In part 1 of our 3 part interview with Jennifer Monahan, she described how a mysterious stranger introduced her to her spiritual calling. Now in part 2, hear how a traumatic event led her to do things she never imagined she would do.
Here’s the audio version, if you’d rather listen!
Lorna: Okay, perfect. So this is all so interesting about how that happened, like out of the blue.
Jennifer: Out the blue.
Lorna: You weren’t there searching for anything like that to happen at all.
Jennifer: I didn’t even know what a shaman was.
Lorna: So now, you come back to San Francisco. You were working full-time.
Jennifer: I was working full time. I was a Business Strategy Consultant working long hours and…
Lorna: Traveling a lot from what I remember.
Jennifer: Traveling every week. Yes, on a plane every Sunday or Monday and home every Thursday or Friday and yet at the same time, I was getting trained by my guides.
Jennifer: It was a pretty intense time.
Lorna: Wow. So, someone I know calls that side hustle or side gig or something like that.
Jennifer: It was a side gig.
Jennifer: It really was.
Lorna: So then, you decide to quit your job.
Jennifer: Well, I decided to start doing the Shamanic work on the side.
Jennifer: And so, I launched Spirit Evolution in 2014.
Lorna: Tell us what Spirit evolution is.
Jennifer: Spirit evolution is my Shamanic business.
Jennifer: I had been doing Shamanic sessions on friends and family for some time before that and I said, “Okay, I am ready to make this official.” And so, I created websites and actually created an LLC around it and have built an organization and launched it to friends and family in September of 2014.
Lorna: And so, you did that on the side.
Jennifer: Then, I did that on the side. I did that on the side because I wanted to have a little bit of a safety net, right?
Lorna: Yes, yes.
Jennifer: In San Francisco, the rent’s so expensive and I wasn’t quite ready to walk away from that kind of income.
Jennifer: Two months later, I was walking across the street in the financial district and a minivan hit me at 25 miles an hour.
Lorna: Okay, that’s something we didn’t expect you to say!
Jennifer: Yes. Yes, it wasn’t something I expected to have happen to me.
Jennifer: I ended up being out of work for a little over three months and stuck on my couch for about six. They kept finding more things that were wrong as a result of the impact. I was on crutches for eight and in some form of a cast, they got smaller but some form of a cast for 14.
Jennifer: Yes. It was definitely a wakeup call and there were several messages in that accident for me. One of the biggest ones for me was learning to trust. So, as I mentioned, they kept finding things that were wrong. After three months, I had had a broken heel. My ankle was broken in a few places and then I had another bone in my foot broken so I could not be weight-bearing at all. Plus, a whole bunch of cuts and scrapes and bruises and all of that. So, my doctor who was fabulous said, “Okay, three months. You can’t be weight-bearing at all because the heel takes that long to actually heal because there’s not much blood.”
Jennifer: So, on the couch for three months. Then I said, “Okay, now it’s time for you start learning to walk again. Here is a walking cast and let’s have you start to put your weight on it.” The pain was excruciating like I was crying from the pain. Every time I tried to walk, it hurt. So, she sent me out to do a CAT scan, MRI? No, an MRI, something had to do with MRI sent and the MRI showed that all of the cartilage around my ankle had been destroyed.
Jennifer: She said to me, “Cartilage doesn’t heal.” And at that point, she didn’t think I’ve ever really walk again without either some kind of a brace or crutches. She said “Here’s what we’re going to have to do. I’m going to have to do three months of injections, a month-and-a-half of cortisone, a month-and-a-half of synovial fluid. Those are really just to manage the pain, that’s not going to fix the problem. We have to go through that process to prove that there is an ongoing issue and then what we’re going to have to do is do surgery and weld your foot together like around that area so you have no movement in that area.” That was the only time I cried during the entire ordeal and I said to her, “Look, I will. Let’s do the shots.” I said, “But at the end of the three months, I want another MRI.” And she said, “Why?” I said “Because I’m going to do Shamanic sessions on myself during this time.”
Lorna: Oh my gosh, awesome.
Jennifer: Yes, and every day, I did a Shamanic session to heal this cartilage in my ankle. I am fairly certain that my guides were getting to the point like, “Really, we’re doing this again?” But they were very good-natured about the whole thing. And at the end of the three months, I went and got another MRI. A week later, I went into my doctor’s office and she had the original one. She had the new one and she said, “All I can say is it’s a miracle. It’s completely healed.”
Lorna: Wow. Stories like that—I’ve heard them before but I’ve never met someone that it’s actually happened to, awesome.
Jennifer: Yes and that was a big lesson in trust for me.
Jennifer: Trusting that … the whole accident was about trust, right?
Jennifer: I had to trust that I was going to be taken care of while I was stuck on my couch on a one-floor walk-up so I couldn’t even leave my apartment. Literally on days where I had a doctor’s appointment, I had to crawl down the stairs because it’s the only way I could get out.
Jennifer: So I had to trust that I was getting taken care of and the place that I worked with for at the time was amazing. I had no idea they had a short-term disability program so I was actually whole financially. So, I didn’t have to worry about, “Can I afford to pay the rent?” Or am I going to have to dip into my savings?
