Certifications, Trainings and Notable Accomplishments
4/20/51 – awarded a birth certificate. I was born into an Army family with loving parents of comfortable means. We moved every couple of years, and I never lived anywhere for more than three consecutive years until I was almost 30. I was a shy and introverted child, perhaps due in part to the frequent disruptions in my socialization caused by moving so much.
1/24/1976 – My beautiful daughter Julie was born. This was a major paradigm shift for me because I knew that it was time to set aside my ingrained self-destructive behaviors. I continued to excessively drink at times for a few more years, but I recognized that a change was coming and I increasingly identified with that change.
5/1981 –BS in Biology from the University of New Mexico.
5/1984 –MS in Botany from the University of New Mexico.
6/1984 – awarded my New Mexico Teaching Certificate for secondary education from the University of New Mexico.
10/1990 – named the year’s “Outstanding Biology Teacher in New Mexico.”
8/1992 – I married my life partner Jan Wichelns. One of my best decisions ever...
3/1993 – awarded a fellowship from the Environmental Protection Agency to work in environmental protection programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Only one such award was made in New Mexico, and it was signed by Governor Bruce King.
1993-1998 – I worked as a field biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. While at Los Alamos, I composed over 2,500 pages of biological reports documenting environmental conditions in their 49-square mile reservation. My employment ceased after my major funder discovered that I had been alerting state officials to LANL violations of environmental law.
7/1995 – graduated from 40-hour training with New Mexico Aids Services to become a buddy to an HIV+ client in Albuquerque. This was very rewarding work – becoming a close friend and support to someone undergoing the trauma of HIV infection. Two of my three clients died, and I left the program when I moved away from Albuquerque. I worked through a similar organization in Taos for a couple more years until that client died as well.
6/1997– named a lifetime member of Lama Foundation. Read more about Lama in Affiliations.
8/1997 – completed 30-hour mediation training through Bernalillo County, New Mexico. My area of expertise was mediating disagreements with teens and their parents. This was a great opportunity to learn how to hold space, to deeply listen, to not take sides or pass judgments, and to direct often heated exchanges into productive channels. Much later, I trained Lama Foundation residents how to use mediation techniques to resolve disputes there.
7/1998 – graduated from 80-hour training and received a Certified Nurse’s Assistant certificate from the State of New Mexico. This was a period of exploring the Buddhist concept of “right livelihood” when I wanted to serve without expectation of reward. A CNA does the “dirty work” in nursing homes: showering unruly patients, changing diapers, feeding and tending for patients who are incapable of performing daily tasks of living by themselves. This felt like an optimal situation for me to practice being humble and submitting myself fully to service. Later I realized a part of my personality believed that I could only truly serve well in such menial roles.
2000 – Jan and I moved into an adobe house on seven acres of land in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, a small agricultural village located midway between Lama Foundation and the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram. Read more about the ashram in Affiliations.
5/2001 – completed 30-hour training program to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children affected by parental neglect or abuse. My reports were submitted directly to the presiding judge and often seemed to influence the court’s rulings. I enjoyed the time with “my kids” and believe that the CASA program positioned a caring adult where they were most needed. It was helpful to learn how to be most effective when dealing with the often conflicting views and needs of the children, the parents, the social worker, teachers and doctors, and the judge.
2002-2012 – completed a ten-year apprenticeship with Toltec master, Raven Smith. Raven is an accomplished teacher and energy worker in the Toltec lineage of Don Miguel Ruiz. He led our small group of novices through three consecutive six-month programs that schooled us in Toltec wisdom and energetic practices. Our initial encounter developed into a ten-year apprenticeship and a deep friendship that continues to inspire me. Along with HeatherAsh Amara, we made many “power journeys” to sacred sites in Mexico, Peru, and Hawaii. During these years, I gradually transformed from student to assistant to co-teacher to teacher. These journeys were offered through the Toltec Center of Creative Intent. Read more about Toci in Affiliations.
