Season 3
30 Minutes

E114 | Janice Masters | When Life Is On Our Side

Janice Masters is a former psychotherapist of 22 years turned healer/guide. For the last 30 years, Janice has served women as what she calls a Spiral Path coach, mentor, and shaman to help them embrace their greatness and manifest miracles.

At 78, after a year of facing pernicious health challenges and having a double heart-valve-replacement surgery, Janice continues to learn her own life lessons and is courageously exploring her next act.

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Janice Masters  00:00

under the constraints of the state license, I couldn’t go in a spiritual direction. I couldn’t go in a world direction that was not okay. And that became such a block for me that I felt like I didn’t even have a choice I had to let the license go because otherwise it was constraining parts of me that it becomes so important and so figure out for my own development

Achim Nowak  00:27

Hey, this is Achim Nowak, executive coach and host of the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. If life is a five act play, how will you spend your FOURTH ACT? I have conversations with exceptional humans who have created bold and unexpected FOURTH ACTS, listen, and to be inspired. And please rate us and subscribe on whatever platform you are listening on. Let’s get started. I am just delighted to welcome Janice masters to the MY FOURTH ACT PODCAST. Janice is a former psychotherapist that was her professional title for 22 years. Now for the last 30 years and more she has served women as what she calls a spiral path coach and mentor. And occasionally she used one of my favorite sports shaman, someone to say that to help women embrace their greatness and manifest miracles. After a year of facing her own health challenges, and having a double heart valve replacement surgery, Janice continues to learn her own life lessons, and is exploring her own what’s next. And what is welcome, Janice.

Janice Masters  01:47

Thank you. Achim

Achim Nowak  01:49

Before we get to Janice now and today, I’m always curious, like when you were a young girl growing up, I believe you’re from Buffalo. What were your thoughts and dreams about what you wanted to be when you grew up? Well,

Janice Masters  02:04

first of all, I was born in Texas. And then I lived the first five years in Rochester with my maternal grandparents and learned Sicilian with them. Then we moved to Buffalo. I always saw myself as being a teacher. But you know, we played school with the Blackboard and lessons and reading. I had no idea the scope of teacher what that meant at that time. That was play. But honestly, I guess it was part of my soul as well. Went through 1216 years of school with the same order of nuns never had the urge to become a nun. And later in life, I said to my friend, I’m pretty sure I had already done that.

Achim Nowak  02:51

Done don’t need to do it in this lifetime.

Janice Masters  02:53

Yeah. The archetype of teacher was sort of always there. I went to college to become a language teacher because I adored languages. But I found very quickly that teaching languages was not my thing, energetically, it was not what I wanted to do. How

Achim Nowak  03:11

did you pivot from language to being a therapist that that happened quick? Yeah.

Janice Masters  03:16

Well, it didn’t happen quickly. I had a baby. And so that took me out of the teaching profession for a while then husband and I moved to the Washington DC area. Because it was a seven days, all kinds of stuff was coming up for all kinds of people. I went into therapy, because I was having a really hard time with anxiety. And I had fantastic therapist. And that was what I knew. This is what I want to do. It gives me goosebumps now.

Achim Nowak  03:43

I moved to the DC area in the 70s. myself full curious, where did you live in the DC area? I

Janice Masters  03:51

lived in Springfield, Virginia,

Achim Nowak  03:53

where a son or whatever it is, yeah, we lived in. My dad was in Potomac, and he was sent there to build a German school. So that’s how I came to this country.

Janice Masters  04:01

Yeah, my husband was working in DC, and I was a housewife in suburban Virginia. But I fell in love with the area that forest, the trees and everything about it. It was also very life changing, because for somewhat shy, a very good girl like me, stepping out of the place where everybody knows you gave me permission to step out of the box that I was in, because if nobody’s watching you, you can do whatever you want.

Achim Nowak  04:34

And we did. Buddy, who I’m not a therapist, but I’ve seen therapists on and off for decades. And I certainly know being a therapist, you hear a lot of stories and your experience of life just expands through your clients. You think for a moment about those 20 So years where that’s what you did professionally. What are a moment or two where you go wow, Oh, this is why I was a psychotherapist. This is what I loved about what I was doing.

