By Jennifer Carson
This article was fist published in the Crazy Wisdom Community Journal, Issue #74. Read issue #74 here.
While Ann Arbor may be the center of holistic living in southeastern Michigan, the wave of conscious living has rolled across the state. A major area of growth for conscious living practitioners and educators can be found in the heart of Lenawee County. Just a short journey south and west of Ann Arbor you can visit the quaint town of Tecumseh with its many antique and fine gift shops. A little farther south and you’ll find the historic downtown of Adrian, which has been going through a time of redevelopment. Both towns, and many more surrounding them, are finding new growth, development, and interest in holistic living.
Not Just Another New Age Store—Ghidrah’s Mind Body Spirit
Just across from the historic Croswell Opera House in Adrian you’ll find Ghidrah’s Mind Body Spirit. Step inside and feel your mind and heart instantly expand. The three women who own this business in beautiful downtown Adrian have created a welcoming space to explore spiritual practices, healing modalities, and holistic living.
Ghidrah’s is not a typical new age retail shop though. In the back of the spacious building is a yoga studio, with weekly classes nearly every day of the week, and two comfortable spaces for gathering and sharing ideas. The philosophy behind the store, to connect all through the web of life and the web of light, and to nourish the global spiritual awakening humanity is experiencing, is evident in the products they carry and the events they offer.
In 2014, Paula Burke, the original owner of Ghidrah’s, decided that she wanted to open a wellness store, but Spirit steered her toward expanding her idea to include spiritual wellness as well as physical wellness and nutrition. Burke is described as the momma bear of the shop. She loves faeries, long road trips, and picnics, and is full of green earth magic. Originally opening in Brooklyn, Michigan, Burke, realizing she needed to bring on partners to grow her business to the next level, moved Ghidrah’s to Adrian and brought on two partners, Tara Coumoundouros, and Austeen Freeman, who were just as passionate about holistic health and spiritual awakening.
Coumoundouros is a pharmacist who decided to follow her soul’s true path toward the mystic ways after crashing and burning in “Mass Retail America.” Ghidrah’s seemed like a natural fit for her because it reminded her of a store in her hometown of Meadville, Pennsylvania. She felt at home the instant she came through the doors, like a moth to a flame. Coumoundouros knew that she needed to use her intuition, healing, and psychic abilities, and to inhabit a space that helped others do the same in order to live her most joyful life.
Freeman’s call to wonder began in massage school when she experienced crystal healing, Tai Chi, and Reiki for the first time. When she came to Adrian to return to school to finish her Athletic Training Masters Degree, Freeman was instantly drawn to the store. She began teaching yoga classes and was eventually asked to come on as a partner.
In addition to yoga classes and the retail shop, Ghidrah’s also offers appointments with holistic practitioners. They offer sessions with massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, shamanic healing, psychic and Tarot readings, Goddess Rising workshops, and they have an Amethyst BioMat™ bed. There are also two psychic fairs a year, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Adrian has been very welcoming to this new age retail store, and Burke, Coumoundouros, and Freeman recognize the fact that the next generation is looking for alternative spiritualism. “The spiritualism aspect of the store was new to the area,” Coumoundouros said, “but holistic health was not.”
The three women are currently working on the curriculum for a new school of yoga called the Mystic Ways School of Yoga. They are hoping to have this program ready in the spring of 2020. The 200-hour teacher training program will focus on a blend of circle work, feminine divine practice and theory, body awareness and movement, physical and energetic alignment, and establishing trust in self.
Visit Ghidrah’s at 120 East Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221 or visit them online at www.ghidrahs.com. The store is open from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, open until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. You can reach them by phone at (517) 260-0116. Follow them on Facebook for events announcements @GhidrahsMindBodySpirit.
Heart of the Journey Healing
For Michelle McLemore, wellness all comes down to stress management. An English and Psychology teacher in Onsted for over 25 years, she became interested in energy healing after being approached by a student needing guidance. As fate would have it, while looking for some information for the student, she picked up a book by Elaine Grohman called The Angels and Me: Experiences of Receiving and Sharing Divine Communications. This book opened her eyes to a new way of seeing the world.
Shortly after being introduced to healing energy McLemore discovered a Level 1 workshop for Healing Touch. The class was affordable, close to home, and her husband was scheduled to be out of town—it seemed that the stars had aligned. After taking the Level 1 workshop she was hooked and continued her training. In the last ten years she has been trained in Reiki (through Level 3), and Sacred Geometry, as well as apprenticing with an RN for a year to earn her Healing Touch Level 5 certification. She is now a fully certified Healing Touch Practitioner through the American Holistic Nurses Association.
McLemore blends Sacred Geometry, Healing Touch, dream analysis, and other modalities to help clients make changes in their daily life. Some of the services she provides during a session include: setting goals, resolving current issues, and teaching preventative strategies and maintenance. “The heart of the journey is about balancing physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional energies. Many people think one is more important than another, but that is not the case,” McLemore said. “I want to help my clients find ways to bring balance in order to create more joy in their lives.” Her goal is to teach clients how to take care of themselves so that they can become self-reliant. And she is starting to bring these lessons to her high school students as well.