2003-present – I am a member of the Hondo-Seco Volunteer Fire Department. Covering a territory of nearly 70 square miles, we are most frequently called out to assist with medical emergencies, whether from accidents, chronic conditions, or acute medical cases. In a typical month, we might work with diabetics, car crash survivors, respiratory problems, heart attacks, broken bones, and other unexpected misfortunes. I completed a course on Traumatic First Aid and tend to be the one talking to the patient and their families. This allows me to provide steady support despite the severity of the injuries, to instruct patients in basic calming breath work, to conduct initial assessments gently and thoroughly, and to interact with them as fellow creatures during periods of great stress and uncertainty.
3/2003 – completed the six-month Spirit Weavers Apprenticeship program with Toltec master, Raven Smith.
2004-2006 – completed the two-year Jump! Toltec apprenticeship program with Toltec masters, Raven Smith and HeatherAsh Amara.
7/2004 – Lily Boucher, my first beautiful grandkid, entered this world.
2006 – I started doing hands-on healings in addition to the ceremonies that I had been conducting for individuals and communities. Depending on the particulars, these energetic sessions could entail calling upon beneficial spirits, intuitive seeing, extractions of heavy energies, employing ritual elements, directing energy into life-affirming pathways, creative visualizations, using shamanic power objects, and other techniques.
2007-2010 – I wrote a regular column in The Taos News entitled “The Healing Space.” Each article presented a different healing practice or modality, often accompanied by a short interview with a local practitioner. This was a physical manifestation of my intent to publicly express myself while presenting worthwhile information to our greater community.
4/2007 – completed weeklong Circle Guide training offered by Raven and HeatherAsh, confirming me as a teacher in the Toltec tradition. I have since presented many ceremonial rituals, classes, and retreats at the Toltec Center of Creative Intent in Austin, the Lama Foundation in New Mexico, and sacred sites throughout North and South America.
6/2008 – received Life Coach Certification through the Toltec Center of Creative Intent. I relish counseling people one-on-one, aiding them to successfully move past obstacles and towards their chosen intents. To date, I have coached many dozens of people, serving as a short-term support to overcome a particular problem for some and as a steady source of guidance over several years for others.
7/2009 – ordained as a Minister of the Toltec Center of Creative Intent Church. My ministry has many aspects, including performing phowa practice for individuals facing their mortal end and for those who have recently crossed over.
2/2010 – completed training as a Oneness Blessing (deeksha) giver.
3/2010 - completed a weeklong intensive training entitled Embodied Mystic I with Raven Smith.
4/2010 – I completed a six-week Hospice Volunteer training through Mountain Home Health in Taos. Soon after, I was matched with a client who was dying from cirrhosis, even though he had never been a serious drinker. As a CNA, I had also previously worked with many people facing their end of life, and I always felt ennobled by the experience. My hospice client wanted someone to speak with about religion, spirituality, and the possibility of an afterlife. My role was mostly to listen and to encourage him to explore his own beliefs and feelings deeply. When he crossed over 18 months later, he did so with a clear conscience and a feeling of being embraced by a higher power. I am currently awaiting re-assignment with another hospice patient.
9/2010 – completed weekend course and received certification in Traumatic First Aid.
10/2010 - completed a weeklong intensive training entitled Embodied Mystic II with Raven Smith.
6/2011 – certified as a Breathwork Practitioner through Peggy Dylan’s Sundoor School of Transpersonal Education.
6/2012 - completed the 60-hour training for First Responder certification by the State of New Mexico.
8/2012 – completed Sandra Ingerman’s Soul Retrieval Training for shamanic practitioners. My interest in shamanism had been growing for years, and I had previously taught journeying practices to several groups. I decided to begin journeying for specific people to help them reclaim their wholeness and to restore a sense of balance in their lives. Read more about Sandra’s work in Affiliations.
3/2013 – My first book, “A Rocky Mountain Sampler” was published. The Sampler describes forty plant and animal species native to the Rocky Mountains in both English and Spanish. That love of nature that originally drew me to a career in biology has become incorporated into my daily spiritual practice. We are intrinsically bound to our environment in ways that amaze and astound.
