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Back from the Brink – Reclaiming my power and voice and finding serenity

J.Allan Longshadow: I’m joined tonight by Amber Kwentus who is a quantum soul activator and embodiment coach based in America. So Amber, I’d love it if you could tell me just where you are, where you’re from and just a little bit about your background and your journey into what you do today, please. 

Amber Kwentus: Sure. So, I live in St.Louis, Missouri, here in the United States. A place that we  call the gateway to the West. We have the arch here, which is that passage way and just for some historical reference to Lewis and Clark, who first travelled through America, they travelled through here. And so that’s what this part of the country is really known for, Lewis and Clark and for their stops along the way and discovering in the West. 

I was born in Illinois. I grew up in, the country primarily. And then at eight, my dad divorced my biological mom and remarried and we moved to this area and we moved over to this small town called Wood River, Illinois, which most people probably have never heard of. Wood River is known for refineries and there were a lot of industrial and blue-collar type workers. Over the years, some of those industries were moved out of the country. The refineries remained, but not a lot of the jobs remained. So it left our area pretty poor, it still is pretty poor, and we have all the things that come with that and the poverty and things. My dad was an autoworker and worked in Wentzville, Missouri, which is on the other side of St. Louis and my step-mom, she worked in a banking facility.

My biological mom is mentally ill and lives in a nursing home. And so, um, my journey, my path, growing up with a mentally ill mother was definitely a part of my passion and kind of fueled me early on, even before I think I fully realized that that was a passion. But my own journey took me into my own mental health issues and in my late teens and early twenties, I developed a pretty serious addiction to alcohol and to drugs. And I left the St Louis area, feeling like it really had nothing for me and of course in our twenties when we think we’re all about self-discovery, we want to just go out and seek the world. So I actually left home in my early twenties to be a truck driver. And so I did that for a few years, and then I ended up going to prison because I was addicted to methamphetamine and the guy that I was with at the time, we had purchased Sudafed. We purchased over the amount and were caught on camera and they caught us with a bunch of Sudafed and things. Jail saved my life. And it’s a really potent part of my story because I needed that to be able to stop. Of course, at the time I viewed it as a negative. 

Later I started work in the corporate field, where I am currently. I’m still transitioning into my own business, and I work as a mental health counsellor as well. I actually counsel individuals on federal probation, people that are either pretrial or post-conviction. 

So my story, well I feel like God’s spirit, the divine, is always putting me in these roles where parts of my story are used. 

J.Allan Longshadow: That’s an incredible story and it’s really interesting because you have a firsthand experience that most people I imagine working in that role just wouldn’t have, would they? That must offer you a really unique insight into these people’s lives and their individual challenges. 

Amber Kwentus: Certainly, because of the poverty, because of the drug addiction, because of the traumas that I’ve experienced in prison it does offer me some really good insight and helps me to be able to connect, because a lot of my clients are African American and there’s that racial divide, and I’m a female. So we have to kind of crush down those divides pretty quickly for me to be able to work with them. Typically when they come in, they see one version of me and then I use Reiki and I use my intuitive feeling and my counselling to be able to bust down some of those barriers.

I connect with their heart and find a way to connect with them initially that helps soften everything. And I’m not saying it works a hundred per cent of the time because I have clients that are just not going to hear anything I have to say or don’t want to, and that’s okay. I’m not for everyone. But for those that come in that I’m able to connect with, I love that my talents have combined into this.

The prison experience led me to Springfield, Illinois, which is the capital of Illinois, in the middle of the state. And there is where I first learned how to be sober and how to be an adult and start being responsible. But it was a rocky seven years for me. I did get married and I was actively involved in 12 step recovery and things were going well for a time, but then my husband and I got hooked on pain medication and it ended up just tearing apart our marriage. I wanted to get better and he wasn’t ready to at the time.

