Western Wayne News Podcast
<a href="https://westernwaynenews.com/podcast-episodes/stacie-shepherd/">Stacie Shepherd</a>
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Long before she became an intuitive healer, Richmond native Stacie Shepherd was a little girl who sought to please her parents by becoming a basketball star. It was only after a devastating injury that she began to listen to her body and discover options that would finally lead her to a healthier place. When she sat down with Kate, she shared the many intimate and paradoxical details of her journey, and all the ways she has ultimately manifested as a healer — one who now applies her practical knowledge to help the community locally and beyond.

Transcript

Stacie Shepherd: I’m Stacie Shepherd, intuitive health coach and founder of Stacie Shepherd Health.

Kate Jetmore: From Civic Spark Media and the Western Wayne News in Wayne County, Indiana, I’m Kate Jetmore. As a native of Richmond, Indiana, I’m excited to be sitting down with some of our neighbors and listening to the stories that define our community.

My guest today is Stacie Shepherd, an intuitive health coach whose passion is to help people find their way. Stacie began learning how to heal the body and mind at an early age due to her tumultuous childhood, countless sports injuries and ongoing digestive complaints. In 2009, she stepped away from a career in public education to open a wellness center, offering massage, yoga workshops and other healing options, and ultimately founded Stacie Shepherd Health. She is also the creator of her own healing modality, Chakra Blueprint. Welcome, Stacie. Thanks for joining me on the show.

Stacie Shepherd: Thank you so much for having me.

Kate Jetmore: I’d love to start from the beginning, if that’s all right with you. It sounds like, from what I understand, your childhood was challenging but that it also taught you some key lessons that you could take forward into your life. What can you share with us about your story?

Stacie Shepherd: Sure. Yeah. I think that from an early age, there were a lot of ups and downs in my childhood. I don’t shy away from the fact that my father was abusive and he was an alcoholic. And I also like to interject, he’s long passed away, but he was also really a lot of wonderful things, and he was charismatic and funny, and he was an entrepreneur, and he taught me passion and drive. So I think that’s relevant because the lesson for me in all of that is that we’re human and we are the dark and the light and love can open us up to accept the darknesses in other people. It doesn’t mean condone or appreciate abuse or anything like that, but more like learn how to set boundaries, learn how to love someone from afar, learn to accept that all of us are hurting in some ways and there’s healing to be had in all of us.

So with my dad, obviously it took a lot of time, but I came around to that and it is instrumental in my healing practice and in my relationships to just be open to that, to understand that.

Kate Jetmore: Well, I’m really grateful to you for sharing such a private detail from your life because I think we all have those things that hide in the shadows from our past, and part of us feels like, “Well, I could never talk about that because it would be too hard for me.” But I also think there’s a voice in our heads that says, “I can never talk about that because other people wouldn’t want to hear it.” What do you think about that? Do you feel that way as well?

Stacie Shepherd: Yeah. Well, I think there could be a lot of shame, especially when you’re a young human. You can take a lot of that on. You don’t understand. You may blame yourself. It’s a very confusing, conflicting time and on top of being a teenager and all these other things, and so it can be difficult to know what to do with that emotion and with that information. But I think it also speaks to a gap in our education and in our awarenesses about what do we do with those difficult patterns and emotions and challenges in our lives when it’s detrimental to our health in the long run? And I think I’ve lived that example, which is what’s led me to a healing practice. What do we do with that and what do we do about it?

And so that’s the heart of where I began to connect with my own body and figure out what to do because the older I got, the more complicated things became. As a kid, you want to please your parents. You want to make people happy. You want to people please. You want to please your teachers. And so with my dad, he was pleased when I was successful in basketball and so I just became good at it. I think it’s earned me a lot of attention and accolades, but it was a survival mechanism.

It was two things for me actually. I could go to the local YMCA in Richmond every day, so it was an escape, and it was also a way for me to hone a skill and then make things a little easier at home. It seemed to smooth out some of the roughness and some of the edges, and so I just did that. I just got better.

Kate Jetmore: How interesting. That is such an interesting dynamic, and I think it’s interesting because it’s not one that maybe you hear that often, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a lot more common than we know.

