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Learning when to lead and when to listen

Hudson Valley Parent, I am a Hudson Valley parent, Erica Chase-Salerno, family

"Children are beings that we're not in charge of," says Erica Chase-Salerno, shown with her 9-year-old daughter Quinn (L) and 12-year-old-son Declan (R.)

Erica Chase-Salerno of New Paltz has always been guided by intuition, by the belief that if you patiently assess the situation, the correct path will appear before you. It’s what led her and her husband to make the decision to try homeschooling when their first child, Declan, approached preschool age. 

“Being at home has always been how he refuels,” she said. “So when a lot of his friends were bounding off to go do things in the mornings, his pace was always a little bit different. Crowds did not agree with him. So we just kept him home. And then we just kept keeping him home. He’s 12 now, and every year we revisit our decision. We’re always up for change, but it continues to be model that works for him as well as our daughter Quinn who’s now 9.” 

Some of the advantages of this decision have been obvious: Time spent according to the choices and interests of her children, as opposed to what someone else thinks is important. But some of the advantages have been surprising. Erica says that she’s always been an adventurous person with a tendency to go exploring. Declan has shown her the happiness that can come with staying put for a while. “That’s part of the cool dynamic between us,” she said. “I’ve helped stretch him into the world and he helped nurture my connection with the home space.”

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Not surprisingly, Erica’s “day job” is guided by intuition as well. At her studio known as Wyld Acres, she practices intuitive energy healing and sacred caretaking. 

Voices from within

“One of my favorite takeaways about being a healer is something I’ve learned from being a mom: What’s the problem behind the problem?” says Erica. “Sometimes we try to solve a particular issue, but it turns out that’s not the main issue. It’s just a symptom of something else. So as an energy healer, I really enjoy letting some of these bodies speak to my hands, and spending time there. I work with that person’s energy and spirit, and then talk to them about it. That way we unravel something together that might  missed and is actually the crux of their issue.”  

But Erica’s specialty is working with mothers-to-be, helping them to hear whatever their child is trying to tell them. She usually begins a session with some questions and mediation before she begins laying hands on the parent’s chakras -the centers of spiritual power that are spread throughout the body - or, wherever the child tells Erica to lay them.  

“The parent will tell me what they hear, I share what I hear,” she said. “Sometimes the child has specific messages that are delivered a certain way and we talk about what that means. The session closes with some final thoughts from the child, some centering and grounding for the mom before she returns to the regular world. Usually I have feelings of elation, peace, hope and great joy.” 

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The path ahead

Besides joy, moms often leave the session with a vision of what parenting their child will be like, and a new view of the parent/child relationship: As a team, with both parties working together towards common goals. “Children are beings that we’re not in charge of, that we’re responsible for living with, and helping them find their path,” she said. “But we have such a joyful path ourselves along the way and alongside them. I can’t think of a greater gift in my particular life.”  

Erica continues to take joy in walking that path, even when it seems to lead into darkness. Recently, she was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at the young age of 45. Despite the severity of the diagnosis, she remains focused on the road ahead, appreciative for the many gifts of her life, and driven to continue sharing those gifts with the world.  

“I'm excited about the adventure of it,” she says with her characteristic sense of grace. “And being an energy healer as well as a parent truly informs so many of the gifts along this path.”

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Brian PJ Cronin is the editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine. 

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