So I ended up moving back to the St. Louis area in July of 2011. It’s almost 10 years now since I moved back to this area. And I had to start over from scratch. I was 32 then, I’m 41 now. And over these last, almost 10 years, that dark night of the soul that I went into after that divorce was the catalyst for everything for me, it opened me up to Reiki. It opened me up to intuitive healing into other methods. I was raised Christian and I was raised with a lot of those stigmas and just the mysticism and the unknowns, and then there was the judging and placing labels on things, because this is bad, you know, because it was outside of the Christian beliefs.

But through Reiki, I’ve learned that I can have a relationship with God and that I can also learn about myself; that I can embody all of these gifts that I seek to give out in the world. And I believe what God wants for me is to be powerful so that I can be a powerful change here.

When I moved back, I was living actually in my best friend’s basement, and I was just really at that low point in life. I weighed a hundred pounds more. I still wasn’t quite done with my addiction. But I have almost eight years clean and sober next month. So I came back with some struggles and God, in my opinion, just had to really get me to a breaking point where I was ready to truly surrender everything. And I think we all go through that as humans, just like with prison; I wouldn’t have been able to quit meth without that, which that would have killed me. And this took me to a whole other level with being broken in my own ego and my own definition of who I thought I was supposed to be, so that spirit could come in and guide me in a way that I could really be used. 

During my time in Springfield, I was in treatment and I sat across from a counsellor and I’ll never forget that moment, because he asked me what I wanted to do. And I said, well, I want to do what you do. And it was the first time in my life that I really had that come through that powerfully. And I knew that was something from soul. So that counsellor helped me to get on my path to becoming a counsellor. And I did manage to complete my bachelor’s degree when I was living in Springfield.

When I moved back and started over with everything, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at that point, or if counselling was even really my path or my journey. I was in social work for five years, and during that time I really worked on myself. I got attuned to Reiki master, and I really just deep dove into myself. I did a lot of my own self-journey. I didn’t have a lot of people, a lot of guides in my life. I had my A.A. sponsor. I had a few spiritual people, but I didn’t really feel like I was connected to a soul family. And so for me, a big passion of mine has been to create this soul family. It’s been to create a tribe of like-minded people. It’s quite multi-faceted, because I have lots of different visions that I feel God has given me, but this Reiki family, my soul family, began when I first started doing attunements on others back in 2017.

The last four years is when everything really kind of just up-levelled again and I really started to go get out there as far as my Reiki went. And then I’ve been doing mental health counselling now for three years. But what God gave me as a vision in 2017 was really a combination of everything. I didn’t know the word coaching at the time. I didn’t know about 3D, 4D, 5D, I didn’t know about all of this spiritual world that existed beyond what I’d been taught here in St. Louis, because this area tends to be very Christian in its ideologies and its thinking. And so therefore there’s a lot of limitations here.

But last year during COVID, and right around this same time, one of my Reiki students  introduced me to the new earth online retreat. And I got onto this massive retreat with people all over the world. And I started to connect with people that thought like me and that believed like me in my soul and that was like, Oh my gosh, these are my people. Like I found them. And I felt at home and I started learning things about the quantum field and I started learning about timeline, healing, and then I started learning about deeper levels of spiritual growth. And then throughout this last year, I’ve been investing in myself, investing in my business. 

My quantum soul activation all came through my own healing in this last year. The embodiment coaching came through this last year and that is the bigger vision for me of what I’m moving towards. So I currently do my mental health counselling, I do Reiki, I do intuitive healing, I have master classes and I do work one-on-one with people. 

