By Kathleen “Kat” Kohler Schwartz
I am a Holistic Mentor who provides a comprehensive service in the St. Louis metro area, which includes mentorship, aromatherapy, and energy work (relaxation). My vast personal and professional experience lends itself the wisdom to assist others of the same or similar experiences, who may need the tools to find the inner wisdom it takes to be resilient through these difficult times: While my primary focus is parents of chronically ill children, it is not limited. As you can see below my experience can help others, as well. I am not a perfect human being, as no one is, but by offering my life experiences I hope to help others with a sense of leadership and responsibility for their welfare.
I am the oldest of 6 children, mother of a Cystic Fibrosis adult, former military wife, remarried for 23 years, and experienced the loss of an infant, spouse infidelity, spousal abuse, single parenting 3 children, job loss, workplace discrimination, and re-inventing myself to go beyond resilience to help others. Despite my life challenges, I was able to find moments for personal growth in leading others in my management positions in the workplace and helping others in the community through energy work and aromatherapy. I found peace in helping others and becoming a supportive advocate, when needed.
This peace lead me to a journey, when I lost my corporate job in 2014. I was 56 years old and worked for over 30 years as a manager in the healthcare services industry, ranging from home care to environmental services. I lobbied for the safety of our elderly and advocated for their independence in the home. I participated in writing legislative bills to protect the freedom to choose healthcare providers. I helped countless hospitals streamline waste stream protocols for compliance and minimize cost. in June 2014, all the work as I had come to love, came to a screeching halt. After serving for 11 years at a major corporation, which I highly respect to this day I was informed that it was a business decision. Afterall, my territory was 13 states wide with over 600 accounts ,seven supervisors, one manager and about one hundred service technicians. The company decided it was time to divide and re-assign to existing territories. The day I had to inform my Supervisors and Manager, there was shock, defiance, threats of quitting, crying – all the emotions that come with such an announcement to a team that worked together like a well-oiled machine. They all survived. We had learned resiliency together.
I understood the decision. I mourned my loss for 6 months, even among the hundreds of job applications I sent out.
In my desperation to re-create a sizable income (I was the primary wage earner, I grasped at every opportunity to find a job. I knew people in high places and still could not get what I needed. Then it hit me.
One day, I sat in my home office in the state of exhaustion. I fell silent. I stopped fighting, stopped being desperate, settled my mind. I returned to my learned resilience that kept me burning at 80-90 hours per week in my work. I stopped everything I was doing and sat in complete solitude. I listened to my breath, inhaling deep and long, exhaling longer. I had forgotten….that I was human. I listened, again. I felt a lull that was once familiar. It was peace returning to my soul. The peace that brought me the to realization that I will survive…again. I greeted peace like an old friend come to visit. She was sweet and receptive to whatever I needed to release. Breathed in again…releasing. After what felt like hours, I felt my feet become solid on the floor as I sat in my office chair. With closed eyes, a light seemed to return to my inner core. It was soft, warm and inviting. I smiled. It was on this day that I accepted that I am not just a working “machine,” but an individual soul with feelings and hopes to bear witness on peace for others in the same situation. This was my new day of many that I had experienced in my past.
As I networked to meet people, I found the most interesting stories just like mine, or worse. They were business owners who possessed the same resilience as me. I wasn’t alone on this journey! At the most unsuspecting moment, I was introduced to a man who had surpassed all odds of living beyond his life expectancy and thrived on the challenges for his continuous springboard to survival and resilience.
Michael P. Burke introduced himself to me at one of his keynote speeches at a monthly networking event, called Self-Employed St. Louis. We had a connection on Facebook by my sister, Ann Marie, but never met in person. I walked into the meeting and heard this loud, happy voice, “Kathy! We finally meet!!” I turned around and it was Mike, arms open wide and a smile from ear to ear. I hugged him with great respect, as he was truly the picture of resilience in its highest form. The type of resilience I saw in my son, who also had Cystic Fibrosis and still fighting the same challenge to stay alive at 35 years old. Mike was 45 years old, one of the oldest living adults with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Springing forward about 2 weeks, we agreed to meet and share some of our challenges with CF and I wanted to reach out to him for his coaching and speaking advice.
I met with Mike in his office and he shared his life story with me. I was so captivated by his ability to get through anything, even given his great challenges to trick CF into thinking he was not going to succumb to its shortcomings as a life-threatening disease. I told him part of my story and he seemed just as enthused, which surprised me as I was deeply humbled by his story. He asked me a few questions about what I wanted to do in life. My response was to “just help people.”
1 week later, I was introduced to Mike’s boss, Jeff Arthur, founder of Excalibur Coaching Institute. Jeff was a jovial man, easy to speak with, and seemed genuinely interested in people. He asked me a series of questions that led me to my soul’s purpose. I knew it all along: to help others It had been a burning desire since my childhood, when I wanted to become a missionary. I clung to the idea until my teen years, when I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I gave up on the idea, but always found ways to help other people, whether at work or in the community.
Jeff encouraged me to “go for it.” I was overwhelmed. Where do I start? Jeff said that Mike would guide me from here and after three sessions, his work was done. I asked how i could repay him, as I had no money left in my bank account. He said, “Just help Mike.” I was floored at his response. He said it with such grace and power! I have to say that I shed a tear or two that day. Someone believed in me at my darkest hour! I thank God for Mike Burke and Jeff Arthur who came into my life at the right moment, all because I surrendered myself to peace in my soul.
Today, I provide mentoring to those who desire personal growth or wish just to find peace in their life during difficult times. I am their conduit to healing their pain, finding wisdom or just seeking someone to talk with. The client is given a choice of a seated discussion or lying on a massage table. Either style they choose is met with utmost respect, love and creating a sacred space for finding understanding and freedom.
From time to time, in my blogs, I will describe a mentoring session with me, but each one is different. I use an intuitive approach to helping one dig deep into the core of their challenge. With aromatherapy and energy work (if the client so chooses), the enhancement helps us navigate the journey together and release any barriers to growth.
For those busy folks, I provide phone mentoring sessions. No traffic, no finding a parking spot!
Thank you for reading my story. I hope to meet you and learn about yours.
Schedule a consultation to learn more.
Call for Appointment: 314-359-2467
Salt of the Earth Holistic Wellness, LLC
Other experience: musician, aromatherapist, gardener, writer, fibromyalgia, GI issues, eldercare, insurance claims, interfaith experience, Cystic Fibrosis care/parenting, networking, meditation, energy work