Ally’s Story: A Nurse’s Perspective

In this episode, we welcome Allie, a seasoned nurse with three decades of experience. Allie is an activist and educator dedicated to aiding fellow nurses in overcoming depression, burnout, and suicidal thoughts. Delving into her personal journey, Allie reveals how she identified her trauma and found healing via forgiveness during a transformative experience at the Eleusinia Retreat. As a nurse, Allie understands the emotional strain the profession can place on individuals, especially when unaddressed trauma compounds the stress. She highlights the crucial need to identify burnout and depression symptoms and seek assistance when necessary. Through her self-discovery and healing odyssey, Ally unearthed the power of forgiveness to release past traumas and attain inner tranquility. Her message of hope and empowerment encourages nurses to prioritize their well-being and obtain support when required. Allie’s invaluable insights and experiences offer essential guidance for those grappling with burnout or mental health challenges in the healthcare sector. Listen here, on Spotify, or on Apple Podcast,

Tawnya: Ally. I’m so excited to have you on the show. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and why you decided to come to Eleusinia. 

Ally: Hi. Good morning Tawnya, and thank you so much for inviting me on. This is such a special opportunity. I appreciate you. I am a full-time liveaboard sailor and a 30 year nurse with most of my concentration being in the ER for about 26 of those 30 years.

I am a traveler and a wanderer and a seeker. And just a very curious, playful soul. I think that pretty much sums me up. 

Tawnya: So, did you decide to come to Eleusinia just out of that seeker role, or were you looking to do a little bit more of a personal deeper practice, or what did that look like for you?

Ally: Yes and no. So as a seeker, I’ve been very interested in psychedelics for a long time, but I specifically chose to come to Eleusinia at this time because of. I’ve been going through a little bit of a tough time. I’ve been feeling a little bit down after having gone through the pandemic for the past three years and dealing with a lot of grief and frustration and betrayal and all of the things that sort of came with the pandemic.

And also being sort of a receptacle for other people’s grief where they couldn’t be with their families and they, they were sick and feeling lost and sort of holding space for them. But it started to become taxing on me and drawing from my own energy and I wasn’t sure how to. Really how to manage those feelings and those emotions, and I was starting to feel depressed about it.

And in addition to that, I’m going through a major life change. I’ve been going through menopause for the past couple of years now. And the things that sort of come with that, the physical discomfort, there’s depression that’s associated with menopause as well, but also the loss of fertility and going into a new stage of life and, you know, facing retirement and aging, all of that sort of coalesced into this perfect storm of feeling very lost and directionless.

I have a very spiritual side to me and I’ve been feeling like I wanna bring that into my practice with my patients but also use it to develop into more of a career. Sort of a bridging into retirement, and not just the spirituality, but the care that I offer my patients and the knowledge that I have to be able to help my colleagues through burnout.

And that where, you know, I suffered a great deal of burnout even before the pandemic hit. And to the extent that I sold my house and sold my car, bought a boat, and sailed to Mexico, like I burned it down because I had such epic burnout. 

And now with the experience going through the pandemic and going through menopause and facing my aging, I started to feel burned out again at work and like, my energy was being drained from me and all of that sort of coalesced and like, okay, I, I really want to get back to my psychedelic practice. I wanna do it in a way that is conscious and thoughtful and that can be integrated into my life now and in a way that I can sort of integrate all the pieces of me into this vision of what I’m going to be moving forward into retirement.

Does that make sense? 

Tawnya: Absolutely. And you came with your partner, which is wonderful, so you guys both were able to come, and how did that feel making that decision together? 

Ally: Well, it felt very natural making the decision together because we do most things together. He was a little bit reluctant about it because I think that, you know, knowing that we were gonna be doing large doses, he initially told me, he’s like, well, maybe I won’t do that.

I’ll just sit back and make sure that you’re okay. But once we landed at the retreat, of course he felt very safe and very supported in that he could have all those experiences for himself and that was really wonderful to see that he was open to that because he felt so secure in that environment.

He did, because I mean, he had some stuff that he wanted to work on as well. 

Tawnya: At this point in your life, did it feel new coming and preparing to sit with psilocybin and the psychedelic experience?