Janice Masters  05:06

Well, the thing that has stayed with me all these years and that comes to mind now is when someone who decades later became a very good friend of mine, came to my house for I think it maybe it was Christmas, and my mom and dad were there. And she took my makes me feel a lot, even now, she took my mom aside, and she said, I just wanted you to know, the first time I saw your daughter, I felt like killing myself. And after that session, I no longer felt that I wanted to do that. My mom who didn’t really even know much about what I was doing as a therapist was just she was honored that this person told her that but she also was pretty floored by it.

Achim Nowak  05:46

How if we use the one example of that sort of conversations, you’re privileged to have as a therapist with people, how do you? Where does the conversation go? So this woman goes, no, maybe I’m not ready to leave yet.

Janice Masters  06:02

I can honestly say that I had many clients who were at that point in their lives. And so the main thing for me is the intimacy that happens when a client begins to tell me what really is happening, that I’m not telling anybody else about that I feel this way, I can then begin to help browned your feedback and really put a positive spin on whatever it is, because it’s always a case of thinking you’re not enough how,

Achim Nowak  06:30

as somebody who’s seen lots of different therapists, some are more quiet and validating and some are more participative. How much of a partner are you and using this language? Feel free to use it? Yeah, in this session, I’m just curious,

Janice Masters  06:46

very much a partner very much not just a sounding board, because I felt like in my then pretty young life that I had learned a lot, I would say eager to share some new perspectives, and to help my clients to play with different perspectives on themselves and on their lives. And what was going on the books that I’ve written, a lot of that started with my work, because I would say, Well, what if? What if this? What if that, and so we’re just positing possibility, and then my client gets to think about and feel about usually brings them to the next place they need to go.

Achim Nowak  07:27

At some point, you decided to call yourself something different. And I think what we say we do matters, these are choices. And when I use a different descriptor, I attract different people, I think, what prompted you to play with other ways of describing who you are and how you serve?

Janice Masters  07:46

Well, I think primarily in those days, I came to the conclusion that I was no longer willing to take a client who comes into my office and immediately give him or her a psychiatric diagnosis. And secondarily to that, I really didn’t want to leave it up to an insurance company, how many sessions you were supposed to have, in order to get to a place where you felt good, against the good judgment of many of my friends and family. I dropped my state license. It felt so right that I never looked back. And at that point, I started to call myself a counselor rather than a therapist, and then other people came up with the shaman mama. So there were these, these hats that I could put on now, without the constraints. As

Achim Nowak  08:35

somebody who works in the personal development space. What I’m thinking as you’re talking about and just want to test this assumption is that by playing with different hacks, different language, allows you to slip into many different and more skins in your relationship with people and possibly expand just how you play with each other and explore as you are together. Am I reading that correctly?

Janice Masters  08:58

Absolutely. Absolutely. Because under the constraints of those state license, I couldn’t go in a spiritual direction. I couldn’t go in a world direction that was not okay. And that became such a block for me. I felt like I didn’t even have a choice. I had to let the license go because otherwise it was constraining parts of me that had become so important and so figural for my own development, since

Achim Nowak  09:23

you mentioned the term shaman, Mama, I don’t see this in your current description of yourself. I love it because shamans, shamanic energies beings I’m drawn to, but that again has connotations for people. Both shaman, both mama, some people who go that’s exactly what I want. Or they might go Oh, no, that’s the last thing I want. Yeah. What was it like when people ascribe that to you and you started maybe playfully using it?

Janice Masters  09:52

Well, actually was presented to me by a client because she said this is who you are to me and more deeply The Internet became so clear that so much of my work had become delving into a very spiritual direction, which certainly was not, at least in those days wasn’t part of psychotherapy. Although if you take the words apart, it’s pretty much psychotherapy. And while I never saw myself as a shaman, because I don’t believe I’m the prime mover to change somebody, I think that if people see that and feel that, then they get to connect with that part of themselves as well.

Achim Nowak  10:33

One of the many things I admire about you is just the fact that you’re a woman in your 70s, you own that, and you’ve been doing this for a long time. So what I need to ask you is, it’s almost an impossible question. But as somebody who’s been holding space for other people and use expanded, you give yourself permission to play in a big playground with people, how have you changed as a person through the work that

Janice Masters  11:00

you do? have become? It doesn’t sound like it, but I’ve become much more humble. Because I think when I look back at myself as a neophyte therapist, there’s a point in that beginning, when you kind of think you know it all and you kind of think you have most of the answers. And as I went along, in the profession, with so many amazing people followed their trajectory of life and emotion and spirituality, it was clear to me that I don’t know that much. I am a good guide I can hold. In fact, one of my clients would say to me, I think the most important thing you do for me is you hold the lantern really high. And I loved that. If I can take ownership of anything, it’s that I keep the flashlight go on, I shine the light. Like, let’s look at this, because it’s up to you to decide what that means for you and where you want to go with it.

