: a story about my spirit-full mentor Joanne.
I’ve been thinking lately about my life and how it has shaped to this point in time. How did I become such a crazy anarchistic R.E.b.E.L.? I’ve had some amazing mentors and teachers – more than I could count really because there’s always some little treasure in every encounter.
But one person I’ve been thinking about in particular is my friend Joanne. When I was young and impressionable she was a light on the spiritual landscape that really did shape so much of how I moved forward in business and life in general.
My friend Joanne went to the same country school as I did but 10-15 years before me. She arrived at the school to one of those awfully ugly public school uniforms that Australia just loved back then hey : grey winter skirt, brown tights and a maroon jumper.
Well my friend Joanne would have none of that ugly. She hooked up her wool skirt above the knee and refused to wear ugly brown tights. She started wearing black instead – you can imagine that right? Pleated mini skirt and black tights with a pair of Mary Janes or doc martens. Very punk rock.
As you can imagine the school didn’t love it. But when Joanne rallied the other girls they all started wearing black tights too. Eventually, all the girls were styling the black and the school couldn’t change their minds. So they changed the uniform code! And it was still the same code : grey short wool skirt, black tights and maroon jumper when I started high school in the 90s. #renegade
When I met Joanne she owned a new-age store in our little town. It was an entirely ethical and sustainable store, way before that was trendy. She seemed to know every sales rep personally and the owner of every little company she bought from. This store was a mass hub for the entire region and through the spiritual awakenings of the 90s introduced so so many people to the Real World. It was the drop off point for the organic farmers delivery, it sold spiritual books, did massage, sponsored woo woo workshops, toted the importance of beeswax candles (yep, way before that was trendy too), and sold Australian Bush Flower Essences and organic cosmetics.
In fact, Joanne was one of the very first Australian Bush Flower Essence teachers (still is) and is a close friend of Ian White. She started her career thinking she wanted to be a naturopath and soon realised there were too many limits there. So she took her own path. She studied vibrational therapies, kinesiology and food. She healed herself from cancer cells with food and sprit work. She made up her own rules. #renegade
So when I was 15 I did work experience at the store, and eventually worked there over the summer each year until I left town to live my own dreams. What an amazing experience for learning about EVERYTHING. I remember watching as Joanne muscle tested a client over the phone to find out if their shampoo was causing them problems. I loved it! It fucking inspired me. She told me which witchcraft books were the real deal – even though it wasn’t her thing she had friends in the industry who she could ask. She introduced me to Birkenstocks. And Loreena McKennit.
Joanne was all about sustainable earth based lovin. She had a no polystyrene policy. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in a shop but you might be interested to know that there are very few companies who package with ‘natural’ fillers. Joanne would open a box, see that it was full of something revolting for the environment and tape that baby back up to send back on the first truck out of town. She was staunch about this stuff. Companies had to change. #renegade
When I came to Canberra I really thought that a community like the one we had back there with all the hippies would be normal. Like bigger city, surely bigger group of awesome renegades. Not so much. So what else could I do? I started creating my own community.
My own store which I opened at age 23 was incredibly inspired by my renegade SisStar Joanne. I used many of the same reps and one-on-one concepts. I rang companies and introduced myself directly to owners. I told them my vision and then listened while the owners opened up and told me about their greatest passions. I learned so much! not only about sustainability and ethical relationships, but also about how to do business.
When my first child was born Joanne came to stay with me. She visited the church where she was ‘first blessed’. I can’t say how moving this was for me. Not because this woman is into religion but because she GETS essence. She gets the Christ energy without the dogma. She told me a story of seeing an adult baptised and witnessing the violet colour of spiritual depth emanate from her after the ceremony. It taught me that energy is energy and spirit is spirit and intention is intention. It doesn’t matter which label we give it. Religion doesn’t matter. #renegade
The last time I saw my friend Joanne she was working on amazing projects to heal communities and feral animal populations. I don’t think I can talk about her project but I can give you one word to explain : #renegade
I’m so grateful to have known this woman and to have met her when I did. She helped shape the emerging person I came to this earth to be. She has taught me so much, and still does with every moment we share and every time I think of what she has done in this world.
Maia Nie Heya beauty-full Joanne. Thank you for being my renegade friend, Sistar and mentor.
The article How to be a Renegade – #institutestyle was published by Hollie B., for the Institute for Self Crafting.
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