SH: Tell me about your greatest internal struggle
JH: I have healed from a terrifying childhood trauma which was blocked from my memory since the age of 6 and which resurfaced in my early 30’s after learning Transcendental meditation.
The remembering of the buried trauma was a confounding journey through mind, memory, and imagination which enabled me to make a very clear distinction between the sensations of a memory of an actual event vs the way my imagination feels. I have healed my nervous system of the childhood amnesia and survived debilitating depression without the use of antidepressants. Every doctor I saw suggested antidepressants but I had a deep inner knowing that my body had its own capacities to heal and recover vital life energy. And so I have!
SH: Tell me something lovely about yourself
JH: While in my second year of college I suddenly experienced a gripping need to watch animal documentaries at the expense of going to my college classes. For two weeks I had a little shamanic break down where I rented every animal video in the public library. From morning to night, I stayed in my room and just watched the libraries entire collection, some more than once. Beavers, otters, elephants, lions… I ordered food and just zoned on animal behavior. At the time I was wondering how I was going to put this obsession down and return to my classes but by some Grace of the universe I was released from my inexplicable hibernation and found I was not as behind in classes as I thought. It was a strange and lovely time of bonding with the natural world which I’d never had, being from a big city. Later that learning experience informed the Animal Medicine blog I write, and served as a kind of spiritual validation to begin the daunting task of stating my opinions and observations about life.
SH: Tell me what drives you
JH: I am driven by a deep need to increase compassion in the world. Having experienced a lion’s share of violence and hostility in my early life, I know without a doubt where hostile behavior leads. It leads to death, death of creativity, death of confidence, or sometimes literal death. Kindness leads to life, personal power, and community. Kindness leads to balance. Even when standing one’s ground, there can be firm, assertive kindness and an understanding that how I treat you is how I treat my own self. How I behave is how I experience my own company and my own company is all I ever have.
SH: Let’s say a writer was to write the story of your life as a moral for other people–what would you say is the lesson your life to this point would teach?
JH: The moral of my life story is that every person has within them the capacity to heal from any injury. If you are alive, you can thrive once again. The journey out of pain, anger, and sorrow may take time and it may seem impossible, but it isn’t. We are a healing system. Reach for peace and clarity and it will be found. This I know. There is often heartbreak over the visions of who we think we will become which never materialized and when we let go of those identity pictures and just look at what we are we can find happiness in life. My skill sets may not compete with main stream America, they don’t really compete at all. It is a tremendous help to the world when we can let go of appearances and let the level of enjoyment we experience in any given task be the measure of our success in life. If something hurts, I have learned that there is no reason to continue. I put down whatever I was doing, turn to that pain, and say, “You are important. I am listening.” In this way real happiness can flow into one’s life. Joy can’t stay. It comes and goes. But at least it comes! And over time it stays for longer and longer visits and gets easier to return to.
SH: Is the lesson of your life so far what you’d want it to be? If it is… what touchstones do you use to keep yourself on track? And if not, do you want to do things differently in the future and what things?
JH: I do feel that I am on what the Lakota call the “Good Red Road” in my life, which means, I’ve let go of image goals and follow the truth of what my heart wants. It is surprising to discover what the heart wants sometimes! I am still making peace with the pace with which my goals are achieved. I am a screen writer, novel writer, and blogger. My husband is a cinematographer. Telling stories is our great passion. It is my hope that in the future we are able to access more resources and connections in the film industry to bring our stories and our messages for walking in peace and truth to larger audiences.