might not have heard a word she said. We sat there, we talked, she asked one question after another, and she made me feel very comfortable. I immediately became open to what she had to say. As I’m sure you know, and what I know now myself, that it wasn’t an accident that I was sent to that type of a person. It was planned so that I would follow my path in this lifetime. We all have a mission, and as I’ve said many times, my life changed after I met her. I look at the world differently now. I look at illness in a completely different way. She was the first person to teach me how energy flows in my body. She and her team taught me to use energy balancing approaches that I use, and will use, the rest of my life, to keep myself in balance on many levels. She helped me understand my energetic connection to everyone and everything on the earth. I just experience life differently now.
She never told me to do certain things, she would ask, she would suggest, but it was always up to me on whether I followed through on her suggestions. Once I asked her what I could do to help myself get better and she said, “You could meditate”. I really didn’t know what that meant, so she had to tell me what that was and how to do it!
DT: laughs again out loud and giggles and says, “I get that!” It sounds to me as if Deborah came from a completely neutral and non-attached space while still being in empathy. It sounds like there are no “shoulds” in her vocabulary.
JS: You are entirely right, Della. When I decided to return to A Healing Place to train under Deborah, after I got well, that was one of the things that was emphasized in our training as practitioners. Being in a neutral space during a session. We had lots of discussion and meditation around that very point so that during our healing sessions we didn’t really “do” anything. Instead, we held ourselves in a space of love and healing and neutrality to support the energy system of the person who had come for a healing. And that person really orchestrated the healing and directed it themselves.
DT: That is such an essential point. Each person is responsible for their own healing. The healing team is there to expedite, guide and encourage, but healing happens within your own psyche, your own aura, your own system and it can’t be forced onto you.
JS: No, it cannot be forced at all.
DT: That is such an interesting awareness. We all want to help our friends heal, we all want to make our friends better, we want to tell them something that will help, but it sounds like it’s more meeting a person where they are, validating them for exactly where they are right now,
JS: That’s right. Another part of what Deborah asked me to do right from the start is to be “present”. Of course I didn’t know what that meant either! But she recommended some wonderful books to me as we started out together – the books of Eckhart Tolle, Barbara Brennan and Donna Eden. That’s when I began to understand about energy awareness and staying in the now. But really it’s only when you experience it yourself that you really fully comprehend it. You can read forever about how the body has an aura, energy bodies, and energy flows, but the first time you actually experience energy moving is an absolute Eureka moment.
DT: Yes it is such an awe-filled experience! I actually cried the first time I felt energy move. I was so in touch with the feeling of “Wow, this is real. It’s not made up at all!” It’s a very experiential type of situation.
JS: Exactly. First I have to say that Deborah was so crucial to my opening to Spirit. I know Spirit gives us several paths that we may walk down.
DT: Let’s explore that a little bit more. You have a very expressive title to your book. Intentional Healing. Help us understand how you chose that title.
JS: It was a journey. When I think about all Deborah taught me, the discussions we had, how she coached me, the title is reflective of that. When we first met and I would ask her how to do something, what she told me is this, “First you set the intention of something.” I had grown up in the Catholic Church and I had heard over and over that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I repeated that to her and I said to her, “What do you mean set an intention?” She said, “When you are in meditation, you set an intention for your Higher Self to do something and if it helps you say your intention out loud, then see what happens”.
I remember being in meditation and setting the intention to be more aware of my emotions in each moment. Every time this particular emotional pattern comes up, I wanted to be aware of it. Then I just let it go. I finished my meditation and waited for that particular situation and emotion to show itself. And then it happened! I remember being in a situation and all of a sudden tuning in to the awareness of the situation. This helped me become aware of a pattern that I had been locked in. I thought to myself, “Wow! This is really powerful!” Every occasion when I wanted to make more progress in a certain area, I would sit in meditation and set the intention, I want to be more aware of such and such, and it happened over and over.
DT: Yes, so true. It’s intention and awareness. It’s a process to start to catch ourselves, to bring ourselves back to the center of our head, to become aware exactly at the moment that we are in that pattern we want to break. To be present and conscious of what we want to break – and then it happens. We find ourselves outside of the pattern. We are no longer locked in to an unconscious mind set.
JS: That’s something I’ve been writing about over the past year. I’ve started to write about breathing and grounding and becoming our own Observer. It’s interesting how things fall into place. I’m writing and blogging for Conscious Life News. I write about healing, consciousness, personal societal global transformation.
DT: I want to wrap up by asking you about your next steps. What are you going to do next? Where are you going to go on this journey called life?
JS: Spirit took my and husband and me in a totally different direction than I had thought. We were called back to the East Coast on an emergency call from family. We had thought we would stay in Dallas where I was training under Deborah with the intent to work at A Healing Place as one of her healers. But Spirit has taken us in a completely different direction. We came to Baltimore not thinking we would stay for long, but now it just feels right to plant ourselves here for a while. We are living in the moment. I am writing, I am happy, my family is here. Be in the moment and follow your heart, as they say.
JS: As we close, I want to add that one of the things I’ve learned about illness is that as we heal ourselves, we go through layer after layer after layer. We may be clearing ourselves of many illnesses
DT: over many lifetimes
JS: Exactly right. And so I think I would not have used the word Freedom in the subtitle because the layers of illnesses come forward periodically and certainly under stress new layers come forward. I would have emphasized that point and explained it even more.
DT: But Jennie, that’s your next book! You write so well and you have some much of a journey left to explore that it would be fun to take the next step with you and follow you further on this journey we call life.
JS: Well, I thank you for being the reader you are. You really understood so much of the message that I wanted to impart to people. Yes, I do intend to explore that in my writings on Conscious Life News. But I am getting ready to write another book on Barboncito. (DT: you’ll have to read Jennie’s book to get the full scoop on this amazing Native American legend)
DT: Wow! That’s a whole other interview that I can’t wait to have with you. Thank you so much for writing your book. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time. Thank you.
JS: Thank you so much.