Ally: It really did, and partly because of all the preparation that we did in advance and sort of meeting with you all and doing the intake with Jessica, the thoughtful questions that were asked during the intake form, knowing that there was an integration piece that was pretty, pretty robust in this particular retreat, all felt very different to me because my previous experience with psychedelics was sort of through Burning Man and rave culture, and it wasn’t necessarily a conscious use of them. Although I was very aware of the benefit that it had for my mental health at that time. I was aware that it was helping me, but I wasn’t really using it in a therapeutic way. 

Tawnya: Can you tell us how you were feeling on Microdose Day for the ceremony before you ingested your macro dose?

Ally: There was a part of me that was a little bit nervous ’cause I am a control freak. You know, being a nurse, everything’s sort of regimented, you know, we are precise in measurements and times and things like that. And I had never done a macro dose before. And so part of me was like, oh my God, am I gonna strip my clothes off and go running, you know, the streets of Valle de Bravo and? I had a friend who did that in San Francisco. He did a macro dose and, and sort of took all of his clothes off and ran down Mission Street and ended up tied up in leather restraints at San Francisco General. He told me later that he thought that he was a superhero and that his superpower was nudity.

Tawnya:  Yeah, thank goodness we’ve never had, we’ve never had that. 

Ally:  Okay well, you know, I know of things that could happen, but I’m hoping that I’m not gonna lose it like that. So there was that little bit of trepidation doing a larger dose. Like, we got a streaker.

So there was a little bit of anxiety around that, but I also felt very safe in that environment. Like I had met with each of you, I felt like I had a sense of who each of you were and that there was no judgment, no shame, no, I, I just felt incredibly safe and that helped me get over that initial anxiety. And then I was able to drop into the breath work, which was awesome. 

Tawnya: Amazing. So what were your first effects when you noticed that the psilocybin was taking hold? 

Ally: I was lying under I, I call it the pagoda. I, I don’t know if that’s what it was, like the little area, the ceremonial area on my mat.

And I, I opened my eyes and looked up at the lattice work and it just started, started to wave. Like there were waves of lattice sort of going in front of my eyes and I was like, oh, okay. It looks like it’s probably beginning. It seems like it’s a mild takeoff, which is good. And we had been instructed when we start to feel something to go get up and find a place that felt comfortable to us.

And the sun was really calling me. So I, the first thing I did was I went to a nice sunny patch and I lay down on the pallet that was prepared for us there. I had put sunscreen on. But I was still really aware that like, okay, I’ve got only a few minutes in the sun. I don’t wanna fry myself and be miserable.

And so I, I lie down there with the sun on my face and I just, I’m such a sun lover. It’s just like, oh my gosh, this is phenomenal and I just sort of sank into the ground. I was feeling the heaviness of my body on the ground and the warmth of the sun on my face, was just sublime. And as I lay there, Josefina came up to me and I had my hair pinned up, and I, I have sort of this wild hair as you know, that picks up everything.

And it does have its own personality and it takes what it wants, like leaves and branches. So I pinned it up. To kind of keep it under control during this experience because I didn’t want it to be a distraction for myself or anyone else.

’cause it can be a lot, like it’s long and it can be a lot as you know. But she, the, it was the first thing she did, she sat behind me and she took my hair down and she sort of spread it out in a fan all around me on the grass. And I just remember first of all, her touch was just so gentle and loving. 

 For her to know that I needed to have that release and just to let literally and figuratively let my hair down to be able to have this experience without being constrained that including, you know, with hair ties and gel and all this stuff. And it just was very freeing for me. And when she did that, I laid there for a little bit longer, just taking a deep breath and saying, oh my gosh, this is awesome.

I feel very I feel, feel very free to be who I am. That was sort of an interesting moment for me because this hair is a big part of my personality and, you know, to keep it tied back. I, I, I often feel like I’m not really coming at people ’cause again, it can be a lot.

And I remember I got up and you crossed my path. And you said to me, I didn’t know you were such a lioness and I answered you with a rawr. Really playful and fun. Then I came back. I made it successfully to and from the bathroom and ended up underneath the tree, which was such a lovely place.

I spent a great deal of time underneath that tree, during the whole retreat. I just loved it. And there were moments where I just pictured myself swinging from my knees like I did as a kid, upside down, hanging from the tree, like a little monkey that I am. It, I, it just felt so natural and loving to be under that tree, and I, I just remember having this thought like, wow, Buddha got it right, man.

