We had the good fortune of connecting with Amanda Fletcher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amanda, what do you attribute your success to?
The concept of the wounded healer.
I first heard this from my writing mentor, Samantha Dunn. She applied it to the memoir I have been working on about breaking my neck in a diving accident in 2002, I think she referred to the narrator (me) as the “wounded sage”. Now I know that the wounded healer has roots in Greek mythology and Jungian psychology, but what really resonates is the meaning. That the desire to heal is born out of our own wounds.
My relatives on both sides have struggled with addiction and mental illness–including bipolar, schizophrenia and depression. My mother, aunt, uncle and cousin all took their own lives by the time I turned 25. I had to figure out how to stay alive using whatever tools were at my disposal. Prior to treatment that meant everything from Twinkies to tweaking on speed. I took that drunk dive and ended up in a cervical halo for four months. After that, it was a stay in Sheriff Joe’s tent for a DUI. Then, a breast cancer diagnosis, followed by a mastectomy, chemo, and ultimately, sobriety.
I’ve been through some shit is what I’m saying. I can relate to trauma. That said, it’s important for me to point out that there are some things I will never fully understand. I have never been a victim of racism or xenophobia. No one has ever looked at me with hate or fear because of the color of my skin or the language I am speaking. What I hope is that my history makes it easier for me to access empathy and compassion across the human experience.
Through it all, I tried many things to regulate my physical, emotional and mental health. The pandemic forced me into a deeper understanding of my coping skills. In the past year and a half, I’ve landed on movement, breathwork and writing as the magic trilogy for accessing joy and maximizing whole human BE-ing health. Using these tools keeps me here, surviving and thriving through it all.
I believe in the power of picking each other up, that the healer is just another human being healed. I know what it’s like to be lost. Feeling helpless, hopeless and useless leads us into despair. I don’t want anyone going through that alone. Community is key.
What should our readers know about your business?
It has been my experience that we as humans pick our thing and run with it–you identify as a jock or an intellectual or a spiritual person–when really, all of us have aspects of all three. Incorporating movement, breathwork and writing into a single workshop allows us to experience every part of ourselves and how those parts work together to create the whole. When I was in treatment, there was time set aside for physical activity, meditation, and some form of artistic expression, and we were asked to accept the importance of mind, body and spirit for wellbeing, but not really coached in how to integrate the concepts. The stress of the pandemic forced me into a better understanding of the connections and how I could use them to not just manage my grief, fear and anxiety, but to rise above those things. Even if just for a moment, I could experience joy in the chaos. So, was it hard losing my job in my 40s and being afraid of not finding steady work again? Hell yes. Taking the leap into a new business is scary in the best of times. I’m doing it because I believe in the efficacy of the format one thousand percent. We’re being repeatedly traumatized on a global level and we need this work.
My 90-minute Whole Human Workshops are available both virtually and in person, and are designed to honor all bodies and experience levels. We move, breathe and write together in pursuit of improved mental, physical and emotional health. While I will continue to offer personal classes and one-on-one sessions, I’ve decided to prioritize corporate wellness. My goal is to relieve the individual of the financial burden and any scheduling conflicts. Our lives are already so busy outside of the office! Our bosses should be providing these services to us. Personal satisfaction leads to professional productivity in any field. And stepping out of our comfort zones in a community of colleagues is a great team-building exercise, it establishes more authentic connections. Even when you don’t turn your camera on.
I’ll also be offering discounted rates to community centers, hospitals and institutions. I want to work with as many people as I can, not just the ones who can afford it or are already interested. Every human needs access to healing. We all deserve joy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Thinking about this in terms of COVID and the DELTA variant and how we can stay safe while still exploring SoCal. I say we rent a car, preferably a Subaru Forester or the Buick Avenir because they have their own WiFi so we can surf the web and the water and we drive PCH, maybe starting at Paradise Cove in Malibu, driving all the way down to San Diego, making stops along the way. Do some glamping in Topanga, stay at the Erwin in Venice, spend at least one night in the Surfside Water Tower (one because it’s like $800 a night). Take a longboard lesson in Surf City before shacking up at The Huntington Beach House and Paséa Hotel & Spa. Laguna is my absolute favorite for beaches–Victoria Beach with its ocean pool and antique stone tower is a must-see, but stay a few days in an AirBnB to explore all of the street beaches. It’ll give you a chance to time the tides to hunt out the secret pools!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
If I could I’d change my pronouns to she/her/us, my “me” to “we”. Community is how I found myself, how I continue to find myself, to flourish. We aren’t meant to do this thing alone. That said, I have a love/hate relationship with naming names because I don’t want to leave anyone out. Know that I love you, even if I don’t list you. Promise.
My first form of refuge was my physical self–I picked up weight training 20 years ago with amateur bodybuilder Mike Walton, who has since lost his own battle with addiction. I can still see him laughing at me, stumbling down the stairs after leg day, calling me “Meathead”. When I moved to LA and had no friends, I found us in Gold’s Gym with Joanne Lee Cornish, Joselynne Boschen, Alison McLea and Julie Rodin.
My writing community–The Emerging Voices Alumni Network of writers, mentors, instructors and author evening hosts, my colleagues at PEN. All I ever wanted was to be a writer and these folx showed me it was possible, and that it doesn’t happen in a vacuum, no matter how solitary a practice writing can be.
My recovery community–there is no distinction between breathwork and recovery for me. Twelve-Step groups are based on an acceptance of spirituality, a fact I could not access authentically until I tried breathwork for the first time. The steps and breathwork keep me becoming.
And BOOKS are EVERYTHING–There are SO MANY. Here is a tiny sample:
Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, Heavy by Kiese Laymon, The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, A Woman’s Way Through the 12-steps by Stephanie Covington, When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Cullors and Asha Bandele, White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad, Not By Accident by Samantha Dunn, Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff by Sara Borjas, be/trouble by bridgette bianca, White Oleander by Janet Fitch…
Books about moms and addiction and loss and grief, what we’ve done in the past and how we’re living now, books full of beauty and pain, telling us how the two things weave together, making the human experience so fucking precious. (I can say fuck right?)
Images by @veesmakeupandphotos