Stacie Shepherd: I think so. I think that because there’s this natural desire for a child to want to please their parent, it’s probably much more than just a behavior or a physical activity. I think it could be chemical and all these other things. And so in our society, accomplishment is important, good grades and performing well and attending all these things and being scheduled. And so as a kid, you just take that on. You just take it on and you accept it and you try to work with it the best you can. And I think that underlying unspoken subconscious layer is, “I want to please. I want to make everybody happy. I want to be happy.”

And what happened for me, I can’t speak for everyone, but I do see it in sports especially, is I hung my self-worth on the string of my performance. So as long as I was performing, accomplishing, achieving, then life was good and I felt good about myself. But as we all know, life doesn’t go like that a hundred percent of the time. And especially in sports and performances, there’s ups and there’s downs, there’s wins, there’s losses, there’s good days, there’s bad days.

And so that is where the real conflict developed for me because I was performing for survival essentially. So I was pushing my body, not listening to it, not accepting when it was time to rest, not accepting when it was time to take a break. So I started having injury after injury, knee issues, ankle issues, joint issues, jammed fingers, exhaustion, all these things.

Kate Jetmore: And how old would you have been, Stacie, when that happened?

Stacie Shepherd: Probably 14 at the latest.

Kate Jetmore: Okay. Okay.

Stacie Shepherd: I don’t remember the first time. It was just part of it.

Kate Jetmore: Right.

Stacie Shepherd: And plus, when you’re young, you bounce back a little faster.

Kate Jetmore: Right. Right. And from what I understand it, there was a definitive injury, a knee injury that really changed things for you. Can you share a little bit about what that looked like and how it changed your life?

Stacie Shepherd: Yes, definitely. So my knee injury was devastating. I was 16 years old. I was in the pinnacle summer of recruitment for basketball, and I blew out my knee. And so it’s a very complicated thing when you’ve hung your survival, in your mind, you’ve hung your survival and your self-worth on such a fragile thing. And so it changed a lot of circumstances for me.

But the interesting part, I think, is that secretly, not very many people know this, I don’t even know if anyone that knew at the time would remember, but I wished for that to happen. I wished that I would blow out my knee. Literally, that’s what I wanted for myself, to blow out my knee, to relieve the pressure because I thought, “Who could blame you for that?” You get this injury. I really thought it out and then it happened two months later or something. So be careful what you wish for is one of the lessons, right?

Kate Jetmore: Right.

Stacie Shepherd: But also how powerful of a manifesting potential we have within ourselves when we set intention and have emotion behind it. That’s obviously a horrible example of something to manifest, but I was crying for help in wild ways. So I had this injury. And the more interesting part was my dad, he did not handle it well. I suspect that my basketball career was just as potent for him and his self-worth as it was for me, and he scolded me for being injured. It was just a really dysfunctional situation. But now, I had the confusion of, well, now I’ve got to fix this problem that’s happened. I’ve got to fix it because I no longer have that same semblance of control over my life.

And so I got hurt. I had a surgery within a month, and I was back in three months, which at the time, it was a year-long recovery, and I did it in three months because I was obsessed. I had to get back. But I just think it speaks to the nature of the mental, emotional aspects that were at play that I had no real understanding of.

Kate Jetmore: Right. Right. And one thing I hear you describing so vividly is that, yes, you did want to get out of that pattern, but then as soon as you were out of it, you wanted to just spring right back to it because that’s what felt familiar. That was something that was “working” for you, working in quotes. And I think that’s a very human reaction to want to go back to the familiar even when the familiar is not healthy as you’ve said.

Stacie Shepherd: That’s a really good observation. Hey, yeah, yeah. That’s a really good observation.

Kate Jetmore: I’d love to know what, as we’ve said, there were pros and cons to each of these situations, even the bad ones, so I’d love to know what doors opened for you as a result of this injury and the part of your life that came after the injury and what doors closed for you.

Stacie Shepherd: Yeah. Well, because the injury happened at such a pivotal time, I went from being this superstar with all these college prospects too that narrowed really … That window just got smaller and smaller. And when your self-worth again is hanging on such a thing, it’s pretty hard. It’s pretty hard to face, but it did. It worked out. I still went to college and I still had a very successful basketball career. But what the injury did, because I continued, I had injuries before that and I continued to have injuries after that, was I was slowly more and more starting to become aware of this communication in my body. I didn’t know what to necessarily do about it or what to do with it. There were impressions being made.