J.Allan Longshadow: So there’s tremendous synergy isn’t there, in all those elements and it all comes down to that going below the surface and working at that energy level, doesn’t it? And I think when you talk about the connections, you’ve made more recently. I think there’s something amazing that happens when you connect with people whether they’re clients or whether they’re friends, but when you connect at that energetic level there is just a tremendous power that is tapped into isn’t there, which is an incredible thing. And your story is just incredible in so many ways. Just a couple of things I’d love to just go back on. The twelve-step process that you mentioned. I’m currently involved in a project with an A.A. group where we’re working on some supporting materials to help people going through exactly that process, in recovery from alcohol addiction. And of course, the 12-step process isn’t only for people overcoming alcohol addiction, it’s equally valid for people overcoming any form of addiction. One of the books of course at the heart of the AA material is the book Daily Reflections, which I’ve actually got here. Whether or not, you are an A.A. member, whether or not you are currently an alcoholic or you are sober, or whether you’ve never been involved in it, this particular book is a tremendous book of reflections and you don’t have to identify as Christian or any particular faith to be able to really truly appreciate some of the wisdom that is embodied in the, in the 12-steps. But I think sometimes people need to go beyond that. And as you said, go into a much deeper journey. But again, the 12-steps sort of embodies in a way, the spiritual journey as well, doesn’t it?

Amber Kwentus: There are so many layers as you progress on that journey though. That’s perfect actually. It’s funny that you said that. I have a Reiki Master, well, a mentor in my life now. Reiki Master introduced Reiki to me, I got my attunements, but we didn’t end up having a long-term journey together. And then this other woman who entered my life was also involved in 12-step recovery so we had these similar bonds. She and I attempted to launch a program two summers ago called beyond the 12 steps. It was all about taking what we’ve learned in the 12-step recovery but going beyond and outside.

And so many people just like with the Christian faith or with A.A. and the 12 steps, there’s fear about going outside of the boundaries or thinking outside of this box, because you’ve become conditioned to this way of living and you think if you go beyond it, that’s somehow disrespectful to the thing that you have that’s at your very basis. And it really isn’t. So we took a few women, and we were trying to get them to see that there’s more, there’s a deeper journey and you can do these other things that are going to benefit. You don’t have to not have your program but I’ve used a 12-step recovery for food, I’ve used 12-step recovery for alcohol, for drugs.

So what you were saying earlier, it really is true. There’s a slogan in the 12 step recovery community that it’s a design for living because it is. And it’s applicable to everybody. Truly everybody could use a 12-step program in my opinion, even day to day as a basis, as a good way of living. In my codependency and in my own personal relationships, I’ve used 12-step. It’s been powerful.

J.Allan Longshadow: Was there any singular thing, in your journey that triggered you to get out of your own battle to addiction? Was there any particular point where you had an enlightenment, where you said ‘I can do this, I know what I need to do.’? 

Amber Kwentus: Well, I would definitely say that when I moved back in 2011, that wasn’t as much the physical bottom for me. In alcoholism and drug addiction, we do have physical bottoms. Obviously, prison is a big physical bottom when you’re having that taken from you, but even losing my home or having to move back, really, that was the emotional bottom for me. It was that feeling of absolute worthlessness that I felt. And I decided that I can no longer feel like that.

I didn’t have to necessarily be living under a bridge. And I say this a lot to my clients. People have this perception of addiction. ‘Oh, they’re worse than me.’ And then we do these compare and contrasts, ‘Oh, well, I’m not that bad, so maybe I don’t have a problem,’ but addiction is real and alive. And really addiction is just distraction and comes in many different forms. Our society, especially here in America, is inundated with distractions and addictions. You can just have this over here, this over here, you know, to keep you busy and away from yourself. I think COVID really brought a lot of that to the surface.

J.Allan Longshadow: I was going to ask you, because obviously the COVID topic – much as I try not to let it always be present – we know none of us can escape the impact it’s made on our lives. Especially I imagine for somebody like yourself, working with people with addiction. What’s it been like? What have you seen over the last 12 months? How, how has the COVID situation affected that particular area of life? 

Amber Kwentus: I think it’s been positive for people that want to look at things, but I think it’s also, for people that don’t want to look at it, they’ve just gone deeper into their addiction.

They’ve gone deeper into depression and into their mental health issues. I’ve definitely seen an increase and a rise in people that come in asking for assistance, for example, antidepressants or even getting a psychological evaluation because all the things came to the surface. The muck comes up and then they don’t know what to do with it.