Like he really knew what was up. 

Tawnya: So really you were in a space of liberation and you were able to really let go and ease into it with your hair being part of it. 

Ally: And after that you came and sat and talked to me, which was, it was so perfect because I was, I had been thinking how wonderful it is to have a nurse at the retreat and how at home, I felt having another nurse there where my soul recognized your soul, is the best way I can explain that. And I felt like I could speak to you in a way that you would understand me perhaps better than some other people having gone through your own traumas of nursing. I mean, nursing can be a very traumatic career. And many of us, I’m actually doing a little bit of research on this now because I’m hoping to speak at the conference in September for the Emergency Nurses Association.

And I’m studying right now about nurse depression, burnout, and suicide. And I, I come to it from a place of my own trauma recognizing that I come from a traumatic childhood and understanding that many, many other nurses, actually the majority of nurses I’m finding also come from a place of trauma in their own childhood.

And how that sometimes is what leads us to this profession of nursing is our trauma and our desire to help other people and to, to heal the world, if you will. But we’re coming to it with our own wounds. And if we’re not able to take care of our wounds, recognize our wounds. And then, give loving compassion to our wounds, then we’re not really coming to this role authentically.

We’re coming to it codependently. So part of my journey with the psilocybin is I want to come to my role as healer, as nurse, as you know, empath from a place of authenticity with my patients. And, you know, my own trauma, like other nurses does make me uniquely qualified to be a receptacle for their trauma, for me to be able to be open to receiving their trauma and to allow space for them to express their trauma.

But I need to find a way where I don’t absorb that trauma. And that’s part of my journey as well as being an empathic healer. 

Tawnya: So we had sat together and talked a little bit about that, about being a nurse in trauma and looking at patients in a different light.

Do you recall what was going on then? 

Ally: Yes. So some of the visuals that I had gotten while lying under that tree, I, I saw a snake sort of within me, and I was kind of surprised because, you know, I’m, I’m not a super fun lover of snakes. And I was like, I didn’t expect that sort of imagery, but I wasn’t frightened by the imagery.

It wasn’t something that was scary to me. It was almost like, my trauma was that snake, and I saw it as a protector. It was my fear that I had experienced as a child and how that fear, I’ve used that fear to sort of protect me to, to wall me off from others from time to time. Then how I’ve been stuck in that fear also in a fight or flight sort of way, stuck in the sympathetic stimulation that is fight or flight, and this awareness came to me that I don’t have to continue to be afraid. I can recognize that fear in myself, and that’s the beginning of the healing and that it came to me later that the snake is also a symbol for healing, which I thought was really incredible too.

Tawnya: Your own trauma within yourself was the gift that made you so important to be that presence as a nurse for so long and to be there for others. It was a fear within you and a trauma within you, but it was also a door into your connection as to how you practice and how you can reach others.

Ally: Yes. And a gift. A gift. Even though it was incredibly painful when I was going through it as a child, I was able to look at it more objectively and see that wounded child and understand that I could release the pain that I experienced as a child. I could release all of that because then I could see it more clearly and understand that I wasn’t the source of it.

And in doing that and finding my own feeling, I recognize I, for a long time, I’ve been recognizing this not only in my patients, but in my coworkers. I’m seeing their wounds and just being able to witness their pain and their trauma, and being able to reflect it back to them and help them. So yes, having gone through that trauma made me this vessel.

To be able to help my patients, but extrapolating it from my patients also to my colleagues who I see are suffering quite a bit. 

Tawnya: It sounds to me that, you know, you’re trying to weave together nursing and the layers that happen where nursing does meet your spirit. You know, originally you came to nursing thinking that you didn’t have traumas like other people did. But as we peel back the layers of the onion throughout our career and throughout our own spiritual growth we tend to see more and more how we got to where we are.

Ally: Yes. And I, I believe that there are so many others out there that have these hidden traumas that they don’t acknowledge they, oh, that wasn’t trauma, that was just discipline as a child. When in fact some of that was very traumatic. Some of the discipline that we received was very traumatic, even though it was given from love.