Jennifer: I had to trust. When it came time for me to go back to work because I did go back to the Consulting work, that there would be a place for a consultant who couldn’t get on an airplane for another nine months.
Lorna: Oh wow.
Jennifer: Right, because a consultant who’s not on an airplane is basically a financial drain to the organization and yet, the company was able to find a role for me and was very accommodating. I mean incredibly so and patient while I went through my healing process. So I had to trust that I was going to be taken care of.
Jennifer: That there would be work for me. That I was going to heal. I did learn to trust all of that. So it was a huge wake-up call for me. And so, I did go back to work for a while and it wasn’t until 2016, so a couple years after the accident when I said “Okay, now I feel it’s time for me to quit my job.”
Lorna: But another wonderful thing, I mean, not another wonderful thing but there was a wonderful thing that happened as a result of the accident and that’s when you had the space and the time to write your book, right?
Jennifer: Yes, yes.
Lorna: So, your book is … tell us about your book. This is what you did for that whole time that you couldn’t move.
Jennifer: Yes. I was stuck in a couch and I don’t have a television. And I just opened up my laptop and started writing and I wrote the book in about six weeks.
Jennifer: Then I sent it out to some friends and said, “What do you think about this?” They came back and said, “You need to get this published.” So, I sent it to a publisher and they accepted it and went through the process. The book came out. My accident was on November 2nd, the book came out on November 1st. So it came out one day before the two-year anniversary of the accident.
Jennifer: It’s about the story of me meeting the Shaman and then taking all the way up past the accident in terms of like what happened, the messages that I received, the guides that I worked with. And while it may sound like it’s maybe very narrowly focused, the idea behind the book was sharing a story of how one person found their life purpose and also sharing these messages of encouragement and truth and wisdom that I receive from my guides which really resonate with everybody.
Lorna: Yes because everybody is searching for their purpose. Everybody wants to know, “Who am I and why am I here?”
Lorna: And everybody’s wanting to be guided and wanted to be able to listen to those guides.
Jennifer: Right and just even connect with those guides.
Jennifer: So yes, so the book came out November of last year, 2016 and it’s won six awards so far which is amazing.
Lorna: Awesome. So, again, it looks like everything is like orchestrated for … even the accident in a way is like…
Jennifer: Well, the accident was definitely orchestrated.
Lorna: Because the trust you mentioned and it was huge.
Jennifer: It was huge and I know that I was very lucky with the accident. I rode on the hood of the minivan for part of a block before he stopped. The fact that I went up on the hood instead of under the tires was the first big blessing, right?
Jennifer: Because if I went under the tires, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now, to just be honest.
Jennifer: I mentioned in my book that when he did stop and I fell from the hood of the minivan, I felt hands holding me.
Jennifer: And as I was falling, I wear glasses and the thought went through my mind, “Oh please God. Don’t let my glasses break,” because I was terrified that the glass would break and like make me blind or something, right?
Lorna: Right, right.
Jennifer: With shards of glass in my eye. And as soon as I thought that, the glasses fell off my face and they landed in front of me, not six inches in front of me, fold it neatly like somebody had put them on the night table.
Lorna: Do you feel like you … so you are already into your Shamanic practices at this point?
Jennifer: I was, yes.
Lorna: So, do feel like you were open for that experience, like feeling like you were held and did that have anything to do with that experience? I don’t know because I’m thinking would anybody, if they’re in an accident like that, feel … allow themselves to feel that or something.
Jennifer: I don’t think my being a Shaman is why I felt that. I think the spirit world wanted to give me a strong message that they were with me and I know that there are instances of other people who are not Shamans who have had an accident and they felt arms around them or they’ve seen a light or they say there is an angel with me or grandma was with me or whatever.
Lorna: Yes, yes.
Jennifer: So, I don’t think it was being a Shaman as much as there is a reason why they wanted me to feel those things and it really was the first part of the lesson in trust.
Lorna: So, you just came back from Guatemala.
Lorna: You lived there for like four and a half months.
Jennifer: I did.
Lorna: So, after you quit your job…
Jennifer: After I quit my job which I’m not going to lie was probably one of the more scary things I did.
Jennifer: Because I was walking away from a steady paycheck and while I have clients and everything, it wasn’t anywhere near what I had been making with the consulting firm. I took time off to launch the book and do the book tour and I really started to think about what I call ‘limiting beliefs.’ So, me quitting my job and saying, “I’m going to be a Shaman,” was me, really starting to come into my authentic self, who I am and why I’m here? And it was me starting to strip away some of the … how can I say, some of the clothing that we put on as we go through life to define who we are. So, I was stripping away the clothing of being a Business Strategy Consultant as well as some other things. So I launched the book. I did the book tour and while I was doing that, I started thinking about, “Why am I limiting myself to living in just one place?”
