It seems like both yesterday – and a very long time ago – that I received a telephone call from my friend, Dinny Riegel, insisting that I attend a workshop in Gainesville, Florida. Two and a half years earlier I had moved from Illinois to North Carolina, but before leaving NC, I had learned about energy healing from Alan Mesher. I had shared this new knowledge with Dinny and Jan Shepardson. All of us were blown away by the work and wanted to learn more. In 1989, I had just finished massage school and opened a private practice when the call came from Dinny. She and Jan had just returned from a pilot workshop for a new program called Healing Touch and were determined that I would go to the first “official” Level 1 class to be held outside of Colorado – the very next weekend! Dinny even insisted on paying my tuition. How could I say no?? I met Dinny’s daughter, Dory, on the way, and off we went to Gainesville.
The class contained women who became members of the first Board, the first instructor class and the first group of Certified Practitioners and Instructors. All amazing women — from all over the country. I felt like I was home — in a way that I never expected. I remember being paired in the class with Dorothea Hover, Judie Chiappone, Myra Till-Tovey, and Sharon Scandrett-Hibdon. What an honor! Especially because we were learning together. I think all of us knew that this was the beginning of something incredibly special.
And there was Janet. I remember her as being reserved, serious and by nature, kind of shy — but a very powerful presence. She struck me as a person who had great vision, and was intensely focused on making it become manifest in the physical world. She did not have time or patience for nonsense or inattention; she drew us into her focus and held us there. It was compelling and magical. This same group of women journeyed together through the five levels of the program, taking each one as soon as they were developed by Janet. Each of these women were important teachers for me also. I remember them well and am grateful to them.
I remember that Janet always wore her simple cotton camp shirts and slacks, usually in pastel colors. She was physically unassuming and yet always radiated her quiet intensity and focus. As time went on and I was able to spend more time with her, I felt that I was privileged to see some of Janet’s humanness which is one of the things I remember most about her. She developed the Program quickly; as we were all beyond hungry to learn more, and she was driven to get the work out into the world. I have often described this period as the Program growing so fast that Janet was running along behind it, trying hard to keep up.
As the Program evolved there were policies and procedures, forms and handbooks, directories, evaluations and record-keeping continually needing to be reworked and revised. It amazed me that Janet had the energy to not only keep developing and evolving the Program, but also to travel almost every weekend to teach. There were times when she had to be very regimented in her daily habits in order to preserve her health. I was one of the teaching assistants that she asked to “run interference” during class breaks — literally escorting her out of the room like Secret Service agents because she absolutely needed those 15 minutes of rest and there were a dozen people in her path wanting to ask a question or give her a hug.
I remember Janet as a healer first, who became a businesswoman – on the fast track – out of necessity. It was not easy for her, but it was the manifestation of her vision, and she applied the same focus and intensity to this as well. When I hear the words “sheer strength of will” — to me that was Janet in those days.
There were lighthearted moments with Janet also.She carried a stuffed animal with her everywhere for quite a while-a little weasel! She loved it, was very tender with it and it was her constant companion, riding around in her backpack. Our lunchtimes and dinners together were often lively. On time a group of us were sitting in a restaurant in Durham, giggling as we penduled our menus to see what Guidance recommended that we eat. The server came to the table and asked if we wished to hear that night’s specials. After a moment of hesitation, someone jumped up, held her pendulum over the server’s head and said “Okay, go!” We all laughed so hard! I also recall that Janet often liked to have a beer with dinner. I guess witnessing Janet’s humanness was reassuring and validating for me — that this amazing healer was also a human being. Because of this, I learned that it was all right for me to embrace both my spiritual self and my human self at the same time.
Over the past 20 years, I have studied, taught and, most importantly, continue “doing the work.” Healing Touch remains my passion and a great source of joy in my life. When I heard that Janet had transitioned, one of my first thoughts was how much fun she will have now; helping and guiding all of us from the other side of the veil. Free of her physical body, her spirit can now truly be the “wind beneath our wings” wherever and whenever we carry on her work. Whenever I think that I feel her presence as I work, I experience a profound sense of joy. I am beyond grateful for her continued presence in my life.
About the author:
Sally A. Nyholt, RN, LMBT, HTCP lives in the Raleigh NC area where she has had a private practice for over 20 years in Healing Touch and other forms of bodywork. Her prior nursing background included OR, OB, Internal Medicine and Medical-Surgical experience and several years as an Oncology Certified Nurse. In 2003, Sally also designed and helped launch the Curriculum Program in Therapeutic Massage at Wake Tech College in Raleigh. She included an Energy Therapy course in the curriculum design, which she taught for 4 years. Sally lives with Marty, her husband of 35 years and their dog Bella in the woods near Raleigh, gratefully surrounded by the healing energy of many trees, birds and animals.