By our parents. You know, maybe we don’t think of ourselves as coming from abusive families because this discipline was intended to help us become stronger people and survive in the world as our parents saw it, because they’re coming from, you know, maybe the depression generation where they grew up with scarcity and, and had to fight for everything that they had.

And so, putting their generational trauma onto their children, but in a loving way, like meaning well from it, but it’s still trauma. And so recognizing that I have that trauma, even though in my early years I didn’t realize, and I thought it was just, oh, it’s just discipline from my parents. But some of it, you know, when you speak to other people, you realize, wow, that really wasn’t normal, or that really was excessive.

That really was traumatic and knowing that’s very common for people. I mean, we take on the generational trauma of our families and our ancestors, things that they do spill over into our own psyche and affect how we hold trauma in our bodies and how we, how our mental health functions. And when we can have sort of a clearer picture of how that impacts us, we can begin to rest in our, in our own power to heal and to recognize and facilitate the healing of others. 

Tawnya: Yeah, and there is a really big obstacle there. As healthcare workers, we tend to see so much in the extreme that we have a barrier to acknowledging our own trauma. Because instead we say, well, how could I have had trauma when everyone else has had it so much worse. It’s a step of seeing it and witnessing it in the psychedelic experience where you can be like, you know what, this did happen and it did affect me. And that’s sometimes the only step that needs to be taken for everything else to unravel naturally.

Ally: Yes. and the other piece of it, not feeling like it’s a betrayal because a lot of people don’t wanna acknowledge their trauma because it’s a betrayal to people they know, their parents or their grandparents or their caretakers, but they can, they can coexist. You can love someone and still be traumatized by them, and they can traumatize you and love you and traumatize you unwittingly and traumatize you out of love, frankly.

Tawnya: Yeah. Then there’s that other piece where people say, well, you need to take responsibility to change your life, but it doesn’t mean ignoring your own traumas or ignoring that you were hurt. What happened next after that experience of looking at that and being free and, and wild and recognizing the snake as a part of your own healing process and strength? 

Ally: Well I had been very angry with my dad over the trauma that I experienced as a child, and I was able to find forgiveness, which was huge. I mean, this is a relationship that I wanna preserve. I have an active relationship with my dad and finding that forgiveness will allow, ease in our relationship, it’ll allow us to have that, that space for ease and, and empathy, I suppose, in our relationship. And so I, I had some closure with that trauma and I don’t feel that trauma, the weight of the trauma anymore on my shoulders.

Tawnya: Did you go through the anger that you have been carrying? Did you feel that first before you were able to see beyond that to acceptance or what did it look like? 

Ally: No, I don’t think that there was that anger, angry part of it. I think that it was mostly sadness. I, I wept for the child that had been abused.

I, I wept for her because she was, it felt very out of control. As a kid and being out of control as a child sort of led to me being this control freak as an adult, which works very well for nursing. Like professionally, it’s right on, but it can be very restrictive to be that kind of control freak ’cause you can’t, you really are never in control anyway, and that sort of became a theme of some of the stuff I was dealing with as well. 

Tawnya: You grieved, you went through a lot of grief for that little girl, and that’s how you were able to get to the forgiveness.

Ally: I grieved for that little girl and then I saw my dad as a little boy and I grieved for him, and that allowed me to come to the place of forgiveness. I was surprised that anger didn’t come up because I have had a lot of anger around it, you know, prior to going to the retreat. But no, I didn’t experience anger during the time that I was at Eleusinia at all.

Tawnya: And after that process, was your macro dose experience beginning to come to an end? Were you exhausted or was there a little bit more that happened beyond that? 

Ally: Oh, there was a lot more that happened. I went from that to being just super playful. I just felt so playful and I rolled down the hill a couple of times.

That was so much fun. Log rolling down the hill and I ended up in the hammocks for a little while. I was feeling very playful and I was swinging back and forth and with my hair wild, the bugambilia started reaching out and sort of grabbing my hair.

And I’m thinking to myself, oh my God, mother Earth is totally trying to reclaim this feral child. Like I just was giggling, just thinking, I am such a feral child from Mother Earth, and this makes total sense to me. But I, at the same time, sort of, yeah, sort of concurrently, I was having this vision that as the bugambilia sort of had its tendrils working its way, you know, holding onto my hair.