Achim Nowak  11:55

Well, can we shine the light on another part of your life? Ramon, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you in person I’ve met white Reynolds is a very special man. And you two have been together for gosh, a good 30 years. And this is after you had been married before which you mentioned. It’s very curious when you have a second partner or a spouse. What drew you to Dwight, let’s start there?

Janice Masters  12:19

Well, let me back up a little bit. Because during the course of my first marriage, which was between two very young, naive, immature people, I was in therapy a lot. And I was in therapy a lot through the separation. I found the anger that was underneath a lot of my dysfunction. And the reason that I attract someone like him, by the time I met Dwight, which now was 40 years ago, we had a mutual friend, she was in the Gestalt training with me, and she was in graduate school with Dwight, and she just said these guys got to meet. We both ended up at her graduation party. And the first thing she did when she introduced the two of us, and we talked, we literally had been together ever since that night. It was such a, the word that comes off for me right now is it was such a relief to meet someone being on the same level of the same heart, not the same mind, because he’s got his own mind and soda. Why, but the energy between us was just so beautiful, and still is so loving and so respectful and fun. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel, by him and our, our Union together.

Achim Nowak  13:32

I resonate with all the language you use. I’m thinking about my own life and who I partnered with beautiful, what I’m thinking about also, how do you grow and evolve together? Because sometimes people grow and evolve apart, right? And there’s nothing wrong with that at 40 years of having a space where you, as you said, the love and the energy are there today, as they were a long time ago, I’m sure informed by a lot of other things. But how does that happen? over 40 years,

Janice Masters  14:03

there is an openness that I really have not experienced in any other relationship, whatever it is, it’s on the table. And there is a foundation of luck. You and I are together. And this is forever. Let’s do we got to do with this. You know, in 40 years, certainly there have been times when disagreed, but it isn’t even that it’s the things have happened that we have to process in order to understand where we each are with them. There’s an openness and a fundamental trust that allows us to talk about feel about process, let something go come back to it. You know, there’s just this. There’s never a question that we’re going to get through this that we’re going to figure it out.

Achim Nowak  14:50

If somebody’s listening and they go oh boss, I want what Janice has, what words of wisdom or guidance would you give them in relationship to their partners and how they engage with each other.

Janice Masters  15:02

The first and foremost thing is work on yourself. Take it as deeply as you can with yourself, find as much love for yourself find as much trust in yourself. Look, there’s a lot of crap that goes on in a dysfunctional relationship. I learned a lot from that first marriage, what not to do, and more importantly, how important it was to be my whole self. And he very much had come to the same place. We did have a psychic tell us once that we’ve been together through lifetimes. So maybe that helps. But it’s really about trust and faith in each other.

Achim Nowak  15:43

A word from your sponsor, that’s me. I invite you to go to the website associated with this podcast, fourth, you will find other equally inspiring conversation with great humans. And you will also learn more about the my fourth act mastermind groups where cool people figure out how to chart their own fourth acts. Please check it out. And now back to the conversation. Part of the life that you have is I know you live to south of Miami, in South Florida, but you also occasionally hop up to the mountains in North Carolina. And those are very different environments, energetically very different. And I have a hunch there’s a lot of deliberateness behind that. Would you tell me why these two places and how do they energetically fuel you? And yeah,

Janice Masters  16:44

well, the South Florida piece is that I ended up here because my first husband got a job here. He came to South Florida because he was in graduate school here. The North Carolina piece emerged. Before I met Dwight, I went to a gestalt training in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and I fell in love with the place, my friend and I went to Mount Pisgah. And we stayed a couple of nights. And it was so, so magical. The next year when I met Dwight, I said, we, April, May you name it, but we got to take a trip up there, because I want you to experience this. The beauty is unbelievable and indescribable. The energy of it is for us feels very spiritual, walking in those didn’t know this until a long while ago, but the oldest mountains in the world that at one point split, so some of them are in England and Ireland and the rest are here in the south. And they’ve been softened, the energy has been softened by the millennia. We have a love affair with it feels like it just feeds our that desire to take a breath and let it go and