McLemore developed the curriculum for a Psychoneuroimmunology class and teaches it at Onsted high school. This class is the first of its kind in any public high school in the United States, and at its core, it is a stress management class. The students study how stress affects the brain and body and how that stress works on breaking down the mind/body. She also teaches them forty different
stress management techniques. Some of these techniques include connecting to the universal healing energies and trusting in our innate human abilities. She takes a blind poll at the beginning of the semester, asking her students if they have ever thought they were able to hear, see, or feel something that felt instinctive. Something that didn’t feel tied to the physical world. Most of the students have had this kind of experience, but are surprised that they aren’t in the minority—that it is normal. McLemore stresses to her students that this is how they’ve been built, then asks them, “So, what are you going to do with it?”
To learn more about Michelle McLemore you can follow her on Facebook @MichelleMcLemoreHealingGuide or on Twitter @HeartofJourney. She is also listed on the Healing Beyond Borders website practitioner directory. Contact her by email at email@example.com or by phone at (517) 270-0986.
A Journey to Shamanic Practice
Marj Tursak had spent 32 years in the Evangelical church. As a young woman she moved away from the church and developed an interest in Buddhism. Then one day she picked up a book about shamanism. She had grown up on a rural Michigan farm and spent a lot of time in the woods, so the animistic nature of Shamanism really clicked, but then she put it down as she focused on earning her Masters of Counseling at Sienna Heights and entered the workforce.
Years later, Tursak was a clinical supervisor at a large treatment facility. She was good at teaching others how to manage their stress levels, but terrible at taking care of herself. She thought if she just worked harder, faster, longer, everything would work out. She was surviving on caffeine and sugar, and her inflammation levels were off the charts. She was responsible for too much and too many, and it was taking a major toll on her health.
She consulted many health care professionals with no luck in finding a cure for what ailed her until she found a holistic doctor in Ann Arbor. Nearing death’s door, that doctor prescribed a shaman. Tursak talked with many of her colleagues and searched for just the right fit. She finally happened upon Kate Durda at Spirit Weavers. Tursak felt like she had met Durda somewhere and was really drawn to her, though she discovered later that they had never met. When a co-worker brought up Durda’s name in conversation, Tursak felt it was a good sign.
After consulting with Durda about her illness, Durda convinced her that she needed to take an intro to shamanism course, and she was reintroduced to the philosophy that had made so much sense to her as a younger woman. She began her training in 2007 and now runs a small private counseling practice at Peace Massage and Wellness in Adrian as well as running workshops at Gidhrah’s. She believes that shamanism is “a way that we can work in the scary situation we find ourselves and our world in right now.”
Besides being a shamanic practitioner Tursak has been trained in many other healing modalities including: rattle healing, cedar healing, soul retrieval, compassionate depossession, extraction, and house clearing. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (517) 448-0060.
Putting Heart & Soul in Education
Caryn Sieler and Valorie Veld
Just a few doors down from Ghidrah’s is the Creative Arts Academy preschool/kindergarten located at Lenawee’s Heart & Soul Children’s Art and Music Studio. Play-based learning may look like a bunch of children frolicking, but it’s really hard work! For Caryn Sieler and Valorie Veld, art and music are the heart and soul of education. Everything in the classroom has a purpose, and as students play, they are developing life skills, building fine motor dexterity, and laying a strong academic foundation. The Creative Arts Academy, based on the philosophy and methods of Montessori, is a play-based school for children ages three to six offered in the heart of historic downtown Adrian.
“Music learning supports all learning,” said Sieler, and she sees proof of that every day. She observes children making connections between the songs they learn and the experiences they have both in and out of the classroom. A particular song the children learned about rain “drip-dropping” translated for one child at the art table as the paper mache he was creating with dripped from his fingers. “He started singing the ’drip-drop’ song, and soon all the other children at the table joined in. It was amazing to witness,” said Sieler.
At the Academy, the day opens with a song that makes everyone feel at ease and included. Every day is designed with an emphasis on creative learning enhanced by art, music, creative movement, and open studio independent work time. The environment is carefully prepared to naturally support and promote cognitive, emotional, physical, and social growth including early literacy and numeracy connections, fine and gross motor development, problem solving skills, and more. In addition, head teacher Valorie Veld models lessons in Grace and Courtesy as well as providing monthly “heart” work. Veld feels that modeling empathy, mindfulness, kindness, and consideration for others is just as important as encouraging the development of academic skills they will need when they enter elementary school.
While the Academy, which uses the Music Together In School curriculum, focuses on preschool and kindergarten aged children by offering a three-day preschool/kindergarten program, the parent/child Music Together offering by Sieler is open to children and their caregivers from birth to age five. Lenawee’s Heart & Soul Children’s Art and Music Studio also offers Sensory Studio play times led by Veld once a month for children 18 months to seven years of age and Play Dough Parties for ages three to five. For the six to ten-year-old age group Valorie offers ART 610, a three-week session of drawing and painting classes, and summer camps and parties.
To learn more about the Creative Arts Academy, Music Together classes, Sensory Studio hours, or other class and camp offerings visit their website at lenaweesheartandsoul.com, join their mailing list, or give them a call at (517)605-0143 or (517) 920-5887.