As a professional, it’s helped me to really grow and to really get very succinct with people, frankly. My clients to begin with. You have to be pretty direct with them, but I feel the sense of urgency now. It’s at a soul level. It really is between people that are going to check out or not.

And I have to just be very direct with people and be like, ‘what are you going to choose?’ sometimes, without using that wording, but like you are at that turning point right now, and as sad as it is, I’m not going to be able to reach everyone because I can’t. I hope to plant a seed. 

But I’ve seen some breakthroughs this year that have actually been really good too. It’s really amazing. And that there are so many great stories as well, coming out of such a turbulent time. 

J.Allan Longshadow: Talk to me a little bit more about your role as an embodiment coach. What is an embodiment coach and what do you do in that field?

Amber Kwentus: Sure. So for me, as I was speaking into earlier about understanding the different fractions of myself, how splintered we can become through our addictions, through our distractions, which again, can be food, sex, drugs, alcohol, social media, all these different things that keep us splintered off, relationships and that codependency.

So I’m going to give you a really good example of something I healed through this last year. I have this tendency as an empath, as many of us who are sensitive or impacted do, to attract a narcissist into our lives, meaning somebody who tends to be manipulative and controlling where frankly, we have allowed ourselves to become disempowered. I had allowed myself, because of these roles, to be a victim, to be disempowered. I was giving my power over to these people in my life. However, my mind was telling me they were taking it from me. So embodiment for me has been all about reclaiming my power, reclaiming my own serenity and like my own soul and my own choice and my own voice and standing true to who I am. And that has been such a journey this last year. One of the main narcissists in my life is my boss. In my corporate job there were so many things that came to the surface last year because of COVID and so many shifts around our job roles and things and huey! By August. I was about tapped out.

And really, it was just all of this stuff coming to the surface that I had to heal, that I couldn’t hold any longer. I could no longer not look at it. I’ve been in this position many times, in my marriage, in my relationships where God. It was like, okay, you have two choices here. You can stay, or you can run. If you run, you’re going to keep repeating the same thing again. And I was like ‘Damn it.’  I actually have to turn around and face this thing that I really don’t want to have to look at, because I’m just going to be really blunt here, you know, for empaths, for victims, it can be very comfortable to be in that role because you get attention from it, because you get pity from it, ‘Oh, poor you,’ you know, which led right into my addictive thinking in my behaviours and actually kept me pretty sick because I was disconnected from myself.  But in turning to him last year through a coach of mine, she helped me to understand my boundaries and she helped me to get really clear on that.

So boundaries are one huge thing that I work with in embodiment coaching, owning your voice, owning your truth. We get clear on what your power is and what your vision is and manifesting all of the things that you want in your life, your goals and your dreams and your desires most potently inside of you and not based on somebody else’s external perception or what you think you should be doing to try to prove your worth.

Because I realized that I love counselling. I love what I do, but I’m more than this and this was given to me as a building block, but there was a lot of that driving me, getting a degree and spending loads of money on a piece of paper was because I was trying to prove my worth. And in the United States, they hold everybody up on this thing. Oh, you got a degree. Even my dad, my dad was one of the biggest pushers in my life about getting a degree because he didn’t have one and he wanted safety and security for me. And that was the way he thought I needed safety and security. So embodiment coaching, it’s one-on-one support, but it’s also, you know, that community, that tribe that I talked about. I have different groups on Facebook. I have one group, that’s a core wound healing group where I’ve hosted four different challenges about core wounds. These are things that go back to our childhood, that really are at the very base of who we are. And it incorporates, you know, my psychological work, my addiction work my counselling – all of the things into one and my spiritual work. And then there’s Reiki. I just have a couple of different avenues for people to connect however they want, because people can get to embodiment through Reiki or people can get to embodiment through their own personal process, through counselling and other means or through 12 step recovery, and then beyond that, it’s just whatever that resonates with that person’s soul. And I think that was a big switch for me that I got to learn, through 12 step recovery, is that there is no one way to God. There’s no one way to source. We all have our own journey and paths. So my biggest mission here is to just support people on their mission, where they’re at.

