I met our next Agenda Worthy Woman, Donna Stelter, years ago when we both signed up to run a marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. Back then, I discovered something magical about this gal, as she made the miles go quickly with her easy conversation style that was a perfect mix of hilarious wit and deep life messages. Today, she uses her magic as a Reiki Practitioner and Hospice Nurse. Read on to hear about how she found those career paths, and how she lives such an Agenda Worthy Life.
Name: Donna Stelter
Current City: Shorewood
Can you tell me a bit about your professional history, and how it led up to what you’re doing now? I was a registered nurse at Children’s Hospital from 1995-2014, with a five year gap during this time to train for and complete Ironman Wisconsin. At CHW I worked on the Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit.
What does your career look like today? I’ve been the owner of One Healing Heart LLC since July of 2013. Within this small business I am a Reiki Practitioner, Meditation Teacher and Transformational Life Coach. Since February 2018 I added to my life expression by returning to nursing and began working at Aurora Zilber Family Hospice.
I, for one, have to say that you are so gifted as a Reiki Practitioner. Can you explain to readers what Reiki is exactly, and how it works?
I have been a Reiki Practitioner since 2011. Reiki is energy body work, in which the practitioner clears, balances and brings into harmony the energy of the client she works on. I was drawn to Reiki through some random emails that kept showing up in my inbox. Sometimes the Universe wants to get our attention and keeps knocking on our consciousness till we pay attention. (This is how I came to work with kids with cancer, how I followed the road to Ironman, Zilber and many other avenues in life.) I spoke to the owner of the yoga studio where the weekend Reiki Course would be held and asked her if I could use this for kids with cancer. The owner, Pamela Bliss, said absolutely, so I jumped on the wagon and signed up right then and there, no questioning, just allowing.
Reiki has opened my world to so many magical and humbling experiences; it blows my mind and fills my heart with such joy.
I started using Reiki at the hospital on children whose parents requested it. Here, with these little lives, I began to see the great benefits of Reiki. From relieving anxiety felt by a teenage girl as she was nearing the end of her life, to helping a little boy sleep through the night. Some moms claimed it boosted their kid’s immune systems after chemotherapy. I found that it also brought peace to moms and dads because they were offering something to their child, who had been suffering so many traumas from treatment, Reiki, which was comforting, relaxing and in the words of one sweet boy “it feels like a magic carpet ride.”
After leaving the hospital, once again following the whisper of my higher self, I officially began my private practice. I transitioned from bedside nursing to website developer and marketing agent. It was a big step from punching a clock and having dear souls to care for each day to trying to “sell myself” to the community around me. I also had to overcome a fear of people thinking I was crazy, and be totally vulnerable to my truth. My business has grown mainly by word of mouth and I am truly grateful to those who share their stories of our work together. It is really the best compliment.
I like to call Reiki the “Art of Sensing” and therefore to tap deeply into my senses, I meditate. Before each session I meditate to bring peace to my inner world, and begin opening up to energies of the universe, my Reiki teachers, and open my heart to the new client entering my healing space. I learned many years ago that I was an Empath, which is someone who is very sensitive to the energy but also has the ability to reflect back to someone’s aspects of themselves. Actually “feeling” sadness of others, feeling when plants are thirsty, walking into a room choosing to stand near someone who may need a friendly ear.
I see Reiki and meditation as complimentary therapy to western medicine for treatment of many common diseases. I fully believe Americans are popping too my pills to ease their inner suffering when really dedicating time to inner life transformation is key. Many people live their lives looking outwards, and this creates a great deal of suffering. Comparisons of have and have not, thin or large, vacations or sitting home, there is a true disconnect which creates the majority of mental health issues today. Disconnect, from what? Disconnect from your true inner light and wisdom. Reiki and meditation are empowering life changing experiences where you learn to gracefully dance with your very own soul. The only side effects from receiving Reiki and developing a simple meditation practice are awareness, resilience and peace.
You mentioned that in addition to your Reiki Practice, you’re also a Hospice Nurse. Can you share a bit about that?
Being a Hospice Nurse is a very spiritual experience for me. Facing the reality of death is one of the scariest aspects people face on this journey here on earth. For me personally, meeting families and patients in this space and giving them loving support, providing an environment filled with sharing of memories, relieving pain and anxiety is the greatest gift I can give in service. Because death doesn’t scare me, I can be a beacon of hope for those who need to find the way home. Hospice nursing isn’t what I would call easy work, I can truly feel the heartbreak of families, I know of loss personally, but love seems to bring comfort in the deepest, most remarkable ways.
Advice to others?
If you’re not internally happy and peaceful, seek out a teacher or mentor in person. Podcasts and books are great, but nothing is better than human contact. We can listen to Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday every day, but working with a coach or teacher provides great benefit because it is someone to hold you accountable for the inner work you are doing. I believe with all my heart if I didn’t have strong teachers to support me, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today.
What does a day in your life look like?
I love the outdoors in spring, summer and fall and go hiking/ exploring as much as possible. Because the majority of my time is spent serving others, I enjoy quiet time for contemplation and just being. I give myself permission to watch Netflix sometimes. I have binged on Grace and Frankie, totally identifying myself with Frankie, of course. If I lived in La Jolla, CA, I’d be walking around with long tie-dyed skirts and my hair flowing in the sun.
I find joy tapping into my inner child as much as possible, dancing to “Don’t Stop Believin’” in the kitchen as my husband makes dinner. I have realized that life can be short, and I want no regrets when my time comes. I want to know I have fulfilled all of my hearts desires.
Advice to younger self?
Do not search outside of yourself for love, for you are love. In knowing this, all will be well.
What have been some of your most memorable trips or life experiences?
I have traveled to India three times to attend a spiritual school. Each of these journeys was a coming home. I have never felt so at peace anywhere in the world, like India. These trips are what changed my life. From fasting, to deep inner work, I learned about devotion and celebrating oneness with people from all around the globe.
Training for and crossing the finish line of Ironman Wisconsin in 2008. Without a doubt made me so proud of me. This journey taught me about my inner resilience and that truly, anything is possible in life.
Being a mom and watching the little humans I grew inside of me flower into their own true soul expressions. I can’t hug them enough or tell them how much I love them enough to even touch the surface of how proud I am to be their mom.
What are some books you particularly love?
Meditations From the Mat – Rolf Gates
Anatomy of the Spirit – Carolyn Myss
Chants of a Lifetime – Krishna Dass
Favorite Quote – Let the beauty that you love, be what you do. Rumi
How do you stay balanced and healthy?
I have a husband of 24 years who loves to grocery shop. I developed self worth and realized it’s important to feed myself and keep this temple strong and full of good energy. I love making smoothies so drinking through a colorful straw and a vintage glass is how I enjoy nutrition. Blending my food in this way is very meditative. Once I sit down to drink, I remain present to identify the flavors of all the ingredients I am consuming. I do self Reiki Sessions and take lots of baths in Himalayan salt and special oils. Spending time outdoors hiking, exploring, and never allowing myself to stop evolving, is one of the best ways of keeping myself feeling joyful. There is always a new talent within that needs to be discovered, I remain open and eager for new experiences. Like the slogan from The North Face – Never Stop Exploring, for me this includes the body, mind and spirit.
Who would you nominate as an Agenda Worthy Woman?
Lisa Martin – Owner of Solful Fitness in Glendale
Thanks for this AWW interview, Donna! It was great learning more about the amazing work you do, and the life you’ve crafted. Readers, head over to One Healing Heart or follow her on Instagram! (Sidenote...if any readers live in or have plans to travel to the Milwaukee area, I highly (highly!) recommend a session with Donna!)