Since I began these Starting Over interviews, we’ve met some wonderful and interesting women who reinvent their lives in midlife and beyond. I thought it would be an interesting learning experience to revisit some of these women to find out what they’re doing now and how they’ve continued to change and evolve since our last interview. The first person we are revisiting is Carol Cassara of a Healing Spirit who created a new business out of grief. Since that interview, her business has continued to expand and evolve and I wanted to chat again to find out what’s new and how she found her purpose on vacation.
It’s been two years since our first interview together, how has your business changed and expanded since that time?
Oh my gosh, two years already! Do you notice how fast time goes by these days?
The most exciting change is that I’ve begun offering retreats, an opportunity to dig deeper into important life topics.
Also, I started making beautiful, scented soy candles with embedded crystals and florals. Customers rave about how pretty they are, like little works of art—and because they’re hand made and I keep prices so low they’re more a creative expression than business venture. I’m just about to launch this year’s fall and holiday line, which smell scrumptious.
My gentle, supportive grief and healing products continue to be the basis of my offerings. I used to scour the internet fruitlessly for condolence gifts that are truly helpful –now I make them. I would say nearly half of my condolence gift customers are repeat customers.
How has your life changed?
How hasn’t it! I came to see that my purpose and passion are the same—to provide emotional support to people when they need it. That’s the basis for everything I do, from hypnotherapy to my products to retreats. That makes life so incredibly rich for me—to know I am making a difference.
Also, I’m working harder than I thought I’d be at this age. But labors of love!
You took a trip to Egypt and Jordan this past year and it completely changed your focus. Can you explain the impact both emotionally and spiritually that the trip had on you?
Egypt is amazing. It was an energetic, almost exhausting two weeks and at the end, we asked ourselves WHY we had added almost a week in Jordan. I didn’t know much about the country and wouldn’t have gone if one of my good friends hadn’t said, “Oh, you have to see Petra!” We got to Jordan and it was such a powerful place that we not only got a second wind but didn’t want to leave!
Although I am not a practicing Christian, standing in the spot where archeological evidence indicates Jesus was baptized gave me chills. To envision him and John the Baptist there and then the entire movement that followed was awesome. So was standing at Mt. Nebo, where Moses was shown the Promised Land. I hadn’t expected the spiritual punch those places packed.
Hiking the Siq at Petra—oh my gosh! The building facades carved in rose stone by Bedouins all those centuries ago were spectacular and the Siq itself is just stunning. The healing power of the Dead Sea—floating in it, covering ourselves with that nutrient-rich mud—it’s said to have healing powers for the skin and other ailments and for us it was palpable.
While you were on your journey, you realized that you wanted to share this with other women, was there a tipping point where it all just added up for you or was there one moment in particular that you remember thinking, “This. I want to share this with other women.”
The most impactful part of Jordan for me was the huge excavated 4th-century Greco-Roman city of Jerash. I’d never even heard of it, but the minute I stepped on to the site I could feel it. So intact that I could see the chariot wheels on the roads, the carved animal heads in the butcher shop showing what was for sale, incredibly big outdoor theatres that are still in use today. I was awestruck by how I could feel the life of the ancients with every step I took. I was wide-eyed with wonder—and that’s no exaggeration.
And it’s huge, with beautiful wildflowers and so much of the city still standing—and it’s at least 1,700 years old! I couldn’t get enough. It was there that I actually FELT my purpose.
This was spiritual energy of the highest order –right then and there, I knew I wanted to bring people back to experience what I did. And that was the birth of A Healing Spirit Retreats.
Please share the Retreat that you designed for women.
I’m bringing a small group to Jordan on retreat to discover their purpose and passion. The week will be during the new and waning moons, which are perfect times for personal discovery. And let’s face it—the responsibilities of every-day life don’t give us the time and space for this kind of personal work. Getting away on retreat—with time just to ourselves – and in a new and inspirational place—that’s what it takes to uncover our deepest purpose and passion.
Everything we do on retreat is meant to uncover our hidden dreams –to identify and knock down barriers that keep us from living the life of our dreams. The retreat is designed to inspire and propel those on the journey to the next big chapter of their lives. To help them find their way.
All along the way, we’ll be doing things to uncover those hidden dreams and our discussions and brainstorming will help retreat-goers determine how to take them forward.
We’ll be doing a ritual at the ruins of the temple to Artemis at Jerash to welcome in this new chapter, a meditation at Mt. Nebo, and other things to cement these discoveries. I’m really excited that we’ll be spending a night with Bedouins under the starry skies of the Wadi Rum desert and hearing them talk about their lives. And I’m working on a surprise speaker, too!
I designed the trip so that all costs except airfare are in the one price so that you can actually take the entire trip without getting out your wallet a single time.
All of our amazing hotels, most of the meals, entry fees, transportation, our guide, entry fees, tips—it’s all covered in the registration fee. It’s door to door service—get off the plane and you’ll be met at the airport and taken to the hotel. For the trip home, one of our folks will take you all the way to check-in.
I don’t want retreat goers to have to worry about anything except being in the moment, in the amazing experience.
What advice do you have for women who may be afraid to take a chance or make changes in their life, especially at midlife and beyond?
Midlife and senior years are the perfect time to really live our dreams. The kids are grown and finally, we can focus on ourselves. But many of us get in a rut—our lives have always been one way and it’s hard to see the doorway to something new. It can feel daunting. But as Dr. Martin Luther King advised, we only need to take the first step. We don’t need to see the entire staircase.
I have always believed that clarity comes in the time we spend away from our usual routine and our usual environment. What we can discover in that time for just us—it’s awe-inspiring.
I hope you enjoyed this revisit with Carol. I absolutely love her and she continues to inspire me daily. Below are links for Carol, her products, services, and her retreat.