4/2013 – I was added to Sandra Ingerman’s list of Shamanic Practitioners, a very gratifying endorsement. Her requirements included submitting case studies of successful soul retrieval journeys undertaken on behalf of four different clients. In addition, I journey to reunite a person with their power animal, to restore their missing vitality, and to reclaim their sense of individual purpose.
7/13-14/2013 – completed “Shamanic Extraction of Misplaced Energies” workshop taught by Renna Shesso, a senior student of Sandra Ingerman. We practiced finding and removing misplaced energies safely, using spirit allies for extraction, client care during and after shamanic healings, and other relevant topics.
11/16-17/2013 – completed “Death, Dying, and the Shamanic Guide” workshop taught by Renna Shesso. We partnered with our spirit guides to assist transitioning spirits, investigated psychopomp abilities and responsibilities, discovered personal passageways between the worlds, performed psychic dismemberment and reassembly, and investigated “the other side” by journeying there with compassionate helping spirits.
March 12-16, 2014 - attended Medicine for the Earth and Healing with Spiritual Light by Sandra Ingerman in Joshua Tree, California. After this workshop, I was admitted into Sandra's two-year teaching program, which I later dropped out of to spend more time in direct contact with shamans and healing ceremonies. Here is her description of the course:
In this five-day training Sandra will combine two of her workshops- Medicine for the Earth and Healing with Spiritual Light.
The first part of the training Sandra will teach how to transform personal and environmental pollution by learning how to transmute negative beliefs, attitudes, and energy which is generated by emotions.
Participants will also take part in a ceremony to transmute water and other substances illustrating the principle of harmony within creates harmony without. There will be a fire ceremony to help us manifest our visions.
With spiritual practices and learning how to shift our consciousness we can add to all the brilliant environmental work going on today. But we must learn the power of integrating spiritual work into our daily lives. And this is the major theme of this training.
In 2004 Sandra was invited by The School of Integrative Medicine at the University of Michigan to participate in a pilot research study to study the effects of the Medicine of the Earth work on people who suffered depression after having a heart attack. The study used a variety of standard physical and mental benchmarks to track the success of the program.
The conclusion of the published research study showed that a spiritual retreat such as Medicine for the Earth could be used to increase hope while reducing depression in persons with acute coronary depression.
In this training you will learn what Sandra taught to her group in Michigan and how to teach the work to others.
Because the etiology of illness today is different from ancient times, our healing methods must be updated to deal with modern-day illness such as cancer and immune deficiency problems caused by environmental pollution.
Sandra will teach new methods of healing based on the Medicine for the Earth work that can be integrated into a shamanic healing practice. Practitioners from around the world working in this way are sharing extraordinary results from this work.
5/3-9, 2014 - I attended the Connecting with Pachamama retreat with Arkan Lushwala, who wrote "The Time of the Black Jaguar." These magical days spent with a small dedicated group of seekers on the beautiful undisturbed mesas of central New Mexico profoundly moved me. Arkan is a Peruvian shaman who was adopted into the Lakota tribe. I am reminded how marvellous an open-hearted being can be when I observe how he carries himself, how he interacts with others, and how he works with the spirits. Since this initial retreat, I have returned to work with Arkan on numerous occasions to support and participate in his work and community ceremonies.
2/2-25, 2015 - I worked with the native holy man Mangku Made and other healers in several locations in Bali, Indonesia. I spent ten days with Made doing ceremonies, purifications, chakra cleanses, temple offerings, Hindu chanting, and pranayama. These days, I am drawn to working directly with shamans either one-on-one or in small groups. I feel that this is the best way for me to absorb the good medicines they offer in so many wondrously different traditional ways. Together we honor the spirits and the Light using practices that open us to receive a portion of their beauty and their blessings.
Spring 2015 - I decided to pursue individual work with shamans and Native American healers instead of more formal classes, workshops, and retreats. This is a time of deepening my connection with myself and my relationships with the world of spirit. Much of this exploration will center on Lakota practices, including inipi, hembleceya, and sun dance.