That’s why I have these different levels of offering and meeting people where they’re at, whether that’d be traditional mental health counselling, or if you want to go deeper into the Reiki, or if you want to do the embodiment. I just want to journey with people. 

J.Allan Longshadow: Ultimately, everything that you work with comes down, fundamentally, to enabling and empowering people to accept absolute responsibility for, for their life. I think people can find that a very scary concept because it means accepting responsibility for all the negative things in your life. But once you do that, you also have a tremendous power then, don’t you, to manifest the positive. But one has to come with the other and that comes down to that absolute responsibility, doesn’t it ? 

Amber Kwentus: Yes, I had to do that. In mental health counselling with my clients, it’s probably the biggest thing we struggle with. I had a client literally yesterday that we went round and round about that because they refused to take responsibility over their life, and they consistently wanted to be the victim to this and that. And the more I shine a mirror on that, the more uncomfortable it becomes. I just don’t play little anymore. I don’t play small and I’m very direct with people, because I don’t feel like this is a time that we can play small anymore. I do it in a loving way, but I’m very direct.

J.Allan Longshadow: I think sometimes that’s necessary, isn’t it? I think sometimes we have to be, and especially given the challenges we’ve seen over the last 12 months, just over 12 months now, one thing the situation has proven is it is no good looking to other people and trying to blame anybody else. It is not going to help change the situation. If you want to transform anything, you’ve got to start by transforming yourself, haven’t you?  

Amber Kwentus: It all begins in the mind and your mental mindset. And again, what you’re choosing each and every day. Each one of us can choose our reality each and every day. We wake up and the thinking starts our day. And then you make the choices. And when you take radical responsibility for your life, you can see where you’ve been making those choices that have led you to where you are. And then you can act differently. You can make better choices and you can say, ‘Oh wait, I’m playing a victim here. Oh man. You know, I’m taking advantage of someone here. I don’t need to do that.’ You can get back into your body, then you embody that and then you keep growing from it. 

J.Allan Longshadow:  It reminds me of something I discovered in Stephen Covey’s amazing book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And this was a really eye-opening moment for me when I read the passage where he stated that we can’t control the situation we’re in, but we can control our reaction to it. That is such an empowering approach to life. Isn’t it? To say I can control how I react to anything. But it requires a lot of self-work to do that, doesn’t it?

Amber Kwentus: Responding versus reacting. It’s definitely one of the things I focus on in counselling as well. I’ve been guilty of that too, before COVID. Anger is an emotion because I’ve heeled and this is another aspect of it. Of embodiment is healing all around, as I said core wounds, but also around the wounded masculine and the wounded feminine moods, that balance that we need to come into and wounded, masculine energy. I was trying to force my control and I was trying to be very vocal and loud, not a loving way, but a forceful, controlling way. I need to tell you these things. And somebody is going to.  But it’s like that session earlier. This is such a great example because I could speak to him in a firm, somewhat loud manner, because he needed to hear what I had to say, but he also knew it was coming from love and that it was directing. It was like from a parent. So when a parent disciplines, a child, and when it’s coming from that place of ‘I’m trying to just redirect you to show you that there’s a better way,’ that’s coming from a place of love.

J.Allan Longshadow: It sounds like what you’re doing is having an amazing impact, a really massive impact on people’s lives. I think it’s a really amazing thing you’re doing. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to speak to you. And I look forward to speaking to you again in the future. 

Amber Kwentus: Thank you so much. It was such an honour.


To discover more about Amber, you can visit her at:

www.amberkwentus.com

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Jan Longshadow
I am a coach, mentor, author and radio presenter with a passion for positivity. I founded Motiv8.me in 2016.

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