Achim Nowak  18:01

Amen. As we chuckle about that, you and I both have had double heart valve replacement surgeries this year, you’ve been very public in your social media posts about that journey. And so you’re the man and I know how those experiences change us and impact as I know it for myself. But yeah, would you please tell our listeners, again, you’re in your 70s Stuff happens in our bodies. But how walk us into the moment where suddenly said is you need to be in the hospital. And we need to do a heart valve replacement and not just want to do How did you get there? Yeah,

Janice Masters  18:43

but this is kind of my PSA did I do frequently, which is I had numerous manifestations that we found out later were due to a rampant infection. One of them was that I had bilateral sciatica, both hips, both sides. I had been in chiropractic before for sciatica. So I knew what that was like. But even the chiropractor who was treating me didn’t say this is not right. There’s something wrong here. But then it progressed to some other symptoms. Another one, which was called torticollis, which was a huge fasm of the muscles in my neck in my head and cracked one of my vertebrae. At that point, they decided that they really do, I took me to the emergency room. And at that point, they admitted me and they began to look more closely at what was going on. Unfortunately, they still didn’t identify this strain of bacteria that was causing this infection until it reached the point where it destroyed to heart valves. That whole time that I was in the hospital. You know my personality like this in the hospital, I became a very quiet, very passive, very receptive iteration of myself. The only way I can describe it, I felt well Like, there’s really nothing for me to do here, except be grateful for the compassion for the help for the everything that they’re figuring out that they need to do. And so one day went into another one week, one month, it ended up being a six month stay, during which I lost so much weight from not eating. But also because I was in the bed for six months, I lost a lot of muscle. And so when I was discharged, I couldn’t walk, the last year has been about walking. And boy, do I value walking,

Achim Nowak  20:34

why six months, I wasn’t in there for six months. So why the six months, that’s what I’m grappling with. Once

Janice Masters  20:40

they did the heart valve replacement. They had me on medication for that post surgery that resulted in versus the left long then the right that just kept turning around, draining my lungs, draining this one draining that one draining this one draining that one. And also months after the surgery hanging a very potent antibiotic next to my bed two or three times a day, vancomycin, but again, I just became this other version of myself. And I believe, because I’ve been taking a very deep look at our life challenges and what they do for us and what they do to us and what we do with them. It brought out a whole new version of me, which I wasn’t aware of until I left the hospital and started some physical therapy and started to go on the road to walking again with Well, first a wheelchair, then a walker, and then that whole trip. So that version of me morphed into a much more grateful, I didn’t even know it was possible to be more grateful to still be alive to still be functional, at 78, after going through something like that, because I do have deep faith. I believe that all was was not a testing ground, but a strengthening ground. I don’t have the words for it. But I know something major happened to me.

Achim Nowak  22:14

I love how you said I feel more grateful. It’s clear to me you weren’t grateful before. So your gratitude and appreciation has amplified. And the stereotype in the situation is I appreciate all the little things more than I used to take for granted. Is that what you’re talking about? Or how else would you describe it?

Janice Masters  22:34

I’m talking about that. But I’m also talking about there are things that are happening in my life that I wouldn’t have chosen, some with close relationships, some other experiences. I have a Sicilian background. And so I was steeped in somebody does you wrong, man you hang on to resent me for ever. I can’t afford that anymore. Yeah, that was one of the realizations I came to. So whenever I feel that come up in me and you know, there plenty of opportunity, let’s face it, I immediately go to compassion and love, not just for them, but for me as well. And that’s been a game changer because being steeped in I love the Sicilian culture and my grandparents and all that. But that particular piece of it, at this point is a real spoiler for me, I can’t do that anymore. I don’t have a halo out there yet. But I can’t do that anyway, never

Achim Nowak  23:31

have. Right? You’re 78 you’re just it’s a cliche to say this. But when you talk about walking again, it’s almost like both going back to childhood and being reborn. Again, it has all those aspects to me, as you describe it, and the chance to see the world in a different way. As you look forward. Do you think about oh, I’d like to see more of this. I’d like a little less of that. Other dreams and aspirations or is it more like, let me just take it a day at a time or a moment at a time? How do you think about the future journalists?

