Susan Seddon Boulet
Years ago I read the book Bless Me Ultima, then later proceeded on to the Dan Millman books (did I spell that right) and of course a healthy sprinkle of Carlos Castaneda. Mixed with living in pine trees, climbing copper canyons, experiencing the flight of a red tail hawk, you know.. all the stuff college age people do. I was accepted to a costly yet reputable medical university after graduating high school but chose to move to Arizona to be near my terminally ill father. During that time I watched the progression of death gray out his life until he literally became ash in the wind in the Sedona area of Cathedral Rock. A late teen daughter being the primary caregiver for a terminally ill man who was always her solid foundation made me grow up fast and learn how to be resilient. Almost. My father was strict with me but always told me “use your judgement” allowing me to fall down so that I could learn to fly.
I moved to Flagstaff to go to Northern Arizona University. I had no money, no plan other than some thoughts about majoring in pharmacy. College was a tough bliss.. I loved reading the books assigned by the professors, I loved writing, I loved connecting with the friends I made. And I loved learning about life and death through various vehicles. It was an eye opening time but reminiscing back, it’s more of just remembering what the soul already knows. Heavy with classes in psychology, Jungian dream analysis, deviant sociology, philosophy, origins of religion ..yes I loved the science classes too but felt I could WRITE and live a thousand lives in each of those classes. One student may see those classes as prerequisites , others may see them as a doorway to more.
I’ve always been a soul searcher, or vision quester. I don’t readily accept what is told to me by the Hierophant or that there is one universal set way of doing things. I recognize the archetypal symbols of Jung but also formed my own through past lives, dreams, future parallels. Each soul is unique like a fingerprint. Our practices will vary. I went to a few church gatherings and it didn’t feel right. I’ve been part of pagan circles and other ceremonial practices but didn’t feel the need for the structure.
The path spirals and my mind was processing quickly and going out on tangents that could be considered other dimensional. I could not sit here and cite code or talk coherently about quantum physics but “I get it.”
The beauty of life, and a freedom that I discovered that I could in fact fly unrestricted from my father’s discipline , I remember those as the happiest times of my life.
At some point I switched majors to nursing. I had soaked up enough reading and writing for the time being and needed to finish school to manifest the next stage of freedom.. income . Nursing was not a far stretch from my original desire to be a physician, it was a shorter path without heavy school loans and years of extensive study.
Living near the reservations in Northern Arizona, I was deeply drawn to the Native American cultural practices in the area, mostly Navajo and Hopi. My early work as a nurse assistant made me very culturally aware of how other people see healing, and death. I remember a colleague nurse being reprimanded by a supervisor because she had cleaned the room of a deceased Navajo woman and had unknowingly tossed out the juniper bead necklace. I maintained my studies in western medicine but leaned more towards the alternative healing that was prevalent in Flagstaff, Sedona, and other areas.
It occurred to me that a great pathway would be to earn the western medicine nursing degree/license but also study along with the Native healers. Medicine women, curanderas, naturopathics, botanists. I had a growing knowledge of the plants and herbs native to our Arizona area and how the Navajo used them for healing. I was enthralled. I envisioned a job where I would travel by covered jeep out in the remote areas of the reservations to assist with medical care, with the forefront mission of being within THEIR culture and honoring THEIR healing . Blending. I adapted willingly and loved it. I read about their history and symbols.
Life forked however, and I moved to Phoenix to complete the nursing school program. I’ve never really embraced Phoenix as anything other than a means to an end, a slow hot one but I got the job done and no sooner did I graduate with that license, and headed to Colorado. A bigger Flagstaff. I had not forgotten my thoughts of being a nurse healer on the reservations ..or the dreams about traveling to other countries and hanging with tribes way in the outback to learn their healing methods too. It was a parallel life I may return to next time around.
I have no regrets about not choosing that path and I enjoyed the time in Colorado. I was fortunate to achieve the american dream at an early age.. beautiful log cabin home in the woods (elevation 8500 ft) , a perfect son, an excellent husband who never once raised his voice to me though I did give him reason to, a cat and dog, enough security for us to be comfortable.
I was working in hospice care , we sometimes gravitate towards work where we feel we have had personal experience. I knew what it felt like to live with a loved one with terminal illness. I knew the range of feelings. It’s like having a nurse who has gone through childbirth as your nurse when you deliver your own child. It helps when someone has been in those shoes.
And so hospice care resonated with me. I believed in the philosophy and patiently helped others understand palliative care. My own experience with death didn’t make me a better nurse. It did assist with empathy. I do believe those who are of best assistance to others have experienced something similar.
This is to be continued.. because many things are coming into play and to describe them would open a new topic. Let this stand as a preface .. ethnobotany, naturopathic healing, hospice, and I’ll toss out one tiny bit here .. assisting others with “mental disorders.” In a holistic manner. Enough said for now.