Jennifer: What rule out there says, “I have to have an apartment or a house or something and live in that one place?” And the more I thought about it, the more I realize that this idea, for me, my reality, not the reality of everybody else, that I was holding myself back by thinking, “Okay, I need to have an apartment here in San Francisco and what now?” And so, I gave it up. I got rid of a bunch of stuff. I put some stuff in storage and I decided to go down to Guatemala. I’d been there just before the book launched for a week because I wanted to go to some of the Mayan sites there. I had a good time. I said, “All right, let me go down there.” And I went out to Airbnb and found this little thatched roof hut in the middle of the jungle that was for rent and I booked it for three months and then extended for another month and a half. And really, it was just freeing myself from an expectation that didn’t fit with my life.
Jennifer: When I look back and I look at my work like my Consulting work, what I loved about it was the constant travel. I know for some people that’s exhausting. For me, it was very invigorating. I liked being somewhere. I can go for a month on the road with just carry-on items.
Lorna: Oh my gosh.
Jennifer: And I realized that I am a nomad or a gypsy. I am a nomad at heart and so this idea of being confined to just one location was … it was holding me back. So, I went down to Guatemala. I had a great time. About a week and a half, I’m heading over to Japan and Cambodia and I know this is just all part of my spiritual path.
Jennifer: Now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t need a place to live and I actually bought some land and I’m building a house down in Guatemala but I’m also planning to be here in San Francisco and just continue that nomadic existence.
Lorna: Yes, who says you have one place or another?
Lorna: Excellent. Now, when you tell people that you’re a Shaman, do you tell everyone you’re a Shaman or do you pick and choose who you tell that your Shaman?
Jennifer: Back when I first started doing this, I picked and chose. I wasn’t certain how people would respond to me because maybe they’d think that I was woo-woo out there and kind of crazy. And I certainly didn’t tell the people I worked with because Shaman is about as far away from being a Business Strategy Consultant as you can get. And so, I kept that part of me very quiet. Interestingly enough when I gave my notice and I told them why and I told him that I was a Shaman and I wanted to give my book a chance and really focus on that and focus on my Shamanic work, the support that I received from the consulting firm was overwhelming.
Jennifer: There wasn’t any real concern. So now I tell people. I’ve had one or two people who have a misguided notion that a Shaman is somebody who worships the devil and whatnot and I suppose…
Lorna: So how do you deal with those naysayers or…
Jennifer: I tell them what Shamanism really is.
Lorna: It’s a chance for you to educate them and explain to them.
Jennifer: Yes, yes.
Jennifer: And when you’re working with pure love, there’s no room for anything negative to come in, yes.
Lorna: Even if people … some people even think like, if they hear the words psychic, it kind of woos them out but to me, that only means that they’re able to notice and get in touch with their intuition or other people’s intuition or whatever and that’s the energy that you were describing, right?
Jennifer: I mean we’re talking that’s invisible.
Jennifer: And that can be scary to people sometimes.
Jennifer: I was talking with a friend the other day and she had an experience. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. She had an unpleasant experience but it tied to the spirit world and it scared her because it’s one thing to say, “Oh, I go to church or Temple or whatever and I pray to a higher power.” It’s another thing to really feel about the positive and the negative if you would. I hesitate to say that things are negative but to feel that energy in your life and to feel how that energy can be used and in some cases manipulated by human beings to get what they want, right?
Jennifer: So, it can be scary when you’re not living it all the time.
Lorna: Because you know, I’m a student of spirituality right now and I’m realizing that to me, it’s natural for me to think this way and understand the way we’re connected, we’re all connected but I’m also finding out and realizing that not everybody feels like I feel and not everybody is on the same spiritual path, and there are people who don’t know what I know, what we know about those energetic connections and we have to respect that I guess, right?
Jennifer: We have to. Well, and everybody’s on some kind of a spiritual journey and it’s like going down the highway or think about running a marathon. Some people are at the front of the pack and I’m not saying the front is better, some are in the middle, some are at the back. So everybody is exactly where they’re supposed to be and it’s this recognition that wherever you are, there’s somebody who this is new for and likewise, there’s somebody who’s further along the path than you who might be able to teach you or guide you.
Lorna: Yes and sometimes, maybe the people who get very animated about the idea when you tell them, maybe it’s just touching something inside them that they may not realize they do connect with or something.
Lorna: Because if you get like, oh man. Even if people have a pushback kind of attitude about something, it’s because it’s stimulating something inside of them.
Jennifer: Right, right.
Lorna: So, that’s a chance to educate them there.
Jennifer: Exactly, exactly and for those people who have concerned that I have joined a cult or worshiping the devil or whatever, it’s an opportunity for me to talk about pure love.
Jennifer: And when I start to talk about the guides that I’ve worked with; Jesus, Buddha, et cetera, everybody knows those names as being people who are working for good.
Lorna: And love.
Jennifer: And love.
Jennifer: So, that helps as well and it’s not that I’m throwing names around as much as it’s, “Look, these are the people I’m working. This is my team or I’m on their team maybe is a better way to say it.
Lorna: Yes, you’re working together.
Jennifer: We’re working together.
Lorna: All right. Okay, let’s stop here for now.
Coming up next, Jennifer will share with us what a shamanic journey actually is, and gives us examples of how she has used her shamanism in practice.