I had this vision that one of my arms was reaching up to the celestial realms and that, that I sort of felt like this conduit, like I had a foot on, on the earth and an arm reaching to the celestial realm. So the best way I can describe it is I started imagining the card, the magician in the tarot, who is sort of an intermediary or a witch, if you will, where they’re a conduit between the heavenly realms and the earth.

They have these, you know, the tools on the table and stuff that they can use and work with, the pentacle and the sword and the wand and whatnot. But it was a very meaningful sort of vision to me because I just sort of felt this knowing that I am this conduit.

Like this my next role is to be a conduit as sort of an intermediary, a place where my colleagues can come and, and receive. Sort of assistance helping them bridge. Between their sadness and a fulfilled life, helping them to integrate. I don’t know the best way to explain this. 

Tawnya: It’s beautiful. You’re doing a good job. 

Ally: Thank you, I pictured myself as this conduit, like, truly as my arms were outstretched with one arm pointing to the ground and one arm pointing to the heavens.

Like this ball of light inside of me and sort of like that’s where my power is because I am sort of one foot in, in this mystical realm and one foot on the ground. 

Tawnya: So it’s a very beautiful difference between the way we’ve spent our early career and our lives healing others, giving and giving and carrying the world on our back and instead finally finding connecting spirituality and nursing, in our own way. So it sounds like you just felt super strong and you did feel like you had the capacity to keep going.

Ally: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it, it just sort of reinforced what I knew for me especially, but I think it’s true for many other nurses that I need to have that spiritual component to my work. I believe in the mind, body, spirit connection and for so many years, you know, we’re working with evidence-based practice and we’re, you know, doing the physical work.

So we’re using our mind and we’re using our body. But that last piece has been missing for so long, and we’re careful about it. You know, we don’t wanna infringe on someone’s spiritual beliefs and we don’t want to color their hospital experience with our own spiritual beliefs or practices. But at the same time, I think many of us are in a spiritual place just by being there to witness and receive and allow for them to have their experience and to to have their emotions without judgment, just with love and with empathy. And so spirituality doesn’t have to be this dogmatic, secular thing. It can be just one person seeing the divinity in another person and seeing the wounds of another person and honoring and acknowledging.

And receiving that, and sharing that moment with them. 

Tawnya: Have you had trouble talking about your experience to other people in healthcare or how is it gonna feel for you to share your experience with other nurses? 

Ally: Well, I’m bursting to tell everybody about it, to be honest with you. I’ve shared it a number of times already with close confidants. In fact, I have a dinner date tonight to talk to two of my colleagues and very dear friends about my experience.

And yesterday I met with a physician friend of mine and spoke to her about it and actually recommended the retreat for her. I think that she may be coming down to see you all. It’s been very easy to speak to people who are relatively close to me now. I have spoken about it with a couple of trusted friends at work, but in a limited capacity because I don’t feel like that’s the best setting to really go into the things that I have learned and, and how I sort of come through this experience, a different person. 

It was such a profound experience for me. The small interactions where you get time to talk to your colleagues at work doesn’t seem to really give it justice. But I have a list of people that I do wanna talk to that I know are suffering from burnout pretty badly right now.

And so I’ve sort of made a little list of their names and have made an intention to meet with them, like either lunch or, you know, dinner or something like that off campus to talk to them about my experience and to recommend Eleusinia Retreat for them. 

Tawnya: I’d like to go back to your feelings about menopause, about this new field and stage of life.

Did you have any reflections about who you were as a woman in your macro dose experience? 

Ally: Only I would say only positive things. I felt like this wild crone, you know, the image of the, of the older woman crone, but it’s often in, in mainstream, you know, media and whatnot. It’s often sort of portrayed as a crone, as this rickety old, shriveled up woman who’s dry and not useful to society anymore, and just sort of cranky. 

That’s often the picture of the witch, you know, as the woman gets older. But I didn’t really have that experience. I actually felt very liberated to be this wise, older woman and I felt voluptuous and sensual and powerful and wise, which that’s not usually a word I use for myself, but I, I felt all of those things, very positive things about aging, and not none of the insecurities and stuff were there. Yeah, it was, it felt extremely positive. 

Tawnya: Beautiful. What was your next profound experience? 

