This is the third in my series of 30 posts to friends, mentors, and teachers who have inspired me over the past year. I hope you enjoy.

Dear H,

Fear was my word when I met you. I had just graduated from college, and I was struggling to define my new “normal.” I was overwhelmed about my health for sure, but I think more on edge when it came to dating, friendships and my career path/purpose. Looking back, I can only imagine what it must have been like to be standing beside me through such a funky period — 10 steps forward, 20 back, 30 steps forward, 22 back.  Even though I was running myself in circles, I felt so much more empowered having you by my side.

I’m certain it must have been equally frustrating and exciting, but you found a way to give me advice that was wise without being condescending. You were informative without leaving me feeling completely overwhelmed. I eagerly soaked up your book recommendations — like Everyday Grace, The Four Agreements, and more. I was just starting to grasp some of those what I call “out there” concepts like the Law of Attraction (thoughts become things), my energy field (the 7 chakras!) and karma (leftover from past lives). You laid the foundations well, and when it came time for other teachers to challenge me even further my mind was much, much more open.

One of the most striking lessons I remember from those years was discussing my throat chakra. How could I ignore the fact that my throat was the source of so many of my health concerns? I’ve had strep throat dozens and dozens of times. I was rushed to the ICU in ambulance when I was 10 years old because my airway was dangerously compromised. My sophomore year of college, I had a series of five infections in my throat that left me unable to swallow even a drop of water. Perhaps the final straw, my physician found a cyst there earlier this year (yet another reason I kick-started a more aggressive get-better plan).

I was more than ready to listen when you suggested these illnesses in my throat were connected to my throat chakra.  After all, there was such a clear pattern. You taught me how the “energy center” that sits in your throat is associated with the concept, “I speak my truth.” We talked about how I was speaking everyone else’s truth but my own. My boss’. My father’s. My boyfriend’s. My best friend’s. I’d lost a definitive sense of who I was and what I really wanted. I was playing “Kate” for everyone else, and it all looked well and good from the outside — but it felt kind of miserable.

I started to ruffle a few feathers with my friends, my parents —  dating people I knew I shouldn’t, partying a little too hard — finally starting to chart my own course. I needed the freedom to finally make my own decisions — and fall, and ache, and hurt but have it be my own. I had the courage to shake things up because you kept fiercely encouraging me to  trust my own voice.

As time passed, you opened up many doors, from reflexology, to foot detox, to reiki, to archetypes like “rule keeper.” We went to see your friend Sage, one day, who mines for crystals in Arizona, and she gave me an impromptu energy reading. Scanning my body and then grimacing, and wincing, saying, “Sweetie, your intestines!!” I remember being stunned that she was able to access my ache so quickly, but I left feeling empowered because she whispered to me as were leaving, “Don’t worry. You’re going to heal it all.” And then she said, “And you two — you and H, your energy fits almost perfectly together.”

Thank you H, for helping me take some of my very first steps on my spiritual path. I’m lucky to have been your student.