I remember the trainer’s name and everything at IU. I went into the training room after practice. My legs were killing me and I’m exhausted, and she did these pressure points on my legs, and I was like, “What was that? That was amazing. Do that again.” So every day, I was like, “Can you do that again?” But then I just figured out how to do it myself like, “Oh, all you have to do is press here.” There were little instances like that where I started to manage some of my pain and some of that with these natural modalities, and it just continued to open up for me. I was never connected to taking medicine or even after my knee surgery, I took myself immediately off the pain pills. I was sick. My body went through this whole thing, and I probably haven’t taken a pain pill since then. I was 16. So I just-

Kate Jetmore: When you say you were sick, are you talking about withdrawal from the pain pills or are you talking about something else?

Stacie Shepherd: I think it was that. It could have been. They told me the anesthesia could make you sick. And of course in the ’80s, I’m sure pain pills were like Tylenol. It was probably a totally different thing, but I just didn’t connect with that. It didn’t feel good for my body. That’s why I said, and I was in pain, but I was like, “No more, mom. No more. I’m not doing that.” And she’s like, “Are you sure?” And I was like, “I can’t.” And then I got sick. I just purged out whatever was left in me. I knew. It’s like my intuition was just poking through all the time. I didn’t always think those things through, but it is something that I’ve continued to grow into and it’s like the basis for my business now.

Kate Jetmore: Yeah. And you’ve given us a little peek from the vantage point of your past of what would come to be and who you would become, including, I don’t know if acupressure is part of your practice, but acupuncture, massage, a closer, more direct relationship with your body and helping other people obviously to heal in that way and in other ways. So if you don’t mind, I’d love to shift more into the present and talk about your practice. How has the practice of massage and acupuncture, for example, how has your practice evolved over time in the local community? Do people get it? Do they need help getting it? Talk me through that a little bit.

Stacie Shepherd: Yeah. Well, I left my teaching career and I was like, “I’m going to massage school.” I saw massage as a way to learn more about the body, and I knew I had something, and I also knew that I loved massage. At that point in my teaching career, I was getting massage once a week. I found it to be very soothing and helpful. So I went to school and then I opened a place, and it’s just been evolving ever since.

So I learned different modalities of massage. There’s numerous types of massage, and then I learned some energy work. I started having experiences when I would work on people. I would start feeling emotion and I had no … It would be strange like deep felt emotion, and I eventually connected that that was a shared energy space, and I could talk to people about their emotions if they were open to that. And then I thought the healing was even … It was very weird, and I didn’t have language for that, but there was this intuitive, energetic sharing of things that was very healing for me and for them. And so that’s how my sessions evolved and so then I just kept learning.

I’ve learned tai chi and yoga and qigong and then acupuncture, and I just want, of all of that, I think the message now that I most want to share with people is that we can be the experts of our own bodies and we really should be. And it’s really not that difficult or woo-woo or strange, but it does take a remembering or an education, if you will. And so that’s what I want to do. No matter what modality or what capacity I’m working with people, that’s what I want. When they walk away from me, I want them to be able to better care for themselves.

Kate Jetmore: That sounds like empowerment at work.

Stacie Shepherd: Yes.

Kate Jetmore: I want to go back for a moment to the energy work that you’re describing and that exchange on a very deep level of energy with your clients, and I’m envisioning you as a conduit. I don’t know if that’s a word that you would use, but I wonder, on a personal level, if you find it possible and healthy to give yourself over to that or do you have to create some boundaries so that you’re able to serve client after client, day after day?

Stacie Shepherd: Yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t know if you’ve heard the term empath. One day, a friend said to me, just in a casual conversation something like, “Well, because you’re an empath, blah, blah, blah.” And they just kept talking, but I heard nothing else because I was like, “Empath.” It hit me so hard, but I had never heard the word as far as I’m aware. So I went home and of course, Googled that and tried to figure out what is an empath? It’s when a person is aware and sensitive to other people’s emotions and thoughts and feelings as if you can feel them just as if they are your own, and it can be very confusing. It’s like if you watch the news, you can feel the pain and suffering in these kinds of things. And I think a lot of us experience that, especially with media and different types of outlets like that.

So I just realized, “Whoa, that’s amazing.” But I did realize also I had to learn how to set boundaries and start discerning, what is mine and what is theirs? Maybe it’s all ours together, but in order for me to provide a healthy, safe healing space, I have to be able to uphold those boundaries so that it doesn’t wear me out and they have a safe space to heal and change if they so choose.