Ally: Probably the DMT experience. The next day, because after, so after sitting in the hammocks for a while I started to come down and things were less pixelated and pretty and swirly, but I still had this really inner peace that I felt after the macro dose and then that the following day was the DMT experience and I was a little discombobulated before the DMT experience. 

And I think it was, you know, between travel and lack of sleep and altitude and the, the macro dose from the previous day and just sort of everything. I don’t know. I had read the agenda, but I was kinda surprised when they called me for the DMT experience. Like, oh, I thought we were just gonna chit chat. Oh, this is the DMT experience. Gotcha. Okay. So I sort of went into it a little bit discombobulated, which I think might have contributed to me having a bumpier ride in. And you know, as Josephina pointed out so succinctly and, and kindly for me in, in a kind way, is that my control issues also might have contributed to that.

And I, I understand because I felt like I was leaving my body. So as I was using the DMT, I had really pretty visuals, very orange and turquoise swirls. Some geometric patterns. And then I realized I couldn’t feel my face anymore because I really couldn’t take another drag off of it, for lack of a better term.

And so I remember them lying me down, but I was starting to panic a little bit because I couldn’t feel my body anymore. And I remember like trying to hold on, and I was gripping their hands, but I, I wasn’t really thinking about holding on necessarily to them so much as holding on to this realm because I was, part of me was in another realm.

I could see other dimensions, I could sense other beings there. In fact, I sensed a lot of other beings there. And humans though. And I thought from a brief moment that I had done something wacko. I mean, I’m a little kind of a weird person anyway, and I don’t know what I was imagining except maybe again, back to the running naked streak.

You know, I’ve taken care of a number of patients on psychedelics who have shred, shed all of their clothes. And so that, that sort of, you know, we get ’em in the emergency context. And so that’s sort of, I think what I was worried I might have done and. I just remember thinking that all these people behind me were the other participants at the retreat and I thought, oh my gosh, they’re here to hold me down.

We got a streaker. You know, that sort of stuff again, right? And then I realized that that’s not who it was, that these people that were behind me, I, I knew them from a previous experience doing yoga on my boat. And we had talked about this a little bit before. I had a vision of my spirit guides and they all looked like the Supreme Court.

They were kind of in rows because there were a bunch of them there. It takes a village apparently. And I realized at that moment, at first I, my brain was like, oh my gosh, it must be the other people from the retreat. And all of a sudden I just had this knowing, and no, it’s not, we’re here for you.

We’re not here to protect you or or to stop you, we’re here to witness you, we’re here to support you, we’re here to just be with you. Whatever happens is okay. And that was really a profound thing for me. I felt very safe at that point ’cause I knew who they were and I was like, oh, okay, that’s what this is. And I was still discombobulated. 

Like I, I was very confused about the realms and stuff, but as I started to come out of it, I opened my eyes and I looked at Josefina and her eyes were emerald green like this, like electric, green. She was so beautiful and just radiant. She was shimmery, and Jessica was there and she had sort of a shimmer to her too.

But there was something about Josefina in those eyes. My God, I just ordered a necklace with a snake that has the green eyes, just like I saw in Josefina. 

So that was sort of my other profound experience like, wow.

Tawnya: So you felt like reconnected to that really powerful support network.

And then how was it being with Dave, like being able to integrate like these really profound experiences and him moving through his own experiences, did that feel really enriching to you, for you guys to do it together? 

Ally: It really did. I had to be careful with myself because I, I, you know, going through things like this, especially with a lot of joy, I always wanna sort of bring Dave into it, but I wanted him to have his own experiences and I didn’t wanna infringe on that. Dave was sort of looking for relief from chronic migraines and I, I know that he has his own childhood trauma that he deals with, and I kind of was wondering how that would manifest during this.

And so, you know, I, I wanted to give him space to be able to do his thing, but I, so it was really sweet. He kept coming up to me and I was like, oh, this is wonderful. So, you know, we snuggled and kind of canoodled on the lawn and, you know, we cried together. He, especially after the DMT experience in particular, he told me, he said, you know, he had gone through quite a lot with the DMT experience and was very weepy and feeling like he’s letting go of some, a massive trauma that he experienced when he was in the army, when he was in close combat and actually killed a man. 