Janice Masters  24:08

You know, it’s kind of a combination of all of that. One of my desires right now is that I be able to walk well, the way I used to, without thinking just walking, because I’m not there yet. You know, I still have a limp. I need some strengthening. But there’s another piece of that which my physical therapist pointed out to me when I was in therapy after the hospital. She took me by the shoulders and she said look, you don’t know it yet, but you starting with a wheelchair, then you’re gonna have an aluminum Walker, then you’re gonna have a fancy Walker, and then you’re gonna have a pretty cane, and then you’re going to need nothing. And I just burst into tears because that was unthinkable at that point. So now, I’m not aware that every single second but I never forget that. When I’m walking with my little limp. I’m like, Look, girl, you’re walking. You’re walking. There are aspirations. I do want to have Like those mountains in North Carolina again, I want to hike them. I want to get back to swimming half a mile a mile like I used to in my pool. I know that’s something you love. That has always been such a fabulous experience for me. I want to get on an airplane, I want to fly to Milan. You know, I haven’t been on an airplane since all that. And at the same time, there is an appreciation for the indescribable sameness of life. That is such a blessing. I,

Achim Nowak  25:31

having been in the hospital myself, and having just gone through cardiac rehab was so moved by all the different people who came in and out of my room in the hospital, I get emotional as I talk about it. Now, I hear your job is to take care of me. Yeah, that was profound. What was profound in rehab, and I’m relaying this is to be surrounded by lots of other people in various stages of disarray, working on their body was moving, you know, it just expanded my perspective of the human condition. And it was humbling in a very good way.

Janice Masters  26:08

Oh, very, very much. So.

Achim Nowak  26:12

Maybe let’s wrap up with this part of my experience this year was my partner David was extraordinary and the experience. So one of the gifts was me having to have a heart valve replacement surgery, being in the hospital, rehab, all those things. It sure was good for our relationship. Can you talk about Dwight, and you know, you’ve been together much longer Dave and I’m in our sixth year. But how was it to go with your partner of 40 years through this experience?

Janice Masters  26:43

Well, honestly, I was not very aware. While I was in the hospital. I was grateful, as you alluded to the compassion that surrounded me the service that say thank you, and they’d say, No, it was my mother, I would do it. And since I’ve been out of the hospital, there have been times when I’m brought to tears thanking Dwight for his constancy, and he’ll hold me and look at me and say, There’s nothing else I would have ever done. That’s who we are. There’s that preciousness about the relationship that those marriage vows, you know, in sickness and in health. Think about you really think about it when you’re standing there getting married, but it’s living a life together. He’s had a heart attack, and survived and recovered, and I’ve had this and survived and recovered. It just makes what we have together and time and life that much more precious. If

Achim Nowak  27:41

you were to whisper some words of wisdom into young Janice’s ears and think of young Janice as all the other women young Janice’s Age stuff that you couldn’t have known them. But you know now, channel shamatha mama for us like what would Schommer mama say to young Janice or other young women,

Janice Masters  28:00

she would say to her life is going to change so many times, in so many ways. Always remember your goodness, always remember you are loved. Always remember that life is on your side. And that change is necessary for everyone. Just try to love and appreciate what you have every moment darlin

Achim Nowak  28:25

life is on your side. Yeah, thank you for the gift of this conversation. And thank you for the gift of you, Janice. If any of our listeners want to learn more about you, you do your books, your offerings to the world, where can they find you?

Janice Masters  28:42

They can find me and thank you again, this has been absolutely lovely and wonderful. They can find me at Janice There’s a blog where I’ve written many, many, many articles. There’s also a page for resources where they can get some ebooks and things that I’ve put together for free. I’m on Facebook, under Janus masters. I also have a group on Facebook called empaths to quantum power, which is for men and women who are sensitive, empathic, intuitive. Let’s all do it together. I hope they look for me and I am very happy to think about the fact that we will be sharing this conversation with others. That’s lovely.

Achim Nowak  29:25

And just want to give a shout out to the person who I know we both love and respect who first introduced me to you Paul’s Elizur who has been a guest on this podcast and is a whole other wonderful channel of light. Oh, yes.

Janice Masters  29:39

Wonderful. Thank you. Well, thank you for the invitation. Thank you for this experience and bless you, my friend. My pleasure.

Achim Nowak  29:48

Like what you heard, please go to my fourth And subscribe to receive my updates on upcoming episodes. Please He is also subscribe to us on the platform of your choice rate us give us a review and let us all create some magical fourth acts together Ciao


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