Kate Jetmore: It sounds to me like one of your tasks as a coach is to hold that space for your clients so that they can do their exploring and growing within that space.

Stacie Shepherd: Yeah. I think it’s important, and it may be in all reality … I just got back from Belize and I had taken a group there, and I realized at some point, I’m just the holder of this space. Everything else is unfolding and taking care of itself. And I just rethought my whole career like, “Okay, maybe that’s the gift,” is that I can just hold a safe space for people and they go on their journey, whatever that looks like and wherever they are. So that actually relieved me of a lot of pressure and it felt like, “Oh yeah, I can do that.”

Kate Jetmore: Oh, wow, that’s so exciting to hear that. I think you and I are a similar age, so we’ve been at it for a while, and to have a light bulb moment like that and also to be at a point in your life when you don’t feel threatened by that light bulb moment. I can pivot. I can shift. I can see things with new eyes. And actually on that point, I wanted to ask you where you are headed, what trends are you seeing in the community when it comes to what people need from you, what you might be offering, and where you think your practice might be headed?

Stacie Shepherd: Yeah. Well, I just mentioned Belize. So since 2013, I’ve been going to Belize for retreat, and I went in 2013 as a participant on a retreat and it completely changed my life. I’m like, “I’ve got to take people here.” I just called it a yoga retreat and people would sign up and we would go. And over the years, that just continued to develop, but I realized again this last time, it’s another type of container. And one of the best ways I think maybe for Americans, especially since we are so busy and so scheduled and so high achieving and go-getters and all this, and I’m sure it’s like that in other places, I just speak to what I know. The best way to let all that go is to immerse in a retreat like the one that I do in Belize because again, I’m just holding the space. Belize, the jungle, the wonderful people that are there, if you open up to it, you have that experience of what real health and real parasympathetic response, real relaxation, real at ease. You’re not scheduled. You’re not tense. Your words start to leave you. You’re not thinking and running over and over in your mind.

I’ve never been able to replicate that as well as when I go on retreat. So that is now a high priority in my business, to go back there, not just once a year but maybe every quarter, take people. If not, I still need to go myself because of how it just helps me recalibrate and rejuvenate and all of those things. And then I’m a better human going through life as well.

Kate Jetmore: Yeah.

Stacie Shepherd: So Belize is way at the top because again, it’s the immersion. But also, I currently am doing my acupuncture practice and I do health coaching where I use my modality, Chakra Blueprint, and these very principles we’ve been talking about, I try to bring people into more awareness on their journey and give them very practical things to do to recalibrate their energy in this environment, in this world on a daily basis and guide them. Try to help them meet their health goals wherever they are. That’s the primary focus of my day-to-day practice.

I’m going to start a healing circle very soon, which would be a lot like a one-hour session of stretching, tai chi. I’ve learned so many different modalities. I don’t want to just teach a yoga class or a tai chi class or a qigong class, but whatever the group needs in that moment, that’s why I’m calling it a healing circle. So yeah, those are the big things.

Kate Jetmore: I love hearing that practical voice from you because obviously, Belize, sign me up, we all want to go on retreat. We all want to be near the rainforest, and we all want to relax. And we do live in Western society and we do have things on our schedule and so to hear you say, “And here’s what I offer within the community that you can fit into your real life that can also benefit you,” I can imagine people being really excited about both of those options.

Stacie Shepherd: Yeah. Well, the thing about me is I’m super practical. So it’s a very interesting paradox to be highly intuitive and in touch with energy and all this invisible world and to be so practical. So if you come to me, and I’m very knowledgeable about the universe and universal law and chakras and meridians and all these groovy things, but if you come to me and you’ve never heard of such things and I can’t communicate to you what needs to happen or things that you can do in a way that you can understand, it’s a lost cause. I’m very practical.

And also, I do know my audience, and sometimes I push the edge a little bit because I like to plant some seeds or offer some ideas. You can pick. There’s always a multiple choices here-

Kate Jetmore: Right, right.

Stacie Shepherd: … and that’s the fun of it because I get to be very creative with that, and I love to communicate and express myself. So it’s fun for me to be able to offer these different languages, so to speak.

Kate Jetmore: Well, I’ve loved talking with you today and you’ve certainly done a great job of painting a picture of what you do and how you got here. And I want to thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I want to wish you all the best.

Stacie Shepherd: Thank you so much. I enjoyed it as well. I appreciate it.

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