And it, you know, knowing my husband, he’s not like that. He’s definitely a lover and not a killer, and he sort of saw this man, and I think he held him even for a moment as he died.

And when he went through that DMT experience, he relived it. So he was weeping and came to me after the DMT experience and we just sort of held one another and cried together, and it was just so beautiful being vulnerable with my spouse, but more so with him being vulnerable with me and him knowing that he was in a safe enough place where he really could just experience this grief finally and grieve for this man and let that go was just such a powerful, beautiful experience between the two of us and for me to be able to be there with him for that.

Tawnya: Wow. In some ways that’s a beautiful experience, but it was similar to you moving through grief to get to forgiveness, but in his case, more self-forgiveness. What was it like coming home? Did you both feel lighter and excited, or were you exhausted when you got home? How? How were you feeling?

Ally: We felt great. I mean, really great. And in fact, I’m still kind of riding that, I mean, my spirit feels lighter and I feel lightness in Dave too. Before we left for the retreat, we were feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that we need to do on the boat to get going again and to physically unburden ourselves with household items that we need to get rid of.

And we’ve been sort of putting that off and it was weighing heavily on us. Our shoulders were aching from the enormity of the task and then coming home even though our flight was delayed a number of times, the Bay Area weather was terrible, high winds and stuff . I kind of expected to be more cranky pants, but we just weren’t, we were just, so blissful after the experience, we got home and we were just like, okay, we’re ready to tackle these projects.

We’re ready now. We’ve been symbolically unburdened of our emotional weight and now we can. We have that energy and that power to address the physical stuff.

Tawnya: Ally, I just wanna know your opinion. What would you want to see for nurses and burnout? What can you imagine there being one day if we could create a pathway for healthcare workers? 

Ally: Actually, I’d like to see it interwoven into nursing curriculum, just like it is for psychologists where they have to undergo therapy before they practice psychology, you know, as a psychologist and also clinical psychologist or whatever. 

I’d like to see that integrated into the nursing curriculum, which will then sort of prepare that, that ground for the, for the groundwork that we’re gonna need. That’s ongoing in nursing. So beginning as nursing students and then, you know, sort of introducing them to therapy, but also to the role of psychedelics in mental health treatment. 

Tawnya: Yeah. There could be like a whole class called learning about being a humanitarian as a nurse and human compassion in general. I am hopeful that we as a country and as a planet can embrace this the best we can. And I hope that they’re all just steps, steps moving forward so that we can continue to be kind to each other and take care of each other the best we can without these just terrible barriers.

Ally: And the barriers to people of color too. The war on drugs has been disproportionately cruel to people of color, and therefore access even if it’s legal, even if it’s accepted in our community. I, I think that it’s gonna take even more to reach out to those communities that have been persecuted over things like marijuana and, you know, sort non-addictive type drugs, you know, long, huge prison sentences for really pretty minor offenses. 

I can see why they would be gun shy about using something that has been called a drug for so long. And so I’m careful about when I talk about it with people, I make sure that I say that this isn’t a drug, this is plant medicine.

This is, you know, the intentional use of any substance even heroin or you know, as an opiate it is used for pain. That’s the original intention. It is a plant medicine, when it’s abused is when it starts to become a drug. But I think it’s gonna take a lot of groundwork to make sure that there’s access for those folks too, so that they don’t fear persecution.

Tawnya: Beautiful. I’m so glad you touched on that. Was there anything else in your experience that you wanted to share that we didn’t have a chance to? 

Ally: You know, I’m still processing it. In fact, I spent a little bit of time last night sort of trying to write about it. And you know, I still at times find it difficult to find the words, to express the depth of the experience and what it meant to me from a spiritual perspective and how it helped me to sort of come home to myself and have that compassion and, and be able to let go of that. That pain that I had as a child.

 That was just so profound for me. That it’s hard really to put into words, and I’m hoping that through my writing and stuff, that I’ll be able to find a succinct and conscious way to be able to express myself, where people can really understand the profundity of the experience that I had. 

Tawnya: Thank you so much, Ally, for sharing your story. The story of your life, the story of both of you and the story of you on this path of weaving together spirituality and also being an incredible leader in the field of healthcare today. I appreciate you. 

Ally: Thank you so much. I appreciate you too, Tawnya.

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