Judy grew up in a tiny town in northern Illinois; her stepfather the local Lutheran Minister and her mother; tightly grafted to the village’s maternal grapevine, instantly aware of any rambunctious child’s indiscretions.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UW Madison and has been working within the canon of western medicine for more than twenty-five years, beginning at the Portland VA Medical Center. When her sister had children, Judy returned to the Twin Cities to be closer to family. She practiced bedside nursing at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and discharge planning at St. Paul Regions Hospital.
Judy’s introduction to holistic medicine occurred early in her career, during her preceptorship; an apprentice like experience between her junior and senior years in nursing school. A thirteen-year-old was scheduled for a spinal tap; a delicate and painful procedure. In this instance, the nurse practitioner and patient working together devised a strategy to use guided imagery/visualization and mild sedation. The plan worked well, avoiding the risks associated with general anesthesia.
Her next experience of complementary or integrative medicine came after working a twelve-hour over-night shift at Children’s. Though exhausted, she stayed at the hospital to attend a presentation by Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams an American physician, comedian, social activist, clown, author and founder of the Gesundheit! Institute. Talking afterward “Patch” recruited her to join an international group of seniors and other healthcare professional “clowns” to tour hospitals in Russia. One of the caveats was that they had to travel in full, colorful regalia. Imagine navigating through a TSA checkpoint today; you’d have to remove your shoes. It was the experience of a lifetime.
She enrolled in the Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies (MAHS) at St. Catherine’s (Kate’s), an innovative graduate program that invites individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to study the philosophy, science, and art of the holistic model of health and healing. Halfway through the program, she received a devasting diagnosis: breast cancer.
During recovery, she realized that the western medical model wasn’t enough, she had to make changes to her diet, her exercise regime, her whole outlook on life. In Judy’s words, “I had experienced some yoga classes, but after my diagnosis was looking for a class that was specific to people who had recently been through some type of surgery and needed modification.”
A friend mentioned this guy Matt and the work he was doing with Mind Body Solutions, but she was in Afton and MBS was way out in Minnetonka. Then in 2016, she became aware of an opportunity: “A Mind-Body Approach to Trauma and PTSD: A Weekend Workshop with Matthew Sanford”. During that weekend she came to the realization that PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) was not limited to military veterans or survivors of natural disasters. Breast cancer is a form of both physical and psychological trauma and the mind-body approach differs from current trauma-based therapies for PTSD and trauma. That was the inflection point for her. Judy is a regular at Matt’s Thursday morning class and stays to assist at the adaptive class later that morning.
Judy’s newest gig is as a Wellness Nurse for SASH (Support and Services at Home) at the Presbyterian Homes of Bloomington. Started in Vermont and funded by a two-year grant from Cargill, SASH coordinates the resources of social-service agencies, community health providers and nonprofit housing organizations to support older adults as well as people with special needs who choose to live independently at home. In this work, she also offers a weekly mind-body wellness class, during which she shares the healing principles of yoga gleaned from her experience with Mind Body Solutions.